Friday, September 15, 2006

A History of the Indian Invasion

2003 - It was the year I was an MBA student at AIM, where 70% of my classmates were Indians. Come International Week and the Deepawali Festival, they would all be dressed up in their native costumes. While the girls were decked out in their beautiful saris, I was drawn to the men's pants that reminded me of MC Hammer! I loved how the fabric would taper down to the ankles and stay there scrunched haphazardly. After some probing I found out that these pants were called churidars. (Fabindia defines churidars as "a traditional style of Indian drawstring pants which are loose fitting on the top and have extra fabric which gathers at the ankle as the cut narrows at the bottom".) Matched with a long kurta and Indian leather sandals, the look was something pretty enough to wear for girls! Fascinated by their outfits, my friends and I charmed our classmates into getting us those kurtas, plus pashmina shawls and punjabi juttis everytime they would go home for the holidays (Thanks Rahul, Kris and Sourabh!) . But churidars remained elusive. Nevertheless, lucky us! The dawn of the Indian invasion was approaching!

2004 - The boho looked sprung at the scene. Tunics and kurtas were slowly gaining a foothold. Designers like Tory Burch capitalized on the look and came out with kaftans streaked with antique rhinestones and terry cloth tunics that looked more "Old Rich" (in Palm Beach) than "New Delhi".

2005 - Boho evolved into luxe boho and tunics and kurtas never left, cementing its stay when mass retailers made it a staple in their collections. Greenhills and the local bazaars were deluged with all things Indian and Indian-inspired.

2006 - in the flippant world of fashion, the boho look was was replaced by the more polished looks of womanly dressing marked by cinched waists, form fitting silhouettes, sky high platforms and pared down minimalism. A reinvigorated interest in Edie Sedgwick (the 60's poster girl for youth culture and the subject of a movie starring style icon Sienna Miller) ushered in the upcoming mod look. Boho was the old kid on the block.

2007 - Just when we thought boho was to be permanently banned from our closets, "Bombaystic" pieces sneak up on us yet again for S/S '07. Vera Wang comes out with stylized churidars for our bottoms...

The inspiration

(On a side note: Maybe this was the same inspiration for Kate and Sienna's "scrunched-up-at-the-ankles" skinny jeans look in 2004?)

The revision from Vera Wang S/S '07

...while Tory Burch relaunches the tops by looking back to her roots and coming out with updated kurtas.

The inspiration

The revision from Tory Burch S/S '07

(photos courtesy of, and

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