There's diverting news of the Los Angeles Fashion Week Spring Collections 2012 held last week and the buzzword remains 'think pink' as in the pink ribbon for breast-cancer awareness, the pet cause of the fashion and beauty industry. It made me think of long ago when fashion was my beat, of scripting shows by my creative choreographer friends, styling fashion shoots with photographers, hair and make-up artistes, models and the pleasure of accessorising and showcasing exquisite Indian clothes. Since I had a thing for b&w, I loved the thrill when the contact sheets came in, of sliding a magnifying glass over row after row of pictures and stopping suddenly at what looked like a great shot, in fact, a whole bunch of great shots.
I can't help a grin either at being asked to 'think pink' because of what happened once at a very formal international meeting many moons ago. Everybody, many very senior in their career, wore navy blue, charcoal grey or dove-grey jackets. I wore a deep teal-blue salwar-suit with a muted rose-pink dupatta, nothing frivolous, just pleasant, sober shades in a simple cut.
One of the navy-clad foreign senior ladies present asked me with a kind smile whom I assisted and I blushed under my God-given tan and said, um, I had responsibilities, like the others. Her gaze slanted doubtfully at my sternly ironed but unmistakably pink dupatta and that's when I got it. "Actually, 'pink is the navy blue of India', we can wear it even to formal and ceremonial events," I disclosed in earnest tones, quoting from the famous words attributed to the late Diana Vreeland, legendary editor of Vogue. She gave me a long, level look to assess the possible truth in this statement. Perhaps my transparent face satisfied her and she gave a little nod. She even patted my arm and said, "You are lucky."
That had me wondering why we are so unafraid of colour. You'll say I'm being awfully earnie, but could there be a cultural clue in the Bhagavad Gita? It's that famous bit where Sri Krishna begins His Visvarupa-darshan: sri-bhagavan uvaca/pasya me partha rupani sataso'tha sahasrasah nana-vidhani divyani nana-varnakritini ca: 'God said, Behold now, O son of Pritha, My opulence, in hundreds of thousands of different divine and many-coloured forms'(BG 11:5). Isn't it perfectly delicious to think that God likes pink?
Renuka Narayanan writes on religion and culture.