Fashion in New India

Fashion, as we know it today, had its origins in the French empire of Louis XIV. In Paris of the seventeenth century, the ladies of Versailles outdid one another in creating and being seen in extraordinary and exclusive clothes and ‘La Mode’ and ‘Couture’ were born. To many it seems frivolous in a developing country, but fashion gives a unique peek into the social trends and the follies or the tastes of the rich.

The Indian fashion scene has changed dramatically. The fashion shows give a good glimpse into what the business is going through and what the trends are. I went to the Delhi fashion week recently and found very interesting contrasts with the fashion events five to ten years back.
The big change is that fashion is more accessible. Earlier, the shows were populated by a westernized audience in their twenties or thirties. Today, the shows attract all age groups reflecting the romance of fashion even with mature age groups.

The second change is in the models. The models earlier were all clones of their western counter parts, white, high cheek boned and skinny. Today, many of them have distinctly Indian facial profiles and dark skin.
The clothes reflect a broader change in the Indian society. The clothes are no more again poor imitation of the dresses by Armani or Gaultier or of the opulent Indian variety (the type worn by Indian royalty). They are a very clever and practical mix of both Indian and international sensibilities. They could be worn on the streets of Manhattan or Colaba. The colours are bright and bold. There are clothes in purple, burgundy and yellow as much as in black and mauve. There is also a courageous experimentation in the fabrics with jute, silk, Lycra, cotton and Nylon aiding a spirit of playfulness and dreaming.

All these changes reflect the increasing maturing and confidence of the Indians. The lack of self-esteem and a certain rootlessness are definitely disappearing. The new young designers are confident in their skin and have settled in a place for themselves and the new India in comfort and in style.


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