Zhivalian ISSUE I | COUNTERCULTURISTS | FALLWINTER 2017
A New Dawn
league of Indian millennial designers are on the rise – call them the Counterculturists if you may. Daring to define the contemporary scene, they are reinventing India’s traditional aesthetic with today’s relevance. Sprucing the Indian landscape through their unwavering vision, they define what it means to be modern in an Indian yet global context. The inaugural edition celebrates the zeitgeist with Counterculturists. The theme highlights how minimalism establishes itself somewhere between the blurred lines of conformity and rebellion. It pays ode to India’s evolving contemporary identity featuring five Indian millennial designers – Ikai by Ragini Ahuja, Ilk by Shikha and Vinita, KA-SHA by Karishma Shahani Khan, Soumodeep Dutta and Urvashi Kaur.
Counterculturists, the third segment is based on environmental sustainability. Such discussions are crucial considering how polluting this industry really is. Designers give their unedited views on “Is sustainability a furore or a movement here to stay in a growing world of millennials?”. An in-depth interview with the founder of one of the most promising apps of 2017 further joins the dots on the future of sustainability in the millennial era. Through their zeitgeist-defining visions, Counterculturists among several other international forward-thinkers seek positivity in a time of turmoil through inclusivity and acceptance. Tomorrow’s Diversity reimagines a future woman breaking free from pictureperfect ideals to embrace beauty imperfections, a stylistic take on the current wave of beauty in diversity. The Unity In Inclusivity segment gets tête-à-tête with India’s first transgender models to ever walk the ramp at Lakmé India Fashion Week, Anjali Lama. Stunning collaborations with New York illustrators, Yueming Qu and Krystyn Banega breathe fresh life into the artdirection.
Absorbing the zeitgeist through their distinct design narratives, the first segment of Counterculturists discusses the views of Indian designers on the current sociopolitical turbulence. When the winds of change usher a new dawn of divide, fashion figures out a better plan. International runways of Fall/Winter 2017 sees designers revolting in unison through certain cues on the runway. The spirit of the magazine believes in dissecting these trends rather than promoting mere Defining itself as “Treasurer of the times”, Zhivalian seeks the spirit of the zeitgeist in every issue. In consumerism as featured in the first segment. the Digital Age’s use-and-throw era, the biannual Establishing global relevance while being rooted in one’s Collector’s Edition is a medium for people to look cultural identity involves a fine balance of honing craft back, reflect and question the zeitgeist at a digestible while still being sensitive to the needs of the modern pace. Zhivali desires to define the future of print amidst wearer. The second segment reveals Counterculturist the current stage of reconstruction hoping to churn opinions on establishing pertinence and the future of many more introspective, provocative and collaborative the Indian fashion landscape. editions in the coming future. With the green movement gaining slow traction Yours’ truly, in the Indian market through influential works of Zhivali
Contributors PHOTOGRAPHER Yashasvi Sharma MODELS Aishwarya Singh Masha Mamedzade Nalini Kumar Rubi Boro Shashi Bangari HAIR AND MAKEUP Bhawna Nishtha Gaind Shaan Khan ILLUSTRATORS Krystyn Banega Yueming Qu AND SPECIAL THANKS TO Asmita Aggarwal Karishma Shahani Khan Milli Sethi Ragini Ahuja Rashmi Varma Shikha and Vinita Soumodeep Dutta Urvashi Kaur
COVER LOOK Shashi wears a navy 3D world dress, Aishwarya wears a black and off-white maxi wrap dress, Ilk
1 DEFINING MINIMALISM
COUNTERCULTURISTS |12 FASHION’S QUEEN OF HEARTS | 24 DEEP POCKETS | 28 SUITS HER | 30 REFLECTIONS ON THE RUNWAY | 34 WHAT GREENERY MEANS FOR 2017 | 37 FASHION’S FEMINIST STANCE | 39 AMERICAN SCREAM | 41
Counterculturists IKAI BY RAGINI AHUJA | ILK BY SHIKHA AND VINITA | KA-SHA | SOUMODEEP DUTTA | URVASHI KAUR
Defining Minimalism Counterculturists are defining minimalism on their own terms by assimilating the zeitgeist through distinct perspectives. Sharing their views on the current socio-political turbulence, they establish that minimalismâ€™s growing relevance is nothing but a response to the contemporary times.
One of the biggest ways to revolt is through clothing because thatâ€™s the first thing you see. Ka-Sha
Ka-Sha I do feel minimalism’s growing relevance is a response to the current state of times. Back when I studied in London in 2010, it was severely hit by the recession.You could tell the difference in the runway shows that happened before and after the economic slowdown. There was not as much extravagance, not as much money to waste on ridiculous things. As a fashion house, if you had that crazy money lying around, no one was going to buy it. Whatever happens around you makes a massive difference to fashion. The reason I chose to do fashion and why it stands important to me is because if you look at a timeline, you can tell the decades just by looking at the silhouettes on the person. It just brings to focus on how relevant clothing actually is. When you talk about women’s emancipation, they were stuck wearing corsets and tight-fitting clothes that weren’t practical. That’ how minimalism moved into being, they started to fight for their rights and clothing started to look like menswear. One of the biggest ways to revolt is through clothing because that’s the first thing you see. When you talk about issues relating to our country, it always goes back to how women are dressing. I think clothing plays such an important role, how can you say that it is irrelevant? I understand that fashion does not cater to a necessity but creates wants. We have stopped catering to the fact that people need to be covered; we now talk making this cover more beautiful and elaborate. That makes me feel that we should look more at democratising fashion where it should not be elitist. On the other hand, selling poor quality clothing to the masses is a vicious cycle, as the big players can’t make a profit by being price sensitive. It comes down to people like us who in their small little ways are still trying to do it. I feel even if sustainability is just a trend right now it doesn’t matter, as long as it makes a 10% difference in improving quality or converting ten out of thousand people every year, I still feel like it is doing something. Personally, I feel the only issue that really affects the Indian fashion situation is how men make women feel – it’s just the worst. Politics is something we can still deal with but the way India as a society and culture ends up typecasting women on their dressing choices becomes a bigger issue above anything else that happens. After heinous crimes had happened in the city, some politicians came up with really insensitive remarks mentioning it being the woman’s fault. That is the issue. It really makes a difference and is something we need to fight together. I don’t think it is a feminist issue, it is a humanitarian issue everyone needs to come together for.
Soumodeep Dutta The Indian scenario has definitely felt some side effects from the wave of events across international borders. I have a client based in the United States who is protesting against the Trump government by wearing saris every day. It is a rebellion in its own right. Big things affect small things and vice versa. From a wearer’s point of view, minimalism is about feeling as comfortable as one would be in one’s sleepwear. From a designer’s point of view, it’s minimal to me if it’s soothing to the eyes. We are always in the tug of war between “less is more” and “less is bore”. I don’t know if I’ll call myself a minimalist designer, but yes I am somewhere in that tug of war leaning slightly more towards the minimal side.
Ikai I feel Millennials are very smart, not just because I am a part of it (giggles) but as we are using it in the right spirit. We like to dress up but not overdress. There is a whole wave of minimalism where we see woven Raw Mango lehengas that are not excessively heavy to an Ikai jacket, nicely appliqued but light so you could wear it in the day or night. We have become very smart where we know how to be comfortable yet stylish at the same time; what items to pick and keep in our wardrobe. We wear track pants to the airport which works well for a long flight or sneakers to fashion weeks and it all just makes sense. I do not know how generations before us never did this, why weren’t sneakers in fashion! Fashion has always had a voice. From Dior’s feminist t-shirts to Gaurav Gupta’s Vogue Atelier show that had super power feminist t-shirts clubbed with gowns and long skirts, I feel as fashion leaders, they are using their voice appropriately. Fashion taking a minimalist route is something we all have consciously started practising because it is easy, comfortable and works very well for us. Ikai’s voice has always been very directional. We know that we are making clothes for a real woman which is inclusive of all body types. We are making practical luxury garments worn in the day. If you pick something Ikai, you can dress it up or dress it down. It is going to be a nice complex minimal applique with some edgy leather element here or there. I have never worn very sharp clothing myself so I do not understand the whole sharp aesthetic. It has always been very easy, flowy.
Ilk We describe ourselves as fun, experimental and energetic. The silhouettes are wearable with a certain edge whether a splash of colour or a sense of boldness. It has a soft grunge feel to it. We are quite close to nature. Most of the time, our concepts revolve around nature - we somehow end up picking something that is around us. This also means you become sensitive towards it. Our last collection was “Made In The Shade” and it was reflected in the kind of embroidery that we did – moss.
Urvashi Kaur My label explores a vast number of treatments, techniques and weaves with a firm focus on the artisanal and hand crafted. In that sense itâ€™s not necessarily minimal which I feel has a certain austerity associated to it. But yes, Urvashi Kaur is never over the top or trying too hard in terms of an aesthetic and ideology. Fashion is always quick to respond to an atmosphere of suppression and division, so I can already see the reaction from designers on the international runways in terms of slogan tees. Indian fashion will also (hopefully) have a point of view towards a better, more equal, inclusive global climate.
Rei Kawakubo: Fashion’s queen of hearts Delve into the archives of the first woman and second living designer in fashion history to receive the rare honour at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. | TEXT: SHEFALI J. JAUHAR | ILLUSTRATION: YUEMING QU |
o be posthumously honoured at the annual Met Gala showcase is like to achieve a lifetime award at the Grammys of fashion. Receiving the award firsthand, however, is equivalent to winning every Grammy category in a single season. In the course of fashion history, only a single designer was immortalised with this rare honour in 1983, Yves Saint Laurent. Fast-forward to 2017, Rei Kawakubo became the first woman and second living designer to receive the honour at the Met Gala exhibit; yet another landmark progress by a woman designer since Maria Grazia Chiuri’s appointment at Dior. The exhibit commences on May 4, showcasing a spectrum of about a hundred and twenty womenswear pieces over the years by Comme des Garçons. The first of May will witness a bevy of stars on the red carpet for The Costume Institute Benefit event. It will be cochaired by Katy Perry and Pharrell Williams while Anna Wintour and Kawakubo serve as honourary chair. The official sponsors for the display are Apple, Condé Nast, Maison Valentino, Farfetch and H&M. The themes appropriately reflect contrasting themes that explore Rei’s interest towards the in-between with curated sections- East and West, Male and Female, Past and Present. Kawakubo’s knack for exploring fashion as a relationship between the body, wearer and the space around it can be experienced up close by viewers through an eye-level display arrangement devoid of physical barriers. Rei’s avant-garde sensibility challenges conventional notions of beauty, fashionability and gender as she reimagines them in a conceptual dialogue. Delve into the archives of her bygone collections and decode Kawakubo’s nonconformist vision towards femininity through the years.
DRESS MEETS BODY SPRING 1997
A BLACK TOMORROW SPRING 2009
While flashing the midriff or exposing the clavicle seems to be the new norm of sensuality in 2017, Kawakubo’s empowering vision back in the Spring 1997 collection was exactly the contrary. The collection featured body-fitted garments in stretched gingham with a crippled exaggeration such as on the shoulders or back lending to an unflattering silhouette. It was inspired by the woman and her physical burdens. Through the literal placement of the lumps on the woman, one could perhaps interpret the traditional burden women face trying to please men and society through flattering feminine dressing whether childbirth or domestic chores.
