Indira Gandhi, 19.11.1917-31.10.1984.
When I was a schoolgirl in Delhi, our school was called upon to be part of the welcome for the visiting Soviet leader – we are probably part of some long lost Films Division footage of bright schoolchildren waving flags:) Then and now Indira Gandhi is a polarising figure and her legacy much debated. But to a small me back then, the waving smiling Prime Minister instilled a dim awareness that when I grew up much was possible in this world. Even for girls.
When you grow up you realise that things are far more complicated and not every female role model is perfect. Still even today that feeling of a young child looking at a powerful leader and thinking, “ like me she was once a little girl” is not all that common. On this day here is to that feeling and the hope that some day it will be commonplace.
Turning to her sartorial style, while Indian royalty and cinema are usually cited as influences on Indian fashion, Indira Gandhi’s style was equally influential and in many ways still provides a template for serious dressing akin to the business suit. The style owes much to the freedom movement and as can be seen in today’s photographs. Mrs. Gandhi stuck to this template throughout her life with small shifts with each decade. The saris draw on India’s handlooms and are usually natural fibre and in neutral or earth colours. The blouse is simple and matched and the jewellery minimal. It is a no-fuss, elegant look that can be further dressed up or down as required and is at home everywhere.
The pics are from the 1940s through to the 1980s. Pic 1 from photodivision, the rest from Getty Images.