Institute of Draped Clothes

Newsletter 11 , October 2000


1. news
2. a personal account: my experience of saris
3. a draped doll
4. reach-out campaign
5. The Saree Philosophy in India especially in South India
6. using smartgroups
7. a personal note from Chantal

1. News:

*** A new web sites to check:

*** We are preparing 2 campaigns: one to raise membership, and one to reach out to institutions teaching textile arts, costume, fashion, etc.
WEE NEED YOUR HELP for these campaigns to be successful. Please read § 4 carefully.

*** Chantal Boulanger has 2 engagements (on saris) at the Nehru Centre, 8 South Audley Street, London W1:
- An informal talk and short demonstration on Oct. 12th, at 11 am.
- A lecture with demonstration on Nov. 1st, at 6:45 pm.

*** If you know or participate in an event, web site, etc. connected with draping, please let us know. This "news" feature is yours!

2. A personal account: My experience of saris:
By Alexandra Mahmood

I'm a law student and a mother of two so I'm always busy. Well, I discovered the web site of the Institute of Draped Clothes and I was very impressed by the mere existence of it.
Let me tell you how I approached the "world of sarees"...since I first saw pictures of Indian women wrapped in colourful fabrics the saree became a symbol of grace, beauty and refined elegance to me. I didn't have any contact to South Asia at that time (I am of Greek origin, raised in Germany...) but I always felt that the culture and its people suited my ideas of life very much. A few years ago I "ran into" my future husband and since then I have felt like having finally arrived at "home": I was suddenly surrounded by beautiful sisters-in-law all dressed in the most wonderful clothes which carried strange names like salwar kameez or lehnga choli...I had to learn a whole new vocabulary for the different types of clothes and when it came to sarees and the various kinds of silks and embroideries I knew that this was a field for scientific research.....!
You have to know that I am the kind of person who isn't satisfied with superficial knowledge. If I talk or write about a certain subject I make sure that I have a full picture of it in mind. That's why I was so interested in the scientific approach you made to the different saree drapes. I entirely agree with you that it has to be preserved and drapes from ancient times should be "restored" if possible. Once you start, you notice that it is a vast field with many "white spots".
It's something which has to developed inside of me and with the help of
literature, video material and personal experience I can become something like an "expert" on this husband is very supportive, too. He never expected me to be so passionate about sarees, the fabrics, colours and embroideries.
The saree is truly an art form and a very "intelligent" way of dressing, too. Anyone can put on stitched clothes but the drapes ask for a sense for the fabric you wrap yourself into. I can remember the first time I put on a saree. It seems to be difficult to drape a saree but it just depends on the kind of approach you make. If you appreciate your saree, you will patiently follow the flow of the material, feel where it has to be more loose, more tight and soon you´ll discover what a natural way of dressing this is.
But this is not "it" yet...after putting on your saree there are still accessories like bindis, nose rings and the wonderful gold and silver jewellery to be considered...since I have seen how the women in South Asia adorn themselves I have an idea what "underlining a woman's beauty" can mean.
In Europe many women think that lipstick and a short skirt on high heels is dressed up....!

3. A draped doll:

IDC encourages creation, and we are proud to announce that Kelly Lynn Smith has designed a draped doll, which can be seen at:
She wears a sari that Kelly made up the draping technique for. Its is the second Indian doll she designs. For more, also look at:

4. Reach-out campaign:

The more members we are, the easiest it will be to reach our goals. To have weight, we need many, many more members! If you have any idea on programs aimed at increasing membership, please tell us about it. It is important that we celebrate this 1st anniversary by a membership campaign. We will let you know of all your suggestions.

It is essential to open the eyes and raise the interest of any institution connected with textile arts, costumes, fashion, etc. about draping techniques and the importance of studying draped clothes.
For this reason, IDC will start a campaign aimed art, fashion and costume schools, as well as universities teaching history of costume, textile art, fashion, etc.
At first:
Please enquire to see which institution near where you live (or you know of) should be interested, try to find out THE NAMES AND EXACT ADDRESSES (and if possible Email too) of people responsible.
Email this information to
If you want, it would be GREAT if you could get in touch with these people yourself. We will prepare a package to help you do this. Otherwise just give us as much info as you can, and we will get in touch with them.

We will need press releases and documents explaining our aims and the necessity to research and study draped clothes. If you feel like helping, PLEASE GET IN TOUCH. So far Chantal has done all the writing, but she is a scientist, not a writer (besides her mother tongue in French...). She would be really happy to get help from better writers and anyone having a good marketing experience. <>

5. The Saree Philosophy in India especially in South India
By Robin Joseph

The Saree embodies the essence of south Indian philosophy. This is because in the South Indian philosophy the body is seen as a product and part of the creativity of creation and life, and therefore the human body is considered as the central aspect of South Indian philosophy. Therefore the saree which is the drape of this essential aspect of creativity (the body), becomes the manifestation of this creativity and life. Also in South Indian philosophy it is thought that, just as the body is the product of the whole universe, the whole universe is manifested in a manner in the human body and through the human body. Thus the body is considered the complete expression of the supreme being, and complete expression of human expression.

This is best exemplified through the sculptures of India, the saree philosophy, and the philosophy of Bharatanatyam with its tenets of having a perfectly erect posture, a straight and pout curving stomach, and long hairs. These tenets give the realisation of Angikam bhuvanam yasya, (the body is your world).

The costume of Indian women, the saree is considered as a very beautiful and sensuous dress, and is supposed to not completely cover the stomach of a woman. In fact in the saree philosophy at least 40% of the stomach is not meant to be covered, and the navel is definitely not to be covered. This has reasons deeply rooted in the Indian Philosophy and its celebration of life and expression through the body. The navel of the supreme being is considered as the source of life and creativity. Therefore it is not proper to cover the navel and the stomach in the philosophy of saree. This finally makes the realisation of sharira-mandala, (which unites the body Angikam bhuvanam yasya, to the whole universe sharira-mandala, ).

Most of all these tenets of saree philosophy are also for those wearing other forms of drapes. Which include even the drapes worn by men. So the saree is principally a garment which embodies the essence of South Indian philosophy.

6. Using smartgroups.

Thank you very much for registering with smartgroups. This makes it easy to send the newsletter, have documents, vote, have a calendar, etc.
I would like to point out some features you can use:
* database of web sites: click on the "database" tab and open the "web pages" folder. You can easily ad your own, using the "add record" in blue line menu. It is set up so that anyone can ad web sites, but please make sure they are related to draped clothes!
* documents: click on the "documents" tab, and open the "public" folder. At present, you have the press release and a preview of "Saris: An Indian Guide to the Indian Art of Draping". You can download them, or ad your own files if you wish files (use "add file" in the blue line menu).
* Calendar: the events are stored there. You cannot ad an event on your own. If you have an event to ad, please send details to: <> (this way, I can also put it in the newsletter).

Also, remember that you can put your own web pages on (we have plenty of space!), or have your own Email ( go to:
If you have draped clothes related web pages and wish to put them in, please contact <> . Thank you.

7. A personal note from Chantal:

Thank you for registering with idcw-smartgroups! This makes my work MUCH easier. Then we'll be able to vote, etc. This could be fun. I have not done much this month (thank you very much for those of you who have contributed to the newsletter - and again made my work easier!), because I had a lot of work... Shifting some operations to smartgroups has been my main concern.
Thank you for your help and support.

Best wishes!

Please do not hesitate to send any question, suggestion, criticism.
If you have some links to suggest, please let us know!
If you wish to write something for the newsletter, please do so and Email it to <>.

Institute of Draped Clothes


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