Community role models walk the ramp for Saris to Suits
Saris to Suits, an organization that empowers women through their work of upcycling discarded saris, organized a fashion show with a difference in October at the Abhira Ballroom at Sankranti Restaurant in Johns Creek.
[Left] Saris to Suits team with their models for the fashion show.
In tune with Bollywood mashups, women networked over appetizers and masala chai. A video featuring the work done by Saris to Suits was played. As upbeat techno fusion beats played, inspiring women from Atlanta’s Indian-American community walked onto the lighted catwalk to unveil upcycled clothing. The estimated 200 unsuspecting attendees broke into applause seeing local role models, activists, and professional women from ages 30 to 80 flaunting socially- conscious dresses, kaftans, flowing robes, lingerie, batik-pareo, beaded and pleated jewelry, and more.
The show and pop-up event was organized during Domestic Violence Awareness Month to raise money for the Saris to Suits Purple Lotus Legal Fund which was launched in 2020.
Hosted by the organization’s board member Veena Rao, the first-of-its-kind fundraiser saw an outpouring of love from the community in the form of sponsorships, donations, and a full house of cheering supporters. “Saris to Suits is a charity that empowers women and strives towards social justice,” Rao said in her welcome address. “This is a cause that is close to my heart. As some of you know, The Saris to Suits Legal Defense Fund is named after my novel, Purple Lotus, which is the story of Tara, an immigrant woman in Atlanta who is trapped in an abusive marriage and must overcome societal pressure and stigma to find her voice and stand up for herself.” She also paid tribute to her friend, Frances West, who was a Saris to Suits calendar girl at the age of 97.
[L to R] Chandler Sharma, Dr. Jag Sheth, Madhu Sheth, and Dr. Paddy Sharma.
The proceeds from sales and donations will not only help survivors of abuse and sex trafficking, it will also help underprivileged women in Mumbai slums who make these garments from upcycled saris.
The models included Bhavya Choudhary, Lakshmi Thesam, Bandana Verma, Malika Ghosh Garrett, Smitha Doshi, Dr. Paddy Sharma, Jyothsna Hegde, Raj Razdan, Kanchana Raman, Meghana Naik, Pratima Sajja, Neha Kumar, Anupa Thakurta, Shaneen Bhayani, Sangeeta Ramrakhyani, and the showstopper Madhu Sheth.
“We went from hosting a trunk show to a choreographed runway event in six weeks. The enthusiasm and support is heartwarming and makes all the work over a decade gratifying,” said Pratibha “Patti” Tripathi, the founder of Saris to Suits, who was also the event emcee. “We hope to make the experience beautiful and memorable. Our breathtaking showstopper was Madhu Sheth who matched her magnificent 60-year-old Banarasi silk wedding sari to mark her anniversary and draped our monochromatic kimono jacket over it.” Said Sheth, “It was a very enjoyable and meaningful experience of modeling upcycled saris that have been turned into contemporary fashion garments to support a very worthy cause.”
“Walking the ramp for a charitable cause made me happy and gave me a warm, glowing feeling,” said Bhavya Chowdhary, Board Member of Saris to Suits.
Jyothsna Hegde, NRI Pulse City News Editor, who also walked the ramp, was a co-organizer of the show. The show was choreographed by dancer and dance trainer Prem Rahman. Classical dance instructor Anupa Thakurta said, “It was a classy, one-of-a-kind show, something I have never been a part of before It was an amazing experience walking the ramp for a good cause and at the same time meeting lovely new ladies.”
[L to R] Neha Kumar, Bhavya Chaudhary, Attendee, Patti Tripathi, Veena Rao, Jyothsna Hegde, Prem Rehman, and Meghana Naik.
“Very humbled to be of service to women and children which has always been my passion and goal,” Raj Razdan said. Kavitha Katragadda of Sankranti restaurant said that they were happy to host the event to support survivors of domestic violence. Bhavana Anand, of Anand Entertainment and Zuri by Bhavu, supported the event with a Gold Sponsorship. “It’s been a great honor and a pleasure to be part of this great organization. I’m looking forward to many more events such as these,” said Zoe Mirza of Chugh Law Firm.
—Jyothsna Hegde, photos by Vinod Sharma,
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