Androgynous Attire

Posted on 2009-02-14
Girls will be boys and boys will be girls, in the area of fashion that is. Yes they will both be androgynous.
As a result there’s total chaos in the world of fashion. Men and women are invading each others wardrobes and a new form of fashion is taking over, viz androgynous clothing.
Catering to this new fashion trend in India, are fashion maestros like designer Rohit Bal, who caused ripples in the fashion world, when recently, his male models took the ramp flaunting not just his outfits, but vermillion powder in their hair parting, to signify that the Berlin Wall between genders has fallen. “When I design, I don’t think of the gender; it just happens that men are going to wear it,” explains Rohit Bal. “That men are going to wear it is not pre-meditated.” So is it the shock value that makes him design such clothes? “A lot of clothes I do for men end up being worn by women. In the future it won’t make a difference. It will be more androgynous. Men will wear skirts,” he asserts, and adds as an afterthought: “No, when men wear it, it just looks more interesting…yeah,” he shrugs.
As such, the trend update for style fiends this season is to switch sides. Women ditch those pretty flounces, pleats, and pick up a brand new fashion vocabulary. The wardrobe must-haves for the season include jumpsuits, overalls, masculine blazers, all-male biker jackets and scout shorts. Yes, men’s fashion is in - but for the women.
It’s not just clothes; make-up is also an essential aspect of this look. Vimi Menon, senior designer of the Power Dress Group, says, “For girls, androgynous make-up is all about skin that is very matte in texture. Strong defined eyebrows are essential for this look. Whereas for the boys, it’s all about highly bronzed skin and heavily kohl-ed eyes. The eyebrows too are perfectly groomed and shaped, giving them a sharper look”.
With a quirky take on design, runways across the world and shop windows of upscale retail addresses are flaunting chic women’s wear with masculine and occasionally androgynous silhouettes (like wide-legged trousers) and funky detailing.
Closer home, Indian designers and fashion labels have taken their cue from them. So, feminine clothing is being injected with a liberal dose of testosterone. “Nothing does the trick better than stylish men’s clothing on the style diva.” says Mumbai-based designer Anita Dongre. Dongre says her latest collection of dhotis - that are stitched for convenience fabrics like viscose, jersey and cotton mull - can be teamed with zany uppers like printed tees, tunics, linen shirts and kurtas for a casual-chic look. To contrast the pristine white of the dhoti, Dongre has designed jazzy tops with empire line silhouettes, tube dress and boat necks in vibrant tones of bottle green, mid night blue and fire engine red.
Another fashion designer is Rasik Malegonwala, whose stylebook for women consists of conservative formal menswear shades like khaki, beige, brown and black with a smattering of leaf green. He is also spinning a masculine style story for the sleek urban diva with loads of checks and button detailing. Malegonwala is solid on the tough look for women and he even made female models strut the ramp at LFW in equestrian jodhpurs that were tucked into olive green hiking boots. His line also has ultra-masculine PVC jumpsuits for women with zipper and rivet detailing. Talking about the psychology of people who opt for these clothes, Shailesh Chaturvedi, CEO Tommy Hilfiger Apparel India, says, “These are younger, more fashion conscious people, who do not hesitate to go ‘crossover shopping’ and those who do not get sizes in their own gender’s lines”.
“Through the inspiration behind my line is hard core masculine clothing like jumpsuits, I try to interpret the garment in such a way that it doesn’t look grungy or square. It has to flatter the feminine form,” opines Rajiv Sardesai of ‘Ladies Couture’ in Malabar Hill, Mumbai. MF