Fusion, friction and fashioning new fashion
We see the true spirit of democracy in fashion (if nowhere else) as men and women beat new paths to fashion in an expression of themselves and of the choice-ridden times that they live in.
Everyone does their own thing, and fashion today is far from the stifling structure of yesteryears where to be fashionable meant to conform to fixed standards. Today, you can iron your hair to death or you can sport curls, awami is in as much as western and a fusion of the two is considered equally chic.
Anything goes: Mixing fabrics
No worries if a suit fabric is not enough to make the abominably long shirts; women happily pick any random pieces from the cloth stores to supplement the original piece. This buying of additional cloth is a totally hassle-free, low-anxiety activity, as the new cloth may very well match the main piece only moderately. So you could have a purple shirt with pink flowers and you can happily buy some turquoise fabric to put the panels in that purple piece. The public reaction will be an appreciative:
“OMG! What great designing!”
Any other loose bits of fabric can also be put to use along the hem of a shirt to make it longer and to break the monotony of the very long shirt. It’s a free-for-all where to be dressed in a gypsy-like frock is to be at the very pinnacle of fashion.
Anything goes: Lengths
Floor length is in, but not exclusively. Visit the campus of any girls’ university and you will see all lengths of shirts from well above the knee to the floor-touching.
The feminine mystique
Long tresses (real or extensions), long flowy attire and bling-sandals define contemporary female fashion. It’s all about embracing your femininity. Even jeans are paired with frock-like tops with frills and gathers, as the most tomboyish girls own up to the Eve in them with loose white tops, pleated and with tie strings in place of buttons.
Equal rights like never before
Gravity-defying hair-dos are a sight to see. Each new fashion may be a resurgence of an old one, but not this vertical-inclination of boys’ hair styles. Donned like a spiky helmet, complete with pointed side-burns, this hair statement says it all for the metro-man: I want to look good, I want to take pains with my looks and I will do it in an exclusively male manner, but with as much care as a woman may put in her beauty regime.
Facial hair is another arena for expression of creativity. Beard designs and shapes make a style statement. They vary from the classic goatee to the fly-on-the-chin and the more bohemian-arty frill-on-the-chin, a horizontal growth across the chin. In short, men too now have decisions to make about their personal appearance, since the trends present them with so many choices. I am not even starting off on pointed-toe shoes and bracelets here.
Top designers are coming up with T-shirts that succinctly comment on the times with messages like, “So where will I explode today” (in Urdu). Popular culture, often accused of being out-of-touch with reality, is now warming up to and accepting these harsher realities. While it is not celebrating the tragic state of affairs, fashion is definitely finding a coping mechanism by infusing it with some humour and facing the demon instead of living in denial.
Also, T-shirts with a classy sketch of Quaid-e-Azam are a hot item at the Mohatta Palace Museum, Karachi. The fashion scene is allowing our past glory, contemporary issues and personal expression to seep into its offerings today. The result is a varied, dynamic mix of style statements.
Fashion today is a democratic, equitable mix-up, where tackiness is seen as exuberance of design and simplicity proudly says, “Less is more”; sleeveless and ankle revealing trousers may be favoured by some but equally chic are the more covered long flowy gowns, loose enough to cover a woman’s contours as effectively as a burqa would. Men can repackage themselves without running the risk of being labelled as “sissies” and women can break free from the limiting dictates from the designer community to follow their inclination, their personal value system and most importantly, their budgets to make decisions about what face they wish to present to the world.
Published in The Express Tribune.
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