Experimental Fashion

The Asian Age.  | Namrata Srivastava

Life, Fashion

This theme and its spectacular red carpet parade is set to be one of the museum’s most ambitious events and will be launched on May 7, 2018.

The fashion collection from the ace American designer Jeremy Scott being modelled during a fashion week.

Indian fashion designers react to the news that one of fashion’s biggest extravaganza, the Met Gala, has chosen ‘Fashion and Religion’ as its 2018 theme.

The annual fashion exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute or the Met Gala is possibly the biggest fashion night out of our times. Reportedly, the theme of next year’s blockbuster exhibition is ‘Fashion and Religion’. This theme and its spectacular red carpet parade is set to be one of the museum’s most ambitious events and will be launched on May 7, 2018.

Historically, fashion and religion have had an uneasy relationship, with some nasty clashes of religious values with regards to fashion and the use of religious iconography. Some time ago, Versace was forced to retire a T-shirt in Italy that bore the sentence, ‘the devil made me do it’. Many designers, including Jean Paul Gaultier, and Jeremy Scott have also referenced religion in their collections over the years and faced backlash for the same.

A Dolce & Gabbana collection

Star designer Nivedita Saboo feels that the theme is not meant to offend anyone’s sentiments. “It’s a very interesting yet delicate theme that the Met has put forward. When fashion and religion come together, there is a very thin line between art and sartorial gimmick. However, we need to keep our religious sentiments aside and allow the quirky elements of fashion to take centre stage at the Gala,” she opines, adding, “You can have fun with fashion coupled with creative freedom and still be graceful at the same time.”

In fact, Dolce & Gabbana have been using Catholic references for years. One of their recent collections was inspired partially by priests while another had the Madonna emblazoned onto clothes; rosary beads and necklaces were used as well. Expectedly, all these religious references have put D&G on a direct collision course with the Catholic Church in Italy on many occasions.

A model walks the ramp in Jean Paul Gaultier collection

So do such themes curb the creativity of the designers? Designer Nachiket Barve, whose recent collection Theia is inspired by Greek and Roman Goddesses like Aphrodite, Gaia, Artemis and Athena, thinks that this theme certainly demands much more attention to detail than usual. “Nowadays, everything you do offends someone or the other. So, if we decide to use cultural symbols or iconography of a deity, some people might take offence,” says Nachiket, adding, “A designer needs to be much more responsible while dealing with such subjects and a 100 per cent creative liberty is not possible.”

Ace designer Nikhil Thampi, who has designed for stars like Tamannaah, Jacqueline Fernandez and Bhumi Pednekar, agrees with Nachiket and adds, “Indians are sentimental people and so many religious controversies keep happening every now and then. In such a nation, designing something on the theme ‘fashion and religion’ can be controversial if the subject is not handled very delicately.” Nikhil says designers need to handle such themes with a lot of diplomacy. “Rather than putting the icon of a deity, designers should play around with symbols. They can also play with colours, which are crucial in our religion,” he adds.

Nivedita Saboo

Explaining how designers can experiment with silhouettes and symbols, celebrity designer Rocky S says, “Experimental fashion is at its peak now and it will be interesting to see how people find a balance and make a statement in terms of fashion, religion and their own personal style. The Met Gala always has themes that are fun and quirky and people should take it the same way."

With designers ready to face the challenge, seems like next year’s Met Gala will prove to be very interesting indeed.