Minimalists have commonly used black to withdraw any emotional associations from their garments. The Spring 2009 collection titled, ‘A Black Tomorrow’ is Kawakubo’s academic exploration of the future of black and its function in fashion. In the decade of excess- 1980s where designers splashed colours on the runway, Rei rebelled with cold expression through the sober tone. Surface experimentation with cellophane, chiffon and vinyl lent an industrial vibe to the garments. Geometric deconstructed pieces with hexagonal dimensions looked like deflated soccer balls. Kawakubo’s collections are usually subject to open interpretation to viewers.
18th CENTURY PUNKS FW 2016
FLATTENED FASHION FW 2012
FUTURE OF THE SILHOUETTE FW 2017
Reimagining “18th Century punks” in today’s context, Kawakubo blurred the lines between the past and the future with her anti-establishment sensibility. The garments truly stood for the avant-gardist’s vision of powerful women. Sculpturally layered structures featured in rosy jacquards, bondage straps, 3-D armour like projections. Twhese were visions of tough yet feminine women, as pretty as Rei could possibly do. The collection provoked a decadent flair (Versaillesque) with a hint of bizarre. It seemed satirical and scandalous. One could imagine 21st century Le Merveilleuses flaunting them to cause outrage like they did in France several centuries ago.
Pushing the rigid prospects of visual dimension, the FallWinter 2012 collection literally explored two-dimensional forms through simplistic flat three-dimensional constructions in felt. The word flat resonated in every sense right from bright bold colours (think bright red, cobalt blue, flesh pink reminiscent of plasticine), flat silhouettes and patterns (camouflage, chintz, polka, leopard). The models appeared as emotionless cutout dolls in the oversized silhouettes, perhaps suggestive of Kawakubo’s social commentary on how the digital culture has disconnected or ‘flattened’ fashion in terms of depth and impersonality.
Challenging the boundaries of aesthetics and wearability, the collection titled, “The Future of Silhouette” is among the most recent collections to showcase at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. The range of avant-garde garments were a sculptural interpretation of the female form. Rei used unconventional materials like paper, cotton wads and Mylar to create bulbous curves at the front and back sans armholes. Women from the future marched on the pastel pink runway against a bubblegum pink wall.
Deep Pockets Uncovering its pocketful of history this Fall Winterâ€™2017. | TEXT: SHEFALI J. JAUHAR | IMAGE COURTESY: VOGUE UK |
| TEXT: SHEFALI J. JAUHAR | IMAGE COURTESY: VOGUE UK |
othing screams relaxed, practical and utilitarian louder than the pocket. The modest design detail has been keeping up with the times going from invisible to glaring over the century. Do not underestimate the power of the pocket, it has the capability to subtly communicate the political and sexist undertones of the reigning era. It’s shape, size and structure run quite obliquely to the status of women. For a start, womenswear initially did not feature pockets as prominently as men. If you go down the roots of history, you would observe that menswear was designed purely on fluid design while womenswear out of adornment. Pockets for 17th-century women were “daintily” tucked under their petticoats and panniers in the while men conveniently donned them directly in their tailored suits. An opening side seam allowed her veiled accessibility. It was almost as spacious as a mini bag, everyday essentials included perfume bottles, sewing kits, keys and sometimes even food tucked underneath her outfit! As the silhouette slimmed down towards the end of the century, ornate bags or reticules replaced pockets to compliment the look. The larger the reticule, the less desirable it was; it implied the woman was working and independent (not a desirable ideal at all in those days.)
The rise of the working woman during the World War I years saw the return of the pocket. As they fought towards gender equality in the dawn of the 19th century, the working woman also began to wear the pants, literally. Over the course of the decades, fashion’s obsession towards sleek silhouettes saw pockets sometimes stitched, sometimes omitted altogether. As androgynous dressing became popular in the 1970’s and 1990’s, pockets became increasingly prominent. Fast-forward to the 21st century of iPhone mania and on-the-go living, women demanded bigger and roomier pockets. Is it even a pocket if it doesn’t fit your phone? With contemporary dressing defining the current aesthetic as relaxed and comfort-driven, designers have embraced the zeitgeist as they subvert the utility item into something extraordinary and surreal. Rodebjer’s military precision featured oversized pockets in a wraparound olive on olive layer. Christopher Kane blended sartorial sparkle with an angled pocket perfectly inclined for a casual strut. Diagonal patch pockets at Proenza Schouler ran all the way up to the shoulders; utility pockets at Yeezy and JW Anderson proved more was merrier. As for Simon Rocha, it would make even the 17thcentury women envious of her dreamy pink pockets, airy enough to store all their trinkets and dinner of course.
OSCAR DE LA RENTA
her Peak power dressing in fashionâ€™s highly political climate.
DOLCE & GABBANA
| TEXT: SHEFALI J. JAUHAR | IMAGE COURTESY: VOGUE UK |
esigners gave a roaring tribute to what could have been for our first female president’s favourite attire – the mighty pantsuit. The return of Clinton’s signature statement is well-timed with fashion’s increasingly political climate. The reassertion of gender fluidity with relaxed silhouettes speaks volumes on the state of times. Alessandro Michele’s Gucci revolution is forever etched in history for genderless dressing with Italian suave and contemporary relevance. A softened tailoring is the new sophistication; a sense of ease in times of trouble is the way to go after all. Who’d understand this better than Victoria Beckham? Having begun her eponymous label nine years ago, Beckham, known for her slinky fits has now mastered the art of laid-back finesse. Her debut pantsuit collection resonated the same spirit, one of
effortless charm and comfort in one’s own skin. The leather gloves oozed edginess. The new luxury is quiet and all in the details. Joseph played with the power of monochrome in a blush pantsuit pairing with voluminous pants towering over snakeskin footwear. Proportions were languid and exaggerated, adding a Nineties nostalgia in the era of Jill Sanders. Known for his spin on tailoring, Neil Berret’s pantsuits were a hybrid of the past with the proportions of the present. Narciso Rodriguez delicately balanced restraint with ease with a black cutout top donned over cropped flared trousers and a coordinated blazer. Experimenting with dramatic treatments to colour and material, designers are injecting the right balance between minimalism and maximalism. Decadence through jewel tones or a glossy finish is the new luxe.
Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia’s debut collection for Oscar De La Renta featured the modest pantsuit elevated into an evening wear affair quite worthy of a glittering Oscar night. At Emilio Pucci, the double-breasted creamy orange ensemble was equally delicious with crystalstudded buttons. Prada’s burnt caramel rendition in corduroy was a Seventies time travel. The all-black trouser suit at Max Mara epitomised minimal glamour – semistructured, decadent with a sheer adding visual contrast. The statement couldn’t have gotten more political in 2017 – the modern update signifies the shifting times and a continuing battle towards gender equality. It is a reflection of today’s reality – practical, gender fluid and detail oriented. Coming back to Hillary, one could totally imagine her donning the red Escada pantsuit!
All Hail Anarchy! Dissecting the distressed reality of 2017.
Row-wise: Prada, Rick Owens, Vetements, Balenciaga
| TEXT: SHEFALI J. JAUHAR | IMAGE COURTESY: INDIGITAL |
ith the industry nodding in complete disregard to the prevailing political and social establishment, anarchy reigns loud and clear in a time of chaos. Every zeitgeist defines its own cause to revolt– the Millennial era is clouded with a fair share of issues ranging from terrorism, economic slowdown, environmental concerns to the disintegrating traditional fashion system. On a brighter note, this allows room for introspection; necessity is the mother of all invention. Adapting to the now needs analytical thought to challenge prevailing traditions. This is where deconstruction steps in. Dissecting the current turn of events, designers are dismantling traditional constructions with concealed undertones. No one transforms the mundane into such witty twists and turns as Demna Gvasalia for Vetements. His conceptual approach can be rooted from his brief stint at Maison Margiela. Demna’s anti-establishment approach not just challenge aesthetics but are a social commentary on the immediate world around us with a satirical touch. Moreover, it is not even surprising for the French collective to have smashing sales for “ordinary” items sold at extraordinary figures to instant-gratification seeking Millennials. Public School witnessed plenty of slash-wrap-and-layer this season. Participating in the highly political New York Fashion Week, the American label embodying street sensibility accessorised with “Make America New York” caps. Shredding history with contemporary adaptability has made fashion more remixed than ever. Capturing the contemporary attitude while placing his heart on craftsmanship, Christopher Bailey’s fall collection for
Burberry took inspiration from sculptural works of Henry Moore. With theatricality of Shakespearean heights, deconstructed clothing enveloped models unfamiliarly yet refreshingly. Gareth Pugh presented an equally dramatic all-black collection with rigorously tailoring in sculptural forms, some in gigantic proportions. Seeking solace in a primitive medieval setting, Rick Owens featured lean deconstructed silhouettes in a collection inspired by rituals and ceremonies. Titled ‘Glitter’, the optimistic collection sought hope in the unity and power of civilisation. Ravaged, asymmetric and exposed, these deliberate textile imperfections reflect reality as it is – chaotic in 2017 terminology. When the going gets tough, making do with what you have is not a bad option (especially in the current anti-consumerist sentiment in an era of an economic meltdown.) Only Christopher Kane, the king of upcycling knows how to elevate something as unwanted as foam onto slingbacks. Conserving resources while making them look cool in proud exposure is a deconstructionist act Kane effortlessly experiments with each season. Prada, Balenciaga and Loewe went green in statement accessories turning banal items like sea shells, porcelain and cans into treasurable jewellery pieces. Making do has never been more desirable. These counter-cultural statements throw light on the rebellious zeitgeist (some louder than others) as designers assimilate the socio-political landscape. Rethinking traditions of the past with the relevance of the present gives rise to disruptive innovations much needed in a time of accelerated change and chaos.
RR RR Reflections On The Runway
Anxiety. Despair. Chaos. Conflict. Hope. Look no further than the runway (yes, literally) to unravel the grim reality surrounding fashionâ€™s current state of turbulence and uncertainty. | TEXT AND COVER GRAPHIC: SHEFALI J. JAUHAR | IMAGE COURTESY: ALESSANDRO GAROFALO |
hat could metaphorically best describe the crumbling state of the fashion system better than Alexander Wang’s show space? It was a battered rundown theatre, RKO Hamilton in Harlem. Emerging from the ruins, Wang’s vision was to be witnessed standing up rather than being comfortably seated. A worthy wait of 40 minutes if you may. By shrugging conventional comfort of viewing a show, the experience commanded a sense of seriousness. As his signature black dominated the collection (with exception to a few greys), the sense of sobriety and rebellion communicated through colour couldn’t be more relevant. On the other hand, Marc Jacobs catered to the bare minimum, seriously. Two rows of parallel metallic folding-chairs fulfilled (if not satisfied) viewers with seating comfort amidst the barren Park Avenue Armory. Silence prevailed throughout the presentation as models strutted without any accompanying music on the runway sans frills. The no-iPhone photography disclaimer added to the sense of restraint, a much-needed move considering how shows are consumed rather than experienced behind the lens of Instagram. A modest browncardboard folder encased the collection’s inspiration titled Respect as Jacob’s refused to give interviews post-show. It was a sophisticated homage to the evolution of hip-hop and its influence on street style, a display of Americana with an obvious sense of melancholy. The sense of restraint and darkness looming over the industry were laid precisely in the little details at Loewe. In a dimly-lit ambience with temperature controlled to the t, the cold environment transported viewers into a cellar, as per Anderson. An eerie environment lent an element of theatricality with orchids and pictures by Lionel Wendt. The abundance of black throughout the collection (and immediate environment) was a reaction to the rising consumerism fuelled by online commerce. Blending black against black defined the strokes of Loewe’s defined silhouette. Seeking a glimmer of hope in a time of darkness, Rick Owens emphasised the power of unity and civilisation to bond an increasingly alienated community through a collection inspired by rituals and ceremonies. The show space was in a spacious underground setting with steely accents. Knowing Owens, having a collection titled Glitter would not have been the most obvious choice for it stood for the glitter of civilisation. Pursuing positivity and embracing civilisation was Owen’s redemption from the chaos. Like any Rick Owens show, the runway ceremony was an experiential dialogue to the current chaos.
