As winter draws to a close and the temperature starts dipping to minus, you know it’s time to pep up that winter closet with something voguish, yet comfortable and warm. Choosing something that is a combination of both can be quite a task, especially in gelid winter climates! People of Kashmir have long back solved this problem with their traditional winter dress – the Phiran. A typical Kashmiri Phiran lies somewhere between a cloak and a long coat and is adorned by graceful embroideries of the valley.
The Phiran has always been an integral part of Kashmiri culture since times immemorial and is very similar in look and feel to Central Asian clothing, which explains why it is named after the Persian word Peheran, which literally translates to a shirt. It supplements other clothing in the harsh winter months, shielding its wearer from the bitter cold during the Chillaikalan. In the earlier times, the Phiran marked a significant class difference, depending upon how it was carried by the people. The elite class wore the Korab (folded) sleeved Phiran whereas the lower and middle class wore the straight sleeved version of it. However, the Kashmiri society experienced a significant and awakening change which eliminated the class barriers to a great extent and over a period of time this reflected in how people dressed. The younger generations bid farewell to the very concept of social classes and everybody started wearing straight sleeved Phiran to eliminate what needed to be eliminated. Traditionally, all Kashmiri women accessorized their Phiran with a Targe’ or a Kasaba which was ornamentally decorated by gold or silver.
Because of its evergreen charm, the Phiran, which was initially a localized tradition, is being adopted from people across the world. These traditional dresses are worn by men and women alike. Men’s phirans are generally made out of tweed or wool and are plain whereas a woman’s phiran has evolved from a plain cloak to a beautifully embellished fashion statement, from coarse fabrics to velvets and soft wools. The embellishments graduated to an art form, with each phiran being adorned in the splendor of gorgeous Kashmiri embroideries particularly Tilla and Aari. The former is mostly done on a velvet base and worn by Muslim brides at the time of their Nikah and the latter is perfect to cozy up in ethnic style on casual days and gatherings.
The colors and fabrics in which Phirans have evolved also count for a major transition not only in the attire but also in how people in Kashmir view winters. Earlier, winters used to be associated with gray skies and despondent weathers which used to reflect in the colors of the phiran – blacks, grays, whites and browns. The new gen, however, believes that these colors only add to the gloominess of the atmosphere. People have started giving color to this season in how they dress up and accessorize. They skies may be gray, but people erupt in vibrant hues of color. The phiran remains the same, but the colors have become vivacious. The winter is not just associated with white anymore.
A perfect way to balance between tradition and modernity, comfort and style, nothing beats the winter chill better than the classic Phiran while making us look fab at the same time!