Write 2022 with a blade of grass

Cultural reporting in India must finally see the Old is New cunning of fashion for what it is and be brave, ask uncomfortable questions

The reasonable question, “What’s going on in Indian fashion?” makes my mind go blank. Whether it’s fashion apologists who know what’s going on but still wielding a bait or satiricals pointing out the pointlessness of fashion – even philosopher Slavoj Žižek did it last year in an interview – the question arouses perplexity. Because it is pushing back the procession of the bride and groom lehengas looms in the mind to describe with fluidity the experimental, original and risky work that coexists in fashion.

Notice the pride? Lament the increasingly apparent regressive tide in art, culture and comedy, following the course of politics, then get right back to writing on all of these matters, as usual. Complain about the ravages of the pandemic and fashion’s so-called non-essentialism in the face of climate change, then advocate for its growing importance as an interlocutor of our time.

Kriti Sanon in a Manish Malhotra lehenga

Kriti Sanon in a Manish Malhotra lehenga

My New Year’s rehab begins with dodging the influence of visual narratives like “what’s going on in India.” Or Indian style. Especially on social networks. The visuals create a deceptive cocktail of romantic nostalgia. When examined closely, many simply remix old island ideas. For example, the saturated cover of the reign of red lehengas worn by actors Patralekha and Katrina Kaif for their recent weddings have turned into a shindig on “women’s fashion” and all its “issues” that come with it. Those who laughed at their pretty likeness saw celebrity brides following time-worn ideas unwilling to wear individuality. Those who applauded praised the girls for staying true to the tradition. Few have noted that the bride and groom – Rajkummar Rao and Vicky Kaushal in this case – also readily play stereotypical roles in syrupy and botanical appetizers.

Keep silent, keep the peace?

The Old is New demon made us stooges in 2021 (and a year or two before). Sociologists may call it the moral price of an era as the right eclipses the left, but my discord is more mundane. It is the blatant silence of the fashion media when a group of decorated bridesmaids in luxurious palaces wearing silk brocades, twittering over jewelry, are sent as “fashion” in videos on Indian tailoring. When the influencers who unbox new products every day for a fee remind us to pay tribute to our grandmother’s old saris and call themselves sustainability advocates. When a beautiful, young, tall Indian girl is crowned Miss Universe after several rounds of body beauty pageants under the guise of empowerment that we are meant to be applauding in the name of patriotism. Those who oppose are called “swear words” feminists.

Priyanka Chopra

Priyanka Chopra

The pretext of old and new is perhaps not so easy to dodge. He even convinced Priyanka Chopra Jonas, a multi-hyphenated global company, to promote Bulgari Hindu. mangasutra as emblematic of the purchasing power of a financially independent woman. Thus attempting to make one of the oldest symbols of patriarchy a feminist accessory. Then the same Chopra-Jonas broke new ground to beautifully roast her husband Nick Jonas for the Jonas Brothers Family Roast on Netflix. Earlier this month, she slammed a reporter for calling her “Nick Jonas’ wife”.

Now was the time to ask why PC Jonas sold us an enslaving wedding ornament for women in the first place? Or why are we interested in the halwa Katrina Kaif had her first Bahurani barbecue? Why do fashion designers believe consumers will buy into their symbolism for inclusiveness-diversity-handicap-sustainability just because they slip into a constellation of short, dark, gay, tall, and haired models salty?

Many of these questions are not asked in my notes:

Are Banarasi weavings in fashion because tradition is the latest trend or because of new design interventions?

Is the craft biologically sustainable, or is it just a poorly studied correlation?

Do Ayurvedic beauty potions sell more because they are marketed in pretty “recyclable” bottles?

Make way for solutions

These ideas particularly troubled me last year. But they also unlock the potential of cultural reporting beyond the Old is New tyrant. Write clean, fresh, with a blade of grass in 2022.

By advocating for hand-weaving as a practical subject for schools. By interviewing brands and designers who qualify their products as sustainable without complying with globally established guidelines that range from supply chain inspections to supply and manufacturing controls to gender parity and pay equity. By calling out to each couturier who perpetuates the golden Maharani culture.

Let us highlight this year the new and emerging designers who create a non-conformist fashion and represent the culture of young people beyond the great Indian wedding. And applaud the real faces of novelty like British diver Tom Daley who was seen knitting between sporting events in Tokyo and knitted himself an Olympic-themed cardigan. Look beyond the selective engagement of mainstream media to highlight less publicized ideas like Shillong-based YouTuber duo CatxLizz, who use upcycled music and fashion to comment on social issues.

Kim Kardashian arrives for the 2021 Met Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Kim Kardashian arrives for the 2021 Met Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Dwell on the alluring relationship between publicity and anonymity through Kim Kardashian’s black Balenciaga gown for the Met Gala in October. It completely obscured her famous body and income generating face. Look for the new, the new. Like the recent Sher Bagh collection from Raw Mango founder Sanjay Garg, hand-woven in Banaras and conceptualized with Anjali Singh from SUJAN. Garg reverses the traditional shikargah (hunting lodge) vocabulary in Indian textile design by eliminating the hunter. Thus arguing for the conservation of wildlife.

Sustainability: not an indulgence for white collar workers

Writing 2022 with a blade of grass also calls into question the impression that sustainability is the prerogative of the fashion industry. It’s not. It’s also not an indulgence for white-collar workers, just as recycling isn’t just about buying vintage or repeating an expensive outfit on Instagram. So, unless the goals of conservation, reuse, and reassembly go beyond class issues or elitist tendencies, and fashion becomes humble enough to reach out to other industries for coexistence. , action and awareness crossed, our writing will indeed slip into lamentation. Right now, most cultural reporting is in a state similar to what the greatest gymnast of all time, Simone Biles, has called ‘the twisties’. A mental hiccup that left her unsure like she put it Time magazine, of her whereabouts, while in the air, high above the arch at the Olympics.

As a blade of grass intern, I turn to Rest in Power designer Virgil Abloh, who passed away in November. Louis Vuitton’s artistic director and founder of Off-White attempted to create an egalitarian ecosystem. He also said: “I am not cut out for a podium. But I’m going to design a podium that ushers in systemic change. “

Shefalee Vasudev is editor-in-chief of The Voice of Fashion.

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