Newsletter 36 - Septembre-Novembre 2004

1. news
2. new web links
3. a love story... (with draped clothed!)
4. a sari shop for Westerners?
5. rediscovering tradition
6. still tradition... in Toronto!
7. help! researching Greek draped clothes
8. help! draping sarongs for a man
9. draping men
10. a personal note from Chantal

1. NEWS:

*** One IDC member is successfully organising the exhibition “The Indian sari: draping bodies, revealing lives” in Singapore. It is planned for March 2005.

*** IMPORTANT CHANGE: Due to the insane quantity of SPAM that we receive, I have set up strict email filters. So, if your want your email to reach IDC or Chantal, please put the word “cbmsari” in the Subject line (otherwise your email might be considered SPAM and be discarded).

*** There is a show at the Benaki Museum in Athens, ending mid-October:"Ptychoseis= Folds+Pleats: Drapery from Ancient Greek Dress to 21st Century Fashion". It is comprised of ancient Greek works of art, regional clothing from around the world, and clothing by contemporary fashion designers (including Fortuny and Madame Vionnet, two of IDC member Carol Bronstein’s all-time favorite designers). Should you be intrigued by this, here's the url for the exhibit:

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


* As you may recall, at one point Adam Burke became involved in the issue of the harm done to silk worms by the silk trade. Another member had then suggested that the worm need not be harmed, but Adam was not aware of this. Well, his wife has recently found a wonderful site with details on how to raise silkworms, and how to take their silk without harming them! Adam and his wife are very happy to share this with IDC members. Check out this site:

* Web page describing how to wear kaccha pants:

* Web site selling saris from the USA (main traditional styles):

3. A LOVE STORY... (with draped clothed!)
By Isis Panthea

My name is Carlene and I dance under the name Isis Panthea. I have loved your web site for many years and support your ideas. I have also been interested in draped clothing for as long as I can remember.

My fascination with draped clothing began in early childhood. I grew up in a very Anglo suburb of Chicago. Despairing, even at such a young age, at the lack of color, movement and silkiness in the clothing of my modern American/European heritage, my favorite past time was dress-up. My mother had given me a bag of fashion scarves which I draped and tied to look like an exotic princess or harem girl. I collected dolls from around the world, and marveled particularly at the Japanese kimono and the Indian sari. Why couldn't I dress like that at school? In any case, when no one was watching, I got as fabulous as I could and danced around the living room.

A bit later in life I found myself wrapping cloth around me, but for very different reasons! I had read a very stimulating book about childcare by Jean Liedloff who suggested that the best place for pre-mobile babies was bound to mother's body. A particular South American tribe, whose happy outlook impressed Jean so much, slept in hammocks and wrapped their babies. Comparing that with the world I grew up in, I decided to give baby wearing a go. Fashioning myself various wraps and slings from cloth and assisted by a few similarly radical women in my La Leche League groups, I wore both my babies (now 6 and 14). I tried the Mexican shawl, various pre-made baby slings, and an African wrap that reminded me of a kimono belt. My favorite for the young infant was the 6 yard long baby wrap I made out of cotton stretch knit from a hand-written pattern. Friends and strangers commented on how my infant and I looked like tandem parachuters! My baby-wearing days were perhaps my best ever. My children were able to view the their world, and experience their mother at work and play (I held a full-time job assisting in a Waldorf school with my baby daughter on my back). I think the movement, mobility and security have helped them grow into loving human beings.

My daughter and I belong to a Hindu temple. Our reasons for joining years ago had nothing to do with draped clothing. However, through my attendance, my childhood dream of dressing with exquisite flow and color has come true. In general I attend in shalwaar chemises or comfortable yoga clothes, but the sari option is open! My first sari was wrapped with instructions gained from your resources, although I remain a bit self-conscious about my skills.

