The Sari Etc. – 1991-2000
I am not in the least bit a fan of the 90s + its not exactly vintage. For the sake of completion of the series though I will compress everything into a single post.
It is kind of hard to say exactly what stamp the decade left on fashion except that “globalisation/liberalisation” happened. And we suddenly had a number of beauty pageant wins. There were a whole lot of foreign influences – especially via TV – but the effect on fashion was more 1980s than the indifferent pared down 1990s. Kurtas had shoulder pads and puffy sleeves. The skirt part of the kurta was often voluminous – luckily I couldn’t locate a pic of kurtas with numerous alternating panels that were popular in the 90s.
Pink and green saris (on Sridevi) were quite the thing starting with the tail end of the 80s. Variations of it pop up all the time in the 90s (X, X, X). And there were the film inspired fashions like the HAHK purple sari on Madhuri, ghosts of which live on today. By the end of the decade, it was also time for the Manish Malhotra era of skimpy lace blouses and flimsy saris, as seen in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. I can’t think of too much experimentation with the sari but pic 3 (R) suggests that someone thought marrying the sari to 1980s power dressing was a good idea.
Hair was also big in keeping with the 1980s throwback. And embroidery like on Madhuri’s blouse for Raja was ubiquitous and it’s larger motifs a bit puzzling given Indian gold embroidery tends to be intricate and maheen (refined). It’s also hard to find simple bindis, the stick-on revolution meant a lot of colour, gold and elaborate designs for bindis.
Manish Malhotra was also responsible for two other trends – the NRI Punjabi fashions of DDLJ – this was the decade of the NRI in many ways – and the toned yuppie fashions of DTPH that involved a good deal of aerobics gear.
A lot of this died away with the new century but that last pic – the fashions have moved on but the influence of the fashions in the 3 panels remain.
The retro movie of the 90s was 1942: A Love Story. It’s fantasy 1942 so a fidelity to the period is not required. All it needed to do was prettily evoke an imagined pre-Independence India, which it did (the costume designer was Bhanu Athaiya). So for Rajjo it is lace edged saris and blouses, salwar-kameez & ribbons (though I can’t help thinking 1942 = hair down, not tied up with ribbons like the 50s). For Naren, initially an Anglophile, it’s western attire including suspenders and a tweed cap (what no fedoras or trilbies?!).
Mississippi Masala is probably not the first film dealing with India’s diaspora (in the movie’s case a double diaspora) but one amongst a clutch of much discussed diaspora films of the 1990s (X, X). It is also well documented on tumblr so the images are a bit superfluous. Except to say that Mina’s wardrobe is very much 1980s influenced “ethnic chic”, kind of a Gurjari in Greenwood aesthetic. With a dash of Janpath market (pic 3). It combines this with 1990s American fashions (that denim…) and a nod to Africa in some of the prints Mina’s parents wear as well as the African wax print furnishings in Mina’s room (pic 5).
More pics at link.