Former Samata Party president and textile revivalist Jaya Jaitly was disappointed to see that Indian actor Priyanka Chopra opted to dress up like a British aristocrat at the royal wedding of Duke and Duchess of Sussex. She says she could have opted for a beautiful sari as independent India has so much to show to the world.
“How sad an Indian actor attending the royal wedding in UK should dress like a British aristocrat at Ascot rather than represent a free and independent India in a beautiful sari,” Jaitly tweeted on May 19, the day when actress Meghan Markle wed British Royal Prince Harry.
However, her complaint goes beyond Priyanka’s dress.
Jaitly told IANS: “All these actors, they dress up in all these fancy gowns by fancy designers who pay them for wearing their outfits and so they get fat money. Now, I keep feeling as I am loyal to our weavers and our textiles in India and we are working all our lives to revive it… We never attach a human being (the weaver’s name) with the brand name unless it has a designer’s name.”
“We will say Kanjeevaram or Sambalpuri or something else and that’s the unfair practice all over the world and particularly in India.”
As Founder and President of Dastkari Haat Samiti, an art and craft market to enable rural artisans of traditional Indian crafts to gain confidence in the marketplace through many innovative strategies, Jaitly has been at the forefront of promoting Indian handicrafts and textiles.
She questions why Indian actresses wear western gowns to red carpet events abroad.
“Even in Hollywood (red carpets), where if I see Deepika Padukone wearing long gowns… they never really can compete. It’s like Indian fashion designers trying to do western dresses… Why don’t they wear most beautiful gorgeous sari, and everyone will go ‘wow’.”
An Indian activist, Suhani Jalota, who runs Myna Mahila Foundation, attended the royal wedding in an elegant sari designed by Indian brand Raw Mango run by designer Sanjay Garg.
Counter-questioned about the existence of a dress code to attend the royal wedding, Jaitly said: “In the royal wedding, it was all about inclusiveness and welcoming others’ society, people, race and colour. The royal family and all these people went all out to emphasise the American-African identity of the bride and everyone was raving about the bride’s mother too because they were different.
“I felt sad when I think that why do we copy them and never quite get it right. We have so much to show and show off.”
On the dichotomy of a dress code, Jaitly pointed out: “When somebody in a village in India says ‘Sar dhako (cover your head)’, we don’t want that… When somebody says, ‘Don’t wear jeans in college’, we say ‘Who are you to tell us a dress code?’. But if Queen in England descends an invitation and say you got to wear a hat, which is not part of your culture, you will start saying there was a dress code.
“I don’t understand these various double standards.”
She said people may not agree with her, but in her words, “Just like Priyanka has the right to wear whatever she wants, I have the right to express my opinion.”