When I designed mora's first Kalidaar back in 2009, it was done by observing the stitching patterns of a Kalidaar (ghagra) from Haryana, that was left in my grandmother's trunk of textiles. It is perhaps dated somewhere from 1920s to 1940s. I was amazed by the number of kalis and each kali adding to the substance of the skirt.
I tried it on. It was substantial. And because of that very reason, it changed the way I walked wearing it.
I couldn’t not be aware that I am wearing many panels of many fabrics sewn together. I couldn’t not remember what a privilege it is to have so much fabric into one garment. I could not help but remember that my grandmother was regal in every way. Yet, never colonial. Or even post colonial. She was every bit her own mother’s and her mother’s mother’s legacy. Proudly speaking only her local dialect, she perhaps rejected learning English as an additional language, a language most of her contemporaries liked to flaunt.
With an Indian freedom fighter husband (my grandfather) by her side, these choices must have been well-contemplated. I never really saw my grand mother in anything else but kota saris in pastel colours. My grandfather passed away when I was 3 years old.
Her trunk of old textiles mesmerised my childhood. Whenever the trunk opened, it was like the only opportunity available in the eternity of time to get the deepest peep into her history and aesthetics. She was a Karachi girl married into Punjab home. She carried in herself the best of both worlds. Half her life was packed in trunks smelling of “odonil”, the rest half smelt of almond oil.
Though I never saw her in a kalidaar, people who did see her through her youth, always said, “your grandmother had some presence”. She had a huge collection of beautiful saris. If a kalidaar remained in her trunk for so many years, I must think it must mean something to her heart.
Hence, kalidaars come with a solid back story! Solid enough for me to decide that if I could, I would like to continue this tradition.
Patching small strips of fabric together into a whole cloth and the using those diverse mix of strips as a highlight stitch between each pleat of multi pleat kalidaar is no easy feat of craftmanship of stitching.
Though with keen and focussed attention, we could finish crafting this kalidaar. Gurmel Singh again excelled through his existing abilities. The changing colours of patchwork through every panel do bring in a subtle but changing mood. The gentle linen dupatta highlights the kaildaar in a deep contrast of colours.