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The 2021 party dress code is shine but make it brighter

Statement-making, unapologetic sparkle sets the sartorial mood for the festive season

From Falguni Shane Peacock's recent couture collection, 
From Falguni Shane Peacock's recent couture collection,  (Courtesy Falguni Shane Peacock)

It’s time to get out of comfortable tracks and PJs. For the mood for the party season seems to be all about warming up to the uninhibited shine.

Fashion offers a cheering antidote to the pandemic months with its more-is-more spirit. Not surprisingly then, fashionistas are dressing according to mood and state of mind instead of reserving looks and styles for occasions. The mood is to stand out rather than blend in.

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As designer Amit Aggarwal says: “Unapologetic shine will definitely be something we see served through many looks. I believe we will let fashion show its extroverted side in the coming season.”

Mix it up

Internationally, Burberry’s chainmail dresses and Halpern’s disco pieces clamour for attention. Back home, Falguni Shane Peacock’s glittery concoctions and Aggarwal’s structured saris teamed with metallic bustiers (showcased at this year’s India Couture Week) have set the maximalist agenda for the party season. Designers are letting their loyalists be their own stylists by offering a mix and match appeal in their showcases. For instance, Aggarwal’s raffia jacket and metallic lehnga skirt look from his recent Metanoia can be broken down easily. The raffia jacket itself can be paired with white pants for a daytime look.

At the Met Gala in September, Kendall Jenner, Zoe Kravitz and Emma Chamberlain opted for sheer and beaded pieces, to stand out while also hitting the right sartorial notes. Designer Shane Peacock, who dressed entrepreneur-philanthropist Sudha Reddy in an embellished gold sculptured gown with shades borrowed from the American flag for the Met, says it’s all about individualistic, statement-making dressing.

“Everyone is itching to outshine. ‘Okay, I am wearing a suit, let me team it with a pair of flip-flops for the red carpet.’ Everyone is willing to mix and match, whether it’s the influencer lot or designer brigade. It’s a great time to be a designer as it gives us more challenges to wrestle with,” says Shane, who sees people mixing high with low, sublime with ridiculous, classic with street, to stay ahead of the style curve.

Amid the bling at the Met Gala, it was hard to overlook Timothée Chalamet’s comfy Converse, teamed with a Haider Ackermann suit. This mix of couture with sporty prêt can also be seen in the street-style imagery inundating Insta feeds. Designer Monisha Jaising, who has explored glam-leisure in her premium prêt line, MxS, with partner Shweta Bachchan Nanda, believes people want to go all out but don’t want to leave the comfort of their basic trainers. “Glamorous outfits and luxurious fabrics worn in a cool and relaxed way will pretty much define post-pandemic party dressing. Think of shine with a street cred and a sustainable spirit and you have captured the mood of the moment,” she says.

Daytime sparkle

Daytime sheen has emerged as a key trend, with fashionistas opting for holographic accessories like backpacks and PVC heels and going tone- on-tone from head-to-toe. For a brunch, it’s not uncommon to spot a shine-on party dress layered with a muted denim jacket or a slip dress worn over a T-shirt. Designer Pria Kataaria Puri draws an interesting comparison between pre- and post-lockdown dressing. “Before covid-19, everyone would try to fit in as per social norms and they didn’t want to stick out like a sore thumb. If you were a person who enjoys dressing up, you would tame your dressing to please others. Now people have realised it’s important to feel happy. Whether it’s a small lunch or a gathering, people are going to go all out. Sequinned blouses, statement headbands and metallic totes are a common sight for daytime meetings,” she says.

Nikita Mhaisalkar agrees. “...people are celebrating life at every moment. This positive live-in-the-moment attitude has instilled the acceptance of daytime glamour,” says the designer.

Shivan Bhatiya, head designer of the label Shivan & Narresh, recommends a balance. “Injecting sparkle into one bold garment helps capture the right amount of attention. Be it pairing sequinned tanks with crisp formal suits, comfortable sweatpants and oversized bombers with glittering embellished borders, or shimmering bustiers that are a timeless investment for both Indian as well as Western wardrobes,” he says.

Designer Charu Parashar suggests investing in a sequinned monochrome jumpsuit. “I feel pastels and jewel tones really work well for a metallic look. Add a gold shimmer cape or short jacket to a printed dress and you are ready to party.”

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