What do Vidya Balan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Deepika Padukone and Sonam Kapoor have in common besides the fact that they are actors? Show stoppers, did you say? Yes, you are right! Show stoppers in desi outfits, to be precise! These celebrities are proud of their culture and aren’t afraid to wear it on their sleeves, literally.

Some keep it simple, some like it traditional. Some opt for a vintage look, while a few get really creative with the saree. Whatever be the style, these super stars love to look and feel Indian on the global stage.

Setting the red carpet on fire

She may be an internationally recognised face, but Aishwarya Rai Bachchan loves to go back to her roots as often as she can. The panache and grace with which Aishwarya carries off traditional Banarasi sarees at gala red-carpet events is a lesson worth emulating. Her Bollywood peer, Nandita Das too wins our vote with her simplicity and elegance in the unstitched garment.

Remember Deepika in a beautiful gold and beige saree, again at the Cannes festival, in 2010? Who can forget Sonam Kapoor’s vintage-feel saree teamed up with a long-sleeved jacket and an oversized nose ring at the Cannes film festival in 2013! The ravishing Priyanka Chopra, who won several hearts in America with her appearances in shows like Quantico and Baywatch, has also walked the ramp and red carpet in stylish sarees and sequined blouses.

The younger crop too seems to be comfortable sporting the saree, in a range of fabrics like silk, chiffon, cotton and crepe, at both Indian and international events. Young Bollywood actors like Katrina Kaif, Shraddha Kapoor and Anushka Sharma have given the Indian outfit their own signature statement and chic spin.

South Indian actors like Shruti Hassan, Shriya Saran, Nayantara and Asin too have taken to the saree with great gusto. Shruti put together a bold and edgy ensemble at Cannes this year: a black ruffled saree, a gold blouse with three-dimensional flowers, and winged eyeliner!

Handlooms rock!

While latest designer sarees may be the chosen wear at filmy events and cocktail parties, celebrities do not shy away from handlooms and traditional weaves too. Kangana Ranaut, Kiron Kher, Radhika Apte, Dia Mirza and Kiran Rao wear handcrafted desi weaves like Kanijavaram, Chanderi, Jamdani, Kalamkari and Zardosi.

 

And what can we say about Vidya Balan’s love affair with the six-yard wonder! The ethnic look sits on Vidya like second skin. Be it international film festivals, film premieres or press meets, Vidya has always chosen the saree over the gown. She has often spoken fondly about her immense love and respect for handlooms, be it the shimmering Kanjivarams or the breezy Bengal cottons.

 

Politicians like Sushma Swaraj, Maneka Gandhi and Smriti Irani and artists like Shubha Mudgal, Sudha Raghunathan and Usha Uthup are also ambassadors of ethnic handwoven sarees in their own way. Sonia Gandhi is known to own an enviable collection of handloom sarees like khadi cottons, Pochampallis, Sambhalpuri ikats, taants and Maheshwaris, while her daughter Priyanka is often seen in crisp cotton sarees. Behind the glamour and power dressing lies the hard work and craftsmanship of thousands of weavers across the country. While fashionistas, celebrities and fashion designers are doing their bit to promote the saree on a global scale, we too must ensure it stays a much-loved and relevant piece of attire in a rapidly modernizing world.

The onus lies in each of us to embrace the saree and make it an integral part of our wardrobe. When we do so, we not just preserve our culture, but we also sustain the weaving industry and encourage the weavers who work tirelessly to produce textiles that wow everyone.