Group of women celebrate Indian weavers by wearing sarees at the Royal Ascot
In a welcome celebration of Indian weavers, a group of more than 1000 fashionable women of South Asian heritage wore sarees at the Royal Ascot this year, a horseracing event known for its elite attendees which include fashionistas showcasing their sense of luxurious style and fashion.
Dr Dipti Jain, who was one of the attendees, came up with the idea for the women to come together in a display of their South Asian heritage and promote the fine and intricate creations by Indian weavers. She said, “We are saree-loving girls and the idea came up after setting up a charity to help artisans and weavers, especially after the pandemic in India.”
Dr Jain herself wore a hand-embroidered silk saree designed by Rupa Khatun, an artisan from West Bengal that displayed two places closest to her heart – London and Kolkata. It featured the skylines of both the cities along with the Queen’s face, Big Ben, the iconic red phone box and the Tower of London.
Khatun spoke of the saree which took her four months to design and said, “I have never had any formal training in making sarees. I just learnt from the other women in the village and my mother and grandmother. I am really proud. I did not know about the Queen, London or Big Ben before.”
She added, “I am so happy that I am getting recognised. As of now, I just give my sarees to the middleman who sells them to the market. No one gives us any recognition. I am really proud of this saree. It has got such massive appreciation. This is the hardest saree I have ever made. I am used to traditional prints.”
Khatun also admitted that the biggest challenge for her was to accurately depict the Queen’s face on the saree. She got much-needed help and assistance from designer Tanima Paul who designed the saree and drew images of the Queen and the Big Ben on the fabric for Khatun to be able to make the final garment.
A silk stole showcasing a Union Jack and the Queen was also made by Khatun which will be gifted to Her Majesty by the women.Most of the women who attended the event were from the UK but some of them also travelled from other parts of the world to proudly flaunt their colourful ethnic wear.