Thursday, July 18 2019


Extreme Fashion

Meher Castelino
Like many wild fashion creators in the West, a growing breed of Indian designers have made a name for themselves with their outlandish, stunning designs.
Fashion can be very practical and prét, which means everybody no matter what size, shape or age can wear it. Then, there is fashion that is glamorous, glitzy and stunning for a red-carpet entry. And there are also collections that shock the daylights out of the audience with their extreme fashion directions.
In the West, names like Zandra Rhodes, Betsy Johnson (who has cartwheeled onto the ramp when taking her bow), John Galliano, Vivian Westwood, the late Alexander McQueen (who once had blood and dirt on his garments) and Jean Paul Gaultier (remember his cone bra for Madonna?) have made the viewers gasp with amazement at the lengths their creativity had been pushed.
Closer home there are designers who make the audience applaud for their sheer skill and ability to think out of the box. Leading this pack is the master of futuristic fantasy fashion, Manish Arora, who now heads Paco Rabanne. Watching a Manish Arora show is a creative assault on the senses. How does he think in those directions and how does he execute those ideas into reality? There was the carousel dress which Katy Perry loved, and singers Lady Gaga and Rihanna have sported his creations as well. The Jungle collection had giant animals and insects emerging from the dresses. The colourful helmet-like wigs, the 3D surface texturing, the way-out footwear, the neon-lit garments – if this is not extreme fashion then what is? The amazing part is that younger designers have tried hard to emulate Arora’s look and style and failed miserably.
Amit Agarwal is another designer who does not believe in following the mundane path or fashion norms. His materials are PVC, wires and plastic which are manipulated and moulded into garments that defy imagination and look great on the ramp but are quite impractical off it. But this is Agarwal’s way of grabbing the attention of the audience and then showing them that he can create some wearable outfits too.
Varun Sardana is a name that draws accolades. Each season the designer pushes the envelope. For Autumn-Winter 2010 he made the audience squat on the floor and showed 19 black woollen garments to the beat of drums while the models’ faces were hidden behind Kathakali makeup and hairdos. Sombre capes, military-style coats, black skull caps with spears, birds, feathers and all types of assorted items completed the very Zen-like look.
Designer Prashant Varma believes in showing minimum garments as he feels that if his message has not been delivered by then, it is a waste of time. His collection Love Song showed hate, rage, anger through 16 garments modelled to shrieks of pain and whip lashes. Using the dinosaur as a comparison – a creature so strong but helpless and now extinct – the creations had the reptilian-skin feel achieved by quilted rocks under the fabric, by black textured leather and tattered gauze, wool embroidery, marbled prints in shades of orange and brown, and crystals which were burnt to look like aged amber.
Kallol Datta has been a rebel on the ramp who could send a garment with a two-metre plait of real hair attached to the back and dedicate it to journalist Sathya Saran. And he has a lot of followers who love his quirky style. All these designers have innovative construction for their garments which raises the bar of their work. While the presentation on the ramp may be a trifle over the top, the garments under the exotic accessories could be wearable with a few minor changes.
A model in a Manish Arora creation

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