Conversations over chess & cotton – The New Indian Express


Town Express News Service

CHENNAI: While India’s top chess players spent the days running up to the 44th FIDE Chess Olympiad 2022 practicing and strategizing their moves, several of their parents picked up an unexpected new skill — bespoke tailoring measurements. Sangeeta Grover, a 50-year-old fashion designer from Delhi put in charge of ‘Indian wear’ for the Indian contingent to wear at the gala opening ceremony at Nehru Stadium tells us that her past month has been all about strategizing as well.

“Some players were far-flung, some had Covid, and some were in other cities attending tournaments. I had to figure out how to get their measurements without a tailor in sight!,” she shares. The fastest route she discovered was to request the parent or escort to purchase some measuring tape and then give them a crash course on how to use it.

“This was not an easy feat,” she tells us over a crackling phone line. Video calls, some of them over an hour long, were spent getting measurements just right for her theme of off-white saris with pink borders for the girls and kurta-pyjama suits with a Nehru jacket sporting a pink Kalamkari print for the boys. Shifting gears to her design ethos for the event, the owner of Dimple Creations says, “I wanted it to be absolutely Indian but unique at the same time.”

This apart, Sangeeta makes it a point to emphasize that there was a lot of talk about the use of rich fabrics like silk but given how hot Chennai can be, she opted for a more breathable modal South cotton instead. And given the understandable rush of nerves a day ahead of the tourney, she was also thoughtful about keeping the garments easy to wear. “Some of the girls are as young as 14 and 15 and don’t know how to drape a sari, so I made them wraparound saris,” she says. “Of course, if you were to look at them, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference,” she adds.

Fast forward to opening night and fortunately no fitting issues, and Sangeeta gets emotional as she takes us back. “There was a moment seeing the Indian contingent in the march past wearing my clothes, leading us forward with the Indian flag – that gave me goosebumps,” says the designer. “Over 25 years of my career in fashion, I have never experienced anything quite like it,” she tells us, her voice thick with pride.

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