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 Saree Drape Graces French Runway 

The new year started with a fresh breath of Paris Fashion Week showcasing designers around the world with their astonishing Spring couture collections. This year it’s all about connecting to your roots and blending in history with modern silhouettes. Throughout the runway, there was one common theme in all collections, which is the “Saree drape”. Born in South Asia, with thousands of variations of draping fabric varying across each state in India, the saree has been an iconic symbol throughout the history of fashion and finally getting the spotlight it deserves. The saree symbolizes a unique blend of sensuality and gracefulness which makes it empowering and sustainable. 

Here are the top four designers who harnessed the power of the saree drape in their spring summer 2024 Haute-couture collection: 

Julie-de-Libran 

Born in Aix-en-Provence in France, a child of two continents. Julie moved with her family to San Diego in 1980 for 10 years, returning to Europe she completed her education in Milan and Paris and finally started her brand in June of 2019. The brand is devoted to the highest standards of design, workmanship, and sustainable production. The fabrics come from the finest mills in Europe with whom Julie de Libran has worked for years, when she was the head of design studios at Louis Vuitton, Prada, and Sonia Rykiel. 

Each dress is made in very limited quantities, with the option of by-appointment fittings for further modifications. This allows Julie de Libran to ensure a level of quality in construction and material that puts her collection somewhere between couture and ready-to-wear. Each dress is numbered and sold in a limited series, which eliminates wasteful overproduction. 

In her recent PFW Spring/Summer 24 collection Julie de Libran welcomed guests to her home, transforming her living room into a runway and her primary bedroom into a cabin, to present what she called a “non-linear mix” of one-off and limited-looks. The first look—slip dresses in dévoré and lamé velvet, cut on the bias—channeled the 1930s silhouette with saree /“dupatta style” draping

Gaurav Gupta 

Gaurav Gupta offered a meditation on its spiritual inspirations, such as the Sanskrit word Aarohanam, or the mudra, a symbolic gesture that would soon emerge as a brassiere cast in bronze. “Ancient cultures were so much more progressive, they didn’t even have to talk to each other to communicate,” he said. “Everything means something.” 

For his third couture outing in Paris, the designer continued to draw on India’s rich embroidery tradition, working his self-described futuristic-primitive vibe in a way he called “almost meteoric.” This was particularly evident in mirror-and-crystal embroidery he was inspired by kundalini, the energy of divine love. 

Gupta expanded on a house signature, using corsetry wires to hose the kinds of silhouettes that make Gupta a favorite among pop icons including Beyoncé, Cardi B, and Megan Thee Stallion. 

Zuhair Murad

Lebanese designer Zuhair Murad often looks to his travels for inspiration, but for this couture outing celebrating Phoenician heritage, titled “A Tyrian Arabesque” his primary references were museum collections and the internet. 

This collection informed by a love of the sea, an Indo-Greco-Roman culture, trade among Mediterranean nations, and art represented a departure and a more modern one. For one, there were no princess dresses and no bridal gown finale. In their stead came exercises in saree draping, silhouettes with big shoulders and low waists, and latter-day iterations of Astarte (goddess of war and sexual love) 

The dress in white macramé, featuring grape clusters and beading, with saree pelting offered another ode to commerce. Heavily sequined numbers in sunset colors were informed by ancient mosaics housed in the National Museum of Beirut, among others. 

Robert Wun 

For his second outing on the Paris couture calendar, Robert Wun picked up more or less where he left off, expanding on ideas like last season’s blood-spattered gowns with new propositions culled primarily from his favorite films. It was also an exercise in gratitude, as this year marks the 10th anniversary of his brand. 

Wun demonstrated a mastery of saree-style Greco draping, with fabric on a one-shoulder number in rosy beige silk. He gave his sense of humor free rein throughout, whether on a comparatively tame beaded headpiece and cat-eye glasses or surrealistic head ornaments. 

It was a clever play with human-shaped hands on the model’s face. Robert Wun gave a classical Indo-saree drape a touch of the horror genre. 

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