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| TEXT: SHEFALI J. JAUHAR | IMAGE COURTESY: VOGUE UK |

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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.

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Profile for Shefali Judeline Jauhar

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A league of Indian millennial designers are on the rise – call them the Counterculturists if you may. Daring to define the contemporary scen...

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A league of Indian millennial designers are on the rise – call them the Counterculturists if you may. Daring to define the contemporary scen...

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