Madhuri in Varun Bahl’s creation
As a designer, I often find myself referring to various past decades in my design process. The flapper ’20s, the frilly ’50s, the psychedelic ’70s: each of the past century’s decades can be easily classified into strong trends that we fashion folk (and most of us were born only in the second half of the 1900s) can instantly recognize. We find it easy to chat about how drop waists are the best thing to come out of the ’20s almost like we were there when it all happened. We obviously love, and hate, the power shoulders of the ’80s (depending on the designer trying to revive them), and we’re totally into anything that even faintly touches the full-skirted ’40s looks a la Christian Dior.
This brings me to ‘now’. What will future generations of design professionals see when they look back at the (20)’10s and following decades? Even the ’90s, supposedly the most subdued time in fashion history and also the most boring, managed to have a signature look that leaned towards minimalism and futurism. And ever since we’ve come into the new millennium (feels like a miracle, doesn’t it?), we’ve done nothing but recycle the ideas of the past, sometimes cramming multiple decades into a single season.
But don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that taking a leaf from the classics is not OK. I’m just asking a simple question: what is the signature look of the first decade of the new millennium?
The answer, as it often does, may actually lie in the question. And as I progress with the writing of this feature (a writer must always think two sentences ahead), I am convinced of it. The first decade of the new millennium has paid tribute to all that was the best of the past century. It has celebrated, exalted, and made everything from the baroque to the bandage dress relevant again. And that’s the magic of fashion: it has the ability to renew and refresh. And that’s why I love being a designer.
My friends joke that I have multiple personality disorder, which, multiplied with my bipolarity (also equally fictional), is the reason that my clothes have so many cultural influences, all at once. And this is something that I revel in. The fashion of the future with be unique in that it will merge and combine all the best from everywhere, and celebrate a mix: it will represent the global community that going to come even closer as we share information faster and better, with people around the world. And that’s amazing.
A recent study found out (I know I should insert the name and credentials of this survey here, but hey, I’m a designer, not a journalist. I’m just glad I remembered!) that the human intellect has evolved faster over the last 300 years: at almost triple the rate than over the past 3000 years. And all of it can be credited to exposure to information, and the sharing of it. Curiosity, it seems, is making the cat wiser. Now, as to why I’m giving you this interesting little factoid: it’s because while designers like myself may sit in our studios and create collections for you, dear reader, to wear, I am equally certain you will, because of the world we live in today, be able to recognize what comes from where in any particular piece of my design. You will be able to become a part of my thought process.
Going by this, I can safely say that the fashion historians of the future will see the first decade of the 2000s as a defining time. And while focused trends may elude us, in sheer variety this decade trumps all the past ones put together. This, then, is a trend that will never grow old, or old enough, even. And it’s here to stay.