Fashion 2016 And Other Funny Tales
My husband says fashion is a conspiracy to keep women occupied. As much as I adore him for his wit and shall I say, insouciance, his (loosely misogynistic?) rib led me to wonder – what is it about fashion that we go nuts over? They’re just clothes, for god’s sake. However, the more pressing question could probably be thus: how does the idea of, and the entire conundrum surrounding clothes play such an important part in some of our lives – so much so that we appear almost funny to those we consider, um, sartorially challenged
Perhaps Vogue.com chief critic, Sarah Mower’s recent theory/algorithm could begin to demystify. She points out that every generation of designer longs to recreate the styles of its childhood – Christian Dior born in the early nineties displays strong Edwardian influences in his work, just as Tom Ford, born in 1961, seems to be obsessed with the sixties and early seventies, she reasons. According to Mower, if you subtract the average age of today’s rising designer, which is about 25, from today’s date – 2015, voila – you’ve got yourself the fashion decade of the moment! – the ‘90s presently, if you’re too busy perusing look books to do the math.
Which is right on point, if you ask me, seeing as the year that went by didn’t just have a huge nineties moment, the runways predicted even more of the grunge-y, minimal era for this year. The New York Spring/Summer ’16 shows saw Calvin Klein getting nostalgic with his Nineties collection of waifish dresses that used to be modelled by a fresh-faced Kate Moss, and on Parisian runways, the decade was the biggest story – from entire outfits revolving around the lacey slip dress, right down to fanny packs – whether you liked it or not. Céline, Nicolas Ghesquière, Dior, Stella McCartney, Gucci – all nineties teens by the way – couldn’t have enough of the decade’s sartorial references. And then there was Alessandro Michele who won over young hearts right off the bat with the creation of his vintage, flea market meets high fashion Gucci girl – all romantic trompe l’oeil ruffles, dreamy floral patterns, and layered in ludicrous costume jewellery.
Street style went on a ‘90s revival mission as well – we saw fashion influencers, aka those envy-inducing, über stylish people you follow all over social media, nursing a major crush on the highlight of the period – denim, of course, denim everything – and Instagrams rife with overalls, tons and tons of plaid à la Clueless, sky-high platforms and Doc Martens, printed backpacks, and choker necklaces rummaged from closets past.
Which brings me to another step of this dance we dance – are the high end, fashion forward ensembles on runways that are now catching dust halfway across the world going to inspire what I wear to parent-teachers’ meeting tomorrow? Should we also be looking closer home? Not that homegrown designers aren’t setting trends every season – oh no, they even spark trends between them – thanks to the Kardashian-level celebrity style craze we seem to foster for every second Bollywood film star around here (“OMG, did you see what Katrina wore in that song? Totally getting that for my cousin’s best friend’s brother’s wedding next month!”). And with the fairytale marriage of aesthetic and well-preserved handicraft techniques, there has never been a better time to trend-watch in our own native.
Some couturiers I’ve been closely following (read: stalking) and loving? The artisanal brilliance of Zoraya, Studio Verandah’s clean silhouettes, Payal Khandwala’s ease, Anamika Khanna’s latest foray into sport luxe at Amazon Fashion Week, dreamy dresses from Pallavi Mohan’s Not So Serious collection, statement capes by Kukoon, Pinakin sarees, Masaba’s rad pairing of a saree and a dress, Bungalow 8, Nidhi Agarwal, Ashima Leena, Surendri by Yogesh Chaudhary, Chicory Chai’s contemporary jaal-work jewellery, Archana Rao’s delicate colours and embroidery, and Krishna Mehta’s dhoti sets. A slew of styles, and aesthetics running the gamut from “That is so me!” to “I’d love to see myself in that!” What’s not to love?
At which point I have an interesting moment of self-revelation – this is how it works. This is what it adds up to – all those hours spent shopping online, scouring the recesses of the internet, and all that energy spent stealthily circling the mall twice (fine, thrice) to zero in on that perfect New Year’s eve dress – clothes aren’t just garments, they represent who we are and who we want to be – at least briefly. We’re picking our costumes to make our memories in, and what purpose of fashion is greater than that? Reiterating trends are only a vehicle to revisit the magic of bygone eras – we pick up from the past to create something new – whenever we seem to have whet our appetite for them (algorithm or not) because a trend done twice is never quite the same.
As for my husband’s thoughts on women and conspiracy theories, he could be absolutely right or absolutely clueless, but one look at the shirt he’s wearing while he’s going to town with his wisecracks – and I secretly smile. It’s plaid!