These days, if you want to see a beautiful fashion show, go to a museum. Museums around the world have done an admirable job of modernizing themselves by giving fashion, which is often seen as frivolous by the outside world, a nod of gravity. Became of interest to followers of the culture. Warehouses of curios and serious art also make fundraising possible, with big-money celebrities flocking to dark halls dressed in couture and shuttering his bugs. Like the Met Ball, the annual fundraiser hosted by American Vogue each summer raises money for the New York Museum of Art’s costume department. It is now called the Oscars of the East Coast because so many bright movie stars attend. Queen of Eyeballs, Kim Kardashian delights the world every year. She sometimes wears Marilyn Monroe’s original “Happy Birthday Mr. President” dress, or she wears an instantly recognizable Balenciaga sheath from head to toe. The most popular political party in the world.
A high-end fashion crowd gathered at the famous Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA) in Delhi last weekend. KNMA, a fine private museum of South Asian contemporary art, has already celebrated his 15th anniversary of one of his “unseen” fashion heroes. Diminutive designer Rimjim Dadu is a recluse. She finds it ironic that she puts herself in fashion despite her “social unrest”, but thank God she is. I think it’s unfair. Her clothes are truly works of art in that they twist, turn, and tweak the strings to create surface textures. This kind of fabric manipulation is her leitmotif and is very difficult to do. It’s also pretty hard to copy. Her redesigned fabrics are a bridge between premium and couture, but I really wanted to wear every piece I saw on every outing. Why bother showing up?
For Dadu, fashion is art, not clothes. At KNMA, guests are ushered into a room where finished products are displayed on mannequins with close-ups. One wall showed rejected swatches, as if to show how difficult it was to bring the finished product to life. At one end, three craftsmen sat at their machines displaying how the work was done and happily answering questions from curious guests.
That said, her “museum-worthy” creations are perfectly spot-on fashion-wise: a square collage silver shift dress that’s perfect for a disco night look. The black and white lehenga set featured graphic codework. They were equally easy to wear to weddings and cocktails.Some jackets were matched with stylish bikini sets.Menswear was correspondingly elegant. And yes, she had plenty of Bollywood glow with Tara Suthalia and Quran actor Vijay Varma walking for her, along with artists like Manisha Gera, Viva Galhotra and GR Irunna Dadu showed off a leather patra and experimented with zari made from origami, silicone, steel, chiffon and hair-thin strings.
Museums and art galleries are stepping stones into the world of style. The National Museum showcases a vast collection of Indian textiles and embroidery, each piece being a collaboration with a designer. A retrospective of fiber artist Nelly Sethna (weaver, textile designer and craft champion) owned by philanthropist Dr Pheroza Godrej.
Dadu says that fashion and art are two sides of the same coin and he is delighted to be at the confluence. I realized that the two worlds were connected by the same thread: the pursuit of beauty and an homage to memory. Their collusion is a win for both.