The Prime Minister’s pagdis
Narendra Modi's headgear gives instant definition to Indian occasion wear
With his pagdis, consistent as a statement yet variant in textures, Prime Minister Narendra Modi retains his role as the best exemplar of “occasion wear". The segment sandwiched between couture and prêt, that’s dressy but not theatrical, it has a majority of Indian fashion designers fussing to give it recognition and signature. Let’s give it to Narendra Modi for showing how to give occasion wear an instant definition with two metres or more of well-chosen, woven cloth. A made in India crown. Worn with a tailored bandhgala or worn with an ordinary kurta.
So the onion pink silver zari striped Chanderi turban he wore today (it may well be a Maheshwari, argues a textile designer) underlined what the prime minister has communicated through his clothes from his first ever appearance as the leader of the nation on the Independence Day of 2014. Wearing a Bandhini safa in strategically chosen deep orange and green colours that offset his white sherwani and churidar, he stood for the Indian flag, for an ethnic creation as well as his own brand of identity in dressing. The safa rode buoyantly on the wind, giving Modi’s photographs that beamed across the world a cinematic flourish so typical to our culture.
The following year when then US President Barack Obama was the guest of honour at the Republic Day celebrations in 2015, Modi wore a Rajasthani satrangi pagdi with a black sherwani. Draped with a “fan" front, it got a lot of attention and news.
An ochre yellow Jodhpuri leheriya with a toffee coloured bandhgala to host President Francois Hollande of France last year for Republic Day followed by a rose-red-orange ombre one for the Independence Day, Modi’s pagdis, mostly chosen from the Rajasthan-Gujarat textile treasury have become a clear personal-political announcement. Expected but not predictable. He even brushed off the orange fixation this time to flag off pink. Time to say hats off?