Fleeting Fashion

— Sumit Paul

‘Fashion's so ugly that within six months it paves the way for a new fashion,' cheekily opined Irish novelist, Oscar Wilde. Any collective trend that comes with a bang and goes with a whimper is fashion. In a nutshell, fashion is a fad and no fad is ever permanent. During the Renaissance of Europe, it was a prevalent fashion for women to shave off their eyebrows. La Gioconda (better known as Monalisa by Vinci) didn't have eyebrows!! You won't even like to imagine how weird a woman can look sans eyebrows. Andrew Marvel, John Donne and European poets of that era wrote exquisite poems on their beautiful women's eyes without 'black signature' (Charles Baudelaire called eyebrows, a woman's 'black signature'). The turbulent sixties and the early seventies were marked by colourful shirts with printed flowers and long hair, popularised by the 'flower generation' or the Hippie culture of that time. Who wears those shockingly colourful shirts any longer? Every era, every period and every decade has its own fashion that becomes horse and buggy the moment a new fashion emerges on the horizon. Can you ever think of wearing bell-bottoms and cleaning the roads the way fashionable youth did in the seventies? The very thought can make you shudder and cringe with utter embarrassment. The very big ear-rings resembling shining wheels are obsolete. Yesterday's big fashionable vanity bags have become today's sleek clutches. Glossy big goggles of the late 60s and 70s have paved the way for spectacles that have shockingly colourful frames. Just a few days ago, I saw a father and daughter duo at a mall in Poona. The girl may have been in her early twenties. She was wearing glasses that had frame of red colour. It was crimson red. Her father's frame was yellow-coloured and it was shining like a signal. Both were trying to prove a point in fashion's frivolous vicissitudes. But I'm sure, this garish fashion of glasses will soon fizzle out and something new will emerge. The fashion of tattoos, that was in vogue until a couple of years back, is fast fading. It was known as 'godna gudwana' in rustic Hindi and is still prevalent in the tribal culture of Bastar and Gond in Central India. It's worthwhile to mention that 'Gondwana' region gave the word 'godna' to Hindi.

Tongue-piercing and navel-piercing met the same fate and hardly anyone goes for it nowadays. Eyebrow-piercing also petered out. Amir Khan's goatee was followed by his die-hard fans but now you hardly see anyone with a goatee. Short kurtas and loose pyjamas were very popular a few years ago. Now even maids refuse to take them. But fashion doesn't always manifest itself ultra-visually like the aforementioned manifestations. It has subtle dimensions as well.

There was a time, when writing a letter with a gold-nibbed Parker-51 or Monte-Blanc was a fashion, afforded by only the elites and the affluents. But in this age of internet and SMS, writing with a pen, however costly it may be, has become out of fashion. Today, not carrying a pen is a fashion. If you carry a pen, chances are that you could be called an anachronism by your uber-advanced peers. I doubt, a few years down the line, a pen will become a veritable rarity and people will get to see it only in museums and history books!!

Reading and buying a book was a fashion once upon a time. It's distinctly out of fashion nowadays. Bookshops are closing down their business and swanky malls are coming up there. In one year, Poona, Bombay and Bangalore's 14 very famous bookshops were closed for want of readers and buyers. There was a time, when cerebral lovers used to exchange books along with furtive glances. Alas! there're no cerebral lovers and no intellectual pastimes any longer! Poor books have gone out of fashion.

Fashion reflects and represents the prevalent genius, needs and the moods of the times. Trans Auxinian women of Central Asia at the time of Timur and Changhez Khan had very short hair. It remained in vogue for close to three centuries and the reason was that the invaders on the horseback used to hold women by their long tresses. When Muslims invaded Spain and captured a big chunk of it, even the Christian women, began to don short hair. It became a fashion without knowing the root cause of it. Fashion mirrors the prevalent time. Using four-letter words and conversing in Bambaiya Hindi have also become a fashion. Karela-turela are the coolest words as these terms are the most in-thing, defining a new age fashion in conversation and modern lingo. Calling anyone dude or by name is also a fashion. No one feels bad or slighted. Those who feel bad, sulk in solitude! Eating pasta and burger is fashion. Drinking coffee is cool. It's in vogue. It's fashion. Armani rightly said, 'Most of the times, it's ostentation that's mistaken for fashion'. And this encapsulates the whole caboodle, we call fashion.

About the Author
Sumit Paul is a Poona-based advanced research student of Semitic languages and civilizations. He contributes to world's premier publications and portals in several languages, viz, Persian, Arabic, Turkish, Urdu, French, Spanish, Dutch, Hindi, English among others.

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