When I got an email from Krupa asking if we would ever consider making a dirndl out of Sari, my initial response was to squeal with excitement. Incorporating other cultures into a custom dirndl design is one of my absolute favorite things to do and when I heard Krupa's backstory... I was even more excited.

Krupa's Story

Krupa's parents, hailing from the vibrant land of India, instilled in her a deep appreciation for cultural diversity, and she grew up with a strong sense of the importance of embracing one's heritage.

Indian woman wearing a custom made oktoberfest dress in a beer tent at oktoberfest in munich germany

When she decided to celebrate her 40th birthday at Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, her initial Oktoberfest dress search didn't go as well as she had hoped. She wasn't finding anything that really spoke to her in any online dirndl shops. Because what she really wanted for this milestone trip, was a dirndl that seamlessly blended the elegance of her Indian roots with the charm of traditional Bavarian festival attire. Luckily for Krupa, she found Rare Dirndl!

Background and Introduction

Wearing a dirndl to Oktoberfest isn't just about blending in with the locals; it's a passport to a whole new level of fun and festivity. Sure, you might not be German, but wearing a beautiful cultural garment like a dirndl adds an extra dose of whimsy and flair to the Oktoberfest experience. It's like donning a costume for a grand celebration – an invitation to immerse yourself fully in the lively atmosphere. The vibrant colors, intricate designs, and playful accessories of a dirndl create an instant camaraderie with fellow revelers. Whether you're sipping on a stein of beer, dancing to the bands, or indulging in a giant pretzel with a heaping pile of radishes, wearing a dirndl transforms Oktoberfest into a spirited event where everyone is united by the joy of the festivities.

a man in lederhosen with his arm around a woman wearing a custom made dirndl at oktoberfest. these are typical oktoberfest outfits for modern times

With this in mind, Krupa was ready to commit to a dirndl for Oktoberfest... but not just any dirndl.

Being from Chicago, she made an appointment to come to our dirndl shop to discuss her ideas and try on a few styles. At that appointment we decided on the size and fit of dirndl she liked and I got the extreme pleasure of looking at a few of her and her mom's Saris that she brought. For her, the most important part was that this be an authentic Oktoberfest outfit... not reminiscent of Halloween costumes and a proper blend her Indian heritage and the local Bavarian culture. I assured her that there would be zero chance that she would look like she was wearing a costume and that we would make something exquisite for her trip to Oktoberfest.

I knew that a Sari was an iconic garment originating from India, but what Krupa taught me is that the Sari typically consists of three main pieces: the 'pallu,' which is the decorated end that drapes over the shoulder; the 'pleats,' which are neatly folded and tucked at the waist to form the skirt; and the 'blouse' or 'choli,' a fitted top that complements the Sari's design.

The art of draping a Sari is an intricate skill passed down through generations, and the choice of fabric, color, and pattern often holds cultural and regional significance. From vibrant silk Saris worn during festive celebrations to more understated cotton ones for everyday wear, each Sari tells a unique story, reflecting the diversity, style, and beauty of Indian heritage. So... no pressure right?! The good news though... the typical Sari was upwards of 4 yards of fabric (sometimes 9) so we had plenty of fabric to work with.

Design Process

Drawing upon the rich tapestry of Krupa's heritage, we embarked on a collaborative design journey. This Sari, was mostly orange with a gold, brown and green border. The pallu (the very end of the fabric which gets draped over the shoulder) was adorned with a more intricate pattern, so this is what we used to make the bodice. We laid out the pattern pieces very strategically and thoughtfully to really capture the essence of the original garment.

image of the orange and green traditional sari fabric used to make the skirt of the custom dirndl
image of the center front dirndl pattern piece laying on top of the traditional sari to create a unique lace look
oktoberfest dress aka dirndl pattern pieces laid out on top of the sari fabric to make the custom dirndl bodice.

Craftsmanship and Techniques

To make this Oktoberfest party dress really pop, we used the orange part of the Sari to make matching piping and hand-pleated neckline trimming.

close up image of the dirndl bodice partially sewn. this is the start of an oktoberfest outfit

Krupa really loved the look of the ribbon lacing and also thought the idea of incorporating some edelweiss was a great mix of the cultures. With this request in mind, we cut the center front of the dirndl to contain just a hint of the pattern from the pallu. This way when we added Edelweiss hooks and a ribbon, it wouldn't be covered or look too busy.

close up photo of the dirndl dress piping made to complete the oktoberfest attire.
oktoberfest dress bodice during the sewing process laid out on a sewing table. custom dirndl designed using sari fabric
hand pleated trimmig made for traditional bavarian attire that is custom made for this oktoberfest costume

From there we moved on to the skirt. Krupa wanted a shorter skirt, which we cut from the main part of the Sari, making sure to keep the beautiful border at the bottom.

Border of the pallu part of the sari which was used for thus custom made oktoberfest costume to help krupa feel more at home with the local culture

Fabric and Materials

With this cherished Sari as our starting point, we carefully selected complementary fabrics from our stock, seeking to harmonize them with the radiant colors and patterns of the Sari. We found a beautiful iridescent chiffon that was green/red which was the perfect way to complete the look. We added more of the Sari's border to the apron ties to really give it that fusion of East and West, silk and cotton, to create a stunning ensemble that paid homage to Krupa's Indian heritage while seamlessly integrating into the Gemütlichkeit of Oktoberfest.

handmade piping made from sari fabric to which is a popular detail for oktoberfest costumes

A detail about this skirt that is worth mentioning is that we had to line it with some of our stock fabrics. This Sari was originally meant to be worn pleated and tucked into the waistband of a petticoat or underskirt... so the fabric was a little too sheer. We lined it with some soft ivory and added those must-have pockets!

image of the oktoberfest dress pockets being sewn. These are sewn into the right side and left side to enhance the functionality of the oktoberfest costume

Final Result

When Krupa finally saw herself in the finished dirndl, it was magic. The Sari, a piece of her mom's legacy, transformed into a stunning dirndl that was bursting with heritage and personality. It was more than a garment; it was a work of art and a tribute to Krupa's diverse background.

back of the custom dirndl made using a sari. this style of oktoberfest costume is worn my many women at the beer festival
front of the finishe dirndl dress. this custom made dirndl has a sweetheart neckline style, knee length skirt, and short sleeve blouse shirt underneath
close up image of the custom made oktoberfest dress using an indian sari. it has orange trim around the tradition neckline, edelweiss hooks on the front, and a light green flowy apron. this is a beautiful custom oktoberfest costume

We believe every piece of clothing has a story to tell. And Krupa's dirndl? Well, it's a tale of cultural blending, creativity, and celebration of women. If you've got a vision for your own custom dirndl, we're all ears. Let's make something extraordinary, together!

Krupa dancing and showing off her custom dirndl which is the only one like it in the entire world. She mixes traditional indian culture and textiles with the oktoberfest outfit to make it her own

Want to learn more?

Rare Dirndl specializes in unique and fashion-forward dirndls, but we are also known for our Custom Designed Dirndls that are made just for you. Whether you have a unique inspiration or, like Krupa, have a special garment that you want to use to make a dirndl that is truly special to you, the process starts by filling out the application. Once your application has been reviewed you will get an email notification regarding your status. If accepted and our waitlist is not full, we start work on your dirndl! For more detailed information regarding the custom dirndl process, CLICK HERE.

fashion designer erika neumayer working on an Oktoberfest costume dirndl fitting for women


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