Emerging from the ruins, Wang’s vision was to be witnessed standing up rather than being seated.
Complexities, fast-paced living, movement; leave it to Demna Gvasalia’s unwavering vision to define modern-day dressing for a powerful woman at Balenciaga. Interpreting contemporary elegance while delicately balancing heritage, Demna’s vision for Fall Winter 2017 explores the historical archive of the once couture label with a subversive play in construction details and a bit of Gvasalian humour – think oversized laundry bags camouflaged with iconic Balenciaga couture dresses. It was inspired by the mannerism with which Balenciaga women held the garment to the side of their shoulder. The show was staged in an airy and banal underground setting meant for hosting conferences. A sense of movement ran through the collection with asymmetric hemlines. Speaking of movement, one could notice the logo carpeted in a vertical pattern slightly tilted creating a sense of graphic movement. Offering utility for the busy woman, oversized pockets added a twist of practicality with surrealism. Ditching affluent settings for the plain and the mundane, designers are opting for unconventional venues leaving plenty of “room” for the audience to dissect and introspect on the designer’s dialogue.
What Greenery Means For 2017 Designers are carrying out a revolution of sorts on the runway, and like nature, it takes a few seeds to spread the greenery.
| TEXT: SHEFALI J. JAUHAR |
017 marks the onset of an uncertain timeline triggered by the newly-appointed (and much disliked) American president, the future of the environment thanks to major upcoming policy changes and the prevailing macroeconomic adversities. While anger, anxiety and unpredictability loom in the air, Pantone, a leading colour institution seeks optimism by declaring Pantone 15-0343 or Greenery as the colour of the year. Annually declared by Pantone every September, the official colour stands as a cultural barometer of the shifting global context; in the case of Greenery, Pantone reveals, â€œA refreshing and revitalising shade, Greenery is symbolic of new beginnings.â€? An antidote to the current turbulence and the digital flux, greenery stands for an invigorating attitude that calls for a fresh start. Despite the technological advances of the modern world, nature stands firm as the ultimate source of inspiration for designers across fields. It symbolises mindful living and a refreshing attitude that seeks solitude in nature rather than the urban expanse.
Going back to one’s roots, the omnipresent shade highlights a rising alternative movement embracing slow living and simplicity. Be it clean eating, a social media detox or sustainable purchasing, greenery stands for a meditative mental cleanse towards positivity and vitality. The holistic approach to wellness has grown to become incredibly desirable with a 3.7% growth in the sector according to the Business of Fashion; fashion and luxury brands are capitalising on the growing trend with their own range of athleisure wear for its significantly healthconscious customers. Statistics by Nielsen Global Health and Wellness Report 2015 shows “onethird think sustainably sourced (35%) and organic (33%) ingredients are very important in their purchasing decisions”. The year 2016 witnessed celebrities and supermodels like Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner going on a digital cleanse by abandoning their respective social media accounts. Fast-fashion giants like H&M and Zara too have incorporated sustainable lines to adapt to the changing consumer attitudes. Sustainability has moved beyond the “green furore” to become more relevant than ever. As Rina Singh, the creative vision behind the minimalist brand Eka puts it, “That’s the only way forward across the world. Even innovating to revive old polyester dump is going to be fashionable. Anything that improves the environment today and tomorrow is going to be mainstream fashion. A movement that has now begun, it is not something that is every going to be “out of fashion” soon.” The colour of spring has become a trans-seasonal shade or ‘Nature’s Neutral’ (as Pantone states) on the runways of Spring Summer and Fall Winter 2017. Enter 2017; fashion’s landscape is wrapped with vulnerability given the disintegrating fashion
system as well as political scenario (hello sexism, exclusion and racism!). Greenery’s refreshing vibe seems to have rubbed some positivity across global catwalks with increasing runway diversity; Halima Aden, a hijab-wearing model walked for Yeezy Season 5 at NYFW while Indian transgender model Anjali Lama walking at Lakmé Fashion Week Summer Resort 2017. In response to the growing political divide, the Business of Fashion’s Tied Together initiative is uniting the industry by showing support towards inclusiveness through bandanas signalling a silent rebellion. Designers are subconsciously responding to the growing cultural phenomenon with intelligent deconstructive dressing by reinventing classics with minimal detailing in sombre tones. On the other hand, designers like Gucci and Christopher Kane draw a parallel universe of mixed references with happy dressing – mixing good taste with bad along with the-more-details-the-better approach. Time and time again, fashion history has proved that in a time of conflict all it takes is a refreshed outlook and innovation. The choice of colour for 2017 highlights a reassuring comfort attained through nature’s simplicity and adaptability to change. Designers are carrying out a revolution of sorts on the runway, and like nature, it takes a few seeds to spread the greenery. A breath of fresh air is all that fashion currently needs, and in a time of conflict, go “green” this 2017.
Fashion’s Feminist Stance 2017: The Year Of The Woman
| TEXT: SHEFALI J. JAUHAR | Top: Backstage at Maria Grazia Chiuri’s debut colltection for Maison Dior, Image Courtesy: Dior Backstage Bottom: Candice Huffine walks for Prabal Gurung’s first plus-size show casting, Image Courtesy: Prabal Gurung Backstage
omen’s emancipation has never been more relevant in a time where America lost yet another chance of a female president (we’d rather have a sexist and xenophobic president instead.) The statement couldn’t have gotten more political this 2017, fashion and politics do intersect after all. The industry’s open support towards Hillary Clinton was no surprise; Vogue endorsed a political nominee for the first time in history. There was a clear divide when it came to American designers dressing the new First Lady, Melania Trump. The highly political climate served as a catalyst for many designers to usher a new dawn of women empowerment. The appointment of Maria Grazia Chiuri for Maison Dior couldn’t be more well-timed. For the legendary house to finally define femininity through a woman’s eyes speaks volumes about the progressive shift in its seventy-year history. This subconsciously reflects the changing roles of women whether in politics, fashion or even Hollywood. Her debut Spring Summer collection for Dior was inspired by fencing, a sport where men and women play as equals. Prior to the collection, the #TheWomenBehindMyDress campaign highlighted the efforts of the petit mains of Dior’s ateliers. With slogan tees being the designer’s form of activism, the ‘We Must All Be Feminists’ manifesto was an appropriate statement (not a commercial stunt) to highlight Chiuri’s
Christian Siriano’s Fall-Winter 2017 show featured ten out of fifty-three looks on plus-size models.
stand on the issue. Proceeds of the T-shirts went to Rihanna’s Clara Lionel Foundation. The activism continued in an all-blue Fall Winter collection which was Maria’s contemporary take on Dior’s Haute Couture Fall-Winter 1949 Collection. As a colour, navy is gender neutral, mysterious and spiritual. The finale lineup saw women don berets as a silent form of protest. Dior’s Fall-Winter campaign effectively captures its feminist stance with Jennifer Lawrence, a well-known activist fighting wage-gap in Hollywood. With New York Fashion Week being a political hotbed of expression, Nepalese designer, Prabal Gurung was equally vocal on the runway. Having previously voiced issues close to his heart like the Nepal Earthquake in 2015,
the recent appointment of Trump and his cold immigration policy surely hits close to home. While Clinton was running for the presidential election, Gurung showed his support evidently with the “Made For History” T-shirts. Having dressed powerful women across diverse fields from the First Lady to Oprah Winfrey, the “immigrant” designer did not shy away from slogan activism on the runway. His Fall Winter’17 collection was inspired by the 1940’s wartime in Nepal and America. The show ended with models marching in slogan T-shirts with “The Future Is Female”, “I am Malala”, “I am Gloria” among several others. For the first time, his show also featured a diverse casting with plus-size models Marquita Ping and Candice Huffine. Designers are pushing linear beauty ideals aside to empower women in various shapes, races and ages on the runway. Christian Siriano featured a diverse casting
of women transcending races and sizes – ten out of fifty-three looks were donned by plus-size models. Like Dior, the slogan T-shirt “People Are People” was tied to a social initiative where it’s proceeds went to ACLU, an American organisation safeguarding minority communities. Designers are proactively using the platform to respond to the zeitgeist surrounded by divide and instability. Using their voice in the right spirit, they are not just exhibiting their political standing but also showing support through ethical alliances. When it comes to women’s empowerment, the tables are turning slowly but surely. The battle towards equality continues…
American Scream New York Fashion Week was a hotbed of political activism under America’s new reign of terror. The slogan T-shirt makes a bold return as designers voice themselves in the most natural way possible. | TEXT: SHEFALI J. JAUHAR | | ILLUSTRATIONS: KRYSTYN BANEGA |
CREATURES OF COMFORT
Blending opulence and utility, Lai married glamour with outdoor camping into a high-gloss collection featuring shimmering fabrics like lurex, velvet and satin. Adding a sparkle of positivity, the show climaxed with limited edition T-shirts with “We Are All Human Beings” silkscreened onto them.
#PLEINLOVESNY paid homage to the neighbourhoods of New York – a city of melting cultures. In a time of chaos and divide, Plein’s showcase celebrated individualism by blurring genders and mixing elements of streetwear with couture. It was an aggressive juxtaposition of American references set predominantly in black.
PRABAL GURUNG MOSCHINO VERSACE With women’s rights threatened under Trump’s current reign of terror, Donatella took this opportunity to literally deliver the message of hope and optimism. Versace’s army of powerful women marched the runway with words like courage, power, unity and loyalty spelt in typical uber glam confidence.
Jeremy Scott’s playful commentaries on world occurrences don’t come as a surprise, especially in Trump’s America. Turning trash to treasure, Moschino’s cardboard-box inspired collection delivered just in time when Trump was busy tearing Obama’s previous environmental policies to shreds. Scott’s recycling-mania featured words like “Fragile and Do Not Crush” labels, quite metaphoric to the current state of affairs.
Inspired by the 1940’s wartime in Nepal and America, the “immigrant” designer’s sent models marching down the runway in slogan T-shirts like “The Future Is Female” and “I am Malala”. Having previously voiced issues close to his heart like the Nepal Earthquake in 2015, the recent appointment of Trump and his cold immigration policy s hits close to home. Under Trump’s land of sexism and xenophobia, Gurung celebrated femme power by featuring plus-size models like Marquita Ping and Candice Huffing.
