Jim Sarbh in a block printed knotted angarkha tunic (Photo: Instagram/RajeshPratapSinghWorks)
Jim Sarbh in a block printed knotted angarkha tunic (Photo: Instagram/RajeshPratapSinghWorks)

26 letters which redefine Indianness

Indian fashion isn’t just exotic inspo that international brands can use as reference. It’s a discipline in itself
By Manish Mishra
PUBLISHED ON JAN 26, 2021 12:57 AM IST

On the occasion of Republic Day, here’s the lowdown on the Indian style vocabulary. Indian fashion is more than just an eclectic mood board to be referenced by international brands. It’s a set of canons, a discipline, a vocabulary, a grammar. From Indian handwoven textiles to our age-old embroidery techniques, designers across the world continue to incorporate our country’s vibrant aesthetic and insignia in their design process. Chanel Pre-Fall 2012 collection titled, Paris-Bombay comes to mind right away. And it’s hard to erase from mind Hermes’ limited edition sarees unveiled in 2011 and more recently, Paco Rabanne’s take on Indian paisley prints in its Spring-Summer 19 collection. From couturier Elie Saab, who has often been inspired by Indian drapes, to the likes of Ulla Johnson, who inculcated plaids in her collection which were loomed in India — the subcontinent has been a treasure trove for artistic alchemies. Let’s recount India’s priceless offerings to the world of fashion.

A

Angrakha

In 2008, designer Rajesh Pratap — in his autumn/winter line titled ‘Valentino Rossi meets Mother Teresa, Biker Jacket meets the Saree’ — redefined angrakha jackets, styling it with dhoti pants, thus, resurrecting it on fashion map. 

B

Bandhani

Trust designer Rahul Mishra to entrench the craft of Bandhani on the global firmament. It is a tie-dye textile realised by plucking the cloth with fingernails into many tiny bindings that form a patterned design. 

C

Chintz

Originally a woodblock printed, painted or stained calico produced in India from 1600 to 1800. Over the years, brands such as Nikasha, Anamika Khanna, Rohit Bal and Payal Singhal have reinterpreted the quintessential chintz prints as their brand soul.

D

Drape

India has always been known as a fashion movement defined by the sensual fluidity of drapes. Couturier Tarun Tahiliani, over the years, has reinvented draping techniques in Indo-Western fusion silhouettes.

A model complements TT’s multi-hued magnetism and the sensual prowess of draping. (Photo: Instagram/TarunTahiliani)
A model complements TT’s multi-hued magnetism and the sensual prowess of draping. (Photo: Instagram/TarunTahiliani)

E

Elegance

Indian designs have always been a reflection of age-old elegance. Be it our form-flattering silhouettes or artisanal embroideries, our design houses have taken to modernity with great gusto, without compromising on elegant quotient.  

F

Finery

Indian maharajas and nobility, and their lavish way of living, have inspired several generations of designers. Chanel Metiers d’Art Pre-Fall collection show, titled ‘Paris-Bombay’ merits a mention.

G

Gharara

The charm of a gharara remains unmatched and couturier Manish Malhotra has successfully reimagined it season after season. Favoured by the likes of Kareena Kapoor Khan and Khushi Kapoor, the classic is a bridal closet’s staple.  

Khushi Kapoor rocks a trailing gharara with intricate zardozi embroidery (Photo: Instagram/ManishMalhotraWorld)
Khushi Kapoor rocks a trailing gharara with intricate zardozi embroidery (Photo: Instagram/ManishMalhotraWorld)

H

Haute designs

Indian couturier Rahul Mishra has time and again made his presence felt in the global catwalks, proving that Indian craftsmanship is at par with the best in the world.  

Models at couturier Rahul Mishra’s showcase in Paris (Photo: Instagram/RahulMishra_7)
Models at couturier Rahul Mishra’s showcase in Paris (Photo: Instagram/RahulMishra_7)

I

Indigenous

Every indigenous textile in India evokes an emotion. From Kota, Banarasi and Paithani to Kochi, Kalamkari and Phulkari — Indian weaves are a metaphor for our weavers’ extraordinary skills.  

