In the last few years, the word ‘feminism’ has gained a new currency in the fashion industry. Emblematically written on a white T-shirt, the phrase sounds like a manifesto, yet it arguably fails to dialogue with the long history of feminism, the women’s liberation movement, and their intersections with the history of fashion. For Rosa Genoni, her work in fashion; her ideological commitment to the workers’ and women’s struggle; and her all out opposition to war and fascism were all overlapping and intersecting activities.
The sari challenges Western notions of innovation, for the diverse range of possibilities for draping a seemingly simple, standard swath of fabric. It’s a supremely engineered garment, and a marvel of design, for the sheer fact that it affects countless, workable iterations. For centuries, dozens of drapes have allowed women to engage in various types of labour and in other activities: farming; fishing; house- and office-work; childrearing; sleeping. The practical need for a well-designed garment that moves with the wearer is of the utmost importance, and its utility, convenience and adaptability, combined with a sari’s gracefulness, are precisely how the garment will take on new iterations.