Fashion without compassion

Rachna Singh
Saturday, 9 March 2019

Fashion — the eternal fountainhead of hope and joy. It has kept women plodding on through phrases of stress, patches of the blues and those cycles of losing and gaining weight.

Fashion — the eternal fountainhead of hope and joy. It has kept women plodding on through phrases of stress, patches of the blues and those cycles of losing and gaining weight. Just like those phases, fashion itself has undergone several, inspired by pop culture, political attitudes and the style statements made by movie icons.

Every decade has face-palmed to fashion disasters like the infamous corsets of the 1900s that led to internal organ damage and broken ribs, the white gloves of the 1950s that made women look like limousine chauffeurs, patterned tights of the 1960s that made legs look like they had multiple-skin disorders, the psychedelic patchwork dresses of the hippie ’70s, sweaters-around-the-neck of the 1980s that Rishi Kapoor put around his paunch as he continued to play lover boy in his 40s, the low, very low-rise jeans of the 2000s, and the Hilton girls carrying dogs as accessories, recently.  Lady Gaga wearing meat was the lowest point for me, personally.

I thought that was the nadir. It could not go any lower. Maybe, things would start getting normal now. We would recover and start wearing clothes that covered basic parts of the anatomy, those that did not slip down the waist, and did not spark neurosis in stray dogs.

Alas, that did not happen. What happened, instead was that fashion became noble. Yes, noble. Now, designers want to support a cause to get more eyeballs on their creations. And, when it comes to causes, what can beat good, old cancer?!

As a survivor myself, I am all for it. But, I often get the feeling that most people wanting to support the cause are not really wanting to support the cause. The most-recent one I came across was a women’s clothing line ‘inspired’ by breast cancer. Their social media page says that ‘the collection is inspired by breast cancer, its symptoms, and causes. The inspiration is from the various biological stages of breast cancer such as chromosome mutation, metastasis, lymph node carriers and depicting pink ribbon for breast cancer awareness.’

It made me cringe! Metastasis means that the cancer has spread. It’s a fearful word, often heralding really, really bad times for the warrior and her family. Why should a model walk down the ramp wearing a pink number with embroidered flowers, to commentary like — ‘Look at these beautiful metastatic flowers on this asymmetric panel slip dress in raw silk, shaped like an invasive tumour.’

My horror continued. I spotted a dress that celebrated the ‘mammary cell theme’, then there was one that had sleeves based on the ‘lymph node system’. Nowhere did I find any mention on how this initiative was, specifically, going to help the cause of breast cancer. I guess the designer is hoping that when women see these clothes, they will start searching their souls and making calls to book a mammogram. Well, I don’t start booking a cardiac evaluation the moment I see heart-shaped cushions at the Archies store! Or a urine test on seeing lemonade. This is insane!

We need to stop these people! Where does it go from here? Tumour-shaped earrings? A lovely pendant inspired by inflammatory breast cancer — ‘Columbian emeralds shaped as swollen breasts with gorgeous retracted nipple-shaped gold-encrustation.’  Arrghh!

Best-selling author Rachna Singh (www.rachnasingh.in) is a  sit-down comedienne

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