These days, if you want to see a beautiful fashion show, go to a museum. Museums around the world have done a fantastic job of modernizing by giving a nod to fashion, often considered frivolous by the outside world. In doing so, sacred buildings have made themselves interesting to followers of popular culture. Warehouses of antiques and serious art also provided fundraising, with big-budget celebrities flocking to its dark hallways dressed in couture and followed by photographers. Like the Met Ball, the annual fundraiser held by American Vogue each summer to raise money for the New York Museum’s Costume Department. It is frequented by so many brilliant movie stars that it is now dubbed the East Coast Oscars. Eyeball queen Kim Kardashian shows up to the world’s delight every year, sometimes in Marilyn Monroe’s quirky “Happy Birthday Mr President” dress, or other times in a head-to-toe Balenciaga sheath straight away. recognizable, even while aiming to be invisible to the most visible party in the world.
Last weekend, the best of the fashion crowd descended on the distinguished Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA) in Delhi, a fabulous private museum of contemporary South Asian art, to celebrate 15 years of a another “invisible” fashion hero. Rimzim Dadu, the little designer, is a recluse. She finds it ironic that she’s fashionable despite her “social anxiety,” but thank goodness she is. I think it’s almost unfair to call her a clothing designer. Her clothes are actually works of art in the way she twists, turns and adjusts cords as surface textures. This kind of fabric manipulation has been his leitmotif, and it’s so hard to do; it’s pretty hard to copy too. Its redesigned fabric combines high-end and couture, though I found I’d love to wear every piece I saw on virtually every outing. I mean, if you can’t turn heads, why bother coming?
Fashion is less about clothes than about art for Dadu. At KNMA, guests are welcomed into a room where its finished products are displayed on mannequins up close, even as one wall showed the rejected samples, almost as if showing how difficult it was to get the product. finished. At one end, three craftsmen seated on their machines demonstrated how the work was done and were happy to answer questions from curious guests.
That said, his “museum-worthy” pieces are right on trend. A silver shift dress with a square neckline made for the perfect disco party outfit. A black and white lehenga ensemble featured graphic cord work; one could wear it to a wedding or a cocktail party with equal ease. Some jackets were matched with stylish bikini sets. Men’s clothing was proportionally elegant. And yes, she had a lot of Bollywood glitz with Tara Sutaria and savvy actor Vijay Varma walking for her, as well as artists like Manisha Gera, Vibha Galhotra and GR Iranna. Dadu showed the leather patola, his experiments with origami, silicon, steel, muslin and zari made of hair-thin cords.
Museums and art galleries have become the favorite haunts of the style world. The National Museum exhibits an extensive collection of Indian weavings and embroidery, with each piece being a collaboration with a designer. Last year, Mumbai’s charming Chatterjee & Lal Gallery held a retrospective of textile artist Nelly Sethna (weaver, textile designer and craft champion), curated by the formidable Nancy Adajania and owned by the scholarly philanthropist Dr Pheroza Godrej.
Dadu says fashion and art are two sides of the same coin and is happy to sit at the point of their confluence. The two worlds discovered that they were linked by the same threads: the pursuit of beauty and a tribute to memory. Their collusion is a win for both.