The word ‘bling’ these days is a most used and abused one. The colloquial word got into the Oxford dictionary in 2003 but its use has become more pronounced in the past couple of years. Bling has a broader definition. It encompasses playing hard, looking good and lapping up the finest — the sassy/gaudy style.
But here in Delhi, one thing that has spurred a ‘blingmania’ is Swarovski. The crystals are everywhere — on satin lehengas; on ‘naughty’ cholis epitomised by Rohit Bal; on organza dupattas; on OTT sherwanis; on flashy men’s shirts passed off as ‘designer shirts’; on neckties; on butt-hugging jeans, on tube-tops… Luckily, they haven’t surfaced on underwear yet. Ouch!
The very thought of wearing a crystal-studded underwear gives me that feeling. Why just clothing, crystals have started appearing on rakhis, footwear, tattoos, clutches and even fancy stationery. Please note, all fine-cut crystals are not from Swarovski. There are dime-a-dozen cheaper ones, but like Walkman, Swarovski has become a generic term for decorative crystals.
Walk the narrow lanes of Chandni Chowk and you will see traders selling cheap Chinese crystals as Swarovski. Mumbai is no plain Jane, but Delhi’s love affair with glitter is unparalleled. And with the wedding season approaching, the bling factor will reach its peak. One of my neighbour’s sons is getting married, and the poor guy was so stressed when his mother insisted that the collar and cuffs of his sherwani must be studded with crystals that he cried out in frustration, “You want me to look like a band bajawalla?”
A friend attributed this glittery obsession to our love of diamonds. Gold was India’s biggest craze but since branded diamond jewellery made massive inroads and gold prices started hitting the roof, diamonds became everyone’s best friend. Crystals are a poor cousin of diamonds, but not so poor when it comes to the glitter quotient. I recall an incident designer Suneet Varma once shared with me.
This was in the mid-90s, when crystals weren’t so popular here. Suneet said, “I’d bring in crystals from foreign trips. Once, I was stopped by customs, who thought I was smuggling diamonds. I had great difficulty explaining that they were just cut crystals.” The glitter mania has done some good: it has allowed budget fashionistas to sport crystal jewellery, which under a nightclub’s strobes shine like diamonds. It has also drawn the attention of Swarovski, for whom India must be a huge market.
The company has featured three of our top couturiers — JJ Valaya, Suneet Varma and Tarun Tahiliani — with Armani, Elie Saab, Galliano and Vera Wang in a specially commissioned book, Unbridaled, which shows wedding designs from these master designers. Shining all the way, I must say!