The American fashion designer is known for his inclusive and empowering collections and this one was no different. Not only did he feature a diverse casting of women, he expressed himself politically with “People Are People” slogan T-shirts tying it with a social initiative. The proceeds from this went to American Civil Liberties Union, an organisation that safeguards minority communities.
Known for his politically charged collections, Pyer Moss’s Fall/Winter showcase was a take on Trump’s indifference to immigrants. It was inspired by Kerby Jean-Raymond’s relationship with his father and observes American culture through a Haitian immigrant’s eyes. It featured androgynous looks with classic menswear tailoring. Like always, it featured a racially diverse casting, American in the truest sense.
PUBLIC SCHOOL Taking a dig at Trump’s “Make America Great Again”, the words were wittily replaced and embroidered with “Make America New York” featuring on red baseball caps and cropped tops. In this context, New York represents diversity and inclusion, something Trump has made evidently clear he is not in favour of.
22 2 ON ESTABLISHING RELEVANCE THE FUTURE OF THE INDIAN FASHION LANDSCAPE
COUNTERCULTURISTS | 51, 55 POWER OF M | 58 GIRLS GONE GLOBAL | 61 STATE OF COUTURE | 64
Counterculturists IKAI BY RAGINI AHUJA | ILK BY SHIKHA AND VINITA | KA-SHA | SOUMODEEP DUTTA | URVASHI KAUR
If we donâ€™t acknowledge a Patan Patola, Jamdani or a Baluchari, then we should see how international designers are being inspired by Indian textiles and embroideries.We need to bring changes, evolutions and revolutions as the youth force.We are like scientists in apparel. We should be crazy about it all the time! Soumodeep Dutta
On Establishing Relevance The Counterculturists believe that relevance lies in the resolute belief in one’s vision. A sense of consistent story-telling throughout the process – from behind the seams to the finished collection is crucial to establishing an identity that is distinct yet germane. As Indian designers, true ingenuity lies in assimilating the country’s heritage of crafts and textiles and translating it for the customer of today. A contemporary defining Indian aesthetics through an comfort yet edgy driven approach, Ragini Ahuja for Ikai reminisces her initial days days in the industry, “In the early years when you step into the industry, you are so intimidated that you don’t really think that you are bringing about any change – you are just being a part of this big family.” For Ragini, sustainability certainly stands as the need of the hour. “I would like to practise slow fashion – not exactly a backseat but beautiful, calmer collections that are not in a rush” says Ragini. Incorporating aesthetics with comfort, the utilitarian designer feels relevance comes from striking the difference between art and design. “I am making clothes, they are for somebody to wear. Is my clothing wearable? Is my clothing weather-friendly? Is my clothing dry cleanable? Is my clothing beautiful? It is not to be hung on a wall for somebody wouldn’t care. Are my fits correct? Is my fabric working according to my fits? Everything. These are just little points that always go at the back of your head when you are making a collection. So if you have this in place and all figured out, you are relevant.” When it comes to establishing relevance as a designer, Karishma Shahani Khan, the creative visionary behind Ka-Sha believes in honest storytelling and standing one’s ground. Evolving each season while sticking to certain guns is key to the London College of Fashion graduate. As Karishma illustrates, “I have always believed in sustainability and craft, but the technique with which we apply it keeps evolving every season while sticking to what we believe in. You cannot talk about sustainability one season and something else in the next. For me, sustainability isn’t about something I do just here; I’ve been doing it since the first day I started. It also applies in my personal life, as it is
an ingrained aspect. From the choices we make of our food to the products we use at home, they are also organic and sustainable; they have some sort of story to them. We buy the stories rather than just buying the product.” The vision does not end there; communicating these ideas is equally crucial. Making them believe in them is another aspect of the story. “You need to work on people by educating them and showing them the possibilities. One is how you do your work and the other is how you convey it to others.” says Karishma. Soumodeep Dutta, a Gen-Next Bengali designer strongly envisions educating Indians on the country’s cultural heritage through his work. “If we don’t acknowledge a Patan Patola or a Jamdani or a Baluchari, then we should see how international designers get inspired by Indian textiles and embroideries. It’s also very important to know how to differentiate between an original and a fake. The change has to start here by doing what we do best to help save handloom crafts of India. Rather than being influenced by the West, we should move ahead with our textiles and embroideries in a more contemporary way. We need to adapt them in a way that goes with our current fast lifestyle.” says the fresh designer. “We need to bring changes, evolutions and revolutions, as we are the youth force. Like the story of Archimedes crying “Eureka!” running naked in the streets (having discovered the principle of specific gravity), it’s similar for designers. We are like scientists in apparel, and we should be crazy about it all the time!” Promoting the alternate fashion movement that blends heritage with a modern sensibility, Urvashi Kaur feels adaptability and accessibility being the cornerstones of sustainable growth as a creative entrepreneur. Pushing her sustainable ideas to the forefront, the designer is aiming towards zero waste and minimised carbon footprint within her organisation. According to her, the movement is already taking shape slowly but steadily. With minimalism being an introspection of the current times, Indian millennial designers are defining the contemporary landscape with a sustainable approach delivering ethical practices on and off the runway, seeking design in the little details that distinctly separates functionality from design abstraction.
The Future Of The Indian Fashion Landscape The current surge of Indian contemporaries defining modern Indian aesthetics has broadened the scope of the flourishing industry. There is ample space for fresh vision, there is no trampling for identity. Balancing the glory of the past whilst being sensitive to the needs of the present requires delicate precision – a few (but growing) designers have begun to realise. The Counterculturists share their views on the future of the Indian fashion landscape: URVASHI KAUR I feel we are on the road to getting more organised, ethical and sustainable as a community. I can see strong, valuable businesses being built and younger sharper more dynamic young visionaries gaining ground each season. SOUMODEEP DUTTA I can definitely see fashion being taken more seriously in India. In India, food always came before fashion, but soon fashion will be as important as food. People are very particular about how they look nowadays. Today, the middle class is also opting for more custom-made clothing and spends a hefty amount towards it. Moreover, I feel fashion is going to be freer, more liberal and more technological in the coming years. I hope Fashion will set India free!! KA-SHA I think we have lots of potential when we look at the designers that have cropped up in the last few years. I think it is quite amazing to see the vast variety of work. One of the biggest feedback we got at the International Fashion Showcase was “that was not what people expected from India”. We had five different designers translating their work in their own way with techniques that were not traditionally Indian. People expect to see motifs of peacocks or elephants, (not undermining these motifs) but there was not a single elephant in the room. This spoke a lot about where Indian design could possibly go because now there is room for everybody and the bridal market is not the only market everyone is catering to (though we all know that you make tonnes of money in bridal wear so that is an obvious no-brainer.) I think the exciting part right now with young designers is that no one is trampling on each other’s space; everyone is doing their own thing. There is a lot more that can come out of India in terms of variety. IKAI I think we are in the best phase of fashion right now. With the kind of appreciation we get for different kind of products that each one of us is making, it is just beautiful. Even the kind of products multiple-designer stores are selling are really good. Just five to eight years back, the whole scene was about the Anarkali and Kurta, now we have hit the right spot where people are experimenting. The market is more willing to experiment and we are more willing to give them the experimental outfit.
Power of M Medha Khosla, the millennial minimalist on defining the Indian work wear space through Anomaly. | TEXT: SHEFALI J. JAUHAR | | IMAGE COURTESY: ANOMALY |
Your brand places minimalism as its core aesthetic. Do you feel minimalism’s growing relevance is a response to the current state of times? I think minimalism is a lifestyle, being adopted by more and more people in India and all over the world. There is a shift in the retail landscape globally and consumers are becoming more cautious and selective. This is a trend we are seeing in India as well where the philosophy of ‘less is more’ is being widely adopted by people. As a millennial defining the Indian fashion landscape, what are some changes you’d like to bring through your vision as an Indian designer? I am very excited about the workwear space in India right now. A growing number of our customers are buying classic wardrobe staples, appreciating clean, functional design and adopting this sensibility in their everyday lives. I want to change the way the Indian consumer approaches retail; moving away from the ‘shopping bazaar discount clothing’ model to offering a streamlined and well-curated retail space to our customers and encouraging them to appreciate good design crafted from Indian textiles. What does sustainability mean to you? For me, being streamlined and mindful of my resources is key. It’s crucial that we produce based on demand, streamline production and use materials in a sensitive manner. Practising ethical manufacturing, using natural textiles and respecting our workers is key to sustainability. I do feel the younger consumer is more tuned in and aware and that’s a great thing! What are your thoughts on the growing affordable luxury market? I think this market is evolving and growing. Consumers are more aware today; they appreciate good design that’s affordable and preferring to buy products that have a longer shelf life.
“A growing number of our customers are buying classic wardrobe staples, appreciating clean, functional design and adopting this sensibility in their everyday lives.”
Define the woman in Anomaly. The woman who buys our clothing is a woman on the go. She appreciates functional, well-made clothing and chooses understated over opulent. This woman is not afraid to express her individuality. Recognisable through its western silhouette with an elegant and utilitarian sensibility, how does Anomaly lend an Indian touch? While our silhouettes are mostly western, the fabrics and detailing has a strong Indian leaning. We work only with Indian textiles and have recently introduced a collection of scarves designed and made in collaboration with Women Weave, an NGO based out of Maheshwar. Are you in favour of the digital medium bringing dramatic such as See-Now-Buy-Now to luxury e-commerce? I think we have to constantly try and innovate new ways of retailing our products. If these unique methods strike a chord with our consumers, then that’s great. After all, we are in the business of selling products so innovation is key in today’s retail landscape. What are your thoughts on fashion’s increasing gender fluidity? I don’t design with this concept in mind. Our clothes are designed keeping in mind the needs of the consumer and the relevance of our designs to their daily lives. I believe fashion should be democratic. Do you feel the Indian fashion scene is slowly embracing diversity or it a brief furore? It makes me very happy to see this change. We must embrace diversity and I don’t think this is a trend. Where do you see the Indian fashion landscape heading in the coming years? A lot of growth and a surge of young designers offering their designs in unique environments. With soaring rents in prime shopping complexes, more and more brands will move online, leaning away from the traditional multibrand stores to an innovative retail space.
Minimalist-chic essentials by Anomaly.
