Did the White House Crashers put Bollywood Fashion on the Map?
Hollywood has always inspired fashion, and that is a given. Ryan Gosling’s rugged bearded look in ‘The Notebook’ almost single-handedly blew up the disturbing metrosexuality trend up until 2004. And later, the vampire romance ‘Twilight’ got its young audiences caught up in a whirlwind of drab color, pale skin and adhesive slacks. But the year 2008 was a happier one for film-inspired fashion. Bollywood fashion caught on with the hit British-Indian movie ‘Slumdog Millionaire’, and people could barely help but sit up and take notice of the overwhelming color and heat that Indian fashion promised.
The Bollywood fashion phenomenon, the movie star Freida Pinto, only appears towards the end of the movie. Playing the chattel that she does (doesn’t really have much room to operate), displays India’s eye-catching fashion offerings. But something about the scene where she stands there at the railroad platform, hope in her eyes, looking for her hero to come rescue her, made her unfashionable-looking yellow-gold kurta quite the sensation. The closing dance sequence with a thousand extras dancing their lehengas and sarees off, primed audiences leaving the theaters to look forward to more.
The year 2009 put Bollywood fashion in the spotlight again when the Prime Minister of India made a state visit to Washington. All kinds of celebrities from politics and entertainment showed up, mostly decked out in Indian fashion, even the first lady, donning a stunning strapless dress by the Bollywood fashion designer Naeem Khan.
But none of that really made the news and put Bollywood fashion in the spotlight the way the attention-seeking, reality TV wannabe/White House gatecrasher Michaele Salahi did. The White House gala crasher, dressed for the part in a bright red Indian lehenga, draping herself (and her fashionable lehenga) over every available political heavyweight in sight, the president and the vice president included. She got everyone’s attention the way not even the Indian Prime Minister could. Her daring escapade certainly got her the attention she wanted, but the spin off was that Bollywood fashion certainly got a boost that night.
Searches on Google in America and Europe looking for Indian and Bollywood fashion staples – the kurti, choli, chudidhar and the saree really peaked right after that event. Now we know why. These were really turning up at New Year parties across the country on New Year’s Day.
There are Bollywood movies showing at mainstream theaters in major cities across America these days and people come and look at these bright designs swirling in veritable kaleidoscopes of color on the screen that they would really like to get their hands on. But no one really knows what they are called, where you might really get them, and why the famous names in Indian fashion, Ritu Kumar, Hemant Trivedi and the like, don’t really seem to make the stuff they see in Bollywood movies.
Someone needs to get the word out that fashion designers in India don’t take much interest in traditional Indian fashion any more than European designers take an interest in traditional European clothing. If the ethnic Bollywood fashion statement is what you’re after, you’d find plenty of luck scouring high street stores, the little ones in the Indian sector of your town.