During my daughter's temple Sunday school classes, I have taken part in a Tabla drumming class for adults. For our year-end performance this past May, my class was asked to wear traditional Indian dress. That day, I arrived at the temple sari-clad in brilliant blue, but not feeling particularly happy with my handiwork. Miscalculating how much time I had to fix my sari, but knowing time was short, I asked a total stranger (female, of course) to adjust my sari in the bathroom. She undid my Northern drape, which she did not know how to fix, and stripped me down to my underclothes. Then readjusted me as a Southern Indian. I only had a second to contemplate my transformation from a native of the North to a native of the South, before I was found by a frantic friend and whisked on stage to perform! In case you are wondering, I drummed well and I looked great! I absolutely adore the sari, and if I had time, I would learn every wrap there is.

Six yards of embroidered fabric is fun and fashionable, but three yards can be just as exciting! As a long-time bellydance performer and instructor, I have used the 3 yard silk veil as an expressive dance companion. The veil is draped and wrapped in various ways and undraped to become a most beautiful and flowing partner. It is a pleasure to move with the open fabric, flowing behind, twirling with turns, concealing and revealing.

As a dance troupe director, I led my costume designer, Suzan, to your web site when we were preparing to dance a Greek suite and needed chiton ideas. A photo will soon appear on my web site:
Look under "Women of the Well." She transformed 8 beautiful women into ancient Greek maidens for my company's "Dance of Demeter and Persephone."

When I was young I took stolen moments to wrap my narrowly defined world with the thrill of multi-colored silk. My widened world has introduced me to others who, through tradition or desire, do the same. I am thrilled that your web site is there to connect us.

Isis Panthea

By Carol

I can't help but wonder if a modern American saris would catch on here (in the USA). Designed fabrics and popular colors. A shop with all these different styles and help in learning to wrap them. It seems to me that these wraps are very practical and beautiful and also very feminine and flattering to the figure.
I love the saris but would feel out of place wearing one in public. I hardly ever see one and when I do it is on an Indian woman.
I believe that if someone were to undertake a project of this nature it would catch on and become popular here in America.
I can just imagine all the different fabrics that the designers would fashion. I am partial to silk and would love to have one in a floral print. I may try to make one.

By Sreelakshmi

I came across the web site of IDC sometime ago,just by chance. I have seen that lots of variations in wearing saris exist, but I did not know that anyone had seriously studied it. There is really a lot of information and links in the web site. It is nice to find people around the world show interest in saris, drapes etc. and it was nice to read the experiences of  various people on the web site. On reading that, I felt like sharing my experience with you. So here it is.

Although I hail from a Brahmin family and we do retain quite a few traditions, we are not too orthodox.  I had seen orthodox women wear the kaccha sari quite a few times but had not paid much attention to it. But after seeing the web site, whenever I saw a woman wearing a kaccha sari, I watched her sari with more interest and observed it. My curiosity, growing interest and fascination made me buy a new nine yard cotton sari and try the drape in private. With a bit of time and some practice I learnt to wear it well. But I pursued this in private because I was not sure how the family would react on seeing me wearing a kaccha sari. But the feeling that it looked good gave me courage and I decided to surprise my family on the occasion of a festival by appearing for the puja wearing the nine yard sari in the kaccha style. Everyone was indeed surprised but pleasantly. All of them liked it and praised me for trying the traditional style. Encouraged by the response, I decided to wear it once a while.  But my liking for this has grown because I find it very comfortable. I no longer wait for an occasion to wear it but do so very often. 

I must thank your web site for arousing my interest in keeping our tradition alive and I hope many more people will try out the various sari styles even if it is just to add a bit of variety to life. If you think my experience is interesting or encouraging for others to try these things please do share this.
With best regards,

By Marsha McLean, Toronto

In Toronto’s Little India – a very old woman was wearing the most lovely sari. As far as I could tell, she wasn’t wearing a choli. I didn’t get to observe at any length, but I saw a lot of lovely brown tummy and no fabric at all on the shoulder without the palav. It’s legal to go topless here and if she was I think that’s just the coolest!!! She wasn’t showing her breasts as they were covered by her palav, but she is the first Indian woman I’ve ever seen without a choli.

By Carol Bronstein

After reading your personal comments in the previous IDC newsletter, I felt compelled to take up the torch (sorry about the punny Olympic imagery) about Greek drapery. I will be spending a month in Greece, beginning October 3, and feel compelled to have some kind of focus to ease my conscience about taking the time off from my job and spending more money than I probably should. Perhaps ancient Greek drapery should be my focus. I am so moved and impressed by your book on saris and your commitment to keeping draped clothing techniques in India from disappearing.