Girls Gone Global Ragini Ahuja and Karishma Shahani Khan on winning ‘Best Country Award’ at the International Fashion Showcase. | TEXT: SHEFALI J. JAUHAR | | IMAGE COURTESY: KA-SHA |
ith over twenty-five countries participating in the annual initiative by the British Council at London Fashion Week, a group of five Indian contemporaries stole the show winning ‘Best Country Award’ for 2017. Curated by IMG Reliance, the theme for the exhibition was Local to Global where every participating country had to translate their country’s perception of that inspiration. India aptly chose “The Indian Pastoralists” where designers coherently celebrated their ideology and clothing through their aesthetics. Ragini Ahuja was inspired by the Drokpas tribe found up north on the foothills of the Himalayas in four villages of Ladakh. Ikai is known for its relaxed fits, natural textiles and practical luxury. Ragini found the complex minimal aesthetic of the Drokpas blending perfectly with the vision of the brand. “As a tribe they consider themselves to be pure Aryans with a fanatical attachment to purity. They also believe that water, flowers and mountains to be the purest forms of nature.” On being asked about
her experience, Ragini humbly mentioned, “Right from Vogue Germany and Britain to Saks Fifth Avenue, it was amazing to see the kind of people that stepped in to see the kind of work you’d done as a part of the judging panel. Sarah Mower from the British Fashion Council was very convinced with what I did and it was so motivating.” Intrigued by the Rabari tribe’s style of dressing and craft, Karishma Shahani Khan from KA-SHA chose the community she worked with when she was an intern back in college. The designer was fascinated by the distinct visual identity the Rabari community possessed. “The community expresses their identity through clothing is something fashion is always striving to be. We are all trying to be individualistic yet run this race of following trends. As a whole, there is a lot of visual referencing you can do from there which is something very important for me as a designer.” Participating, let alone winning on an international
platform is an experience not every upcoming creative gets his or her hands on. For this showcase, not everyone could just participate. The showcase displayed a spectrum of artisanal techniques in modern renditions which â€œwas not what people expected from Indiaâ€? says Karishma. The statement defines the changing attitude towards the Indian fashion scenario which has seen a recent surge of contemporaries pushing boundaries, defying stereotypes when it comes to a wide offering to consumers. Featuring diverse techniques to a common theme, the global recognition highlights optimism in the Indian landscape.
A vibrant Rabari-inspired garment on display by Ka-Sha at the showcase.
At the gardens of MuseĂŠ Rodin, Diorâ€™s whimsical maze was a tale of forest and fairytales.
State Of Couture The storm brews in a time of turbulence.
| TEXT: SHEFALI J. JAUHAR | COVER IMAGE COURTESY: DIOR |
he winds of change have dared to bend the rules of fashion’s highest form of art and tradition. As the delicate line continues to blur between couture and ready-to-wear, its relevance is questioned in a time of sociopolitical adversity. This Spring 2017, the state of couture takes a practical turn, appropriately reflecting a minimal and subtle approach to extravagance. Craft lies in the little details. Celebrating whimsicality for the every day, Valentino under the sole creative direction of Pierpaolo Piccioli spoke of dreams being the very essence of humanity. Serenity resonated in a collection that revelled in Greek myths and legends. Piccioli established a sense of timelessness through a reductive minimal approach focussing on the purity of form and subtleties of technique like knife-pleating (overall, less froufrou with exceptions to some delicately embroidered gowns.) Pursuing attractiveness in modest dressing, the hemlines were floor-sweeping and the silhouettes undefined. Billowing chiffons added a sense of lightness to each stride. Think of a practical (and a very posh) woman of today carrying out her daily errands wearing the fuss-free Greek sandals, slinging the miniature crossbody bag across her shoulder and not to forget the minimal hair and makeup to accompany. Meanwhile, for Valentino’s erstwhile creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri, it was a spectacle of grandeur, a tale of forest and fairytales at her debut Dior show. Paying homage to the legend’s love of gardens, the show was staged on the ground of Musée Rodin as she envisioned a masked ball. Having newly stepped into the heritage house of Dior, Maria is yet to coin an identity sans the Valentino effect. Justifiably, she opened the looks with a series of black Bar jackets paired with airy culottes that gradually moved towards fairytale taffeta dresses with floral or mystical embroidery of the cosmos. Chiuri collaborated with Stephen Jones to create dramatic headpieces made of flowers and feathers. Both the shows featured elements of mythology and superstition, perhaps indicating an escape from reality or instilling a sense of hope and optimism when times are dark. Absorbing the zeitgeist from the high thrones of couture, forwardthinkers also threw subversive and surrealistic elements for Spring 2017 – a rather humorous take on the depressing reality. Vetements (fashion’s newest disruptor and current favourite) landed a guest spot at the couture show by the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture. The suitability of the Demna at a couture show sends mixed (rather ironic) signals about couture’s current context given his anti-establishment
approach. Spectators were handed invitations that resembled identification cards from across the globe. The underlying theme, Stereotypes and Identity ran consistently as 36 diverse models of varying shapes, ages and sizes walking for Vetements taking entry and exit via escalators. They embodied different stereotypes right from a homeless man, punk to a Vetements couture bride. The house of Schiaparelli under Bertrand Gyuon opened its atelier’s shutters after a four-year closure. Going through Elsa’s archives, Gyuon masterfully struck surrealism through a contemporary graphic interpretation. The silhouettes were clean and simple with a splash of witty graphics, a Seventies nostalgia indeed. It featured a shuffle of oriental (think tiger, dragon) and classic house symbols such lobsters, faces and padlocks took you backs to the days of Elsa and Dali. It also featured shocking pink! The Schiaparelli collection would be shockingly incomplete without it. Couture shows are nothing short of a pedestal symbolising the highest level of perfection achieved through human hands. Then there were designers that took inspiration from imperfections and nonetheless achieved it perfectly. Elevating discarded fabrics to the highest level of art (and price tag) possible, Viktor and Rolf revisited their previous couture collection where garments were recycled from past collections. Titled ‘Boulevard Of Broken Dreams’, Kintsugi, the Japanese art of preservation served as a reference point. The idea celebrated beauty in
imperfections, a very wabi-sabi concept indeed. Fabrics were beautifully patchworked with gold Lurex. The flaws were exposed proudly. Melding sustainability with eclecticism, the designer-duo killed two birds with a stone. At a deeper level, it implied a sense of hope and positivity towards the future – the olden times can be patched together again. The call for fashion immediacy tested waters at the couture house as three garments were trialled with the See-Now-Buy-Now approach. How does instant-gratification do justice to an artform valuing heritage and painstaking artisanal labour? Exploring imperfections in the digital and physical world, Iris van Herpen’s “Between The Lines” expressed beauty in digital glitches through a highly hypnotic collection in monochrome tones. Berlin artist, Esther Stocker teamed with Iris to create a stunning set which evoked a sense of ocular distortion through lines and shadow-play. Avant-garde techniques such as injection molding were used on synthetic fabrics like expandable Mylar to lend a three-dimensional form. Couture through Iris’s eyes is all about merging high-end technology with the power of the human hand. Keeping up with the turbulent times, couture is metamorphosing from its conventional format. Undergoing a mindful introspection, it intellectually displays intricacies in the little details through minimalistic twists and turns. Designers are incubating intellectual thoughts in respective couture labs, pushing messages of minimalism, surrealism, diversity and inclusivity.
Behind the seams at Dior, Viktor & Rolf and Iris Van Herpen | Image Courtesy (Row-Wise) : Dior, Dior, Viktor & Rolf, Dior, Morgan O’Donovan, Molly SJ Lowe, Morgan O’Donovan, Warren Du Preez and Nick Thornton Jones |
SUSTAINABILITY IN THE MILLENNIAL FUTURE ARTISANAL COLLABORATIONS COUNTERCULTURISTS | 77, 81 ROLLING IN THE GREEN | 84 THE FUTURE IS GREEN WITH POVIGY | 86 NATURAL LUXE | 90
Counterculturists IKAI BY RAGINI AHUJA | ILK BY SHIKHA AND VINITA | KA-SHA | SOUMODEEP DUTTA | URVASHI KAUR
It has gone from being a small, alternative fad to a massive, acknowledged movement within a few years and this gives me hope that we are bringing about real change in the minds of consumers and producers alike. Urvashi Kaur
Sustainability In The Millennial Future The Indian Counterculturists are collectively promoting the green movement which is slowly gaining traction through the rising tide of awareness and sensitivity. It is also not surprising to find their vision being blind reference points for others to follow. Imitation often comes with innovation. From lacking intent to making greenwashing claims, the sustainable arena is often marred with suspicion about its intent. This leads us to the question - Is sustainability a furore or a movement here to stay in a growing world of millennials? URVASHI KAUR Regardless of whether it’s a trend that’s being followed or if there’s genuine intent, the fact is that we are getting the word out and pushing people to look at sustainability as a necessary aspect of fashion businesses. It has gone from being a small, alternative fad to a massive, acknowledged movement within a few years and this gives me hope that we are bringing about real change in the minds of consumers and producers alike. The younger generation is more conscious of sustainability as a lifestyle, across the board. It does seem to be gradually playing a part in their choices as shoppers as well, but we still have a long way to go. It is very important for them to be careful of their choices, as they are the ones who will eventually inherit the planet! ILK I feel that everybody is making a strong effort. The industry is currently heading towards a stage where more people are looking upto the movement. It is only when we intentionally do something, people follow it. Sustainable fashion is a good platform for us to work towards a social cause – a platform where people express themselves for others to follow. It is an intentional effort. If I have a box full of yarns that are probably old and reused, I remake it as something new. With everything changing and fast-moving, I definitely feel the younger generation is more conscious. SOUMODEEP DUTTA I feel we need to be greener in our approach in terms of how we make clothes rather than just using organic hashtags. Sustainability is about working in a way that is constructive for everything and everyone. It’s not just about the organic dyes or slow fashion; it also involves the working conditions of the
karigars to how we act in handling or reducing waste. IKAI Even if it is just a trend, it is working very well. It doesn’t matter if people are blinding contributing towards it, at least they are, so it is fine. There was no social media when our parents were younger. They were not informed about a global movement like us. If something is happening in Argentina right this moment, you have all the available resources. We are more informed than any other generation so we know about the green movement. However, what is to be done needs to be clearer. KA-SHA We have a very long way to go before we start doing things like they are done in the West. I don’t mean to undermine India, it is the biggest inspiration behind my work. Indian consumers are still not very evolved; they still have a long way to go to understand fashion as a means of self-expression. It is all about “what is everyone wearing or what is the celebrity wearing, let me wear that”. When it comes to sustainability, it is a very big trend right now because everyone is talking about it and practising it. It is the right thing to be doing. If you look back into history, we have been a very self-sustainable culture. As a community, we really believe in making do with what we have and a lot of ingenuity and innovation comes out of minimal belongings. We also have this very excessive side to us but people are still talking about heirlooms and passing it on to generations; when people say my grandmother kept her sari for me or my mother kept her clothes kept half of her clothes for her potential granddaughter. As a culture, we have inherently always been speaking about quality products – the product that outlived the person. If you look at it that way, we are a sustainable environment-conscious slightly more quality driven culture. Right now when you talk about it through the context of fashion, it comes across a trend based on what other people are doing. So we have it in us, but sometimes we do not realise it ourselves. We do not throw away garments, we give our garments to people who work at our house. We are doing it constantly, but maybe we are not consciously understanding the repercussions of the environment. It is perhaps because this is the only way we know how to do it and it is a good way to do it. When it comes to younger shoppers being more environmentally conscious, there is definitely an uprise. I think because of that awareness, the younger guys are becoming more conscious about organic and sustainable items whether clothing, footwear or whatever it is that makes up their lifestyle. By seeing it in other parts of their life, it is becoming easier for them to adapt it everywhere.
