counterfashion 3- indian brands for real people

Devis, today I type with an index finger that looks vaguely gangrenous, because I cast my first vote and because sloppy application of indelible ink! Armydaddy meant our family couldn’t vote, only eye people’s inked fingers wistfully. So I feel all growed up and important. I think I may have danced a little bit near the EVM and been a total social embarrassment to Husband. I also celebrated my voterness with two packets of chips and half a pizza. Voting AND helping the economy. I’m truly a Model Citizen.

But I digress. Let’s do Counterfashion 3, because pending. 

6. Bodice

I like to think I’m beyond ugly emotions like jealousy, because of a kindergarten incident that scarred me for life (it involved a pretty, popular girl, a bully and real, bodily comeuppance). And because of an abridged Othello I read at seven. It was illustrated, so I drew horns, a bindi, and snot on Othello’s face. I picked the good side early on.

But I didn’t know I’d be tested sorely; when Ruchika Sachdeva hit the mags with her sharp, confident, androgynous tailoring, her old Dutch portrait-meets-Japanese streetwear-meets vintage Americana aesthetic and her beautiful, immobile face, I was all “Damn, I’m so JELLY!” This girl’s approximately my age and whip smart to boot. Suddenly, I saw how pathetically skimpy my talents looked before hers, and I felt so VULNY. (I’m hoping you notice how cool and with it my lingo is. How fly. How swag. Are you jelly now? I’m sorry if you are.)

Bodice could be worn by a witch who needs to mingle with humans but doesn’t know how, or by a woman attending a tea party that involves tea leaf reading afterward, or by a nun on the run, or by the women in Sophia Coppola movies. The clothes reveal little, prettying you up with layers and sheer overlays. You need to be able to master them, because they’re not easy to wear. I own two pieces I saved up a lot for. With prices starting at seven to eight thou, you’re in for much heartbreak if you’re crushing on a garment you’ve spotted online or in a magazine. Slow clap, Ruchika Sachdeva. One day, I will buy off all your garments and your charming little store in the Village and all of your fashionably aloof shop assistants and then we’ll see who’s everybody’s favourite.

Bodice images via fdci.org and the Bombay Electric Facebook page-

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Where to haunt Bodice– Hauz Khas Village

What I mostly buy– Very little. Though Bodice is 100% investment-worthy, it’s also expensive. I own a military green button-down top (with sheer clavicle-panels) and the second dress from the top. Both set me back by sixteen grand (phew!)

Similar Delhi-based brands I love– Bodice is unique, though Zingrin (of Khan Market and GK M Block fame) does stock a very similar aesthetic at pocket-friendly prices.

PS: My favorite Bodice-wearing Famous Persons are Alia Bhatt (Highway promotion tour) and Kalki Koechlin (Grazia spread). Don’t they look lovely in their tops.

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bodice kalki

7. Pero

I ‘met’ Pero entirely by accident. There was a sweet guy at work, a sardar who smiled a lot and sold atta (flour) same as I sold ketchup. On an aside, thank you, HUL Foods, for all the fun, interesting and entirely nice people you threw my way. (Looking at you Y, Irascible Red-Head Secy to the Cat Head, refusing to book me on IndiGo because “Kingfisher better hai, miles milenge na!” So much for cost cutting.)

But back to this atta sardaar. One day, in a friendly chat about career options and How Marketing Sucks Sometimes, he mentioned that his sister, a certain Aneeth Arora, NID alum and talent powerhouse, was planning to launch a label called Pero. Aneeth wasn’t a newbie then; she had already earned her share of raised eyebrows and hushed whispers for refusing to play by the bling-o-meter. Her garments referenced rickshaw-wallah’s gamchas and the checked lungis beloved of Mussalmaans, and they looked rough-hewn and fragile at the same time. She used a lot of cotton, linen and mul, and smothered her models in layer upon beautiful layer, till they looked like they’d been born in these clothes to toil in cotton fields, and done, fly into the sky, trailing unspooled dhaaga (thread) in their wake.

In Marwari, Pero means ‘to wear’, but in Fashionese, it means Effing Brilliant. Aneeth’s aesthetic is unapologetically intelligent. Her woman dresses for herself and not for the male gaze. Her clothes are not for those who like their garments to turn heads; they’re for people who like their clothes to be second skin- indispensable and unpretentious. She could’ve done a great job of styling 12 Years A Slave, with its profusion of bare bones cotton sundresses. I love that her recent work includes a lot of pretty, sheer detailing, and I’m always up for a nice long ogle at her section in Ogaan. If Sachdeva’s Bodice is a haiku, Aneeth’s Pero is a love ballad. It’s poetry in cotton.

These are some of my favourite looks-

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Where to haunt Pero– Ogaan at Hauz Khas Village
What I mostly buy– Sob! I haven’t been able to score anything yet, because amazingness doesn’t come cheap. But some day!
Similar Delhi-based brands I love– None. Pero’s unique and any replicas will end up looking sorry and raggedy and…well…terrible. It’s not easy to work with plain jane cotton.

Phew. That took long! You’d think blogging was easy, but it’s taken me two hours to do this. Two hours! There’s more to follow though, after the weekend’s over. 🙂

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