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On Sunday, a tweet by GQ India fashion magazine regarding a collection being showcased by designers Shantanu and Nikhil Mehra in Mumbai on Sunday came under heavy fire. The tweet revealed that the designers’ latest collection, “Kashmiriyat”, at the GQ Fashion Nights would use the “bullet pellet effect” as part of the look. The post was accompanied by a picture of a model being made up backstage.
Among the first to react was former J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah. “Am I reading this correctly, a pellet injury ‘effect’ is being created for a fashion show? That seems macabre if not downright thoughtless,”he tweeted. In another tweet, he added, “These pellets have blinded scores, to have the injuries recreated for a fashion show is inexplicable even if collection called Kashmiriyat.”
After the outrage on social media, GQ India deleted the tweet. But, Abdullah shared a screen grab of the post and demanded an explanation. When contacted, the designers denied using the pellet effect in the make-up when presenting their collection. “The theme of “Kashmiriyat” revolves around hope and peace. We have used monochromatic hues to symbolise the contrast between the traumatic past and hopeful future, with music in the backdrop by a Kashmiri band. The mouths are sealed to imply ‘speak no evil’,” the designer brothers told The Indian Express.
About the make-up, where small black dots have been used on models faces, Nikhil added, “The make-up replicates the effect of weathered skin. It’s an attempt to indicate the end of a traumatic period to see a brighter phase. The entire effect is positive and focussed on hope.”
Social media posts, over the last few days by the designers, about “Kashmiriyat” does not refer to the violence in the region or the controversial use of pellets by the police in tackling the crowds that had gathered for the funeral of Hizbul Mujahideen member Burhan Wani on July 8. There are, however, phrases used in posts, such as “Even in times of despair, we dream and hope for a better tomorrow. Taking inspiration from Kashmir for our SS’17 menswear”. Or “our menswear collection reflects poetic aggression and hope”. Interestingly, the message of hope comes at a time when instances of cross-border firing between India and Pakistan have seen a rise.
Regarding the tweet, put out by GQ India, both Shantanu and Nikhil claimed it must be the result of a misinterpretation by the fashion magazine. There was no response to The Indian Express’s messages and calls to GQ India or the make-up artiste Sonic Sarwate.