A Kitschy Affair

When advertising professional Ayesha Sharma recently threw a housewarming party,compliments kept pouring in.

Written by VIDYA PRABHU | Published:January 16, 2012 12:50 am

When advertising professional Ayesha Sharma recently threw a housewarming party,compliments kept pouring in. “My friends loved my funky wardrobe and the quirky decor which lent a unique character to the house — be it the Playclan coasters or the Quirk Box lamps,” she recalls. Sharma is just part of a breed that has bought into what has now become an urban,macro-trend — kitsch.

Designer Manish Arora may have revolutionised the fashion industry with his kitschy collections and earned the label,‘King of Kitsch’,but today the story has been taken forward by several designers,making it a popular theme in both fashion and decor. From Horn Ok Please T-shirts and bags with tuk-tuk prints to chairs painted with lotus motifs,kitsch is being celebrated in several ways.

But where does its charm lie? Given that kitsch refers to art,decorative objects and other forms of representation that are excessively sentimental or overdone,it’s clear that pop art has a resurgence in this trend.

A case in point would be designer label Dev R Nil’s Spring-Summer 2012 line shown at the Wills India Fashion Week in October 2011. Inspired by pop art,their collection of dresses,trousers,coats and kurtis was dominated by batik motifs of giant sunglasses and cars. “We wanted to celebrate the quirks of India and the fact that we are a bunch of positive people even though we live amid growing chaos. Through kitsch,we tried to capture the beauty of this chaos,” explains Nil.

But kitsch products today are not just capitalising on chaos,many of them are also high on utility. Rashmi Dogra,of the Fluke Design Co that designs both fashion and decor items,believes that her line has worked well because she has balanced the fashionable with the functional. “From rooster handbags and funky neckpieces to hand-painted wooden chairs,antique gramophones and bucket chandeliers,people today are more open to experimenting,” she says.

Designer Sabah Khan,on the other hand,notes that increasing participation in exhibitions and lifestyle events helps popularise the product. “When I showed my recent line,the Darzi collection,at the Gitanjali derby at Mumbai’s Mahalakshmi race course last November,it attracted a lot of attention. The crowd at a derby is unlike one at a fashion week,” says Khan,whose line dwelt heavily on colour blocking,patchwork and specially created scissor prints.

While the encouraging response is making her eye a kitschy stationery line,others are making the most of music festivals,another popular platform for kitsch.

The recently held NH7 Weekender music festival in Pune,for instance,played host to stalls for brands such as Pop Att,Art Etc,Quirk Box and Ink Me Silly.

Flea markets can’t be overlooked. Diana Linda,a Mumbai based Italian designer,points out that her accessory line has been a hit with both Indians and foreigners at Goa’s flea markets. “My bags,clutches and jewellery pieces are made using old Bollywood film posters,so they instantly capture the fascination of the starry-eyed clientele,” says Linda.

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