â€œI feel we need to be greener in our approach in terms of how we make clothes rather than just using organic hashtags.â€? Soumodeep Dutta
Artisanal Collaborations Participating in the alternative dialogue, these Counterculturists seamlessly blur the boundaries of heritage with a contemporary sensibility through artisanal collaborations. True innovation lies in the smooth accord of the past and present. It involves a complex marriage of establishing relevance attained through honing one’s cultural identity whilst designing according to the modern-day wearer. As a designer, it is about showing sensitivity to the global occurrences whilst staying rooted to one’s cultural identity. Collaboration is key to any forward-driven creative approach. In a treasure trove like India, the quest to stay relevant yet rooted comes from a sustainable alliance with the local communities. Merging India’s rich textile legacy with a modern sensibility, Urvashi Kaur’s belief in the co-existence of heritage and accessibility within a contemporary fashion and lifestyle framework has enabled an exploratory journey for the label. Stunning craftsmanship consistently shines through her collections; the designer is known for her intricate hand done treatments like batik, shibori, tie-dye to signature hand tucking and pleating. Urvashi’s latest collaboration with Sally Holkar for “The Handloom School” witnessed young talented student weavers creating artisanal fabrics for the capsule collection showcased in the opening show at Amazon India Fashion Week Autumn’Winter’2017. The contemporary Indian scene bubbles with energy when it comes to the scope and possibilities of sustainable fashion. As Karishma Shahani Khan aptly points out, “There was a time when people thought organic fashion was just brown, green and cotton. I think there is a lot
of scope for Indian textiles, so when I talk about sustainable fashion, it goes way beyond natural fabric or natural dye. I don’t think they are just the only two ways of looking into it anymore. Education and realisation is what makes things so exciting.” When it comes to balancing the delicate Indowestern aesthetic, Karishma recalls her time spent in the UK, where foreign exposure widened her horizon, enabling her to understand the two sides of the same coin. Karishma mentions, “We don’t look at fashion trends or trend books, we believe we need to look at what is going on with the world. If the world scenario is in a certain state of mind, we need to keep that in mind through current affairs. It is crucial and the only way to balance who you are and what people actually need. Essentially it is about exposure one often gets through travel; the more you see, and the more you learn. Sensitivity to the world affairs is what makes you relevant.” Rooted in craft while sticking to modern edgy appeal, Ilk takes typical Indian embroideries techniques, translating them in a modern dialogue to create unique surface textures using different kinds of yarns. Honing this strength as their signature, the designer-duo believe the future of craft is safe and reassured as designers of the past and present will continue to reflect on their rich heritage forever. Speaking of embroidery, Bengali designer, Soumodeep Dutta takes immense pride in the rich Indian diversity of traditional adornment. The millennial designer’s aesthetic inherently seeks inspiration from his culture as he consciously works towards supporting artisans.
Among all the Indian handlooms, Banarasi is his absolute favourite. “It’s not from Bengal, but a Bengali bride wears only a Banarasi on her wedding day. Apart from that, I love textiles like Tant of Bengal, Jamdani, Ikat to mention a few.” According to Soumodeep, craft is still quite unexplored in the country and its potential is yet to be fully tapped. “One can barely imagine that women making amazing handicrafts in some remote village are restricted to local markets only. The less refined the creativity, the more beautiful it is!” says Dutta passionately. Ragini Ahuja of Ikai finely juggles the tightropes of Indian and Western aesthetics using traditional materials whilst practising an inclusive approach to silhouettes. “I always go for Indian cotton or even Chanderi as it automatically lends to a very Indian touch” says Ragini. “With silhouette, I do believe in inclusivity. When I have a customer who is 55 years old and wants to wear a beautiful Shibori skirt but has a huge hip, I’d make a longer skirt. You want to be inclusive where you don’t just want to limit yourself to a younger crowd, it’s about making people more comfortable regardless of age.”
Rolling In The Green Diving into sustainable solutions through creative collaborations, Parley For The Oceans is an awareness platform whose success lies in providing innovative solutions whilst tackling oceanic destruction. | TEXT: SHEFALI J. JAUHAR | COVER IMAGE COURTESY: SIMON AGER |
ut of all the domains, we humans are capable of exploring via an instant search, the mysteries of the deep blue sea still intrigue us with unsolved answers. Just as we had barely begun to uncover the tip of the iceberg (less than five percent of the ocean floors as per National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration USA), oceans have been declared under immense stress due to rising environmental degradation. Tapping creative solutions to ease the problem, Parley for the Oceans is a platform that seeks to convey the message through creative partnerships ranging from writers, thinkers, designers, artists to photographers. Cyril Gutsch, founder of Parley for the Oceans comments “Fashion has the reach and influence to shift mindsets and behaviours, sometimes even overnight. Consumers are already demanding change, but it’s on those who set the trends and create the products to make change a reality. They, the creators, are therefore the best positioned to lead the eco-innovation we need to demonstrate a new way of creating and thinking by and through smarter, more responsible design. Uniting the worlds of fashion and conservation creates a new narrative for the oceans cause. As a manufacturer or designer, you have to own your trash. That’s your connection to the customer, that’s your link. There is so much potential in owning a product all the way through its lifecycle — and in doing so in dialogue with the customer.” Turning trash to treasure, trust the sportswear giant, Adidas to reprocess discarded ocean plastic into prized Ultra Boost Uncaged sneakers. Retailing at a hefty two hundred dollars using 95% ocean plastic, it is nothing compared t how much the trash costs the oceans and the world as a whole. Launched in a limited number of seven thousand mid-November 2016, Adidas plans
Adidas Ultra Boost Uncaged X Parley Image Credits: Adidas
to take this up a notch in 2017 with a million pair of eco-friendly shoes clearing the ocean of at least eleven million plastic bottles. Blending the sportsman’s spirit with sustainability through design, premier soccer clubs Bayern Munich and Real Madrid promoted special edition jerseys by Adidas and Parley on the field while special editions were also launched thereafter in November. Sustainability is fashion’s current need.
“Fashion has the reach and influence to shift mindsets and behaviors, sometimes even overnight. Consumers are already demanding change, but it’s on those who set the trends and create the products to make change a reality.” Inviting viewers to a thoughtful reflection, Doug Aitken’s Underwater Pavilions is an experiential installation produced by Parley for the Oceans partnered with The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. With the installation placed in the oceanic ecosystem, the three water-bound sculptures allow the swimmer to experience installation art in a new dimension. Initially set up off the Californian coast, the installation is mobile and plans to set up in different locations. It is strategically designed in a geometrical format using scientificallybacked material allowing a multidimensional experience for the viewer to engage in the environment. Parley for the Oceans efficiently drives sustainable ideas through creative collaborations. Such alliances prove a social cause and creativity can go hand in hand for this is the future.
Doug Aitken X Parley Image Credits: Shawn Heinrichs Courtesy of Parley For The Oceans
The Future Is Green With Povigy
Enrique Villa, founder of Povigy discusses his vision behind one of the most promising apps to track sustainability launching this 2017.
| TEXT: SHEFALI J. JAUHAR | IMAGE COURTESY: ENRIQUE VILLA |
ho’d imagine that a frustrating shopping experience in Northern Italy would become a catalyst for one of fashion’s most promising apps of 2017? Challenging greenwashing and promoting consumer transparency, Povigy aims to influence mindsets through conscious choices, one customer at a time. Vesting power in them to make conscious purchases, Povigy originates from Esperando term that means to empower. It is ironical to mention that globalisation has made people so connected yet so uninformed due to the discrepancy of facts and unaccounted claims. Enrique Villa looks back at his family trip in a traditional marketplace where quite a few products were discovered to be knockoffs and fakes. “I was very frustrated and angry with the shoppers. It took me a while to realize that my frustration was not so much that these people were spending Euros or Dollars into products that were made under horrible conditions for workers or chemicals that were harmful to the environment, in fact, what I realized was that these customers did not know any better. Out of that realization I understood that I could not judge people if they do not have access to the information.” Villa observed the way information was presented and sought to find a way to engage and influence customers to make conscious buying decisions. “What is actually interesting is that the information being presented to the customer once they made their choice is sort of a regurgitation of the same information that they are seeing at the store but prettier pictures, better lighting and sexier models. The fact is that the information is very incomplete to a certain extent.” Povigy seeks to tap potential opportunities that could really itself apart. “So when you say that something is made in Bangladesh, Laos, Vietnam, China or Columbia, there is such a disconnect psychologically or geographically for customers in Europe and America. We thought that one of the ways we can tackle the issue was
to humanize the product and make a connection with that person, that maker and that artisan working at that factory. This way it is no longer just a product, there is a face that has a story to tell which is emotional, driven and a kind that one can connect with.” It also becomes equally important to educate people about supply-chain logistics in a simplified manner, shedding light from the sustainability perspective throughout the production process. Last but not the least, the point Enrique is incredibly passionate about delves into the deeper aspects of sustainabilityunderstanding how the product behaves in comparison to other potential products and finding a mechanism that can rate or register products to enable an understanding of the supply-chain logistics involved. “It became a balancing juggling act into creating standards that the industry could begin to connect with but also the customers could also begin to understand and start to create a different dialogue – one that is unique as compared to what we have seen in the past.”
