Parmeshian Style


Parmeshian Style

“A blog without fashion profiles?” complained a regular reader of Unfashion. I instantly agreed that we could do with some.

My first choice is the Mumbai-based Parmesh Shahani,who heads Godrej’s Culture Lab,a global think tank that explores textures of modern Indian society. This week he plans to hold a salon conversation in Delhi to discuss beauty. A similar event was organised by him in Mumbai very recently.

He has invited a mix of 20 people–academics,writers and beauty practitioners from different fields to share thoughts about the changes taking place around the notions of beauty in contemporary India. Is there such a thing as Indian beauty? What was it? What will it be? How are things changing? What do these changes signify?

Even as I look forward to this salon and the buzz around beauty,I wonder what Parmesh would say about similar changes around fashion? The Indian fashion industry is 25 years old: what does it signify for India’s youth,the gay community,the Swarovski republic consumed with buying bling and the new devotees of alternative fashion?

Before he became the editorial director of Verve,Parmesh had founded,India’s first online youth site and would go on to write a study on homosexuality called Gay Bombay: Globalisation,Love and (Be) Longing in Contemporary India. He then joined the Mahindra Group in Mumbai as a venture capitalist but Verve beckoned him more. Cackling fashion journalists found amongst us an unlikely colleague.

I first met Parmesh in 2006 at various fashion weeks. Occasional yet informal,our chats opened up my interest in his fashion views. Unlike other editors,he approached fashion via sociology and art,seldom through products. His own fashion identity though had been fused from the of tools of fashion: products,accessories and the A,B,C of it all: clothes. Bold,experimental and vivacious in dressing,he is a natural fashionista. People would turn around and look him up and down when he came for fashion events. His style reflects his free-spiritedness and whimsy.

To borrow from what I have written about him in my upcoming book,he accessorizes like a magpie wearing cashmere shawls from Delhi,Jodhpur bazaar silver,electric-colored socks,leather florets tweaked into brooches and military medals.

I remember him arriving at Lakme Fashion Week in Mumbai once in khaki shorts,a tucked-in saffron linen lapelled shirt with army war medal brooches pinned on the collars and pockets,gold epaulets on his shoulders and a large belt on the waist and a beret. He was unforgettable,simply the most stylish man on the floor.

Any given day,his look is irreverent. He can wear Jil Sander and Gucci with Indian labels like CellDsgn 11.11,Abraham and Thakore and FabIndia. Many of his clothes are custom stitched by Chhotobhai,his favorite local tailor in Mumbai.

Here,see his pictures! Have invited a write-in to Unfashion from Parmesh—he will send one soon.