Evolution of corporate dressing displayed through dolls

  • Shailee Dogra, HindustanTimes
  • Updated: Jan 13, 2016 15:37 IST

Showing how business community dressed over the years, the Indian School of Business (ISB), SAS Nagar, used dolls to display the history of evolution of modern corporate dress.

dThe ISB had commissioned this artwork to a Delhi-based designer. A dedicated corner at the institute catches every visitor’s fancy.

Created over a period of one year, the artwork, comprising dolls and pictures, takes you down the history of evolution of the business community dressing over the last 400 years starting from 1650 to modern age dress code.

The trading community developed their unique dress code that was an indicator of their status and position in the society. These dolls take you through this unexplored journey. The installation takes care of minute details in every aspect of the project, from creation of the dolls to the artwork and installation.

The figures depict Parsis, Marwaris, Banias and Chinese merchants. Even seafaring merchants such as Flemish and Dutch merchants, along with the British East India Company Traders, are depicted through these dolls. The dress code of English and French bankers from the 16th to 18th Centuries has also been depicted. FOR INDIANS IT WAS PAGRI, FOR EUROPEANS IT WAS WIG

In India, the dress code ‘turban or paghri’ has given men their identity - specially the way the turban is tied, its colour and the pattern it displays - acts as an indicator of belonging to a certain caste, tribe, region and profession.

Similarly in Europe, businessmen until modern times wore the dress that was in vogue at the time such as wigs and elaborate clothing. However with time, the work clothes all over the world became less decorative and more functional.

In the early 20th century, the business suit with pin stripes and bowler came into prominence. Since then, the business suit has never looked back and has become uniform of choice of business people and corporates across the world.


This artwork was created using two distinct handicrafts of India - the Channapatna wooden toys from Karnataka and miniature painting from Rajasthan. The research is based on references from pictures, lithographs, oil painting and figurines found online or in books. The representation is not exhaustive, but an imaginative rendition using traditional crafts.

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