I have always prided myself for my individualism. I do not adhere to collectivism, group projects, morphous activities. My stance, philosophy and outlook in life is to be unique and fluid. I think different, eat different, dress different from most others-that is what I have been told on multiple occasions by many.
I am not lauding or commending my behavior, but simply stating a fact. Many may even think of me as weird, eccentric or even an oddity. Come to think of it, they may even be right!
I have always interpreted individualism as being unique, non-conformist and away from the herd. A thing that is tested and tried is not for me. I want to be the pioneer, the heralder, the leader. Whether anyone wishes to follow me or not is a whole different issue!
I make tall tales and claims as to how I am so different, so unique, so exclusive.
Is that really true though?
Yesterday, I was looking at a beautiful shot on the blog of my very dear friend Lee Oliveira. It was a Vogue worthy, artistic shot of a man’s bottom half only, wearing Christian Louboutin shoes and a Burberry bag. I was inspired enough to bring out my Loubies, wear the cropped pants and carry a monstrous tote.
I was inspired after seeing the photo shot by Lee Oliveira and the following question crossed my mind: Do I adhere to individualism in the purest, truest, most uncontaminated sense? Is the inception of my individualism truly from “My Self” or do I use inspiration to adapt to my individualism?
For instance take fashion, did the outfit that I put together truly originate from the inner being of my soul, never done before and unprecedented? In stark honesty the answer is NO, of course not. I was inspired from something, someone or somewhere consciously or sub-consciously.
The greatest artists, musicians and sculptors although fierce in their individualism, seek inspiration from outside. For example, my favorite artist Henri Matisse was inspired by Gauguin and Van Gogh; John Lennon was inspired by the most unique jazz singer Nina Simone; and in today’s times the controversial Lady Gaga is definitely inspired by Madonna!
So, the theory of stark individualism that I have adhered to all my life proves to be a fallacy. It falls flat on its face. Yes, there is individualism, we all have it and we all should develop it to be unique. But we cannot take sole credit for our individualism, as in the shadows is always lurking inspiration.
India is on the global radar. India is the “talk of the globe.” India is Conspicuous!
It has gone from being the land of snake charmers, beggars, saffron robed sadhus (hermits) and the home of the “new” 7th wonder of the world, the Taj Mahal, to one of the fastest rising BRIC nations, boasting the top 15 richest people on the Forbes list and having an array of luxury brands forgoing opening stores in U.S. and Europe and courting and serenading India.
The tags have changed from the “third world country” to the “rising super power.” All of a sudden the peaceful yogic and meditative nation has become an exploding power to reckon.
Fashion has come to the forefront with the rise of the middle class and increase in the disposable income. Expedited globalization has increased the awareness quotient for international brands, fashion styles, the “it” bags, shoes etc. There is an exponential growth of the fine taste of luxury.
There is a boom of international brands such as Louis Vuitton who released a special edition Diwali dress to join in the jubilations of the festival of lights; Gucci who came up with a special clutch as the accessory to be carried with the traditional sari; Burberry, Christopher Bailey himself made a recent trip to India for a tete-a-tete with the who’s who of Bollywood; Dior; L’Occitane and of course the very flamboyant Roberto Cavalli to satisfy the ostentatious element of the Indian psyche. After all, what is the point of all the wealth when one can’t flaunt it by wearing a theatrical Cavalli caftan!
Indian designers have jumped on the fast speeding fashion Ferrari as well (no longer the term band wagon can be used for the speeding growth in India.)
Indian designers have made an effort to understand the “international” fashion market. The fashion shows have increased. The fall/winter, spring/summer concepts have been adopted and the runway shows are becoming artistic productions with Bollywood stars being lured to walk the ramp as “show stoppers.” Famous musicians croon in the background in fashion shows as gangly and lanky models with “not so” quintessential Indian features slither on the runway with angry expressions on their faces.
The designers have learnt that they need to veer away from the traditional dresses such as the sari to cater to the global market. They have grasped that they need to make their clothes reach out to the “much enamored by the West” masses of India if they want to compete with the infiltrating international brands.
I understand that change is the essential element for all growth. Stagnancy can only cause decay and eventually death. However, as a much exposed fashion aficionado, I do have a bone to pick with the Indian designers. I understand that they need to compete in the global market and venture outside the customary conventionalism. However, simply aping the West is not the answer either. Because then there is no uniqueness, no originality, no newness. We already have the McQueen, McCartney, Balenciaga and Lanvin, we do not need a clone of them. Anna dello Russo has done the cherry hat a million times, conjure up another accessory! View the photos below, are they reminiscent of looks we may have recently seen…a deja vu, if you will!
There are a few Indian designers who are unique and churn out awe-inspiring designs season after season. They have stayed true to their unique signature designs and incorporated them with modernism for the global appeal. My favorites are Sabyasachi, Masaba Gupta and Anand Kabra.
I perfectly understand that we all seek inspiration from somewhere. Even the masters such as Da Vinci and Michelangelo were inspired by other artists. Nothing wrong with that. Be inspired, but bring your true identity to your designs to make them unique. Especially in fashion, uniqueness is a prerequisite, else it is “mass fashion.”