There was a time when our fashion designers used to do theatrics on the fashion runway. You know, the kind of outlandish stuff that made people say that what designers show on the fashion runway is totally unwearable.
Talking about outlandish creations, western runways, especially Paris, are no strangers to such kind of creations that send shockwaves through the audience. How it works there is that designers shock the audience and the media and that way brand recall is created. What John Galliano shows at the Dior presentation is a classic example to this.
He makes such powerful statements through his theatrics on the runway and the same is percolated down to the memories of his clients. And at Dior boutiques, when one walks in, all one see is totally wearable, exquisite creations.
Martin Margiela once made his models step into a bowl of red paint wearing socks and then walk on stark white fabric covered fashion runway, leaving their bloody footprints all over it. Those who know Margiela would know that what he actually makes is nowhere close to his presentation style in comparison.
Back in India, I must say that designers who attempted theatrics on the runway have not been that innovative. Nor did they succeed in creating a brand recall that translated into business. The reason for this was that, when they attempted theatrics about 15 or 18 years ago, fashion was only developing in India.
People, even in such big cities as Delhi and Bombay, looked at designer fashion with skepticism as they thought what circus fashion designers did on the runway was actually designer fashion. It was only much later that designers stopped doing theatrics at fashion shows and started making clothes that are wearable and then showing the same at catwalks.
This happened mainly when fashion weeks started in India more than a decade ago. Solo shows where designers did drama came to a grinding halt as they realized that with much less cost they can get the same attention at fashion weeks. And fashion weeks being commercial platforms insisted that designers show commercially viable clothes on their runways.
That was the death of theatrics at fashion presentations. What was surprising was that with the beginning of Couture Week, where such theatrics are officially ‘allowed’, designers seem to be reluctant to go for it even as the industry opened up over the years. People are aware of fashion and elements of drama that come with it now. But still designers seem to be wary of something that may ‘scare’ people. Perhaps on platforms such as Couture Week, they should let their creativity flow free, only then it can become what it’s known well for… theatrics!