A Parisian sari arrived in India,men became dandies,the Eighties hangover left us polka-dotted and the salwar kameez made a full-bodied comeback. A look at fashion’s highs and hiccups in the year gone past.
The Sonam Season: Before she debuted at Cannes in May,what would Sonam Kapoor wear was a question that made the industry back home restless. Anamika Khanna or Dior? Armani or Masaba Gupta? Fashion’s favourite cover girl turned up in a 2009 Jean Paul Gaultier couture gown,leaving spectators goggle-eyed. A black-and-white ensemble with a mesh overlay,she accessorised it with Chopard earrings,an Amrapali ring,Ferragamo shoes,black nail paint,smoky makeup,and the hard-to-miss attitude of a diva in the making.
Manishs Metallica : I am enjoying it, said designer Manish Arora about his first collection as creative director of Paco Rabanne womenswear. An understatement,unlike the Spring-Summer 2012 line he sent out. Tight mini dresses,studded jackets and skinny pants finished with metal strode out on the ramp at the Paris Fashion Week this October. Arora sustained the Spanish couturier’s sensibility by using metal in the clothes and including dark-skinned models for the show. Philip Treacy’s idiosyncratic headgear and Nicholas Kirkwood-designed crystal pumps added pomp. Manish wore black and white with gold shoes to underline Indian fashion’s golden moment.
The Hermes Sari: If we can’t beat you,we will join you. Hermes,the Parisian saddler house that became one of the world’s most coveted luxury brands,launched a line of limited edition saris this October. In India’s luxury market worth $ 2.2 billion (Rs 1,160 crore approximately),Hermes,which has a long and fond relationship with the country,became the only global brand to launch a traditional garment. Inspired by its iconic silk scarves with prints reproduced from sketches of fine artists chosen from different countries,the saris cost between $6,100 (Rs 3.2 lakh approximately) and $8,400 (Rs 4.5 lakh approximately). Its yet to be seen on a statement-making fashionista. Who is the customer,you may well ask. Hermes is waiting to find out too.
bal not out: He looks thinner by half and a tad tired,but designer Rohit Bal continues to retain his charm and his clients. Those who thought his heart attack last year would make his designs reluctant and his ramp shows insipid,got a fitting rebuke with Bal’s finale collection at Delhi Couture Week in July. Fragrant mogra flowers,a beaming Arjun Rampal as the showstopper,stunning ensembles and a jovial,dancing Bal,showed us that Indian fashions poster boy has his heart in the right place. As a quiet rejoinder to the cynics,he called the show Shanti.
Saved The Salwar: Even as Save the Sari becomes a jingoistic fashion and textile line,the salwar-kameez got a sexy resurgence. Known as a suit in Punjab and a Punjabi in Gujarat and south India,the salwar kameez yoked off its fuddy-duddy image to became gossamer,glossy,glamorous. Hand out some credit to Anushka Sharma for wearing her three-coloured ensembles with pretty froth in Band Bajaa Baaraat; to Kangna Ranaut for making them look flirty in Tanu Weds Manu and to Kareena Kapoor for her sexy diaphanous salwars with long,slit kurtas in Bodyguard.
Men in Slack: Boardrooms downsized intimidation with mauve shirts,banks lost their blue stripes to pastel colours and pubs became fashion hangouts as male customers paraded in polka-dotted shirts,floral shoes and orange dinner jackets. The Indian man became officially dandy as even premium brands like Van Heusen,Allen Solly and Zodiac aggressively pushed their retail with designer-created casual wear. The menswear market inflated in 2011 and the highest selling garments were,you said it,more pink than black.
Fashions Net Loss: Anil Chopra,one of the fashion industry’s most powerful names,moved on from Hindustan Lever (HUL) this year. With that,he also bid goodbye to Lakme Fashion Week,which he spearheaded. Chopra was one of the founders of the Indian fashion week (then the Lakme India Fashion Week which split from Fashion Design Council in 2005) and after a 35-year long career,he says,he is on an indefinite sabbatical. Credited with a slew of lasting ideas,one of the best being the Gen Next show at LFW,he plans to clap as a spectator at the country’s most aspirational sport: fashion.
Kashmirs New Kali: Ranbir Kapoor’s harem pants,applique jackets and printed safas in Rockstar made fashion headlines but few paid attention to the intricately embroidered,elegant Kashmiri shawls,stoles and kurtas that Nargis Fakhri wears in the film. Whether as a student of St Stephens College in Delhi,or the wife of an NRI in Prague,she retained her Kashmiri identity,through her stylist Aki Narula’s subtle message telling us where she belonged. Without overpowering any garment,Kashmiri handcraft was shown in a contemporary fashion.
No Resort: Resort Fashion Week in Goa earlier this month may have got its publicity plan and sponsorships right,but it added to the Indian fashion industry’s fragmented personality. The term Fashion Week seems to have less and less to do with an industry that has common goals. It also seems to have little respect for business,buyers and a consolidated approach. Every year,the calendar is loaded with more fashion weeks. We all know the gig: the same designers show in different cities,turning pret into couture,couture into wedding wear,then one of them into resort wear. As derivative design dogs the industry,why not call these sponsored soirees regional fashion festivals instead?
The Eighties Hangover: Vidya Balan ostensibly served us the Eighties with her risque cholis in The Dirty Picture,but the hangover began before Ooh la la. The Eighties,with its first fashion store (Tarun and Sal Tahiliani’s Ensemble in Mumbai),the peak of the crafts movement,the opening of the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT),Jumping Jack Jeetendra’s white shoes and Disco Dancer outfits,was a turnaround decade in Indian fashion. This year,in many ways,we relived the noise and shimmy,not just through printed headbands,neon hair clips,big belts and polka-dotted tops,but also through the muchness. It was the year of more is more in fashion.