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When the sixth episode of “and just like that”, the restart of “sex and the city,” aired earlier this month, it attracted a lot of attention from the South Asian community. Named after the Hindu festival Diwali, the episode used the celebration as a plot point and provoked strong reactions to a faux pas now called sari-gate.

In one scene, carrie bradshawplayed by Sarah Jessica Parker, and Seema Patel, a real estate broker played by Indian-British actress Sarita Choudhury, are shown shopping for clothes for a Independence Day party in what Carrie calls a “sari shop.” After the episode aired, many viewers pointed out that the store was actually stocked with Indian clothing beyond the sari and that Carrie eventually bought a lehenga, a three-piece garment worn at Indian weddings and celebrations.

Later in the episode, Seema and her mother are seen wearing saris, which consist of an uncut piece of cloth that is wrapped around the body and slung over one shoulder, along with matching blouses. But the script never makes an effort to distinguish between her saris and Carrie’s Lehengaan oversight that disappointed some viewers who were otherwise encouraged to watch Indian culture and fashion enjoy prime real estate on a mainstream TV show.

In an Instagram post shared the day after the episode aired, Imran Amed, founder and CEO of Business of Fashion, said, “I think it’s really cool” that Carrie wanted to wear Indian clothes for the show. fiesta diwali. “The problem is that now there are millions of people who think that what Carrie is wearing is a sari,” said Amed, who lives in London. “Is not.”

What’s in a name, really? In this case, centuries of cultural history.

The lehenga (or ghagra) is believed to have gained popularity around the 16th century, during the Mughal reign of India, and is most prevalent in North India.

“The lehenga set It is usually made of three elements: the voluminous floor-length skirt called a lehenga; the blouse or choli, often as a crop top; and a curtain dupatta or stole,” said Divyak D’Souza, a stylist in Mumbai and host of the Indian edition of “Say Yes to the Dress,” a reality TV show.

Carrie’s much-discussed lehenga is a burgundy skirt and midnight blue blouse ensemble from the spring-summer 2020 collection of Falguni Shane pavo real, a line founded by husband and wife designers Falguni Peacock and Shane Peacock. The embellished ensemble, made in the designers’ Mumbai workshop, features colorful embroidery and gold thread detailing on a jacquard fabric, and also comes with a matching net tulle dupatta that Carrie doesn’t wear in the episode.

“The lehenga motifs feature architectural domes, inspired by the palaces of Udaipur, Rajasthan,” said Falguni Peacock, whose brand is popular with various diaspora celebrities; their lehengas were also recently worn by Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Mindy Kaling for Diwali celebrations in 2021. Shane Peacock added that he and his wife approach their lehengas almost like dresses, which also makes them a hit with a younger crowd.

The sari is an even older garment. KH Radharaman, creative director of Advaya, a brand known for its technical saree innovations, said the drape has a rich history. “The sari It is one of the oldest garments in the history of mankind, whose origins date back to the Indus Valley Civilization.

“The nature of our ceremonies has changed, but the sari has remained constant,” said Radharaman, who lives in Bangalore, India. “It represents centuries of continuity in thought, linking us to our past and its traditions.”

Sarees, he said, are paired with a sewn-on blouse and are worn primarily by women, though some men wear them as well. “The commonly depicted way of wearing one is wrapped around the waist down in concentric folds, while the extended part, the pallu or tail piece, is thrown over the left shoulder,” Radharaman said. More contemporary ways to style a saree include wearing it with a tailored jacket, a crisp white shirt, or even a cape.

In its pure form, the sari is a fabric that takes the form of a wearer, which means that there are as many ways to cover it as there are communities in India.

“Each region has its own sari and corresponding visual design vocabulary, with motifs and techniques whose lineage and origin are steeped in history or mythology,” Radharaman said. “It is deeply symbolic of the culture of both the wearer and its creator, so it represents different cultural sensibilities in a way that few garments around the world can.”

Between this and the lehenga, is one more popular or more appropriate for certain occasions than the other? In a country as culturally diverse as India, it’s hard to generalize, as both have been part of the collective clothing lexicon of Indians for centuries (along with other garments like anarkalis, kurtas, and shararas, to name a few). Each community has its own mandate on its preferred silhouette or dress for the festivities, although D’Souza said the lehenga is often an option when an event calls for more formal attire.

“The sari is a common outfit for many Indian women, even for everyday wear,” she said. “The lehenga, by comparison, tends to be worn more for festive occasions and weddings; seen on both the bride and the guests.”

The “colors and surface ornamentation of a lehenga are often related to the cultural context of the bride,” said D’Souza, noting that not all versions are in spicy colors or with high glitter and floral patterns. “The silhouette has evolved enormously. Many designers are taking a modernist approach; experimenting with traditional fabrics, contemporary updates and modern style”.

(This article originally appeared in The New York Times.)

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