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Fads, Fashion and Foolery for 1994

January 04, 1994|JOHN-THOR DAHLBURG

New Delhi — GETTING A NEW WRAP: What could be more quintessentially Indian than the sari, the 18-foot (and longer) swath of brilliantly hued, unstitched cloth in which hundreds of millions of women on the Subcontinent carefully wrap themselves each morning?

But not in 1994.

In a trend that tells much about shifting attitudes toward tradition and womanhood here, saris are plummeting in popularity as the everyday wear of university students and young women professionals. "Traditionalism at some level is out," said Ritu Bhatia, New Delhi editorial representative of the glossy magazine Femina, which targets India's "woman of substance." These days, Bhatia said, "there's a lot more choice, and people are looking for something different."

International couturiers, lured by the country's liberalized rules on foreign investment, are flocking in. Arrow and Lacoste shirts have begun advertising in the homeland of the Nehru jacket, and in March, Pierre Cardin Pvt Ltd. is scheduled to set up exclusive stores in Delhi, Bombay, Pune, Calcutta, Bangalore and Goa.

Fashion experts say 1994 will also see a return to alternative, albeit home-bred sartorial styles, including the Rajasthani ghagra (an ankle-length skirt that ties at the waist with a drawstring and is worn with a blouse called the choli ) , and from northern India, the salwar kamiz (a long night-shirt-like garment coupled with baggy pants).

Bhatia adds that the sari, like the kimono in Japan, will remain de rigueur for certain social occasions.

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