BEING fashionable and not trendy may appear to be a contradiction in terms. Yet this is precisely what fashion gurus the world over are seeking to achieve. Challenging the dictates of style, irreverence to fads and rejecting trends have become almost fashionable in this global celebration of the individual.
In India, the effects are just about being seen with designers encouraging women to be brave about personal preferences through experimentation, intelligent mixing and matching of different outfits and holding their own on favourite colours, textures, cuts and silhouettes.
You could combine a cardigan with a Rajasthani mirror-work lehnga, try wearing a net kurta with boot-leg pants, perhaps toss an antique odhni over a plain, printed organza saree, or even attempt a retro look with wide, drawstring pants and turleneck halter.
Effectively, you would
be telling your designer to desist from foisting well-coordinated
ensembles and, instead, offer separate items for you to work out the
combinations. How you do so would depend upon personal factors like
your physique, profession, mood and the occasion.
Strings are the latest to make an entry in this area of unconventional styling. And here women are not stopping at just stringy blouses (if only to reinforce the trendy peasant look), for skirts, cargo pants and bags have become great crowd-pullers.
Mumbai-based Sangita Kathiawada’s Melange is offering stringy kurtas with matching drawstring trousers, beaded crocheted backless blouses with Maheshwari pyjama pants and brocaded halter cholis with stretch skirts this season.
Funky designs are also popping out of the studios of Suneet Varma and Ashish Soni, who have, over the years, gained a reputation for being off-beat in their styles. If it’s leather sandals with mirrorwork or a diamante tiara with feathers, you can be sure it has to be one of them.
This time around, Soni is making a song and dance about his cut velvet saree-skirts paired with diamante velvet blouses and, funnily enough, he is running out of stocks. Barely a year ago, the same outfit would have gathered dust on the racks.
And it isn’t as though the so-called avant garde among designers are having a whale of a time. Even a rather restrained J.J. Valaya is offering crystal-encrusted embroidered silk lehngas with matching dupattas and an armful of feathers to serve as a blouse!
Another unconventional designer, Tarun Tahiliani, is presenting embroidered swarovski crystal-encrusted backless blouses with matching ghagras and dupattas. The look is neither Indian nor western and, yet, is immensely appealing.
Similarly, Monapali has come out with zari embroidered organza blouses with matching lehngas, while zardozi embroidery assumes prominence in the bustiers brought out by Manju and Bobby Grover. They may be combined with striped tulle skirts or plain chiffon sarees.
There are also perfectly conventional outfits, as those designed by Shanta Daga, which stand out for their specific mix-‘n’ match possibilities. The wearer has only to follow the prescription to discover the options beyond the obvious.
For instance, a black crepe saree is intricately embroidered with a nine-yard border and is being offered with a jersey blouse in four unconventional colours: peacock green, peach, magenta and khaki. The look is as elegant as bohemian.
Daga has also designed a full net ghagra embroidered with thread and cord in two shades of golden yellow, lined with mint green satin. Anybody looking out for exclusivity, could possibly combine the ghagra with a green tissue blouse with embroidered lace sleeves and white dupatta with gold lace.
On a less adventurous note, there’s also a lime green jacquard georgette saree, delicately edged with sequins and pearls, worn with a fully embroidered net blouse with lime green ribbon, cord, sequins and pearls.
Many of these dresses may not look anything out of the ordinary at first sight. It is the way they are worn that gives the wearer a certain charm and character, distinct from the clutter hanging in fancy boutiques and upmarket designer stores.