Saturday Times/20/07/96


(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.

Catwalk: 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.

Minimalists: 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?

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