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Fashion: The Indian Perspective and how we evolved

Feb 14, 2018

Fashion: The Indian Perspective and how we evolved
Fashion: The Indian Perspective and how we evolved | Credit: Langll

Talk about fashion and we can see the geographical boundaries blurring. Take a stroll along the street and one would find how beautifully we Indians have blended the western fashion with traditional wear and how confidently we carry our attire with panache. British colonization introduced us to shirts, trousers, suits, gowns and frocks. Economic developments and e-commerce brought international fashion to our doorstep. And today almost all international luxury brands have their outlets across major Indian cities. A pair of denim pants, shirts or pencil skirts are no longer considered western, in fact they have become as Indian as western. Moreover, their comfort and convenience have made them wardrobe essentials. Indians have very much embraced the western fashion. But fashion has never been a one sided affair. The Great Exhibition of 1851 held in London also referred as the Crystal Palace Exhibition proudly displayed Gujarati silk brocades, Kashmiri shawls and fine muslins from Bengal, for Western audiences. Speaking to Forbes India, Divia Patel, co-curator of The Fabric of India, one of the two fall shows at the V&A says, “the Indian textiles in particular were held up as examples of what good design should be.” The colonial power also wanted to turn India to an export market and hence adopted designs that would appeal to Indian customers. What followed was the hybridization of fashion that exists till this day. Indian designers are creating waves across the western fashion world by using the country’s ethnic weaves, embroideries, motifs and fabrics in their unique creations. Manish Malhotra, Ritu Kumar, Manish Arora, the doyens of fashion industry have successfully brought Indian fashion to the international stage. Their Indian aesthetics and modern sophistication has made them the most sought after designer labels in the west. Indian designers like Naeem Khan, Bibhu Mohapatra gained international attention when Michelle Obama and Oscar award winner actress Lupita Nyong’o wore their creations and the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, won immense praises for her sartorial taste when she wore a printed pink and turquoise Anita Dongre dress during her tour of India.

Meanwhile, high-end fashion designers like Alexander McQueen, Karl Lagerfeld, Giorgio Armani and Jean Paul Gaultier have also incorporated Indian embellishments and opulence into their unique creations. Alexander McQueen Fall 2008 collection was based on the ideology of the ‘British royalty of the colonial times meeting Indian regality’. Brocades, embroideries and Indian motifs united with the Victorian flounce of the skirt and the use of head jewellery showed the presence of Indian inspired fashion.

Jean Paul Gaultier Couture Fall 2007 collection reminded the Princes and the Maharajahs. The Jodhpurs, turbans and Indian achkans ruled the ramp. Karl Lagerfeld brought Coco Chanel’s Indian vision of outfits from the 50s and 60s to the runway of Paris for the autumn winter 2012-13 collection. Models wearing stranded necklaces and headpieces brought an Indian feel to the show. Vera Wang’s spring 2013 collection titled Out of India was an ode to Indian texture and fabrics. The designer used brighter tones in her collection that screamed the spirit of India.