fashion and #metoo

Fashion and #Metoo – Social Expression and Empowerment

Fashion and #Metoo

I get asked, time and again, how do I design. Do I sit in the comfort of an air-conditioned office and churn out designs as per my whim? That’s not the way the cookie crumbles. Fashion does not exist and operate in isolation. It takes its cue from contextual factors and impacts upon the wider context. Nothing demonstrates this better than the recently concluded Golden Globe Awards ceremony. At the Golden Globe Awards 2018, A-listers wore black to express solidarity with #metoo.

Fashion and Royalty

Since time immemorial, fashion has derived from socio-political factors. Royalty had a deep impact on fashion. Queen Elizabeth 1’s obsession with ostentatious gowns had its roots in the deprivation she faced as a child. Marie Antoinette’s penchant for opulence sprung from inner frustration. Her passion for frills and ruffles gave birth to Rococo fashion. Marie Antoinette’s extravagance heightened the antipathy towards monarchy, culminating in her macabre death. Nonetheless, the elaborate costumes favoured by the European royal courts supported a thriving textile industry. Silk manufacturers, beaders and embroiderers flourished under royal patronage.
 
No craft can survive without patronage. Deidaa incorporates handcrafted elements in her tie-dyed kaftans and beaded bags. Handcrafting on Deidaa kaftans, silk scarves and beaded bags sustains artisan communities.

Fashion and The Great Wars 

The two great wars of the 20th Century left their mark on fashion. The first world war and the concurrent suffragette movement released women from bondage. Trousers made an entry as army uniforms and bloomers. In the flapper years, Coco Chanel changed the fashion silhouettes forever.
 
The seeds of sustainable fashion were sown during the second world war. Fabric rationing left women with no choice but to ‘make do and mend’. Recycling of bed sheets into wedding dresses had its beginnings here. More sinister fashion accessories like gas mask pouches appeared on the fashion scene.

Fashion and The Orient 

In the East, fashion drew sustenance from Mughal durbars and the royal courts of the Qing dynasty. Mughal emperor Jehangir’s wife Nur Jehan left her mark on textiles and embroidery. Nur Jehan is associated with fabrics like muslin and embroidery genres like chikankari.
 
Several forms of folk embroidery in Asia use the concept of recycling. Layers of fabric are sewn together to fashion wraps and throws from recycled fabrics. Deidaa has embellished her cotton tops with applique’. Applique’ and patchwork were originally introduced to mend rips and tears in the fabric. Embroidery techniques evolving out of economic necessities evolved into art forms.

Fashion in the 20th Century 

In the latter half of the 20th Century, we saw the rise of film stars, musicians and supermodels as fashion icons. Political figures joined royalty as trendsetters. Fashion designers like Vivienne Westwood used the runway as a vehicle of protest.
Fashion and #Metoo
 
Contrary to popular belief, fashion does not operate out of an ivory tower. Fashion has its roots among people. It is a powerful platform for social expression and empowerment.

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