Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Krass Karl!

Perhaps I am over reacting... but I think not! When a top international fashion designer informs the world press that he finds Indian poverty 'chic', it's time to slap the guy! In any case, Chanel's latest Paris-Mumbai Collection is derivative and passe. If our ladies want to wear angarkhas and anarkalis, with gigantic maang tikkas, why would they go to Karl? We have our own amazing designers and jewellers who do a far better and certainly more authentic job of our traditional wear.I am inspired to design a 'Les Miserables' line as a response to the falling euro,
myself!
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This appears in Bombay Times today...

Un-Klassy Karl needs a reality check!

It’s all about the context (Kontext?). And a vexing language issue. When the iconic fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld, made that preposterous comment on India’s poverty ‘being chic’, one wonders what he’d been smoking when he said that? As one of the most powerful people in the rarefied world of international fashion, surely the venerated senior designer could have given better thought to his callous remark. It doesn’t get any ‘posher’ than Chanel. Let us assume Karl was paying a tribute to India. But the bottom line remains the same - he was actually trying to sell more frocks. Pricey frocks. India-inspired frocks. Period. Where does poverty come into it? Karl’s haute couture gowns come with price tags that could possibly feed an entire Indian village for a month or more . His latest collection is opulent as opulent can be. But, ummmm, I can’t recall the last time I spotted a poor Indian loaded with so much jewellery. This particular collection had Karl’s lissome models walking around with elaborate ‘maang tikkas’ and exaggeratedly large Polki-studded neck pieces . The show was staged in a grand salon with glittering chandeliers casting a mellow light over tunics and drapes that our own darzis across India do a far better job of. With all that brocade and lame, the collection was spectacular if unwearable. But clearly, Karl was testing the waters. Who doesn’t want to come to India these days? Europe is largely broke. And all those fashion conscious global ladies who love the luxe life are wondering how they are going to pay for those ridiculously expensive gowns now that the euro looks ready to nosedive further. With a recession that’s imminent, Karl and his friends are going to find the going tough indeed. India beckons! But if this is Karl’s way of wooing Indians, it is likely to backfire. The insensitivity of that casual, throwaway comment has not gone down too well with the desi fashion frat. Poor Karl. What he must have meant is entirely different. Of course, our rich textile and craft traditions are rooted in rural India. Had the couturier said he was ‘inspired’ by our village communities, all would have been forgiven. Monsieur Lagerfeld, hire a good translator, s’il vous plait. Tout suite!
Compare Karl’s inane observation to what our maestro Sabyasachi (“Sabya” to devotees) has achieved in his own inimitable style. Sabya is all set to launch a brand new Khadi line, and another one that’s more of a tribute to the iconic Freida Kahlo. From the time Sabya started his career as a designer, he has stuck to his roots, and celebrated India’s embroideries and weaves in his own unique way. But there is nothing condescending about his vision. Perhaps some desi designer (Manish Arora?) will be in a position to introduce ‘The New Poor’ of Europe to the world and make a strong fashion statement during the Paris Fashion Week next year.Till then, we can assure our gareeb log not to worry. Karl-ji finds them very chic!
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‘Azad’. What a terrific and apt name! Trust Aamir and Kiran to pick an unusual and meaningful name for their newborn son.Don’t we just love it? Welcome to the world Free Spirit!

12 comments:

varun said...

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चंद्रमौलेश्वर प्रसाद said...

I think he was not outside the context coz. the haves and have-nots dress alike... and may be he was encouraged in designing after seeing Indian poverty!!!!!!!!!!

Anil Kumar said...

Shobha JI,
Could you please pass my message to FIRST BHOSADI KA COUPLE OF BOLLYWOOD - Aamir Khan and Kiran Rao --and congratulate them on the birth of a Chutia son.

Now everyone knows why they went for surrogate mother. The stink of Kiran Rao's bhosadi must be too much to handle and he had no choice. But Kiran must be glad that her Bhosadi is intact as she has earned enough dirty money with filthy movies like Delhi-belly and paid for the medical bills.

Another Kiran In NYC said...

But of course most of the desi women who aspire to or actually do wear, the pony tailed ONE'S couture designs, are so easily influenced that many will and even now see the poverty in India, in exactly the same way. Poverty is a curiosity - merely an idea - the abatement of which is a safe and seemingly thoughtful topic to talk about at cocktail parties while the canapes are devoured and the good wine is still being poured.... but only after the discussion about who is going to Gstaad, who can only to go to Koh Samui at Christmas and when exactly their kids will graduate with a liberal arts degree from Brown and come back to Mumbai.

The gait of an undernourished woman construction laborer in a colorful but ragged banjara skirt with a heavy stack of bricks on her head and an emaciated opium drugged sleeping baby slung on her hip, looks pretty much like a model strutting the Chanel runway in very high heels. But only when seen through the rose tinted windows of their fancy cars while being driven to chair meetings at their tax write off charity foundations. Yeah those foundations with the high administrative costs!

Ofcourse the rural poverty stricken woman is pretty much off their radar because rural India is just flyover territory unless you are a Society woman and Chanel wearer who aspires to be a politician. Then poverty becomes a "gehna" like the maang tikka's worn by the Chanel models. That kind of poverty and the celebration of it, gets you elected. The other kind of chic poverty merely ensures that you are dressed in Chanel.

As for how the rest of the world views India in the light of Karl Lagerfeld remarks, we can rest easy. Lets not kid ourselves. The rest of the world does not care to have any views on India, unless India is involved in "fighting the enemies of the free world" and the economics makes sense...of a business saving more money by moving its low end service needs to India.

To quote Diana Vreeland, India is the land where "pink is the new black". Can I add... where the poor pink robed women have no toilets or healthcare and die early deaths as a direct result of poverty. Perhaps they should give up the pink and go straight to the color of sadness...black. Chic no?

Another Kiran In NYC said...

Should have fact checked, especially a quote! I need to take back and correct the Diana Vreeland quote... it should read... "I adore that pink, it is the Navy Blue of India".

so I guess my last paragraph should be:


To quote Diana Vreeland," I adore that pink, it is the navy blue of India". Can I add... where the poor pink robed women have no toilets or healthcare and die early deaths as a direct result of poverty. Perhaps they should give up the pink and go straight to the colors of being beaten down by poverty...black and Navy Blue. Chic no?

varun said...

hey ritzz m w8n fo u yaar

Deeksha said...

Shobha Mam , I will send u my comments regularly now.I read ur blogs very regularly. I just finished reading ur book ' Sisters' & have just started on ' Strange obsession.Funnily , I have read all ur latest books like Shobha at sixty, Superstar India , Spouse & now Iam reading ur earlier books! All ur novels are unputdownable except Surviving Men, which I couldn,t read beyond the first two chapters.
God bless you .

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Ambika said...

Why publish some crass comment on the blog? No one wants to begin the day by reading some filthy, foul, no-brainer comment.

Jyostna said...

How stupid of him(Karl). He better get his loose lips sewed!

Anil Kumar said...

@Ambika
Exactly - No one wants to listen BossDK song in public place - when you are with kids. My target is not innocent people like you but brainless greedy people like Kiran Rao/Aamit Khan who will stoop to low level to make DIRTY money.

Gitanjali said...

Yeah..the post is enriching.I want to add that India fashion success is not an overnight things.Fashion designers in India have been doing some great works which took the fashion world by storm and all the big name of Indian fashion like Manish Malhotra, Rohit bal, Abraham & Thakore etc have been proving their mettle time to time.