Institute of Draped Clothes

Newsletter 2, October 1999



1. news
2. more sari links
3. dancing draped...
4. members needed!
5. some interesting comments...
6. logo: please send your ideas!
7. reaching out...
8. a personal note from Chantal

1. News:

*** Chantal had a very positive meeting with a director from the UNESCO. This will hopefully have some important developments. Chantal is awaiting for a confirmation letter of the UNESCO which should come this month.

*** The Exhibition "The Indian Sari, Draping Bodies, Revealing Lives" will happen at the "Maison du Monde" in St Pierre, La Reunion (near Mauritius) from November 3rd. It will also be in Montreal in March 2000.

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

2. More sari links: (recommended by Annye Bone) ***    *** 

*** Can you suggest a link? please let us know!

3. Dancing with saris...

By Karen Andes

I am not a classical Indian dancer but I use the complex and captivating storytelling dance styles (Bharata Natyam, Kathak and Odissi) to inspire a dance language of my own. I especially enjoy choreographing dances for my students (mostly middle aged women who have never performed on stage). I recently created a "temple" dance for eight such dancers in which we all wore saris. I suspect it was the promise of wearing saris, and not my choreography, which enticed so many to perform!
Saris are cheap and plentiful in San Francisco where I live. So I knew that for 10 to 25 American dollars per sari, it would be easy to outfit each woman in a different beautiful color and design. The challenging part was finding the right drapery style to suit our movements. After experimenting with many of the draperies in Chantal Boulanger's book, "Saris: An Illustrated Guide to the Indian Art of Draping", I settled on the simplest Kaccha drape (see right). This style allows lots of leg-room for kicks and deep stances without showing too much leg. We found the Ceylonese dancer sari had too deep a slit (many of us are over 40 and want as much coverage as possible!)
Dancing in a sari, (not to mention learning how to drape it), takes a bit of practice, so we always began our rehearsals draping ourselves. Instead of using a petticoat, we tucked the folds inside a pair of tights (bike short length) and instead of wearing cholis, we chose leotard bra tops so we had ample room to move our arms. We always practiced in costume so we would learn not to step on our folds (wearing it just a bit higher than the ankles helped). The sari, in fact, became an integral part of the choreography. We discovered that the pallav draped over the left shoulder (especially with a long "tail") looks beautiful during clockwise spins and figure 8 moves with the left arm. This effect was lost during counter clockwise full spins (half spins were OK) or when we lifted our arms up in a vertical line. To keep the pallav in place we pinned it in place using big brooches to accent the costume and fashioned it so that it the lower edge just brushed the wrist.
What I loved most about dancing in the sari was how beautiful we felt and looked! Every woman, no matter what her shape or size, looked elegant, modest yet sensual. Most profoundly, wearing saris transformed us all, however briefly, from responsible working women, into goddess / temple dancers who used the universal language of dance to speak our hearts and souls.

4. Members needed!

IDC is still only an internet creature. But we are now over 70 members in many countries of 4 continents! But we need more members. The more we will be, the more weight we will have. This is why I urge you to try to bring more members. Remember that basic membership is free (if you have Email) and it's as easy as sending us an Email! If you have friends who are interested but don't have Email, make them members using YOUR Email (i.e. give them a printout of our newsletter...). But let us know their names so that they can be added to the list. And if you are many interested by the art of drape in your household, please let us know how many. Thank you.

Still... If you feel you have time, enthusiasm and commitment to create your local branch of IDC, please send an Email to: <>. You will be put in touch with other active members in your country to coordinate your efforts. You will also receive the Email of the members who have offered to contribute in your country. I will do what I can to assist you in creating your local branch of IDC.
See: active members

5. Some interesting comments...

"Finally, one size DOES fit all!"
Julie Ensign

"Actually, with a scholastic background in Fashion Design (though I do not work in the field), I've been predicting that the saree would be shortly coming strongly into style here in the U.S. within the next couple of years. ou inspire me with further hope. :-)"
Annye Bone

"I can now appreciate that draping is an art, and my skill will improve with time and practice."
Pauline Pavon

"It is indeed strange that so little has been done in this field. And with all honestly there is nothing more beautiful to please the eye than an Indian woman wearing a Sari, it is so graceful and feminine, not to mention the enormous choice of fabrics and weaving."
Bill Jeffery

Please do not hesitate to send your comments or tell us about your experience with draping.

6. Logo: please send your ideas!

Renewed appeal: We need a logo... If you want to design it, please send your logo as a JPEG or GIF file to <>.... thank you!
All the logos will be posted on a web page and members will choose which one they prefer.

7. Reaching out...

If we want the art of draped clothes to be recognized and prosper, we need institutions to get involved. This art should be researched, preserved and taught just as the other textile arts (weaving, embroidery, stitching, knitting) are. So if you know of an institution (university, museum, art school, etc.) please let us know. Try to get the names of the persons who would be best to contact. If you like, you can contact them yourself. We will help you in doing so. Thank you.

8. A personal note from Chantal:

This was our 1st month, and we are already over 70 members. We have 6 active members and 6 research members. I have met someone from the UNESCO who will help us. I'll let you know as things progress.
Most institutions contacted (like the Crafts Council) do not realize the importance of saving this art, because they have no clue about the many techniques existing (and disappearing). Bringing them to realize the extraordinary variety of draping techniques and the need to learn them is a very hard task! But this should not make us despair. The more we will be, the more pressure we will put, the more awareness there will be.
My dream is to find a celebrity who could support out cause. Medias would then become much more receptive.
Anyway, thank you for your support and help. Thanks to you this art will be saved.
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 <>.... thank you!

Institute of Draped Clothes

Temporary address:
IDC, c/o Chantal Boulanger
76 Barons Court Road
London W14 9DU
Great Britain

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