Designer Tarun Tahiliani defends Priyanka Chopra's 'choli-less' saree

Updated: Jun 07, 2019, 09:15 IST | Shweta Shiware | Mumbai

Designer Tarun Tahiliani behind Priyanka Chopra's hot cover look in July issue of InStyle defends the "lack of blouse" after trolls squeal, where's the choli?

PCJ stars on the cover of InStyle magazine wearing the Tarun Tahiliani saree
PCJ stars on the cover of InStyle magazine wearing the Tarun Tahiliani saree

Priyanka Chopra Jonas's head rests lightly on her bare shoulder, the drape of the saree caressing her waist. The photograph is accompanied by the cover line: "I want to change the world a little bit." It's possibly the first time that two of India's powerhouse brands, Priyanka Chopra Jonas (PCJ) and the saree, have graced the cover of a global fashion bible.

US fashion magazine InStyle's July edition cover, out for an early preview, most thought was inspired and path-breaking until the outrage broke on social media. And at the centre of the chaos is the saree, of course.

PCJ in a ruffled Sabyasachi Mukherjee saree
PCJ in a ruffled Sabyasachi Mukherjee saree

More pointedly about the way the saree's "graceful decorum" has been disrupted, because it is worn without a blouse. Comments on PCJ's Insta account went nuts on Thursday, including this: Saree is completed with blouse (sic)… respect the attire pls; This is not Indian culture!; How are you changing the world by showing your bare back.

The designer behind the saree, Tarun Tahiliani, who crafted it in sequins, gota and Swarovski crystals, thinks it is yet another example of trial by social media.

PCJ in a Madhurya saree at the Padma Shri Awards in 2016
PCJ in a Madhurya saree at the Padma Shri Awards in 2016

"There's nothing vulgar about it. In fact, not using a choli makes it a global statement," he said, breaking into his trademark laugh. Bajirao Mastani was the last PCJ-starrer Tahiliani watched, and says, "The transition from alluring Indian beauty to this modern goddess for a mainstream fashion cover only speaks of her [Priyanka] versatility. She is truly a modern Indian icon".

PCJ, in the interview to the magazine, says sarees are a favourite. "My problem is when it comes to Indian fashion, there are always these shiny, sequinned, over-the-top Christmas-tree outfits. Those are not the sarees I wear. I grew up with my mother wearing sarees to the hospital, as a doctor. She'd wear these beautiful ones made of French chiffon, with a bindi over here. And the nape of her neck would smell like Dior's Poison. That, to me, was a modern woman. And that's what I want to show the world."

Ami Patel. Pic/Facebook
Ami Patel. Pic/Facebook

Ami Patel, the actor's stylist for her India appearances, says PCJ and the saree share a special relationship. "Personally, I can't drape a saree, but she can nail it down with just three safety pins. She comes into her own in a saree; whether a jamdani with a three quarter blouse like she wore to the Padma Shri Awards in 2016, or this sexy one on the cover."

Ironically, the modest accompaniments that the champions of Indian culture are upholding — the blouse and petticoat — are in fact, British imports. Sabyasachi Mukherjee's ruffled saree worn by PCJ in a photo-spread on the inside pages of the said magazine, was also critiqued for "objectifying the dress". And again, the blouse, or the lack of it, was lamented: "This is just a bra with material wrapped around waist (sic)."

Tarun Tahiliani
Tarun Tahiliani

InStyle's editor-in-chief Laura Brown said it was in fact, PCJ who suggested they embrace Indian fashion in the shoot, and called her "un-self-conscious and a rare bird". Sometimes, fashion sets out to provoke. Sometimes, it provokes by accident. But clearly, the only worthy Insta comment on the issue came from Brown herself — #sareenotsorry.

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