Fashion’s rediscovered appetite for vintage couture
Billowing sleeves, extravagant hemlines, rich embroidery and complex, intriguing silhouettes spell the 18th century fashion glam which ignites fashion mechanics of desire, imagery and aspiration in a neo-vintage era, as portrayed in shows that have taken over OTT platforms. The Crown season 4, Enola Holmes and Bridgeton that aired during the past year evoked wardrobe envy as we binged watched these shows and movies. The sleeves, silhouettes and cuts stand out, emblematic of the 18th century fashion which triggers a vintage nostalgia and transports us back in time.
Designers say such a fashion showcase is inspiring and aspirational. “One has always been fascinated by history, and we see a beautiful revival of the past taking place. There’s a celebration of excess and extravagance in these shows that brings in a sense of warmth and comfort,” says designer Rina Dhaka. After a phase of dressing up sloppily in the pandemic, there will be a shift towards aspirational fashion, and these shows have surely showed us the way, says Dhaka. But why so much love for vintage fashion? “Period dramas reflect our history and mostly are Opulent. Their attraction is about being authentic to the timeline. Vintage styles and specific era / decade/ season driven curated looks excites people as they are intriguing and inspirational. I really love the intricate, yet elegant Neapolitan styles of the regency era shown in Bridgeton. They were sophisticated, stylish and beautifully put together,” explains designer Neeta Lulla. According to designers what really is exciting is to see how pop culture reflects the choices of modern-day dressing. “The reach to Global audience and it’s interesting to see how people recreate looks with their own wardrobes. To get the authentic-ness of minute details is the trickiest part. To recreate the magic, you need to the era inside out and research is the key foundation for such projects,” says designer Neha Gupta.
Designers with a curator’s eye for splicing past and present are adding reality to the garments when they design for these shows. Designer Nachiket Barve says it is a challenging process but enriching. “There is a lot that has changed since that era, so sometimes we need to make textiles and fabrics from scratch, one needs to research well and decode the looks, however when they are finalised and we see them onscreen they make you feel enriching,” says Barve who himself worked on a period drama which took him months of research. Adding on Lulla says, “To recreate authentic original looking looks are most tiresome. Not only getting the right texture of the fabric, motif research and colour palette all contributes to render the perfect look.” But what is important according to designer Masumi R. Mewawalla, that we talk to the audience through fashion. “It’s as crucial a part as you re-create the history and represent how life was like in those times and bring it across the ages,” she concludes.