Fusing the past

Designers and fashionistas today are getting inspired
by fashions  from the past and fusing them into
retrofashion, finds Avra Biswas

The age-old saying, ‘Old is gold’ seems to be the mantra for the present-day Indian fashion industry. The past has been inspiring the fashion world for quite some time as designers go for ‘fusion fashion’, which connotes revamping earlier generations’ fashion statements  with a pinch of western fashions. Ranging from O-glasses to cotton ‘half-pants’, what were seen in the past are resurfacing in its new avatar but with a difference; this time around there is a tinge of eccentricity added to it.
“Revamp is certainly set to stay here for a long time.” says  Pankaj Ahuja of the well known designer duo Pankaj and Nidhi on the sidelines of their show at the Blender’s Fashion Tour 2014.
“Nidhi and I had once created a beautiful piece using kantha. It is now one of our signature designs. It was appreciated by one and all,” he adds.
Says fashion designer Jayita Singh Raajput, “It’s my instinct to design clothes that have some similarity in features to clothes of  olden times. They might not be the perfect design to serve my purpose but that very element of imperfection provides more vibrancy to my designs than an out-and-out modern idea would have done.”
The modern day fashion conscious lot are also not afraid to try something out-of-the-box in order get noticed. This characteristic is a major driving force behind setting fashion trends amongst middle-class Indian men and women.
As fashion photographer Sagnik Jaiswal says, “The mohawk is an eye-catching hairstyle which made its appearance abroad about 50 years ago. It has been made a comeback.  Today, it is one of the most trending hairstyles among young boys in India who follow fashion trends in contemporary scene.”
Look at some star football players in the international arena today and you will see how the mohawk  is being embraced.
The young in the country have always looked up to their idols in Hollywood and the music fraternity for inspiration. Hence, it goes without saying that fashion trends too are emulated and ‘trendified’  in India. Casual or funk wear, which originally came into the limelight in the mid-70s in USA, is now almost the order of the day for the Gen-Y. They prove to be the perfect apparel for ‘cool’ selfies isn’t it?
Miniskirts and anarkalis, which pretty much ruled the then Bollywood, were lost amidst the host of fashion experimentations conducted by designers during the past two decades. But they are back to sizzle and regain their old status. “If you ask me about my favourite retro wear, then anarkali definitely has to be there at the top,” says model Rikthee Basu .
Among traditional Indian wardrobe, the lehenga-choli has the most notable history. Since the early 20th century, Indian women (mostly from the southern and western parts) have been wearing this attire at home. The modern version of it, however, is used more for exotic appeal rather than a casual house-wear.
This ‘epitome of womanhood’ in India has undergone refurbishing over the years and every style does justice to the aforementioned title as it represents the socio-cultural renovations to a large extent, as well. Raajput, who has often used this attire in the shoots conducted by her fashion brand, reiterates: “Look at Deepika Padukone in the lehenga-choli in Ramleela ! Wasn’t she smashing?”
As we have moved from the era of five-day long cricket Test matches to that of one-day entertainers ODI cricket and even to three-hour crisp T20 matches, it needs no repetition of the fact that we have to pack more work a definite span of time than beore. Hence in the era of busy schedules and always ‘running short on time’ ping-notes, the apparel has to keep up too. Supply always responds to demand, as any economist will remind; modern designers too have learnt to adapt to the common man’s needs and have successfully remoulded certain traditional-wears.
As Raajput  points out, the modern salwar no longer comes with a separate dupatta. It remains attached to the main piece of cloth. Ready to wear dhotis are often seen these days at wedding ceremonies which spares the bridegroom the trouble of tying some really difficult knots. Jumpsuits are back in fashion after a period of long lull for the very reason that they are the most easy-to-wear piece of cloth that one can think of.
In this context, Trambak Roy, hero of Bengali film Premlila, says, “Time has had the biggest impact on the modern man’s fashion trends. If I’m about to visit four different places during the course of a single day then I would prefer to wear something that suits the each of those places rather than changing each time.”
When asked whether there are any chances of conducting a retro fashion show in the future, Raajput responds:  “Definitely. Retro is the new sexy. I don’t have any doubts over the success of a fashion show when the theme is retro. I would definitely love to conduct one.” To which Jaiswal adds, ” Most of the catalogue shoots that I work at these days have 60 per cent of retro content. Eccentric retro is definitely the hottest page 3 trend right now.”
Designer Namrata Joshupuria agrees that revamp of older wears is in.
“Although, I don’t usually experiment on traditional Indian clothes and my genre is more contemporary, yet I would say that revamp of olden wears is definitely a concept that’s ruling the industry at present”, she says.
“In the near future I am planning to focus on Indian traditionals  and create something innovative out of them,” she adds.
History repeats itself, but in this case the modernised off-beat adaptation of retro feature which has been the driving force behind the success of fusion fashion. (TWF)


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