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The plastic show: Vinyl voyage

Published : Sep 24, 2016, 11:22 pm IST
Updated : Sep 24, 2016, 11:22 pm IST

This fall, designers have zeroed in on one word: plastics. More specifically, PVC or vinyl through a variety of looks.

(Clockwise) Creations from Valentino and Lacoste.
 (Clockwise) Creations from Valentino and Lacoste.

This fall, designers have zeroed in on one word: plastics. More specifically, PVC or vinyl through a variety of looks.

Vinyl, like many other great inventions, was discovered accidentally. In 1926, a scientist working for BF Goodrich, Waldo L. Semon, created different compounds while trying to form a synthetic rubber. At first, he thought that the rubbery gel that he had created would work as a bonding agent to adhere rubber to metal, however, through further experimentation, he found out that he had invented a highly versatile plasticised vinyl that, in the 21st century has thousands of uses.

Astonished by the versatility, Waldo, later on, applied the gel to curtains and hence world’s first waterproof vinyl-coated shower curtain came into being. Soon, vinyl was adapted to umbrella and raincoat fabrics for its waterproof properties. During World War II, it was turned to wartime use but it wasn’t until the 1960s that vinyl became a fashion commodity.

“André Courréges, one of the most influential fashion pioneers who claimed to have invented the miniskirt, made vinyl fashionable through his miniskirts, helmets, A-line dresses and suits. Pierre Cardin and Paco Rabanne, noted for their modern and futuristic looks, seized upon the high-tech look of these fabrics and followed Andre in welcoming the fabric to the world of fashion. Modern clean-line geometric shapes characterised their designs, and outfits were cut to suggest geometric forms, boxy with hard edges, angular, straight or circular in shape. It was the beginning of a new reign that was packed with creative vision of architectural shapes rather than fluid draped lines,” shares designer Pallavi Mohan of Not So Serious.

“By the 1960s people were ready to have fun with fashion and they leaned towards clothes that reflected the radical social change of that decade. Vinyl-coated fabrics not only gave a new surface appeal but lent a modern structural look to consumers,” she adds.

Vinyl’s lush shiny property also attracted the likes of trendy English designer Mary Quant among others. The much-popularised look: miniskirt with high vinyl boots, and shoulder bags is all courtesy to her. She penetrated the youth by using vinyl-coated fabrics to create what was called the ‘wet look’ not just in raincoats but in tight miniskirts and dresses as well.

Vinyl can be produced in almost any colour or can be crystal clear, says designer Ridhima Bhasin. “From mauve and shocking pink to electro furs, couture reds and gold, you have myrid options when it comes to the colour palette. However, the only downside of vinyl for cloth is that it does not ‘breathe’. Wearing a beautiful coat, or any other article of vinyl clothing, can become quite uncomfortable as the body keeps heating and moisture gets trapped next to the skin. But if you are a true-blood fashionista, go for it. Sky is pretty much the limit while styling them. The point is to challenge conventions and break rules, while looking seductive and sophisticated. Keep it simple, but sharp: if in doubt, just wear monochrome. Nothing says modern more than a flash of glossy black vinyl, a graphic jacket, and stomping boots,” she suggests.