Gautaman Bhaskaran
an indian journalist
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© Copyright 2004





In Fashion…Styling the stars

In India, one of the easiest routes to fame is through cinema. You dress up an actress or even an actor or you become her or his publicist, the chances are that you would not only become the queen or the king maker, but could well turn out to be better known and better sought after than the monarch herself or himself. I am not implying that this is necessarily wrong or the back-door entry to illustriousness.

But at times, this can undo a designer: he can get lost in the colour and gloss that he had helped create in the first place. The actor gets a halo around him, and its shimmering light eclipses just about everything else. For, instance, does anybody at all remember who styled Rajesh Khanna’s Guru Kurta. Who knows which make-up guy combed Dev Anand’s “puff”.

Yet, designers continue to clothe and style movie stars. Manish Malhotra is one today. In fact, he is said to be the pioneer in this business. Not just that. He also made film fashion respectable and socially acceptable. Manish has been known for fusion, and has always loved to dress his screen heroines in delicate chiffons and heavy zardosi embroidery.

However, he agrees with the view that most designers are “nothing but PR men”. Nobody is seriously inclined to study movie fashion, let alone experiment with it. Often, the herd mentality sets in, and you would find the same styles, similar colours and uniform silhouettes in film after film. “I am glad that hair streaking is out, and also the kurti”, Manish’s words in print.

Anna Singh has bettered Manish. Her tally is 550 movies and 200 actors. And this year, she added yet another feather in her wardrobe: she became the first Indian stylist to copyright her creations. She feels that the 1980s look is returning to cinema, both in colours and in fabrics. Women will wear green, yellow, purple and brown, and men shades of black, brown and blue. As far as embellishments go, they will turn classy, and will move beyond metal coins and thingies.

Kolkata’s most renowned designer, Sabyasachi Mukherjee, hit the tinsel world
with Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s “Black”. He dressed up both Amitabh Bachchan and Rani Mukherjee. He made clothes again for Rani in “Baabul”. In fact, Sabyasachi’s costumes attracted greater attention than the film itself. What is his 2007 prediction: the 1980s look will be revived, and asymmetrical jersey tops and tights will be in vogue, with the gypsy look looming large. Big bangles and mini skirts will be seen on the screen, and elsewhere.

Vikram Phadnis is now working hard on his debut movie, and his forecast is equally interesting: unstructured and free flowing garments in softer fabrics will rule most of 2007.

And these are what we are going to see in Indian cinema, Bollywood especially.

(Webposted April 3 2007)