In more ways than one, this was a big year for India's style calendar. From Manish Arora taking the helm at Paco Rabanne, to Indian designers taking a scientific approach to their craft, we list the best of 2011.1. Funky fabric
2011 was the year that fashion got a scientific make-over. Fabrics like cotton and silk became passé, while new technology allowed for the creation of yarn from bamboo, soya bean, milk and even metal. "I’ve been using a lot of soya, along with bamboo in a yarn that mimics the sheen of silk," explains designer Joyjit Talukdar, a torchbearer for the movement towards sustainable fabric. Talukdar also points towards colleagues like Rimzim Dadu, whose jackets and dresses moulded out of malleable, foldable metal fibres impressed front row regulars at fashion weeks, and Gaurav Jai Gupta, who mixes cotton with steel yarns. Another designer couple is Alpana and Neeraj, whose moulded corsets mimic the look of wood and are heat-moulded to a body cast.
2. Bloggers take over
Scott Schuman, Garance Dore and Bryanboy may be established stars of the international fashion circuit, but closer home, this was the first year that Indian bloggers were taken seriously. From bloggers’ meets at fashion week venues to live blogging from the front row, democracy has finally arrived in the form of Arushi Khosla (fabblab), Manou (Wearabout) and Santu M (The devil wore) in the otherwise snooty world of haute couture.
3. Red hot on red carpet
It was the year of daring to bare. As Bollywood began to embrace international trends with a vengeance, thigh-high slits and plunging backs began to storm the party scene. While Malaika Arora Khan has always been one of the bolder fashion icons in the film world, now even younger stars like Deepika Padukone, Kareena Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra made their peace with showing skin.
4. India in Paris
Manish Arora, India’s biggest international success story, cemented his rise to the top by scoring the top job at French fashion house, Paco Rabanne. Only the second Indian to head a fashion house, after Ritu Beri who headed Jean-Louis Scherrer, which didn’t survive too long, Arora brought his signature stamp of sci-fi chic to his debut Spring/Summer 2012 collection. The critics are now waiting with bated breath to see if the man who put Indian kitsch on the map can take his lead and run with it.
5. Number one accessory
The boys call it a man bag, and the girls call it a sling, but the one undeniable accessory that took over street fashion was this. Worn across the body like the good-old school satchel, the hands-free sartorial statement was being sold everywhere from street corners to high-end boutiques.
6. Fashion weeks galore
If you threw a stone, you’d probably hit a fashion week. And the latest to join the fray is Goa, which hosted its debut resort wear fashion event, with established names like Shantanu and Nikhil, Anupama Dayal and Malini Ramani.
Look out, 2012
1. Breaking boundaries
The city’s forgotten suburb, Kurla, is set for a major make-over with the arrival of Phoenix Market City, reportedly the largest mall in Asia. Bringing 300 of the country’s most-wanted brands from Bebe to Zara to Mango under one roof, not to mention the area’s first trendy salons and massage parlours, the gaping chasm of choices available between the east and west is slowly closing, hopefully for good.
2. Virtually everything
Who needs fashion week when you have the Internet? That seems to be the theory young upcoming design minds are inspired by as more and more homegrown talents use social networking sites and their own websites to make their fame. With Indians slowly growing more confident with web shopping, sites like online handicrafts store Shopo.in, discount portal fashionandyou.com and bookstore-turned-mass retailer Flipkart, which eliminate the middle-men, only aid the shopping revolution.
3. YouTube is the new stylist
Don’t have the budget to hire a personal stylist? No problem. Now YouTube can be your 24-hour dedicated problem solver, offering advice on everything from how to do your make-up like Lady Gaga, to how to dress like a skater. Carefully- detailed tutorials are a rage on the video streaming website, where even amateurs can turn into artistes after a few, free online classes.
4. Celebrity clothing lines
First Bipasha Basu did it in association with a sports brand, and then Kareena Kapoor announced her plans to launch a namesake collection. The newest style icon to throw her hat in the ring is Sonam Kapoor, Bollywood’s favourite clothes horse. Rumour has it that the actor, a fashion magazine staple and beloved of fashion bloggers, is tying up with her sister Rhea to launch their own clothing line. The next Victoria Beckham, perhaps?
5. Big brands coming to town
After Zara and Forever 21 opened the Pandora’s box to screaming Indian fans, it was only a matter of time for clothing giants H&M and Topshop to jump on the bandwagon, with talks in place to collaborate with major ‘desi’ retail chains. And if the grapevine is to be believed, fantasies of men everywhere are about to be fulfilled, as Victoria’s Secret has been scouting for a place to set up shop. If there ever was a better time to get yourself a platinum credit card, 2012 is it.
6. Celebrating kitsch
Desi pop art never had it this good. After Delhi-based label Playclan put the cool in kitsch, and turned themselves into a commercial success, a whole host of labels are joining the party, from Quirk Box and Pop.att to Chumbak.
Moustachioed men, buxom ladies in saris, uniquely Indian traffic snarls and all manner of urban graffiti now find expression on clothing. “This year, at the Weekender music festival, there were many stalls selling kitsch collectibles, which were flying off the racks,” says Divyak D’Souza, fashion stylist. “This trend is only set to grow next year, as this form of graphic art is coming back in a big way.”