October 15, 2017 Asmita Aggarwal

Painting Reality

A torch bearer of Communism and social equality, in the early 19thcentury, Frida Kahlo today has become a symbol of empowerment as our quest for liberation of the spirit longs for quietude. It is this tenderness with which Payal Jain celebrates 25 years!

By Asmita Aggarwal

It is a blend that has the trapping of always catching the attention of onlookers—a transgender, make up executed to resemble gender-based violence, some sequinned mocha toned hoodies and a whole lotta same sex love…you get Huemn, which has been fighting all types of stereotypes and calling for inclusion since the label’s inception.

Shyma Shetty and Pranav Misra, the latter few know also writes Hindi poetry was probably inspired by advertising campaigns of Swedish labels like & Other Stories starring transgenders Hari Nef or how Lea T was former Givenchy supremo Riccardo Tisci’s muse or Helmut Lang had used Dora, (who was first spotted at a Marc Jacobs show) and Alek, in their monochromatic campaign that spurred his newest line.

The frayed hems on pleated shirts confirmed what society terms as imperfection is just a misnomer or how two disparate shirts can be combined to form one outfit maybe implying that one body can have both female and male chromosomes in equal measure, only sometimes titling the scale in favour of the former a bit more.

The jeans, which were crafted out of upcycled denims, had double fronts and unexpected zippers that were maybe a celebration of the Supreme Court upholding the right to privacy and how fashion perceives this historic ruling, making a mammoth difference to the lives of the LTBTQ community.


What makes a fashion week rather interesting and diverse is also myriad inspirations, from poetry to travels, artists to photographers each one tells a personalised story, much like Payal Jain as she completes 25 years of resilience and concerted efforts in the world of fashion.

Frida Kahlo, a Mexican artist who lived a torturous life due to an accident that left her with constant back pain and extensive surgeries was Payal’s muse. Her lover Diego Rivera, a Communist beacon, may have been unfaithful to Frida, but it never broke her spirit and it is this fortitude that made the woman with a unibrow, so, so cool.

The beauty of Payal’s clothes is her attention to detail and her love for vibrant embroideries, but what makes her a true star is the passion and grace with which she has conducted herself in an industry where it is truly the survival of the fittest. But this time, she got guests who have been her devotees to walk the ramp from Tanira Sethi, Neelam Pratap Rudy, Shivani Wazir to Ambika Pillai, Ina Puri and of course, the woman with killer abs in Befikre Vaani Kapoor.


The chanderi stoles were superlative and the cutwork red capes vivacious, which stood out on an off white palette and would work as separates, as flowers bloomed on the braids as well as patchwork dresses, taking us back to the 1930s.

If contribution must be measured, then Madhu Jain, despite being a silent warrior stuck to her beliefs without ever hopping on the bullet train to success. She never ventured into dresses or gowns; and this time introduced bamboo silks and temple motifs to an audience that was probably tired to the influx of Margeila-esque influences on the ramp, which they find hard to comprehend.

So, a simple, austere handwriting with a smattering of buttery cottons, zari, Venkatgiris and Jamdanis, made it a bullish affair!  She kept the momentum going with yesteryear models Nayonika Chatterjee and Ruchi Malhotra and with front row support from Maneka Gandhi and her sister Ambika.

Quite from the other hemisphere were Kukreja and Bhaitya, better known as Shivan and Narresh, the dapper men who have combined two obsessions—-swimwear and art (from artists like Barnett Newman, Peter Shaffer and  Kandinsky) along with photography. Mesmerised by the jewels in Japan on their recent trip, that exposed them to Manga, life-size dolls men have grown to love, Harajuku and animation, they came back thinking of how to integrate this into their monokinis. It was an eureka moment when they decided to pay a tribute to Tokyo-raised Nobuyoshi Araki, also famous for his pornographic series titled ‘Kinbaku’ and who witnessed the devastation caused by the American bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

So the bags and shoes boasted of greenery palms, sharara-style jumpsuits, in an era of bell bottoms and halter necks created out of “sheeter” and beaten velvet giving it a fluid texture. With modern woman increasingly embracing from their abs to their love handles, as much as their selfies and stretch marks, swimwear is becoming an icon of what second wave feminist Germaine Greer had said, “Until women themselves reject stigma and refuse to feel shame for the way others treat them, they have no hope of achieving full human stature.”


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