J

Jamdani

Hailing from Bengal, this weaving tradition is one of the most time- and labour-intensive forms of handloom weaving. In the first half of the 19th century, James Taylor described the figured or flowered jamdani.

K

Kurti

Kurti went through myriad metamorphosis over the years — from a kurti dress to a kurti gown. Monisha Jaising reinvented it in chiffon, peppering it with diamante and Swarovski. Today, it’s worn as a chic cover-up over a swimsuit and even as mini resort dress.

L

Lucknowi craft

Chikankari is a signature of the Nawabi city of Lucknow. Believed to have been introduced by Nur Jahan, the wife of Mughal emperor Jahangir, it is one of Lucknow’s best known embroidery styles.

M

Metaphorical

Indian designers have made strong socio-political commentary through their presentations. During the fashion week last year, Ashish N Soni made a strong case for the Black Lives Matter movement in his digital showcase.

N

Nonchalant

Indian street style has always been synonymous with a rakish nonchalance. The way a cop layers his uniform with a sporty cable knit jumper or the way a saree-clad woman teams the nine yard wonder with a pair of comfy sneakers as she shops. Indians know how to marry style with comfort without trying too hard.  

O

Oomph

Indian couturiers such as Amit Aggarwal, Rina Dhaka and Falguni and Shane Peacock have churned out designs with a ‘more is more’ vibe, which radiates oomph  without compromising on taste.

A model in a metallic ensemble by Amit Aggarwal (Photo: Instagram/AmitAggarwalOfficial)
A model in a metallic ensemble by Amit Aggarwal (Photo: Instagram/AmitAggarwalOfficial)

P

Pashmina

Pashmina is a synonym for a chic variant of spun cashmere, the animal hair fibre. The word pashm implies wool in Persian, but in Kashmir, pashm implies the raw unspun wool of domesticated Changthangi goats.        .

Q

Quiet

Over the last decade, there has been an emergence of designers known for their quiet and restrained aesthetic. From Love Birds Designs to Vaishali S, they are visually and emotionally impactful without noise.

R

Radical

Indian designers have time and again taken a drastic departure from rigid codes of dressing, thus throwing the observers off-kilter. Suneet Varma’s metallic breast plate look comes to mind instantly, and so does Nachiket Barve’s X ray saree.

S

Shimmer

Shine-on pieces, an orgiastic overdose of sequins and holographic recycled polymer textiles are worth mentioning. Couturiers like Amit Aggarwal and Rimzim Dadu have reimagined sparkle in their unique handwriting.

T

Tant

Woven from cotton threads and characterised by lightness and transparency, this Bengali saree is the best antidote to the hot and humid weather of the subcontinent.    

U

Uber chic

Indian designs have been toasted in all the fashion capitals in the world — from New York runway to Parisian catwalks. From Sabyasachi to Bibhu Mohapatra, there’s always an unmistakable air of chic.  

V

Voluptuous

The form-flattering saree silhouette has been the most forgiving in Indian style lexicon, lending a sensual edge to all body types. The way Indian drapes celebrate voluptuous body forms, no other clothing culture does.

W

Woven  

Indian labels such as Anavila and Eka have recontextualised local textiles, giving them a contemporary touch. Kudos to these home-grown labels for ushering in the all-pervading wave of organic fabrics!

X

X factor

Our Indian fashion chromosome has an indescribable X genome which gives us a distinctive identity. It could be a sensual drape of a dupatta or a choli with a sweetheart neckline.  

Y

Youthfulness

The current crop of Indian designers have stayed true to our heritage while reinventing themselves. Be it Ritu Kumar’s Label which speaks to today’s Gen Z girls or Namrata Joshipura’s sporty separates, it’s a love letter to the spirit of youthfulness.  

