Dear friends, we’ve kept this close to our hearts for some years now, but when last week, we saw a peach-coloured chiffon floor-sweeper stumbling out of a bar with a young lady in it, we felt obligated to say something. So here goes:
We have a theory about your love for gowns. Around the time cupcakes exploded onto the Indian baked goods scene – we want to say 2009 - so did gowns. Which means for many, you included, the memory of a red velvet bottom and pearl-hued top could mean cake or couture. And since the two are intrinsically linked in your mind and easily interchangeable, the gown must appear to you as delicious as butter cream frosting.
Listen, it’s not.
Now don’t get us wrong. We want to look like treats too. But over the years, a lot of us have stretched this you-are-what-you-eat motto too far, adorning birthday party, wedding and night-out alter egos with ruffles and peplums, long shimmering dresses ending in puddles of fabric on the floor, or worse, swimming to the toes with mermaid tail finishes. Add to that (most) Indian designers and their inability to craft an able gown, and you’ve got yourself a mess with rainbow sprinkles on top.
You’re under some sweet sorcerer’s spell, lady, but if we’ve gotten through to you at all on this hot, hot day, let us forewarn you about winter.
Over the years, a lot of us have stretched this you-are-what-you-eat motto too far, adorning birthday party, wedding and night-out alter egos with ruffles and peplums, long shimmering dresses ending in puddles of fabric on the floor, or worse, swimming to the toes with mermaid tail finishes.
Beware, The Morphing Beast
It’s a little unusual to spot a gown on Indian streets in March-April (unless you’re outside the Zee Cine Awards), because as any good gown slayer knows, the calendar always starts out thin. January has a bit of a hangover from the excess fuss. Summer has little patience for this. Then, as we approach August, those dreaded words appear in gilded letters on Chimanlal paper, and get mailed to you by the dozen. “You are cordially invited to my youngsters’ party. Dress code for women: GOWNS.” Men, the lucky bastards. They get away with everything.
Gowns worn to weddings (not by the bride) are a different beast altogether, and each time you don’t look, they’ve morphed into a new animal. Take what started out as a regular Manish Malhotra black diamanté gown, spun from net, lycra and female striving. It's now something that combines our two worst wedding nightmares: quite simply, it's become the "Anarkali Gown," which has recently compelled many smart women to leave the puckered churidaar at home or swap out the elegance of the sari for poufy dresses and a side-swept head of tonged curls. Quelle horreur! Other latest gown experiments in India include “sari gowns”, kaftan-style gowns and those that come with matching capes.
The Gowns You Might Adopt As Pets
If you must sport an Indian-made maxi – we’re assuming you’ve been invited to an award ceremony (better if you’ve won something) – run like hell through gown town until you reach Sharnita Nandwana’s South Bombay studio. Sharnita’s gowns are delicate (she’s become the go-to seamstress for white wedding brides), beaded with precision, puffed with tulle and hemmed with elegance. Anushka Sharma recently wore a dusty pink flapper style gown by Sharnita to an awards ceremony. With the hem taken up and a pair of flats, you could pull it off too. If you have the patience, track down Neha Malhotra, whose Tardeo embroidery house Rain Tree embellishes gowns for international designers like Erdem and Alexander Wang. If she has the time and finds that your aesthetic matches hers, she will take your order. Prepare your acceptance speech now.
Still not convinced you should drop the G? Here’s what you should do: stick a candle in a cupcake, wear your best/worst gown, blow the candle and wish they’d both disappear – the cake and the couture. Then you’ll appear as you were always meant to this summer – ripped and in your birthday suit.
Image credit: Kamaali Couture.
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