Fashion, I believe, has always been a cumulative outcome of years of social, political and regional influence. If we probe into the fashion evolution in Bengal, a major chunk of it has evolved from the Bengal Renaissance in the Tagore Household (better known as the Thakurbari). The Tagore family, well known for Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore, had more to it than the great poet himself. The family’s progressiveness contributed greatly to the Bengal Renaissance, which eventually influenced the fashion scene, especially for Women.
Fashion prevailing in Bengal before the Thakurbari Influence
Till the 18th century, women (in Bengal) were confined to the inner chambers, better known as the “Andarmahal” of the sprawling houses. Surrounded by ladies of the household, the only interaction they ever had with any male member was their own husband, after nightfall. Hence, there was no concept of wearing a blouse underneath the saree, which further made women unsuitable for stepping out of the house.
The Tagore family has always been well known for breaking steriotypes of the society and bringing in a progressive society. Jnanadanandini, Rabindranath Tagore’s eldest sister-in-law was the first Bengali woman to cross the English Channel, and on her return home brought in a new ray of hope for the women. She was the one to bring in the neat Parsi style of draping the saree and taught other women the style of draping it. She also introduced the practice of wearing petticoats, blouses and jackets with the saree. Since this style of draping had no provision of covering the head, the ladies wore small hats. Jnanadanandini’s daughter Indira brought in the fashion of partially covering one’s head with one end of the saree. The Tagore women also introduced the fashion of lace blouses.
The present day fashion is a continuation of what the Thakurbari women gifted the society. Their progressive minds compelled and influence the women in that society to believe in themselves and match their steps with their male counterparts. The Tagore family brought in Renaissance in the truest of sense.
Saree : Ethnik Yarn
Blouse : Self Designed
Jewelry : Borrowed from mother
Concept and Styling : Pooja Dasgupta
Photography : Darshana Banthia