Wearing Madras

“If you want to try out Madras but are a bit intimidated by the bright colors and unique look it creates, fashion experts offer this advice on how to ease into the style:

– Anyone can wear madras, regardless of age and gender.

– Madras is a summer look and shouldn’t be worn in the fall.

– Madras is meant to look casual, but pulled together. It’s probably best not to wear it to the office.

– Wear it loose. It should hang away from your body, not cling to it.

– Don’t wear it from head to toe. Pick either a top or bottoms and pair it with something more subdued, like a solid T-shirt.

– Madras shirts look great with jeans.”

This is how an article in web edition of Chicago Tribune dated July 28,2006 ends. The article is about the come back of Bleeding Madras, a cloth made using vegetable dyes that bled , ran and blended to create a stunning effect. The bleeding Madras of the 1950s and 60s brought the world attention to Madras, both the cloth and the city.

Cloth historians say that the first cloth handwoven in (or near) Madras was made of yarn spun from the tip-skin of ancient trees, and was called “karvelem patta”. Many centuries later, about 3,000 B.C., Madras cotton assumed its rightful place as king, and bore the name “gada”. Sometime during the 12th century, gada, not adorned with a stripe, or stripes, caught the fancy of Africa and the Middle East, and was exported to these lands to be made into headpieces. And, in the 1500’s, a much refined Madras cotton was first block-printed by hand with floral or temple designs, and became the traditional garb of Madras villagers until plaids came into vogue in the 1800’s.

There seems to be a Scottish Connection.The native handweavers simply copied the tartan patterns worn by the Scottish regiments that occupied southern India in the 1800’s. Also, the basic and traditional colors of both plaids are much the same: blues, reds, yellows, browns, greens and whites.

And in the cloth’s heyday, over 150,000 new plaid patterns were fashioned, using homemade vegetable dyes.Every time the madras was washed the colors would run, creating a unique washed-out look, known as bleeding madras.

To create breathability, madras is made of loosely woven cotton threads in bright colors, including pinks, blues and greens. The weave creates a plaid patchwork of extremely soft material that hangs away from the body to prevent uncomfortable clinging.

Today, of course, Madras no longer bleeds, because it is dyed with man-made, color-fast dyes.

Oldnavy.com, which provides the latest fashions, is encouraging you to crave madras with its “Make it Madras” campaign, and online sales of madras on trend-barometer eBay increased more than 70 percent between May and June.

Its good to hear about the come back of ( Bleeding) Madras in U S when Madras Day is fast approaching.

(with excerpts from the web)

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