Fashion designer Sangeeta Grover talks about her unconventional journey to dressing India's players for the 44th Chess Olympiad

How do you get measurements midway through a chess practice session without a tailor in sight? The designer takes us behind the scenes...

Sonali Shenoy Published :  06th August 2022 01:02 PM   |   Published :   |  06th August 2022 01:02 PM

While India's top chess players spent the days running up to the 44th FIDE Chess Olympiad 2022 practising and strategising their moves, several of their parents picked up an unexpected new skill - bespoke tailoring measurements. Sangeeta Grover, a spunky 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 'strategising' as well: "Players were far-flung, some had Covid, some were in other cities attending tournaments. I had to figure out how to get their measurements without a tailor in sight!" 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.

chess olympias

"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 pinkborders 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."

cjess olympiad  Designer Sangeeta Grover
 Designer Sangeeta Grover


This apart, Sangeeta makes it a point to emphasise 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."

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 emotion and pride.