Z

Zeitgeist

Every decade in Indian fashion history has been redefined by an air of free-spiritedness. From the 60s’ mod style in Bollywood films to the current wave of pared-back, sporty minimalism on the runway, there’s an unmistakable touch of freedom.   

manish.mishra1@hindustantimes.com

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close
Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski’s FW 21 outing reconciles savoir-faire with functionality   (Photo: Instagram/Hermès )
Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski’s FW 21 outing reconciles savoir-faire with functionality   (Photo: Instagram/Hermès )

Addressing the post-pandemic sartorial needs

By Manish Mishra
PUBLISHED ON MAR 08, 2021 12:11 AM IST
What’s the role of a digital fashion showcase? Is it merely to put the clothing and accessories on the map? How can fashion help us connect with different cities and cultures in these challenging times? Hermès  AW 21 women’s collection provided lucid answers to all these questions in its live performance that played itself out in three powerful acts
Close
Bollywood divas have lately been snapped wearing a lot of athleisure looks during their casual day outs. However, Disha Patani and Kiara Advani have taken things up a notch by wearing fun monotone comfy outfits and giving it a summery twist.(Varinder Chawla)
Bollywood divas have lately been snapped wearing a lot of athleisure looks during their casual day outs. However, Disha Patani and Kiara Advani have taken things up a notch by wearing fun monotone comfy outfits and giving it a summery twist.(Varinder Chawla)

Disha Patani and Kiara Advani make a strong case for bright-coloured athleisure

By Nishtha Grover, Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 07, 2021 04:05 PM IST
  • Athleisure has made its way into our wardrobes and it is here to stay. Celebrities also love a good lounge wear set which they can wear at home and also run last minute errands in. However, Disha Patani and Kiara Advani are giving athleisure a summer twist with bright and bold colours and we love it.
Close
Mouni Roy in bright red suit(Instagram/ imouniroy)
Mouni Roy in bright red suit(Instagram/ imouniroy)

Mouni Roy looks like a beautiful bride in 34k embroidered kurta and pants

By Nishtha Grover, Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 07, 2021 02:40 PM IST
  • Mouni Roy recently shared images from a new photo shoot wearing a gorgeous bright red kurta, ijaar pants and bandhani dupatta. She looked like a dreamy dulhan in the images. All the brides-to-be take note.
Close
Chrissy Teigen dances to Bollywood song(Instagram/chrissyteigen and YouTube)
Chrissy Teigen dances to Bollywood song(Instagram/chrissyteigen and YouTube)

Chrissy Teigen dances to Varun Dhawan and Parineeti Chopra's Jaaneman Aah in NY

By Nishtha Grover, Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 07, 2021 12:53 PM IST
  • Model and celebrity chef Chrissy Teigen made her desi fans extremely happy as she danced to the Varun Dhawan and Parineeti Chopra starrer Bollywood song Jaaneman Aah from the film Dishoom.
Close
Dolce & Gabbana has filed a defamation suit(Reuters)
Dolce & Gabbana has filed a defamation suit(Reuters)

Dolce&Gabbana filed a defamation suit in Italian court seeking USD 600 million

AP, Milan
PUBLISHED ON MAR 07, 2021 07:35 AM IST
  • The high-end fashion house Dolce&Gabbana had filed a defamation suit against an Instagram account in the Italian court in 2019 and are seeking USD 600 million in damages.
Close
Representational Image(Pexels)
Representational Image(Pexels)

Coronavirus pandemic: Can the death of skinny jeans save retail?

Bloomberg
UPDATED ON MAR 06, 2021 07:58 PM IST
Shoppers are embracing looser styles of denim. This overdue fashion shift could be a bright spot for an industry reeling from the pandemic.
Close
Kangana Ranaut(Varinder Chawla)
Kangana Ranaut(Varinder Chawla)

Kangana Ranaut perfects Indian wear for Mumbai summers in pink-white cotton suit

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Alfea Jamal, Hindustan Times, Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 06, 2021 07:39 PM IST
  • Kangana Ranaut looked radiant in a pink anarkali kurta with full, churidar sleeves, a white churidar and a self printed white dupatta. The Queen actor's look is perfect for the blazing heat of Mumbai.
Close
A selection of black outfits followed before Versace presented trouser suits, tops, dresses, skirts, jackets and handbags adorned in the Greca motif, in shades of brown, red and blue.(Reuters)
A selection of black outfits followed before Versace presented trouser suits, tops, dresses, skirts, jackets and handbags adorned in the Greca motif, in shades of brown, red and blue.(Reuters)

