Saturday, January 8, 2011

Fashion Follies and Faux Pas...

I am off to watch Jessica... dying to see Rani and Vidya together, even though I thought they overdid their entire 'we love and adore each other' nonsense during the multiple television promos, going as far as to fake a full on smooch ( Puhleeze, girls, leave that stunt to the likes of Madonna and Britney - it's terribly passe!). I have lots of oil in my hair ( I swear by it - HAIR VIT - manufactured by Millennium Herbal Care). My daughter Anandita is mad at me for going overboard with the oil ( she's my date for the movie ). But my hair had been whipped by the salt in the sea air last night as we sped through dark waters across the bay, to the waiting crew of a friend's gorgeous yacht. I could spot the Great Bear in the wonderfully clear sky.... and the iconic dome of the Taj Palace and Hotel was gleaming like burnished gold in the far distance. Our yacht was anchored 10 minutes from the shore.... the lights from Mandwa winked wickedly at us. It was one of the coolest ways to celebrate what turned out to be one of the most memorable birthdays, spent with family and a few close friends.
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This appears in the latest issue of Hi ! Blitz.... a fun piece for Shalini Sharma's 'Opinion' pages.
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Let’s take a better look at that lady in the front row. Yup, that one. The one wearing a most unfortunate outfit that screams , ‘tacky’. All that bling! All those murderous fashion faux pas. What was the poor thing thinking? It is easy to tell she has spent the past three days planning for this momentous occasion – her maiden appearance at a Fashion Week finale. She has had to work every known contact in her book to get the invite. Now… she is here. But nobody has noticed her. She looks around and spots a couple of familiar faces from her neighbourhood gym and waves vigourously. An usherette comes up to ask her to show her passes. Oh God! Did she get something wrong? Are these not her seats? She holds her breath. The lights dim. A crackling announcement informs invitees the show is about to begin. Pumping club music drowns out further conversation.
Saved! She sighs… sits back… and waits.
It’s show time, folks. Yet another tamasha is about to begin….
The presence of the dreadfully dressed front row newbie says it all. Desi Fashion Weeks have lost their premier positioning. Nobody of consequence attends them any more. And certainly nobody of consequence takes them seriously. What had started as an inspired idea once upon a time, has degenerated into a bit of a joke down the years. The reason for this decline is obvious. Indian fashion has simply not been able to move beyond its self- created cage of bridal wear. It began with elaborate, over priced lehengas, and there it has remained, with a few quirky, accidental hits in between. The same old designers who have ruled the roost for the past twenty years, continue to recycle the same old tired silhouettes year after year, and the law of diminishing returns has finally kicked in. Nobody is all that excited by those interchangeable and monotonous fashion weeks, outside the cosy coterie of boutique owners and their star clientele. Ever since Bollywood hijacked the fashion scene in India, and starlets replaced professional models, fashion itself lost its edge and identity, becoming nothing more than a poor cousin of the entertainment industry. Bollywood is the worst thing to have happened to desi fashion since the invention of the mermaid lehenga.
It’s a Catch-22. No Bollywood. No press. No attention. No sponsors. That’s the way it goes. Brave designers who resist the monumental temptation to hire the latest ‘It Girl’ from showbiz as the showstopper are snubbed by the paparazzi, who prefer even a fourth tier has- been star of yesteryears to a top notch model. Besides, the average hack wouldn’t be able to tell between a Monica Bedi and a Monica Bellucci ( believe me, Bedi would score over Bellucci, especially in Delhi). That leaves the designers in a bit of a bind. If they don’t play ball and rope in an actor or two ( for the ramp and the front row), he\she gets the royal ignore. Nobody but nobody is interested in the clothes on the catwalk… that’s the awful truth. If the side show and after party rocks, the designer gets top coverage. If the clothes rock – hell, who cares? But are the clothes rocking at all??? Have all those Fashion Weeks put together thrown up even a single name worth noting in the last ten years? I’d say not. The usual suspects continue to hog the limelight ( and those brides!) year after year. Once in a blue moon the press goes ga ga over a newcomer who is actually bold enough not to steal someone else’s designs and create a new look. But without the right support, these few and far between fashion talents drop off the radar as swiftly as they appear on it. Sadly, the one story nobody wants to acknowledge involves the business of fashion. Let’s face it squarely - there are hardly any foreign buyers out there – and very little business gets done. Frustrating but true. With this pathetically low generation of big money, it is indeed time to say the emperor wore no clothes!
But what the hell… fashion has inveigled itself into our lives and consciousness. We are silly in this respect – but we have become addicted to those infernal fashion weeks we crib about. Without our realizing it, we have joined the carnival. Each time a new category is announced or a new city added to the overload, we groan, but get into our fashionable gear and show up at the venue regardless. Fashion fatigue?? Who’s complaining?? Not those self conscious fashionistas hanging on to their Bottegas and smiling for the cameras. Not the bloated and conceited designers throwing tantrums and attitude while pushing the same old 50kg-10 lakh lehengas at gullible brides. Not the hangers- on who camp it up night after night, at all the riotous after parties, high on free booze and cheap substance. And certainly not the Page 3 reporters who hold their collective breaths waiting for a wardrobe malfunction that may or may not happen. It doesn’t get loonier than this. But hey – what’s wrong with looney???

