Creatives and their clothing choices

A look at how various creatives around the world, from Mira Nair to Steve Jobs, go about their clothing choices.

WrittenBy:Harkirat Kaur
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In all those years, whenever Steve Jobs walked down the grandstand at every Macworld conference to present a new offering from Apple to the world, there was one thing that stayed unchanged. It was his black turtleneck T-shirt. If one has ever cared to look up for the maniac (let us just call them a genius!) who made Rihanna’s outfit for the last Met ball, they will know what a top dog’s relationship is like with their creative associates, especially fashion designers. These relationships can last for anything between a day to a lifetime depending on the nature of the collaboration, with the right negotiation and emotions involved.


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The world is full of such high profile personalities who make an effort at choosing the right outfit for themselves. Many times guided by their personal taste, they choose a label over and over again, for multiple events back to back, because they feel connected to this second skin that falls on their body as an outfit. A passion like that, where a person wants to be consistent with the design of their everyday outfits, is rare.

While India is still emerging as a country with homegrown labels that have an identity to themselves, a few have found a place in people’s heart. Madhu Sarin, a psychoanalyst, is a sucker for the Indian label, Pero. Meet her on any ordinary day, you will see her in one of the many outfits that she has bought from the label, while she carefully examines her patients. Her run towards backstage to greet the creative director, post-Pero’s recent fashion show, tells a lot about her attachment to anything and everything the label does. 

Jobs’ iconic turtlenecks were a result of his friendship with a Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake, who retired the item from his clothing line after Jobs died in 2011. “I have enough to last for the rest of my life,” said Jobs to his biographer Walter Isaacson and showed him 100 such T-shirts, all neatly stacked up in his closet. Having done trailblazing work in their professions, even a T-shirt coming from them speaks of their shared spirit where they utilised design and technology to create magnificent works of creativity. However, after a couple of month’s of Jobs’ passing away, Miyake’s clothing brand launched an altered style of the black turtleneck, that hoped to remind a lot of Apple fans of Jobs.  

It is a designer’s dream to have a community of people who believe in their work and tirelessly wear clothes designed by them. It takes genuine interest for someone to keep wearing a similar set of clothing every day. Take a note of filmmaker Mira Nair or artists like Dayanita Singh and Princess Pea from the many established Indian Artists, they are all connoisseurs of Pero’s understated essence. It takes years of trust and deep affection from a person with a certain pick for their clothes to come to terms with being called ‘to belong’ to a label.

There aren’t many examples in local Indian fashion scene, where people go out of their way to be wearing a certain brand or label. Perhaps this connect takes place with a label headed by a creative and ideological focus which is very apparent in designer clothing.

But we do fake this designer-wearer alliance by making celebrities wear various labels every other day, giving them the opportunity to be the spokesperson for these labels for the time they are in it. With the advent of social media, it is a foolproof method to have more people indulge in this yearning to wear anything that is special. If not the celebrity himself/herself, let their followers be converted. The high street label Zara does it, Gucci does it and even Pero does it (apart from having real people who wear these varied labels on an everyday basis.) 

Bollywood, that is considered a bandwagon for anything larger than life happening in the country, is rarely seen sporting the same outfit or even repeating a label more than a couple of times. Although, a few practitioners like Konkana Sen Sharma or Tillotama Shome have found their niche in labels like Raw Mango or clothing from Kolkata-based label Maku. Perhaps, it is all a matter of who and what.

Rhea Sharma, a practising fashion designer, told us, “Such relationships that work as collaborations are very interesting. I love learning about shared values between people from different occupations. It is like you are aware of a creative with a fabulous body of work, you believe in their work as much to take their creation partnerships (or wearers) seriously and follow their work as well.”

It is a big world with people with varied emotional tendencies towards what they want to wear. With so many possibilities and labels almost repeating other labels with their ideologies, it often becomes difficult for anyone to make a choice. But we will always come across a handful of those, who despite all the confusion and availability, in a fashion retail space, will walk towards the same corner that has their favourite label on display.

This article was first published in the Patriot.


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