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 Home > City Resources > Fashoin and Beauty > Costumes for Classical Dance

Arun Bawoor
TVS Mani on dance costumes
Makeup Tips
TVS Mani, the proprietor of Shanthi Tailors, is not just another tailor. A specialist in designing costumes for Classical Indian Dance, Mani also runs the Tamil monthly, Oolaga Thyyarkalaiganan, exclusively devoted to tailoring. A dedicated businessman, he was also instrumental in the formation of a Welfare association for the tailoring community in Chennai. He was awarded the Natya Odai Rathinam by Vakkirisami Pillai and the Pinnudathaiyellur (Honest Tailor) award from the Shanmuganandha Bharatnatyam School. spoke to this Dance Costume designer.

What motivated you to choose this profession?
Was it in the family?

T V S ManiNo. Nobody in my family hailed from this profession. I was the first one to take up this profession and pursue it as a career. I came to Chennai for my Schooling. Unfortunately or fortunately, I do not know, I could not continue in School. It was at that time that I contemplated Tailoring as an option. I liked the idea of designing Dance costumes. I decided to pursue this idea further. That's how it all happened. As for the motivation factor, I was deeply influenced by the Thirukkural.

How long have you been designing?

For the past thirty years.

Do you design exclusively for Bharatanatyam?

No. I design for all Classical Indian Dances. Since Chennai is a hub for Bharatanatyam, most of my orders will be from this segment.

What new patterns and designs have you introduced? Skirt Costume
Most of it is in Bharatanatyam. The three-pleats dance costume was in vogue for a long time. At present the V-shaped fan is very popular. This is called Rama style, after the name of the artist. Usually, a new design is identified with the artist who wears it for the first time. Then the Kalakshetra style is also very popular.

What type of material is used for designing a Bharatanatyam costume?

Usually three types of material are widely used. Pure Kancheepuram Silk sarees, Dharmavaram sarees and China silk. Polycot varieties are also used.

Which is the most popular of all these?

Dharmavaram Silk.

Approxiametly, how much time is needed for tailoring a Bharatanatyam costume?

This is not a one-man show. We work here as a team. Different people do the cutting, stitching and ironing. On an average, we can deliver dress in a single day.

What is the cost involved in getting a costume stitched?

Cross Pleat CostumeIt starts from Rs1,800/-. The maximum is Rs.5,000/-. It also depends on the type of material that is to be stitched.

How many people are involved in the team?

Nearly eight.

Who make up your Clientele?

Dancers right from 5 to 50 years of age. I design for both men and women. Most often customers are recommended and sent here.

What is the secret of success as a dance costume designer?

There are four actors involved in designing a costume. Teacher, Parents, Tailor and the Artiste. Each one has a different viewpoint and ideas on how the material is to be stitched. An intelligent designer will always rely on psychology. The designer has to listen patiently to the ideas suggested and then balance those with the anatomy. Tailoring done without taking the anatomy into account will be useless. Aspects like broad shoulders, height and occasion have to be taken into account. I think this has helped a lot. Today, my customers place orders from abroad; for themselves and for their students.

Kuchipudi CostumeHave you designed costumes for films?

Yes. I did. But you will not see my name there. I usually do not approach Directors. They come to me. To name a few films - Mythili Ennai Kadhali and Kadhalan.

Who are the major artistes that you have designed costumes for? I would not like to be identified as a designer for a particular artiste. I would rather appreciate if the artiste felt proud to have chosen me as her designer.

Have you any plans for modernisation?
Three Fan CostumeModernisation is very difficult in this type of costume designing. This profession is directly linked to our culture. Changes have to fit into this cultural framework. That is very important.

Why is it called 'Shanthi' Tailors?
Yes. That's a good question. My first customer was Shanthi. It is after her that this place is named. Later on, when I got married, it so happened that my wife was also called Shanthi. Many think that it is named after her (my wife). But it is not so.

Address: Shanthi Tailors, #6, Kapaleeswarar Sannathi street,
Mylapore, Chennai 600 004
Phone: 494 3783

Author: Poornima S
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