Graphic prints at Versace in off-calendar fashion presentation

Reuters, Milan
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 06:12 PM IST
Italian fashion house Versace splashed graphic prints all over its designs for its fall line on Friday, unveiling the collection on its own time days after Milan Fashion Week wrapped.
Close
Janhvi Kapoor turns 24 (Instagram/ janhvikapoor)
Janhvi Kapoor turns 24 (Instagram/ janhvikapoor)

Happy Birthday Janhvi Kapoor: 11 times she was the queen of ethnic fashion, pics

By Nishtha Grover, Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 04:20 PM IST
  • Janhvi Kapoor turned 24 today and in order to celebrate the day, we are taking a trip down memory lane and checking out the times she looked marvellous in ethnic attires.
Close
Cardi B and the doll designed by her(Instagram)
Cardi B and the doll designed by her(Instagram)

Cardi B faces backlash over doll likened after her, deactivates Twitter

By Alfea Jamal, Hindustan Times, Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 07, 2021 01:32 PM IST
Grammy-winning rapper Cardi B has deactivated her Twitter account after facing intense backlash following the launch of her new doll.
Close
Superstar Allu Arjun is celebrating his 10 year anniversary with wife Sneha Reddy. The dapper looking actor is known for his outfits and that is why we thought of taking a look at some of his most stunning moments.(Instagram/ alluarjunonline)
Superstar Allu Arjun is celebrating his 10 year anniversary with wife Sneha Reddy. The dapper looking actor is known for his outfits and that is why we thought of taking a look at some of his most stunning moments.(Instagram/ alluarjunonline)

Style king Allu Arjun looks dapper in every outfit, proof in pics

By Nishtha Grover, Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 02:44 PM IST
  • Allu Arjun is celebrating his 10 year wedding anniversary with wife Sneha Reddy. The fashion icon can carry every style with the utmost comfort and these pictures are proof.
Close
Rap is emerging as a trend on campus with students wishing for colleges to have their own rap societies as part of the extra curricular activities in Delhi University.
Rap is emerging as a trend on campus with students wishing for colleges to have their own rap societies as part of the extra curricular activities in Delhi University.

Delhi University's emerging rap culture grips campus

By Aprajita Sharad
UPDATED ON MAR 06, 2021 03:25 PM IST
Delhi University students are enjoying creating rap music amid the pandemic and wish for the university to have a rap society soon.
Close
Gigi Hadid(Instagram)
Gigi Hadid(Instagram)

Gigi Hadid marks return to runway post baby Khai with red hair, blue lids

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Alfea Jamal, Hindustan Times, Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 06, 2021 01:31 PM IST
Supermodel and Victoria's Secret angel Gigi Hadid and musician partner Zayn Malik welcomed daughter Khai around six months ago and now the 25-year-old model made her first major public appearance on the Versace runway. See pics and videos....
Close
Sohail Khan's son Nirvan wears Salman's jacket(Varinder Chawla and Instagram/beingsalmankhan)
Sohail Khan's son Nirvan wears Salman's jacket(Varinder Chawla and Instagram/beingsalmankhan)

Did Sohail Khan's son Nirvan wear Salman's jacket to Ibrahim's birthday bash?

By Nishtha Grover, Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 09:28 AM IST
  • Sohail Khan's son, Nirvan Khan attended Ibrahim Ali Khan's birthday bash wearing Salman Khan's denim jacket. The piece or art jacket is worth 1.2 lakh.
Close
FILE PHOTO: The logo of Hermes is seen on a store in Paris, France, April 24, 2020. (REUTERS)
FILE PHOTO: The logo of Hermes is seen on a store in Paris, France, April 24, 2020. (REUTERS)

Why go to Paris when you can buy Hermes in Hangzhou?

Bloomberg
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 02:16 PM IST
Buying luxury at home is the new normal for Chinese shoppers. All the big fashion houses will need to adapt.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP