When Dolly Jain married into a Marwari family many years ago, she wasn’t very familiar with the six yards. A Bangalore girl, she felt most at home in a pair of jeans and a T-shirt. But life post-marriage required her to alter her wardrobe. Rather than resisting the lifestyle change, she decided to get innovative with it — trying out a new drape everyday. Today, she has dressed some of the country’s most popular women on their big day, including the likes of Deepika Padukone, Isha Ambani and Priyanka Chopra to name a few. She also holds multiple records in the draping space. This includes coming up with 325 sari drape styles and draping a sari in just 18.5 seconds.
Recounting her journey, Dolly says, “The biggest challenge for me was to convince my family. No one in my family had ever pursued a creative route before. Besides, the concept of a ‘drape artist’ didn’t exist at all when I started out. I had to carve a path. I remember people asking my parents, “Why does she need to do this?” Unperturbed by the talk, Dolly decided to hone her craft. “I brought home a mannequin and used to practice different drapes on it for at least two-three hours every night. I then clicked a picture of it. Once I had 80 styles, I got in touch with Limca Book of Records. They didn’t see the novelty in the idea initially. But once I showed them how different each drape is, they were on board.” Since then, Dolly and her records have come a long way and she credits her dad for it. “My dad said, ‘give it a wholehearted shot before you decide to quit. Worst case, you won’t succeed. But at least you’d have tried.’ So I did.”
Today, Dolly has a trained a team of close to 25 girls across different cities who offer the ‘Dolly Jain’ drape — either with a sari or with a chunni, dupatta. “I hate to turn down a bride. For me, it’s like dressing up a daughter each time. So I ensure that if I can’t go, someone trained by me can do the job.” It all started when a few girls in Dolly’s complex requested her to teach them a few styles. Slowly, a few wedding requests came in. During one such occasion, her drape caught the eye of designer Sandeep Khosla who promptly took down her co-ordinates and also shared them with those from the fraternity. From then on, there’s been no looking back. While shoots and events form a big part of Dolly’s repertoire, it’s the big fat Indian weddings that bring in the biggest chunk of work. The base price for a drape, Dolly informs, is Rs 25,000 and could vary depending on the occasion.
Elaborating on a ‘Dolly Jain’ drape, she continues, “When I drape someone, I keep in mind a zillion things. What if the bride has to bow down, touch her elders’ feet etc. Very often the brides give their blouse measurements months in advance and either lose or gain weight during the wedding week. I carry a tailoring kit to stitch up the blouse or loosen it to ensure a perfect fit.”
All about customisation
Recounting a particular instance she adds, “This one time, the designer didn’t take into account the bride’s six-inch heels while making the lehenga. As a result, it was too short. I looked into the bride’s mother’s wardrobe and pulled out a beautiful Kanjeevaram sari and attached its gold border to the underskirt. Not only did it work well, but also enhanced the outfit.” A big part of the job is also to customise the drape. “Deepika, for instance, likes her palla to flow. Isha Ambani likes it all tucked and pinned.”
What is typical of a high profile wedding is that there are cameras clicking the bride from various angles. “Unlike a regular wedding with one professional camera in the front, these weddings have multiple cameras and one has to be perfect from all angles. One can’t afford to have a single clumsy tuck or stitch because the next thing you know, there are pictures of it circled and zoomed in, splashed across the internet the next day. I’m grateful that I’ve never had a single such moment.”