I just love the yesteryears! The previous generation were so stylish that it’s almost incomprehensible. I still fail to understand how they managed to ace every look with precision. Every decade was distinct and could be separated from the others, simply based on fashion trends and styling.
In this part of the world, fashion trends were certainly borrowed from the west, but it also had its uniqueness — for instance the sari. This six-yards of tradition is what separated us from the rest of the world. Nevertheless, with the changing years, even the sari got modified, draping styles changed to give out a very distinct look, and that too without making any compromises on values, beliefs, and traditions.
Following independence from colonial rule in 1947, it was probably the toughest times for the people of this region, and fashion was perhaps the last thing on everyone’s mind. Yet, even in chaos there are fashion nuances and the subcontinent began to develop its own identity in respect to styling.
While some trends enjoyed a shorter life, others sketched a permanent mark in our lives and became classics. These are the styles that we follow to this day — fusing it with all that is in vogue.
She looked dazzling in a cropped blouse and ivory-white vintage sari. He called upon her with fine-looking, hand-tied roses; in his charcoal black tailcoat and a sleek side parting, looking no less than any Hollywood gentleman. Blushing and coy, both hoped for a day out in the sun… greatly optimistic to the future that beckoned them.
This is a decade that was individualistic, and much influenced by the British. This was highlighted by cropped cardigans, ultra slim watches, and minimal jewellery. Women’s waist was in utmost focus, hence belts were the major appeal, whether worn over the sari, or the skirt.
The men in this part of the continent were either wearing khaadi kurtas with dhoti/pyjamas, or custom-made tailcoats with elite lapel pins, largely animal shaped, to exclusive parties. The fashion sense largely depended on one’s own political view.
She was fiddling with the rear window of their Volkswagen in anticipation that her significant other would whisper sweet nothings to cherish their new beginning. In a Kelly-green sari, draped tightly over the blouse and shimmering emeralds, she almost resembled Céladon and he continued to gaze at her boldly; since a moment’s blink would cause him to miss out on the most marvelous mortal sitting right next to him.
The ’60s was slightly special, with a lot of emphasis on heavy jewellery and chiffon saris in a retro drape. The men were set to copy from the west in newsboy caps, and short checkered blazers. This was the era where the streets were brimming with a newfound sense of fashion. The clothes were body hugging, meant for a proper swing dance; the ladies and gentlemen all radiant and chic.
1970s and 1980s
Dancing to the beat of Saturday Night Fever, they were in a trance. The soul influenced disco party did more than just introduce two kindred spirits. It sparked a special flame that promised to resemble the ancient eternal flames.
The ’70s were an era of fun and frolic with a lot of experimentation with colours, extravagant usage of modern prints like polka dots, colourful hair bands, Kennedy hats and Bardot hairstyles, and bell-bottom pants! There’s more — the dead straight hair, psychedelic prints, silk saris and sleeveless blouses; these certainly enclose an era that was modern and hip.
The bohemian era of the ’70s carried forward to the crazy era of the disco, giving way to outsized hoop earrings, crazy bangs and plenty of glitters on tops, shirts and jackets, in both gold and silver. There were also in abundance gigantic floral prints, leather jackets and best of them all, the era of the denim set in motion.
He believed in love at first sight, right when he laid eyes upon her. Her beautiful smile was worth a thousand reincarnations, her raven black hair worth millions. He never knew a love so strong compared to his, especially on that fateful spring afternoon.
This decade saw the advent of organza and tissue in saris and a profusion of floral printed dresses. This time, however, the prints were slightly smaller in size compared to the ’80s. Bell sleeved shalwar kameez and Anarkalis were all the rage for the ladies, whereas the men were seen wearing loose and oversized shirts with jeans. This era marked the birth of grunge, street wear, early athleisure and sneaker culture.
The present and the foreseeable future is all about fusion, futuristic clothes, pant saris, sportswear, crop tops, halter neck blouses, and a lot of skin. The 2000s are more experimental, they are all about boldness and dynamism.
In the last two decades, women are more confident along with men; they dress according to their mood rather than for others and are super confident in their own skin. These people value the classics, yet have a mind of their own to be able to upgrade the styles to their own liking. This means there’s a lot of mixed culture and alternative fashion like grunge, goth, street and punk in the streets. The future is thus all about comfort and personal preferences, rather than styles force-fed by mainstream media.
The romance will stay; love will keep on existing as will the fashion. So, I am really hopeful to a future where my own kids go through an album and cherish the pictures, paying homage to the beauty of our decade as I did of my predecessors. Because styling is perennial, worth every bit of appreciation that it gets!
Models: Ema, Efa, Rabbi, Nahin
Styling: Niharika Momtaz, Zabin Iqbal
Wardrobe & Jewellery : 1972, Niharika Momtaz
Makeup: Farzan Shakil’s Makeover Salon
Location: Durjoy’s Classic Workshop