Farzeen Daver: A ‘Sari’ affair!


December 4, 2007

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Not just popular in its traditional avatar, the Parsi gara with a ‘contemporary twist’ is also making waves today, finds Ismat Tahseen

MUMBAI: A Tag Heuer watch, Jimmy Choo suede boots and Kenneth Cole’s alligator clutches may all be in the running for the ‘hottest thing’ this season, but also finding its place in this list is the six yards of a sari. Making its share of appearance at weddings, navjyotes and other soirees at this time of the year, it’s indeed the Parsi gara that has caught on really well.

Coming in traditional colours of purple, red, violet and maroon, and new shades of fuchsia, turquoise and black, these saris are also replete with hand embroidered motifs – right from cranes and storks to endless French knots, houses, bridges and Chinese characters, each of which is laden with symbolism.

“To me, a gara sari is like an heirloom that has been handed down from generation to generation,” says Farzeen Daver-Boomla, daughter of Naju Daver, who is best known for reviving this art of making the gara 30 years ago. It’s history goes way back to the 1800s, when traders from China brought it with them. The gara was made using a variety of silks such as gaaj, paaj and ghat that were available at the time.

These materials had to be maintained carefully and could not be washed; a reason why the trend died down over the years. Farzeen explains, “Most Parsis would cut off the border and use it to make curtains and cushion covers.” Her mother changed all that when on the behest of a friend, she salvaged an old gara. From then on, these exquisite sarees were made with materials (read purple crepe silk and chamois satin) that were easier to handle, thus adding to their longevity.

Today, the gara is very popular and Farzeen has customers who include the cr?me-de-la-cr?me of society! “You’ll be surprised by the number of non-Parsis who want to wear a gara today,” she says, adding that it has become an integral part of a bride’s trousseau.

While Farzeen Daver believes that gara embroidery must remain to the confines of the sari, there are some who are using it on other garments, owing to its growing appeal. Take Rayomand Manekshaw, who whose label Revival even makes dupattas and wedding lehengas using gara motifs. “I first did it about five years ago and I’m glad I did so,” he says.

He also emphasises the need to create a greater awareness about the gara so as to warn people about cheaper knock-offs that are avaliable in the market.

“They’re just copies from old photographs where the material is not authentic, neither is the embroidery,” he states vehemently. The secret, to an authentic gara, he says, lies in the fact that the wrong side of the garment must look almost the same as its right one or its front, for that is how well its embroidery should be done.

With the wedding season in full swing, the gara has more than its share of takers. But are you going to wear a gara this season?


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  1. Mishi

    Can you let me know if I can buy these gara sarees in Mumbai-also if non parsis are allowed to wear them-Thanks

  2. Mishi

    Can you let me know if I can buy these gara sarees in Mumbai-also if non parsis are allowed to wear them-Thanks