Dressing up, the androgynous way
Mix the male and female look this season and you could be on the top of the fashion radar, suggests Nisha Kundnani.
Mix the male and female look this season and voila, you're up there on the style-o-meter. On the international fashion radar, the androgynous has been termed the 'it' trend of Fall '07.
British fashion designer Paul Smith, whose recent collection epitomises the look, has warned that the trend should not be taken literally.
"Androgyny doesn't have to mean a buttoned-up shirt, a tie and a blazer," he has said in a magazine interview. "Women could wear a big masculine coat with a little vintage lacy shirt, or a little lace dress with a large sweater."
Smith has attired women in mannish pant suits with square shoulders as well as smoking, safari and tuxedos jackets. But he went on to soften the androgyny with billowy peasant blouses and fitted, flouncy couture gowns in dramatic colours.
From the house of Yves Saint Laurent, designer Stefeno Pilati, too is showing signs of bringing it all back home. He has returned to Y S L classics and made masculine as staples for evening and ready-to-wear collections for 2007.
Nicolas Ghesquière, from the house of Balenciaga, has been partial to Scottish jackets and Jodhpur pants teamed with Palestinian scarves.
Delhi-based designer Abhishek Gupta of label Fightercock says, "Trends like androgyny are bound to be successful in any part of the globe. But the fashion infrastructure in India isn't as receptive as it is abroad. Here trends get diluted. It's sad but if androgyny comes here, I'm afraid women will mix it with Indo-western garments."
The reason for such conservatism is that a certain personality and body type are essential to carry off a masculine look.
"Women in India are obssesed about feminity and girlie fashion. They are much too insecure, they want too look glam all the time," remarks Gupta.
Upcoming designer Kallol Datta from Kolkata agrees, "Baby doll dresses and all the girlie froufrou are now getting a bit too much." For his debut at the Lakme Fashion Week, Datta dressed models in subtle and effective androgyny rather than in your face masculinity .
"Let's not forget that feminity and grace are important. No designer would want to dress a woman completely like a man. Slight masculinity is the idea.. one shouldn't go over board," he advises.
Designers Nitin Bal Chauhan and Arjun Saluja also don't believe in making women look "just pretty Saluja's models have ." strutted boxy shirt dresses inspired by menswear.
So, will the internationally approved trend for Fall Winter make an impact out here? "Who knows?" Gupta responds. "Women in India don't take western trends, too, seriously But from a business . perspective, the niche market is growing."