“What does it mean to make in America? Was it that the zipper there that is American or was the materials assembled in the United States?” Considering the turbulent state of affairs with the newly-elected president, Enrique seems quite intrigued by Trump’s new policy. “What does it mean to make in America? Was it that the zipper there that is American or was the materials assembled in the United States? There are certain standards that different countries adhere to but the context has a big disconnect. Recently it was in the news that under the Trump administration there was a big push for steel. If there is construction, it has to be steel from America. As it turns out, over 70% of the raw material comes from India and so is it truly steel from America? How do you then make that dialogue come together? One of the things I am
very interested in is when a brand makes a claim and says that this was made in the USA, what was it that was made in the USA?” Bringing proof to such claims, Povigy aims to bring transparency into these efforts and clearly display the multiple levels of supply chain involved and what it actually takes for a product to come together. Enrique is incredibly supportive of this nationalist movement but at the same time will not blindly fall for such claims. In his own words, he challenges the government’s movement, “Go for it, show it, do it.” In the recent years, even the biggest contributors of industrial disasters – fast fashion brands have turned around by introducing a conscious range of sustainable garments. Greenwashing rumours still plague these efforts nonetheless. “One could call it greenwashing, on the other hand, one could see it from the perspective that they are actually trying to make slow but sure changes for the better. I am trying to incentivize the marketplace to make positive changes. The more we can get companies to start to offer products that are made differently and the more information we can offer consumers as conveniently as possible to educate themselves, the better and more sustainable things are going to be. If there is a large company and they contribute 1% in a year and (that 1% may seem to be greenwashing) perhaps the next year we get them to do 3-4%. If there is a growth of 1015% in the coming five to ten years where they are actually focused on lifecycle Enabling a conscious dialogue in the fast-paced Millenial world is no child’s play either. Times have changed as customers have become more impatient, demanding and picky with their choices. Translating and communication this information effectively in a short span of time is no smooth sail either. It is a race against time. “We live in a time of immediate gratification so as you go shopping for that pair of jeans or suit, we have very little time to be able to convince you to make a better purchase and I think that is where we are going to struggle with. The first challenge is helping brands to
understand that there are customers out there and they are willing to pay with their wallet in their consciousness and their values. Two is to help the customer really make that connection. I think that is going to make us either successful or a total failure.” Authenticating information through first-party research, Povigy strives to document the process that products undergo at factories, verifying that they were made under the right conditions and effectively communicate it to customers. In the case of Millennials, Villa discovered that in order for brands to on corporate social responsibility investments, the information as presented to their customers had to come from an independent source, a third-party, otherwise it was going to be seen as a marketing act – those brands will not be able to capitalize on the investment. Therefore Povigy focuses on a holistic picture, not just one that focuses on bits or pieces to the story. When it comes to communicating to the younger audience, Enrique mentions, “Unfortunately in the case of Millennials, I’ve got the range of 8-15 seconds to change their mind, which is not a whole lot of time. If I don’t get their attention within that time span, I am done and lost that connection with them. However, those 8-15 seconds are incredibly powerful and that is where humanizing the product really comes into play. Making that connection with that artisan becomes so powerful. Seeing that pair of jeans way beyond a pair of jeans. Understanding the product in a way that it aligns with the values of the community. I think that is so powerful!” (Enrique exclaims passionately) Povigy is still in its infancy; it is currently in the process of launching internally to universities, brands and specific customers. Once the tweaks and improvements are made based on the firstparty feedback, it will launch publically around the world on the App Store as well as Google Play. For now, it is targeting the summer months. Povigy’s vision is to get to a point where it can successfully document multiple supply chains around the world and present the information in a way that customers can understand. Moving beyond apparel and accessories (which
was the driving force for Povigy), it plans to extend to a wide range of products tackling multiple supply-chain networks. “We would like to do furniture, it is very fascinating because it is regional but there are lots of materials and means to do sustainability within the corporate social responsibility within the furniture systems. We’d also like to be able to get into cosmetic one day – a lot of makeup companies are loose in terms of …(a gasp of despair) it is scary what people put into the face and into their bodies. We’d like to get into jewellery – there is a lot of information lost in translation. Several people have no idea about the conditions of the mines and where the raw materials really come from. I would love to get into watches for example because mechanical parts associated with certain watches eventually evolve into technology. I love Apple products but the information I get from Apple products is from Apple. Could I be able to document that process by myself ? Could I understand how my laptop or cell phone is coming together?
“We are storytellers of sustainability and transparency. That is what we are. As more of that interest comes about from brands,as we start to prove more of our success, the better things will be, the more we’d like to grow.” Simplifying the complex story of production is no easy ball game either. That is a challenge in itself. “We are trying to simplify the way we tell a story using multiple technologies. I think we ourselves as not much of an app but we see ourselves as a platform for information and there are many different ways of presenting it to customers. What is interesting is that we use beacons, RFIDs, QR Codes and what we end up using is going to be very different depending on the brands. We work with the brands directly so it is about how the brand decides to tell the story. We as a platform do not dictate how XYZ decides to tell that information, it is for them to decide on their branding strategy that how they
communicate the information in the simplest and easiest way possible.” Povigy is targeting Millennials, Baby Boomers, Generation Z customers that are willing to make a premium purchase as long as the product communicates effectively, aligning with their values. In the growing sustainability movement, rising awareness campaigns have sensitized consumers towards the bigger picture. Whether or not such movements hold a long-term impact on consumers in the digital age is debatable. “I think that it is successful to a certain extent but I feel that it only goes so far. Povigy is complementary to the works of such movements but we have a very different approach. We are sitting on the same side of the table as the brand, telling their story and bringing transparency to their products in a way that has not been done before. We have similar goals, we are headed in the same direction, and we just have a complementary approach. I am not focused on the larger issues they are focused on. I am focused on a micro level, which is the customer. We are very humble and small. We come from a very tight place that wants to change the mind of one customer today, maybe three customers tomorrow and start to build from there. It is important to influencing them towards a different choice, slowly but surely proving to these companies that it is to their financial benefit – an immense opportunity that is being missed in terms of investing more into their corporate social responsibility and sustainability efforts.” In the digital age of sketchy information and instant gratification, Povigy is all set to change the way consumers choose their products and interact with them. As Enrique affirms, “We are storytellers of sustainability and transparency. That is what we are. As more of that interest comes about from brands as we start to prove more of our success, the better things will be, the more we’d like to grow.”
Natural Luxe Celebrate heart with craft Sprinkly beauty with naturalness, imperfection and asymmetry, Add a hint of boldness with simplicity.
FASHION DIRECTION: SHEFALI J. JAUHAR PHOTOGRAPHY: YASHASVI SHARMA MODELS: MASHA MAMEDZADE, NALINI KUMAR MAKEUP ARTISTRY: NISHTHA GAIND HAIR: BHAWNA OUTFITS: RASHMI VARMA ACCESSORIES: SHUBHASHINI ORNAMENTALS
Hand Embroidered Choli Sujini and Khadi Denim Pleat Skirt on Nalini, Hand Embroidered Black Choli Sujini and Khadi Wide Pant on Masha, RASHMI VARMA.
Pom-Pom Khadi Coat, Khadi Pleat Pant and Snake Camisole on Masha, Bismarck Chikan Shirt and Khadi Pleat Skirt on Nalini, RASHMI VARMA.
Snake Bomber on Masha, RASHMI VARMA.
4 UNITY IN INCLUSIVITY
COUNTERCULTURISTS | 107 TOMORROW’S DIVERSITY | 112 KEEP FAITH IN FASHION | 124 FASHION’S FRESH FACE: ANJALI LAMA | 126 RUNWAY DIVERSITY | 130
I feel we are using our voice to make a very inclusive environment for everybody whether gender, sexuality, races. It is being used in right spirit. Fashion is meant to be for everybody. Ikai by Ragini Ahuja
Unity In Inclusivity The rise in gender fluidity, as well as a growing representation of racial and size inclusivity on international catwalks, have permeated the fashion subconsciousness more than ever. The slow-growing acceptance among the audience expresses a progressive and democratic state of mind which fashion has always tried to advocate. In a culturally conservative society, India is making baby-steps towards liberation and acceptance through aesthetics that are inclusive yet defiant to conformity. Through their zeitgeist-defining visions, Counterculturists are promoting unity in inclusivity. Soumodeep Dutta sees great optimism in the progress. “When a transgender walks the ramp, there are a thousand more transgenders who look forward to reaching that ramp one day,” says Dutta as a positive cheer to Nepali transgender, Anjali Lama who walked at Lakmé Fashion Week. “The Indian youth has welcomed the androgynous movement, however, that constitutes a very small fraction of our huge conservative population. As Indians, we still believe men should look masculine and handsome while women pretty and feminine. I do incorporate androgyny in my designs through Kurtas that look good on both men and women. Let’s use the weapon of fashion to empower rather than destroy people’s dreams.” Labels like Ikai and Urvashi Kaur have always believed that fashion has been inclusive and welcoming in terms of sexuality, race and size. Practising what they preach, both labels transcend socially-construed ideals through their respective collections. “Ikai as a label has always practised inclusive fashion where it is not restricted to age groups, body types and genders. We believe in creating androgynous clothes out of natural textiles. We believe in making clothes that are two sizes bigger than a size you would get in another label. As an individual, I view the world like that. I feel we are using our voice to make a very inclusive environment for everybody whether gender, sexuality, races. It is being used in right spirit. Fashion is meant to be for everybody. My idea of Ikai’s customer has always been very inclusive” mentions Ragini. Blurring sexual identity, Urvashi Kaur incorporates a genderless approach within her collections highlighting the individual and their unique narrative. “I’d like to believe that the fashion industry has always been inclusive and welcoming. Yes, it has now taken vast strides in promoting equality and diversity by giving a cross-section of differently identifying individuals a voice and space where their point of view is celebrated.”
Tomorrowâ€™s Diversity Imagining the future woman breaking free from picture-perfect ideals by deliberately embracing the imperfections of beauty. | FASHION DIRECTION: SHEFALI J. JAUHAR | | PHOTOGRAPHY: YASHASVI SHARMA | | MAKEUP ARTISTRY: SOMYA CHAWLA | | HAIR: BHAWNA | | MODELS: RUBY BORO | | ACCESSORIES: SHUBHASHINI ORNAMENTALS |
Keep Faith In Fashion The rising modest fashon revolution | TEXT: SHEFALI J. JAUHAR | | ILLUSTRATION: KRYSTYN BANEGA |
otable for its politically-charged energy, 2017 has been a breakthrough of sorts when it comes to displaying resistance through inclusivity. At a time where Trump’s administration is promoting policies of divide, preaching xenophobia against the Muslims, fashion is rising above it all with a movement that is positive and much needed in a time of conflict. The growing movement is slowly inching towards liberation with groundbreaking representation across fashion and beauty. A breakthrough model this Fall 2017, Halima Aden, a Somali-American strutted the ramps of Alberta Ferretti and Kanye West’s Yeezy Season 5 donning a hijab – a provocative statement considering Paris’s intolerance to the headgear. She even starred on the cover of CR Fashion Book cover. Even Iman, a reigning supermodel was a Muslim Somalian-American model, however, one can not place Iman and Aden on the same page just because of the diverse cultural codes that exist within the community. Given the restricted industry standards and her unconventional career choice as a Muslim woman, Halima stands as an example of an individual that refuses to be defined based on her religious beliefs. In 2015, Mariah Idrissi was among the first hijab-donning model to star in H&M’s campaign. To be defined purely as Muslim on the basis of dress code is another paradox that exists within this community by outsiders. In the first of its kind, over thirty designers congregated to be a part of London Modest Fashion Week 2017. Launched by Haute Elan – an online portal catering to modest wear, the event celebrated the cultural identity of designers from the UK to Saudi Arabia. On a similar note, Anniesa Hasibuan was the first woman to showcase a hijab-collection at New York Fashion Week with her Spring Summer 2017 collection. The rise in modest wear highlights the emerging acceptance and the untapped market potential of Islamic consumers especially from South East Asia and the Middle East. As per the State of the Global Islamic
Economy Report, Muslims spent $230 billion on clothing in the year 2015-2016. Several fashion houses, both high street and luxury have begun to cater to the growing opportunity.Tapping into the festive spirit, DKNY has been launching Ramadan-inspired collections every year since 2014, Mango joined the bandwagon in 2016. Often celebrating inclusivity on the runway, Dolce and Gabanna launched a Hijab and Abaya collection in 2016. This year, Debenhams became the first departmental store to partner with Aab, a modest fashion retailer. The launch also strategically coincided with international launches in parts of the Middle East and South East Asia. Sportswear trailblazer, Nike is all set to launch lightweight Hijabs next year showcasing a campaign of female athletes in the Middle East. Ibtihaj Muhammad is an American Olympic medalist in fencing as well as a founder of her modest wear line Louella. Sportswear has started to show signs of inclusivity. The power of social media cannot be undermined when it comes triggering a fashion movement towards diversity. Nura Afia, a Muslim beauty blogger and the first hijabi model was chosen as the face of CoverGirl cosmetics. Bloggers like Dina Toki-O epitomise the voice of the modest fashion industry through her dressing tutorials. Big beauty brands like Guerlain and Clinique are collaborating with Bengali-American YouTuber Irene Khan. Buzzing initiatives like these however, can also be seen as opportunistic strategies. The launch of Vogue Arabia received mixed reviews when it featured Muslim supermodel Gigi Hadid on the cover donning the hijab and abaya. It is not surprising to be discriminated on the basis of headgear despite belonging to the same yet diverse community. Considering the industry’s history of isolating Muslims from mainstream fashion, the rising diversity represents a refreshed and inclusive vision. Every uprise has its moment of doubt – is it yet another act of tokenism or an actual step towards inclusivity? Nonetheless, it is a slow and progressive acknowledgement towards democratising fashion.
