It was to the tune of the retro hit number Y.M.C.A. by Village People, that the Indian fashion fraternity celebrated the recent judgement repealing Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. The Lotus Make-Up India Fashion Week’s Spring-Summer 2019 edition drew to a close with a grand finale that was rainbow themed — a throwback to the rainbow flag created by American artist Gilbert Baker using six distinct hues in 1978. This flag has long since become a universal motif for diversity and peace and has been associated with LGBTQ rights.
On Saturday, around 40 designers, from the likes of Manish Malhotra, Raghavendra Rathore, Wendell Rodricks and Abraham & Thakore to Dev r Nil, Huemn, Ragini Ahuja and Lovebirds, presented their own unique interpretation of the six hues. Flamboyance remained a key factor as one saw liberal use of capes, cloaks, dramatic silhouettes and ample flair. Suneet Varma created a bright yellow sari, with an exaggerated ruffled neckline, while Anavila Misra gave a multi-hued twist to the traditional attire. Rajesh Pratap Singh designed an all-white pleated floor-length gown, with colourful paint splashes in the six bright hues.
Designer duo Alpana and Neeraj invoked a Wonder Woman, warrior-esque vibe with their design, which was made of metal cords, crystal sheets, and boning used to make corsets. The outfit, created without using an inch of fabric, oozed power and strength. “We feel, now with the act being repealed, the community will only grow stronger, even though they have never been the underdogs in the fashion fraternity. The LGBTQ community is done being sidelined and they have come out only stronger after this struggle. It took us two weeks to create this ensemble, and we added glitter to celebrate the euphoria attached to the verdict,” says Neeraj Chauhan of Alpana and Neeraj.
Diversity was a key factor on the ramp, which included models who were plus-sized (Huemn), as well as those who were transgender and gender fluid and did not subscribe to the conventional diktats of heteronormative beauty.
Designer Gaurav Gupta, who designed a sculpted gown replete with rainbow lights, used transgender model Anjali Lama to showcase his genuinely ‘lit’ ensemble. “The bright lights are inspired by the excitement and euphoria of a nightclub, where people come together to celebrate — regardless of gender, class or orientation. The repealing of Section 377 is a coming of age moment for India, and a very emotional one for me. For years, so many of us have fought for a positive outcome and it is now here for us to embrace and revel in,” stated the designer in a press release.
Also celebrating in her inimitable style was Rimzim Dadu, who designed a distinct metal pallu sari, which was worn by Sumiran Kabir Sharma, the man behind the label Anaam. “Nothing could have sent a stronger message than a man walking the ramp in a sari. It was our way of saying that everybody is equal — it doesn’t matter who you choose to love or what you choose to wear. The verdict is a giant leap towards achieving greater civil liberties in India. Just imagine somebody who had to live a life of fear just for loving somebody, and now all of a sudden that fear is gone.
It’s remarkable. I just hope this is the first big step towards legalising same-sex marriages in India, but I am also aware that it won’t come easy,” said Dadu. For designing this distinct outfit, Dadu needed no inspiration. It was entirely an emotional and instinctive response. “I was happy and emotional when the 377 judgment was announced. It meant so much to me because so many of my friends were finally able to love whoever they wanted to love — without any fear of the law. So I just translated my emotions into this piece — which is vibrant, happy and celebratory,” added the designer.