When What Not To Wear first aired on TV screens 10 years ago,audiences were spellbound by the brutal bluntness of the glamorous hosts,Trinny Woodall and Susannah Constantine,who tore into (and discarded) the wardrobes of the sartorially challenged.
The show was riveting and merciless,participants had to listen to advice on how to disguise love handles and sagging bottoms on national television. But thats what Trinny and Susannah did with spectacular finesse and it wasnt unusual for women to well up and sob,completely overwhelmed at how fantastic they looked post makeover. Theres nothing the stylish duo claimed they didnt know about what could make,you,the awesomely lucky dowdy person they picked,turn into a fashionable diva worthy of gracing a Vogue cover.
After travelling across Norway,Belgium and Denmark and of course,gasping in horror at the matronly shabbiness of their own countrywomen in the UK,Trinny and Susannah have come to India with their TLC show,Trinny & Susannahs Makeover Mission India,that is currently on air,Monday to Friday at 9 pm.
The episode I watched had a much touched up Trinny plumped up lips,tight,shiny skin and heavily mascarad eyes,wearing a beige gold lamé jacket,while Susannah was in a silky crepe blue dress and heels. The two were traipsing around Marine Drive,Mumbai,on what appeared to be a swelteringly hot day,looking for a candidate to makeover. They found their target,a 29-year-old vivacious teacher trainer,dressed in a long black kurta paired with badly fitted jeans and shabby shoes,who looked confused but perfectly happy to submit to some grooming. After some poking and prodding,they advised her on the right innerwear,which was of course bleeped out by our overzealous censor board. Breast,unless its got cancer right after,is not a word for a family channel. After some animated discussions on hotting up the teacher (sexy is Trinny and Susannahs favourite word),the teacher trainer first emerged from the dressing room in a shiny white frock that was absolutely horrific. Then Susannah put her in a shocking pink dress with royal blue heels,more suited to a night out. I was trying to imagine the girl negotiating a Mumbai local in that dress and heels. Maybe Trinny and Susannah or the producers of the show dont know,teachers even in the most progressive schools in Delhi and Mumbai have an unspecified but widely followed dress code of saris and salwar-kameezes.
Style has a cultural context especially in India,where were encountering people of widely different social and economic backgrounds everyday. Unless you want your attire to be a talking point,or youre working in a fashion magazine,its probably more appropriate to blend in than stand out. Not to suggest that your appearance should be sloppy but a shocking pink dress for training teachers in an NGO in Mumbai is probably not the right outfit. Trinny and Susannahs make-up and clothes tips seem very dated and fussy,and totally out of tune with our environment. The other girl they madeover in the same episode went from being young and fresh faced to looking like an overdressed,over made-up 35-year-old. The current Czar of the makeup world,Bobbi Brown,keeps emphasising in all her interviews that make-up should be natural and used to enhance your existing features,not to look like someone else. If you can see it,its too much.
And if theres one thing thats inherently cool about Mumbai girls,it is that they dont slather on foundation and look like clones of each other like they do in Delhi. But now that Trinny and Susannah are on a mission to change that,who knows?
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines