Who is a fashionista? Today, when fashion-savviness is a click of the mouse away, and information is right out there for all to see, what makes a well-dressed woman (or man), a fashionista? Is it knowing about the new ombre lip colour trend or why Emma Watson wowed at Paris Haute Couture Week? Being au courant on the best eco-friendly fashion designers?
The thought came as I recalled a conversation with one of India’s most beloved, famous and (dare I say it) honest fashion designers one evening. He said, when I asked him his opinion on if the Indian woman has come of age, style-wise: “Blindly copying trends doesn’t make one stylish. I would say Indian women will become stylish when they stop copying the west and develop strong style identities of their own, and in what they wear.” Makes sense.
I turned to the Urban Dictionary for its definition of a fashionista. It said, “A term used to define a woman with… a natural flair for combining both current and vintage fashion-able trends.” A fashionista may or may not be linked to the fashion industry, but stylishness is a given.
Yashodhara Shroff, owner of Ffolio, Bangalore’s oldest fashion boutique, has observed Bangalore’s stylish women for decades. “There are a small group of people in Bangalore who regularly follow trends, colour and styles. Then there are Bangalore’s IT people, with their own fashion sense, what I would call the Palo Alto style. The rest fall somewhere in between – their fashion sense is more festive-oriented, focused on weddings and festivals.” Indians have an affinity for colour, so designers like Manish Arora, am:pm and Divyam Mehta sell well, she adds.
It’s hard to forget a true fashioni-sta when you see one, says fashion designer Deepika Govind, known for her strong links to traditional crafts and weaves. She has a microscopic memory for people with strongly developed fashion identities, able to combine unusual fabrics, textures and styles that make them stand apart in a crowd. A woman who favours simple Bihari khadi, another with a yen for stunningly eclectic footwear, a third who colour blocks like a dream – they will make you stop and look, as their styles are perfectly synchronised with their personalities. “Comfort, elegance and a dash of the experimental works best. There are thousands of women in designerwear, carrying branded bags and shoes. You first need to find out who you are, what suits you, and build on it,” she says.
Shroff agrees, adding some fashion dos and don’ts. “White shirts must be white. Always have a black dress in your wardrobe. Wear only what suits your body and personality, don’t be dictated to by latest trends alone.”
“Tweak, accessorise,” advises Govind, whose store also keeps designers who share her sensibilities for the fresh and natural: Rohit Bal, Abraham & Thakore, Rahul Mishra and Pero.
-Ruma Singh (Ruma Singh presents a column on observations, insights and what’s buzzing in the city.m firstname.lastname@example.org)