Friday, May 24, 2019

Bold new men

Men’s fashion has moved from conventional to bold, and even quirky, thanks to stars like Ranveer Singh, who are redefining the rules of style18 May 2019 | 10:12 AM

At a recent outing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the US attended by many Hollywood and showbiz biggies, the men too were in sync with the ‘Camp’ theme of the evening.

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Purnima Sharma

At a recent outing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the US attended by many Hollywood and showbiz biggies, the men too were in sync with the ‘Camp’ theme of the evening. And they sure seemed to be enjoying scaling unconventional heights in fashion with heels, painted nails and sheer tops…. 

The Indian representative at the event, Deepika Padukone (yes, Priyanka Chopra was there too), confessed that her husband with his “crazy style of dressing” would have been a perfect fit there. Sure enough, Ranveer Singh is one guy who, ever since he came blazing into Bollywood almost a decade ago has been pushing conventional fashion boundaries. And in response to Deepika’s statement, many called him India’s King of Camp.

As fashion designer Rohit Gandhi  who, with Rahul Khanna, has been designing for Ranveer for many years, says, “He’s our muse. What stands out about him is the way he enjoys wearing lines that are not just stylish but also quintessentially and unapologetically quirky, flaunting them with panache and flamboyance. He’s like a baby who gets excited with anything that’s different.” Many of their clients, inspired by the star’s style, walk in with clippings insisting they’d like outfits like Ranveer’s for themselves. “We, of course, tone it down to suit their body type and personality but yes, the change Ranveer brought into men’s fashion silhouettes is historical,” asserts Gandhi.

Sure enough, from bold floral prints to suits with prints of film posters, night-gown over a funky T-shirt, and even a skirt — Ranveer’s rocked in them all. No wonder now, in almost any given group of young men, you’re sure to catch quite a few free-spirited ones flaunting unconventional hues and styles. 

“They were there earlier too, but those that were bold enough to break the conventional norm would become a butt of ridicule,” says Zaid Ahmed aka Adam, a businessman, who despite the sniggers he gets for his outfits, has always followed his heart’s calling. 

Remember Benjamin Franklin’s famous one-liner — ‘Eat to please thyself, but dress to please others’. However, the idea of dressing for others does not necessarily seem to be in sync with the millennial mindset. 

“What’s the point in always trying to fit in when you have a mind of your own?” adds footwear designer Jeetinder Sandhu, who calls himself fortunate he was allowed to do his own thing from his early years. But whether or not his dressing style was considered ‘acceptable’ is a point he’d rather not mull over. “To each his own,” he shrugs nonchalantly. And like both Adam and Sandhu insist, fashion is not just for women. 

The Ranveer Singh effect

Societal norms, many of those spoken to, insist is what has prevented men to enjoy the world of couture. Getting into a pair of trousers coupled with a tee or a shirt on a regular day or a formal suit on a special occasion and they were good to go. Concessions were made for sherwanis, trendy kurtas coupled with a stole — all within a certain fixed parameters.

And so it was until Ranveer Singh came along offering myriad fashion choices. The quirkier his outfit, louder was the applause. The fashion police, after the initial frowns, too quietened down. “That’s because Ranveer’s look and panache nailed it. And his attitude paved the way for those who believe there’s more to men’s couture than silhouettes in blacks, greys and blues that were perceived to be the ‘macho’ colours,” says Pushkal Prasad, who runs a blog with a focus on men’s fashion. “The responses I get on it reveal that men would like to be more expressive in their fashion choices. And fortunately they are getting to do so now, with the realisation that colours like pinks, purples and yellows have nothing to do with machismo,” smiles the Coimbatore-based 21-year-old.

Says Adam, “For how long can you continue to wear the same old colours and styles?” Although the 33-year-old confesses to being fond of blacks and blues, he also enjoys donning other colours. “Be it banana yellow or carrot red, I am constantly looking forward to explore new boundaries in fashion,” Adam adds and laughs recalling the time he walked into a night club wearing one of his blingiest dark glasses and a leather jacket (“similar to the ‘Shahenshah’ one”) complete with metal embellishments.

“The reactions were hilarious. Many did a double take on seeing me but soon many, especially  guys, started flooding me with compliments.” 

Appreciation is what Sandhu’s selection of prints has always garnered. “And it was my father who indulged this passion of mine, especially when he was based in Nigeria, a place famous for its big and bright prints. I’d get reams of some of the most amazing fabrics to create silhouettes like jumpsuits for myself,” he smiles.

With boundaries between fashion for men and that for women slowly getting blurred, the need to get rid of the mindset that associates colours with masculinity and femininity is being asserted. “The dynamics are being defined afresh,” says Simmi Waraich, Chandigarh-based psychiatrist. “With the world becoming closer and people following film and rock stars almost on a minute-to-minute basis, they feel it’s fine to dress up the way they want to and follow trends they’re comfortable with.” 

The social media, according to her, has been responsible for this change. “Youngsters today are seeing great changes and want to be that change. And the appreciation that comes in almost instantaneously from their followers on the social media gives them the boost that they’re on the right page.” And worth emulating too. 

Bold new menJeetinder Sandhu (left) and Zaid Ahmed aka Adam
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