Project Streedhan: The Iron Combo

Project Streedhan: The Iron Combo

Project Streedhan’s #InvestinIron campaign addressing anemia in Indian women gave the right iron to the popular image of the brocade lehnga and the mismatched sari blouse  

Last week, just before Dhanteras, when buying and wearing gold is considered auspicious in India, Project Streedhan posted an #InvestinIron video showing women eating fruits, corn and other healthy foods with unabashed hunger and satiation. It was created and conceptualised by advertising agency, FCB Ulka for Project Streedhan which is a CSR initiative for DSM, a global major specialising in solutions for nutrition, health and sustainable living. Talking about anemia in Indian women, (one out of two are reportedly deficient), thus prioritising iron over gold, the video got a lot of attention. Some in fact, felt that the messaging was mixed up.

What didn’t get much talked about though was the enjoyable assimilation of visual and styling ideas. An upbeat musical tune that reminded you of Anurag Kashyap’s “O Womaniya” from the film Gangs of Wasseypur and the persistence of the brocade lehnga and the brocade blouse worn with saris in contrasting colours. Brocade has reigned as the big boss of Indian couture as well as mass retail ever since the government began to push Banaras and its heritage (not just weaves) a few years back. While the brocade lehnga, once a second rung style player given the decades old dominance of the sari has effectively nudged its way up to become a top co-player. Styled with mismatched blouses, it features in brand campaigns all across, from mass to premium brands. From Big Bazaar to Westside, Manyavar to Meena Bazaar, Ekaya to Masaba. Sanjay Garg may have been among the first fashion designers who zoomed in on unusually mismatched colours for his sari campaigns with an early thrust on Chanderi but that aesthetic (including for brocades) had been a distinctive feature also of Delhi-based sari store L’Affaire’s photo campaigns.



A still from the video.

Today, given its many interpretations, the brocade lehnga and the contrasting sari blouse have become a part of a shared design language in Indian fashion and retail. Project Streedhan’s #InvestinIron campaign further connected these dots showing how popular ideas walk from one cultural implementation to another. In the theatrical interpretation of Ramayana staged at Delhi’s Bharatiya Kala Kendra for years (the 63rd edition was staged earlier this month), Sita, in the production directed by Shobha Deepak Singh wears silken saris with contrasting (brocade or brocade-like) blouses. Goddess Laxmi, in clay idols, calendars or visual interpretations also wears blouses in sharply mismatched colours. Since there is no factual documentation of when this #Untrend of contrasting colours in Indian wardrobes started, it is great to see the idea return to our attention through “trending” conversations. Project Streedhan gave it just the right iron.

Banner: A still from the video courtesy courtesy