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The empire is back on fashion street

The empire waistline looks set to be an abiding trend on the runway now, writes Kabeer Sharma.

fashion and trends Updated:

Fashion encyclopaedia has defined an empire waistline as “A type of dress or top where the waistline is raised above the natural waistline, sometimes as high as right below the bust. Best on slender-on-top or a petite figure, the empire dress creates the illusion of length and camouflages a bottom-heavy figure or thick waist”.

In India, where a majority of women have pear-shaped figures, the empire waistline is a dress tucked right under the breast and tailored to flatter the ‘narrower on top and broad in the beam’ body type.

Designers would have us believe that the drapes create a slimming effect thus making the empire waistline a sure shot way of making a killing in the market. We’re sure Nisha Jamvwal would affirm this.

<b1>Further from home, the empire line continues to be in on the international runway as well. Designers say the trend is one of those things that may continue be in fashion much longer after they and I are gone.

After all, the word Empire in this context refers to the period of the First French Empire. Napoleon’s wife Josephine Bonaparte was one of the biggest trendsetters of the time making a statement with her elaborately crafted empire line dresses.

What is interesting to note is that the dresses were a hit in England as ‘regency’ dresses even though the two countries were at war. Think Jane Austen’s many heroines.

At the Lakmé Fashion Week that kicked off yesterday, Day 1 saw an entire sub-collection devoted to the ‘empire line’ thanks to Delhi designer Vineet Bahl.

One of the sub-collections at the designer’s Spring Summer collection was an ‘updated and refined’ collection the empire line. The designer used different fabrics like satins and crepes held together by a band at the bust line in Prussian blue and ochre browns.

Designer Seema Khan will also feature plenty of empire lines in her collection. A large part of the collection will comprise dresses, while the empire cuts will merge into higher waistlines. “The empire line is going to be in for a little longer. They are not bell bots that will be in one day out all of a sudden,” she says.

“It’ll keep flirting with fashion for a long time,” the designer says adding “that it’s one of the classic looks, plus it looks great on the Indian body shape.

Designer Surily Goel who has also done empire line tops this season (remember the beaded outfit that Preity Zinta wore to her show last season) also agrees, “The empire line is here to stay. You’ll see a lot of high waists in my collection, including ones that tie-up at the back.”

She adds that the empire line is going to be in for a little while longer if for no other reason than the fact that lady like and delicate silhouettes are in. “The only women that it doesn’t flatter though are the broad chested ones” Surily warns.

However this isn’t the first season that the empire line is hit ting back. If there is strength in numbers, then one only has to recall that at the Wills India Fashion Week, its casualties included Manish Malhotra, Ranna Gill (who continues to swear by it) and Phalguni and Shane Peacock among others.

Well it goes to show that at least for once Nisha Jamvwal isn’t entirely wrong. The only thing she makes are empire line dress es. Everything else about though we would reserve judgment on.

First Published: Feb 13, 2007 16:55 IST