Comfortably Numb

Sheila Kumar's Storehouse

Published on: 07/20/96 1:54 PM

Humour: Designer talk

Haute Jargon

(2013 disclaimer: This piece needs to be read with tongue firmly lodged in cheek. The author has been a fashion journalist and while not totally sold on all things haute couture, definitely knows her zardosi from her gota patti. )

Design: A strange fiendish cult perpetrated by strange fiendish minds, with even stranger fiendish rites of passage.

Designer: The savviest of the cult leaders who has hit on a perfect way to make you spend your money and feel grateful to him/her for letting you spend it.

Couture: A line of clothing with labels that definitely do not name the darzi down your road.

Pret-a-porter: The designer’s version of ready-to-wear clothes that otherwise would be marked `Sale: 42% off.`

Colour: No, not what you think. This spectrum consists almost exclusively of colors that bear names like camel, nude, teal, khaki, and sunset. Even `banana` which you always thought was a fruit.

Structured: Clothes specially tailored to make you resemble the Fat Lady at the circus. Whatever shape your figure.

Elan: What you definitely don’t possess after you take a cursory look at the discreetly placed price tag on the outfit you took down from the rack.

Just about the only place some of the designer wear can be worn.

Collection: A whole lot of hideously unwearable clothes, outrageously priced and shown together in the fond belief that it will all sell together…almost.

Classic mode: What Grandma wore, Mom refused to be seen dead in and now, has been rehabilitated from ye olde attic.

Retro look:  Blue-tinted glasses, bell bottoms and oily strands…Jimi Hendrix, come back!

Taupe, Buff, Ochre, Sand: Fancy names for a colour best described as dry mud.

Burgundy, Claret, Wine: Words that belong on the labels of long-necked green bottles with corks.

Divas: Models who have been around on the scene for a bit and are prone to throwing dramatic fits.

Maestros: Pony-tailed designers with straggly beards and world-weary expressions.

Wannabes: Your neighbour down the road with her garage boutique.

Atelier: Officially the designer’s studio. Unofficially, the place he holds parties you want to hear nothing about. Or want to hear everything about.

Salon: That exclusive club where…come on, you saw what happened to Julia Roberts in a salon,  in the film Pretty Woman, didn’t you?

Lesser known names: Names that don’t have Stella, Oscar or Donna as first names. Or Bal, Tandon and Beri as last names.

Those whose send their models out into the cold world in half a metre of tulle and a pink rose.

Avant garde: Clothes that defy analysis or description.

Slumming: Settling for a Rs 17,000 outfit rather than a Rs 47,0000 one.

Rack: Ancient Medieval torture instrument that shows clothes looking beautiful; then, you buy and wear them and realise the transitory power of illusion.

Didactic, Dialiectical, Dichotomous: Terms that belong in a philosophy treatise but have crept into the world of fashion. No, I don’t know how.

Proportion: Don’t bother with this one dears, yours are never going to be right.

Androgynous: The look you effortlessly achieved last Sunday when you had on your son’s fluorescent biker shorts teamed with your lemon chiffon blouse.

Style: What the designing people insist they will give you but the point is: you’ve already got it.

Sucker: You need a definition for this? I need a lawsuit?

This appeared in SATURDAY TIMES of 20 July 1996.

Related Links:

Humour: The South Indian Sari Blouse

Feature: The Kanjeevaram Sari

Feature: Down with brown!

Feature: The thorth turns haute!

Feature: Shailaja Padindala, profiled

Feature: Is comfortwear all about slouchy elegance?

Feature: The Kanjeevaram Sari


decoded designer languagedesigner termshumour

Sheila Kumar • July 20, 1996

Previous Post

Next Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published / Required fields are marked *