Do you know of others with this interest that I should connect with - especially in Greece?
IF YOU ARE INTERESTED, please contact Carol Bronstein at <>

By Neil Slater

I am a new member of IDC, and a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism. As a male, I wear sarongs around the house, and if I were more daring, I would wear them more often outside the house (western Canada is too redneck!). But I have had trouble finding wrapping instructions for tubular sarongs for men. I have tried various ways, but, since I have ugly legs, I would prefer to wear sarongs as long as my regular jeans. This means every wrap I have tried tends to drag at my legs. Do you have any suggestions? I've seen Jan Bruydonckx's site, and several others, but none have an explanation that works for me.

IF YOU CAN HELP, please contact <> IMPORTANT: put the words “reply to Neil Slater cbmsari” in the Subject line.


“I've been subscribing to this newsletter for a long time (way before you got your logo) and understandably most, if not all, your updates and links are all for women. I think it would be nice (especially for myself :P) if you had a feature spread on wrapping for guys. I've been fascinated with the the possibilities and potential for unadulterated cloth and while its all fun and dandy admiring the cloth and techniques for women, I'd like to walk around in drapes too! thanks for starting this IDC thing. Its real cool. :)”
Ronald Leong

REPLY by Chantal:
IDC covers men as well as women’s drape... There are many sites in our web library about kilts, pareos, Roman and Celtic drapes and sarongs for men. In the section: “SARIS: draping styles”, there are many explanations on how to wrap a dhoti.
I suggest you go through the links of our web library: most of them have drapes for men (and indeed many men are IDC members).

My book also covers men’s drapes: dhotis, veshtis and tribal drape (the Koli men drape is especially interesting). All countries where draped clothes are common have drapes both for men and women, and IDC shows this faithfully. We could, of course, make a section for men’s draping styles, but then we would have to make one for women... So far we have sorted links by region and theme rather than by who wears what... It sounds simpler.

As for the links proposed in our newsletter, they are suggested by our members... if you want more styles for men, you know what to do!


During the last 3 month quite a few new members joined IDC. I welcome them and hope they will be inspired by the experiences above to write about their own. I am very happy indeed that this newsletter has so many contributions, and hope you will keep on writing!
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
I have been kept busy with more and more draping-related activity. The great news is that the exhibition on sari drapes is mostly likely to happen in Singapore in March 2005. If you live in Singapore and are interested, please contact me!
What makes me very happy is that interest in Asian countries, which was not so great so far, is rising. I hope that the show in Singapore will be a turning point. Since it will be in a fashion school, maybe it will be the start of actual courses in draped clothes... who knows?
Leonore, an IDC member actually wrote: “Are you marketing the idea that a university give a course on draped clothing?. surely there are professors who subscribe to the idea.”. I have tried to contact universities in the UK and in the USA. The university of Minnesota has even created the exhibition on saris! But I have yet to meet a professor wanting to teach draping (and first, TO LEARN about it). Scholars are usually extremely narrow minded and professors know by definition better than you do. They don’t know anything about draped clothes techniques and so, it’s not worth studying.
Well. I really hope this attitude changes. Draped clothes techniques need to be taught and saved from being forgotten. We at IDC are all well aware of this. I am especially thankful to Subbiah Lakshmanan of Singapore for working so well to bring the exhibition and awareness about draped clothes to the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, which teaches about clothing and fashion.
If any of you know or is willing to contact a local art/fashion school, please let me know. I do my best to help, but alone I can’t do much. Sending even a copy of my book to a university doesn’t do anything (not even a “thank you” letter). It takes a lot of perseverance and courage to achieve the smallest thing. But if more people look for some university or professor to initiate a change, maybe it will happen.

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 <>.

Newsletter publication dates and deadlines for contributions:
- 1st of June (June-August): deadline for contributions: 15th of May
- 1st of September (September-November): deadline for contributions: 15th of August
- 1st of December (December-February): deadline for contributions: 15th of November
- 1st of March (March-May): deadline for contributions: 15th of February

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