Every morning, Dr. Shahidha Bari dresses for work and travels into London on a packed tube looking much like the people around her. But, as the child of immigrants growing up in a Bengali Muslim household in southeast England, she has also been accustomed to wearing entirely different sorts of clothes, reflective of her particular ancestry and cultural traditions.
These days, stacks of elaborate silk saris, embroidered shawls and ornate bangles languish in a remote part of her wardrobe, now only rarely worn at weddings and religious ceremonies. But, in many ways, these are the most precious items of clothing she owns, profoundly bound up with memory and meaning, and connecting her to a life from which she has inevitably grown apart. Shahidha’s most vivid recollections of her childhood are those of her mother bringing up 6 boisterous young children, always immaculately dressed in pressed and pleated saris of varied colours, textures and designs.
Alaksha Jivan, MA Fashion and Film
In this programme, Shahidha traces the story of the sari, explores how it feels to wear one and asks what it meant for women like her mother. She talks with a range of women – including Mishal Husain, Monica Ali, and me – about our experiences. She explores the powerful, painful, sometimes complicated relationships between mother and daughters, and discovers the unexpected ways in which clothing can be imprinted with feelings of nostalgia, love and loss, whichever background we come from.