Book Review: Contemporary Indian Fashion

Thanks to globalization and India’s emergence as an economic powerhouse in the last decade, the latest bout of Western infatuation with all things Indian is arguably the most intense it has been since the heady days of British colonialism. There has been a a recent artistic renaissance, coupled with a steady increase in both interest and export. First it was a small curiosity about Bollywood films, solidified by Slumdog Millionaire, followed by the wild success of Indian contemporary art in the last five years. It is no wonder that the next area of focus would be fashion. Contemporary Indian Fashion, edited by Federico Rocca, is a visually stunning and well-curated coffee-table book featuring 24 leading young designers working out of India. They not only represent the here-and-now of Indian fashion, but its future as well.

This is, essentially, a picture book. Made up of 6 to 12 page spreads, the work of each designer is showcased along with a very short rundown of their background and an interview. All of the clothes are wonderful to look at, and I found myself flipping through it again and again, as I would a really great magazine. Each spread nicely balances editorial flourishes, pages featuring multiple looks from a collection, and several detail shots. In the case of Indian fashion, the prominence of the detail shot is absolutely essential due to the meticulous details of the clothes themselves.

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WORN Cinema Society: Hair India

Hair India presents what can arguably be called the uglier side of the beauty industry. Directed by Raffaele Brunetti and Marco Leopardi, the film shows the extreme differences between India’s richest and poorest, and the roles both play in the obtaining and selling of one of the most popular recent accessories: hair extensions.

The film follows a young girl named Gita and her family living in West Bengal. Having no other material possessions to donate to their temple, they plan on collectively shaving their heads and sacrificing their hair, a common ritual where they live. In a culture where a woman’s beauty is so highly regarded, the act of giving up one’s hair is not a simple decision. Meanwhile in Bombay we meet Sangeeta (pictured above), the editor of a gossip magazine who busies herself with such tasks like finding a professional palm reader to dish on the personal lives of major Indian celebrities. While looking for a new hairstyle before a huge party, Sangeeta turns to hair extensions.
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