Mundum Neryathum or the kasavu was traditionally two pieces which later on became a single piece saree. One piece is tied around the waist to form the skirt, while the other is draped across the shoulder to form the pallu. This form of wearing the Kerala saree is what we know to be the kasavu today.
Over the years, fashion has taken its course and the kasavu has received its fair share of makeovers. From chudidars to skirts to even dresses, the fabric has been stylised to fit into all forms of silhouettes. While all these styles have failed to capture the eyes of many, the traditional kasavu saree remains distinct and exquisite. Designers have tried their hand at experimenting with the kerala saree but to no avail. The simplicity of the attire is what catches the eye and trying to stitch it up to create new fashion doesn’t do justice to its purity.
Today, designer Poornima Indrajith with her label Pranaah, and few others like her, have been successful in molding the saree into beautiful clothes. Worn by a gamut of celebrities, this designer is one to look out for.
Today, one can purchase a kasavu that comes with a coloured border, embroidery, block print and various other designs on the body. While these are readily available in the market, you can even design your own plain kasavu. Adding a dainty beaded border or appliquéing the body with small motifs, you can make a kasavu truly yours.
The classic cream and gold combination is best worn with a blouse of a contrasting colour. This is the most basic and popular way of draping the kasavu, hence you cannot go wrong. In recent years, printed, kalamkari, brocade etc., have been paired with it. If the idea is to keep it purely traditional, pick a three fourth or a half sleeved blouse in brocade or a contrasting colour fabric.
If you wish to take the fashion quotient a notch higher, wear the saree with an off shoulder top, a brightly coloured shirt or a cape. The beauty of the saree is such that you can dress it up or down depending on the occasion and what you choose to wear it with.
As the world knows, Keralites have a special fondness toward gold and accessorising the saree with gold jewellery remains timeless. The traditional kaasu mala, Paalakya and the Naagapadum complement the kasavu saree perfectly.
The trick is to underplay the accessories and keep the white-gold saree as the main focal point of your ensemble. Add colour with your blouse and lip colours and keep accessories to a minimum. The ‘less is more’ mantra applies well when it comes to this fashion tradition.
The nature of the material is best suited for the tropical climate that dominates southern India, making the wearer feel light and breezy. The sarees come in crisp cottons, soft cottons and tissues. The latest trend in the kasavu is that of murals painted all over it. From Ganesha to Radha Krishna to Trissurpuram, the sarees are adorned with breathtaking motifs. The sarees bring out a regal side to the simple kasavu. The other popular trend is that of block printed kasavus which make for a semi-formal look.
Understated yet splendid, the kasavu saree is a timeless piece that has retained its essence and culture over generations.