4 comments:

cmpershad said...

` and the iconic dome of the Taj Palace and Hotel was gleaming like burnished gold in the far distance'

Oh! Looks like youve forgotten 26/11:)

venk@t said...

hey, please post ur review of NOKJ
i loveee ur film reviews :)

Another Kiran In NYC said...

Happy Birthday Shobhaa! Sparkle on! Out on the harbor, it must have been magical birthday celebration.

Those who can afford Yachts and the people who are welcomed aboard them, and Nora Ephron are probably the three categories of people who make Metropolitan areas look lovely and actually very liveable.

Nora Ephron has her soft filters, lingering long shots and slightly tweedy Talbots wearing, New Englandy characters who walk down conservative but beauteous museum mile with gay abandon. And of course most importantly she has deliriously happy endings in her NYC based movies.

Yachtwaalas know a secret too... seen from a distance and in the night, Mumbai looks quite pretty. If you get far enough out of harbor waters and way past Sassoon dock and the Colaba lighthouse and the oil slicks from passing tankers, the smell of Mumbai goes away too. Raat aur distance ka kamaal hai. The lights in slums shine about as brightly as Bandra Bandstand or Marine drive. Sab kuch a-glitter lagta hai.

I want to live in Nora Ephron's NYC and vacation in the yachtwaala Mumbai!!!

And whoever said any Fashion week in India was for the store buyers and for business to be done afterwards. It has never been and will probably be never be about actually doing business with stores... heck there are no stores to sell to and boutiques with 3 darzees in the back do not count. It is about selling a few monstrously expensive clothes to the very few who can actually buy them. End of story. The rest of us buy our fashion show knockoffs from darzee boutiques in Lajpat Nagar and Linking Road.

Fashion week IS BOLLYWOOD. How can it be anything else in India? Everything in India, the food we eat, the way we worship, the cultural traditions we follow, our social causes, and even politics ... everything but everything is seen through the filter of Bollywood. So lets get real and celebrate skinny starlets staggering under the weight of gaudy bridal lehengas, and aging male actors decked in velvet and pearl embroidery! They are not just the fashion show showstoppers, they happen to be the showstoppers of desi life.

The "front row fashion victim newbie" is you and me. It is what the NEW India aspires to be. It is a wonderfully aspirational thing in post independence Bollywoodized India. More power to that Newbie!

Being condescending about the very rich but self concious Fashionista from Maharani Bagh or Pali Hill has no place in fashion and fashion shows in India. Thank god for them else Manish Malhotra and Varun Behl and Kallol Datta would never actually sell anything.

Sam John said...

Some people say that sarees have become outdated and now very strange types of new designer dresses designed by today's modern designers, are taking place. But I don't think so the traditional Indian saree, bridal lehenga, salwar kameez and ladies kurtis are still considered as best and lots of women not only from the India but also from other parts of the world love these Indian dresses. Even if we see there are so many designers of Indian as well as from other parts of the world, who are designing dresses similar to these Indian outfits taking ideas from these apparels. An Indian saree is very cool and best outfit for ladies, it is also a choice of many brides who also prefers to wear bridal sarees apart from the bridal lehenga choli.