UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday virtually gave lessons in fashion designing to 38 students graduating from the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) in Rae Bareli.
Striking a personal note, the Congress president recalled late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's "innate sense of
fashion" and said that the simplicity of her elegance was admired the world over.
Known for her penchant for traditional Indian wear, Sonia said there was a trend in Indian fashion to overdo and over- embellish clothes.
"Sometimes a single garment will have zardozi, beads, sequins, patchwork and crystals. Apart from completely overshadowing the wearer, such garments are very uncomfortable to wear," she said.
"In my view, fashion does not mean opulence," Sonia told the gathering that included students and faculty of NIFT.
She said adding more ornamentation to garments was very easy, but that did not add up to fashion.
"To find the right colour combination, cut and proportion in a garment to ensure that it is comfortable as well is more challenging for a designer, but it results in a garment that is timelessly stylish and elegant," said Sonia, dressed in a bright yellow cotton saree.
Fashion was not new to the country known for its strong aesthetic sense, she said.
"Fashion has always been part of Indian life and culture. Indians have a very highly developed aesthetic sense, a sense of style and elegance which can be seen in the vibrant colours of a rural woman's sarees, her lehenga, ohrni or the cut of her choli or the myriad wonderful ways in which men wear their turbans.
"Every state has its distinct tradition of weaving, dyeing, printing, embroidery and beadwork."
According to Sonia, for centuries foreign traders and designers have looked to India for the skills of its craftspersons and the sumptuousness of its textiles and jewelry.
"This is a heritage that is truly unparallelled in its beauty, its richness and diversity. I hope that you will take inspiration from this," she told the students of NIFT.