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| TEXT: SHEFALI J. JAUHAR | | ILLUSTRATION: YUEMING QU |
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hattering conventions and breaking the streak in Lakmé’s Fashion Week’s eighteen-year history, Anjali Lama became a worldwide sensation as the first transgender model to walk the ramp on one of India’s most prominent runways. Hailing from a distant village in Nepal, do not undermine her simplicity as a weakness for she is a force to be reckoned with. Lama persevered with a fire in her heart, it took her multiple attempts both in India and Nepal to even be offered a job, let alone walk a high fashion ramp. The odds were certainly against her. She had no family support, no links within the ruthless industry and a salary just enough for the bare necessities while working for the Nepal LGBTQ community centre. As Anjali recalls, “The process was definitely not a smooth sail for me. There was a big struggle before my face was even featured by big designers at Lakmé Fashion Week. I did not get into Lakmé Fashion Week in one go, I had two failed attempts after having flown all the way from Nepal for the auditions. Coming twice for the auditions was definitely not easy being a transgender model with a low education and meagre finances.” Prior to working with the Indian big-wigs that earmark one’s success in the field –Tarun Tahiliani, Gaurav Gupta, Manish Malhotra, Abu Jani & Sandeep Khosla, there was a long arduous struggle behind her. Before she realised her potential, she had to first realise her identity. It was only when she joined the LGBTQ community centre in 2005 did she discover she was a transgender, feeling like a woman trapped in a man’s body. On disclosing her identity, she received great encouragement and support for her friends to become a model. Constant motivation by her peers slowly brewed
enthusiasm and motivation within her. Anjali realised the prospects of the field, “I learnt that they’re very famous and earn a good name as well as money for it.” The first milestone she attained was a cover story on transgenders for Nepal’s national magazine the Voice of Woman in 2009. This instilled a sense of hope to becoming a model and land good work opportunities, however, it was all in vain. As Lama helplessly recalls, “When the magazine got published, days passed, months passed, I had not received a single job offer or even a mention about it. I felt helpless, it felt like a dead end; I wanted to work for so many magazines! I kept questioning myself.” On being suggested by a friend, she took up a month’s training at a modelling agency. The struggle followed her nonetheless as she’d give several auditions but never get selected. One fine day, she asked a woman that despite being praised for her work and physical features, why was she failing so miserably? The answer lay in her identity. Anjali recalls shutting herself in her room and crying endlessly. “I felt lost but did not lose hope. As and when there were auditions, I’d appear and give them without a second thought. I believed that one day or another I was going to be selected. Initially, even the free shows would make me happy. Slowly I progressed and started receiving two to three thousand rupees for a show. By 2016, I had managed to establish a decent name for myself as Nepal’s first transgender model under Ramp Agency despite the low wages. I was rejected thrice during the auditions of Nepal Fashion Week between 2012-2014. Moving beyond my gender, I knew I was a deserving candidate but was not given a fair chance as a model.” Time was running and age was against her. Anjali Lama was above thirty. She was suggested
“I made up my mind that if I wasn’t selected, I would quit modelling. I competed against 120 girls and managed to clear all the rounds.” by a friend to head towards international modelling scene. “Who doesn’t dream of going international as a supermodel?” she says whimsically. In the year 2016, she thought to give India a shot, all she knew about was Lakmé Fashion Week. “My first attempt was for the Spring Summer showcase in February and I went home defeated. On an optimistic note, I decided the audition a second try in the next season only to realise I wasn’t selected and my finances were in the red. I became increasingly frustrated and demotivated. With multiple attempts, my passion only got deeper and modelling became my fixation. When a dear friend came for a year’s project in Mumbai, this rekindled my lost faith. I decided to approach her for a place to stay in case I managed to work there if nothing else. It was a big leap to leave everything behind and plunge into the unknown possibilities of a new city. I had no one to guide me along the way. I came to Mumbai in 2016 and emailed all the modelling agencies under the sun with my pictures, notifying my friends around about my modelling pursuit. No response came along the way in Mumbai. I felt low and desperate as I had left everything behind. So many thoughts and doubts would cross my mind.” The coming audition became a make or break situation for Anjali, it was going to be her third and final try. When she realised the upcoming audition was in December, it became her only mission in life to be selected amongst the hundred-plus girls to walk the ramp. Her voice suddenly transformed to an invigorating entity. “I started some serious preparation by analysing my walks on Youtube and observing my flaws – I realised my confidence was not as high as the chosen ones. I also looked at the walks of selected candidates as well as supermodels. I
did all the homework possible right from the makeup to the dress code. Two days before the audition, I had planned everything in advance right from the poses to the outfit. I knew that if I was selected, my modelling career would progress. I made up my mind that if I wasn’t selected, I was to quit modelling. I told myself I was not to be intimated by other competing models, no matter how tall, young or beautiful. I had to give my best and get selected. I competed against 120 girls and managed to clear all the rounds.” Her reaction on being selected was nothing short of ecstatic. “When someone chases something with all their heart, it is so gratifying when you accomplish it. The first thing I did when I returned home was look in the mirror and scream ‘OH MY GOD.’ I don’t even remember what else I did (chuckles).” It was hard to believe that there was not a single model (without an agency) from Nepal who had an audition at Lakmé Fashion Week. Anjali worked against the odds singlehandedly and represented the transgender community. She was not just the first Nepalese transgender to audition, but also get selected. “My hard work paid off but I certainly didn’t imagine it taking me this far. I felt proud as I walked on the ramp representing the transgender community.” At a time where fashion is progressing towards unity and acceptance of communities, Anjali stands a symbol of growing inclusivity in India. Anjali’s perseverance, passion and success are beyond her gender. Even talent surpasses identity after a point. India needs more examples like Anjali that dare to achieve their goals despite their geographical boundaries or sexual identities. The growing representation in contemporary India is a monumental step towards diversity.
Runway Diversity Slow-rising waves of acceptance swept the runway as designers ditched cookie-cutter ideals for women transcending race, age, size and even religion.
| TEXT: SHEFALI J. JAUHAR | | ILLUSTRATION: KRYSTYN BANEGA |
espite the wave of socio-economic uncertainties permeating a dismal temperament on the global consciousness (a refugee crisis, terrorist attacks or better, an intolerant president representing one of the most multicultural countries), fashion chose its side wisely. It seeks optimism through a growing display of inclusivity. Slowrising waves of acceptance swept the runway as designers ditched cookie-cutter ideals for women transcending race, age, size and even religion. Just a few years ago, diversity expressed a linear vision of mere racial identity. The term has significantly widened since to include other categories that may not necessarily exemplify conventional modelling ideals. In a statistical report published by The Fashion Spot, Fall Winter 2017 reported runway diversity at its highest – perhaps a rebellion of sorts to prove unity in diversity. Assessing over 200 fashion shows, it was observed that 27.9% models of colour walked the runway – a slight yet nonetheless growing 2.5% increase from Spring 2017. Interestingly, New York remained the highest representation of racial identity with every American designer featuring at least one model of colour on the runway. On the other hand, it is sad to mention the rise of racial attacks triggered by the appointment of president Trump. The recent years have also welcomed a bevy of Indian
beauties on international catwalks like Pooja Mor, Rasia Navare, Bhumika Arora and Natasha Ramchandran. Liberating women from conventional ideals of fleeting beauty, a considerable number of forward-thinking designers have started envisioning women of intellect and substance as their muses. Looking back at successful designer campaigns, renown author, Joan Didion posed for Celine while Donatella, fellow friend of Riccardo Tisci featured in Givenchy’s campaign. Serving salt and pepper on the runway this season were Dries Van Noten, Simone Rocha, Dolce & Gabanna, Gareth Pugh. Representing older women not only shatters age-appropriate ideals but also communicates to a well-off segment that can afford luxury – keeping grandmother and grandchild equally updated. Considering the neglect it has received in its yesteryears, mainstream shows are slowly but surely accommodating plus-size models. However, the castings still reflect an insignificant sliver of less than 1% plus-size models (hinting towards tokenism). According to statistics by The Fashion Spot, twenty-six plus-size models were cast recording the highest growth in Fall 2017. Ashley Graham made history as the first model to walk down Michael Kors. The plus-size supermodel has also featured on iconic covers like Sports Illustrated which has
predominantly flaunted fit models. Candice Huffine and Marquita Pring walked for Prabal Gurung. The advent of social media has certainly contributed towards body positivity through trending hashtags and photo series where even skinny models have shared their body transformation stories. Gender fluidity on the runway has been on the rise since Alessandro’s Gucci effect. New York Fashion Week singlehandedly represented a total of twelve transgender models this season. Meanwhile, in India, Anjali Lama became the first transgender model to walk at Lakmé Fashion Week, competing against over a hundred girls to clear the casting rounds. The relevance of growing inclusivity couldn’t be more apt in a time of intolerance and cultural divide. With disruption being the flavour of 2017, the introduction of diverse categories makes fashion a step closer towards inclusivity. Designers can tap into newer customer segments capitalising on its massive potential given the democracy of social media, a growing cultural shift and emerging luxury players. Diversity still has a long road ahead given how recently these categories have been introduced. While tokenism still plagues these intentions, it is still a positive route nonetheless.
LOOKS (ROW-WISE) I: SHASHI WEARS A SHEER TOP OVER STRIPED NAVY TROUSERS, AISHWARYA WEARS A RED DRESS UNDER A STRIPED BLAZER, IKAI BY RAGINI AHUJA. II: SHASHI WEARS A FRONT OPEN KIMONO TOP, AISHWARYA WEARS A HANDLOOM KATAN SILK SHIRT, SOUMODEEP DUTTA. III: SHASHI WEARS A DARK GREY PLEATED LINEN JACKET WITH ECRU LINING, AISHWARYA WEARS A RED CRINKLED DRESS OVER DHOTI SALWAAR PANTS, URVASHI KAUR. IV: SHASHI WEARS A FRINGED BHAALU JACKET, AISHWARYA WEARS A RED CHECKERED DRESS, KA-SHA.
FASHION DIRECTION SHEFALI J. JAUHAR | PHOTOGRAPHY YASHASVI SHARMA | MODELS AISHWARYA SINGH, SHASHI BANGARI | MAKEUP AND HAIR SHAAN KHAN | ACCESSORIES SHUBHASHINI ORNAMENTALS
A league of Indian millennial designers are on the rise – call them the Counterculturists if you may. Daring to define the contemporary scen...
Published on Apr 26, 2017
A league of Indian millennial designers are on the rise – call them the Counterculturists if you may. Daring to define the contemporary scen...