Monday, 30th October 2017

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Komal Sood’s latest collection overthrows the tyranny of size

The designer makes clothes that neither hide nor show, but flow

  • Published 26.09.18, 10:24 PM
  • Updated 26.09.18, 10:24 PM
  • 2 mins read
Madhuja Aditya Chaudhuri Photo: Ipsito Das

How fat is thin? Quite, depending on where you are.

The body positivity movement has made it de rigueur for any self-respecting ramp to be inclusive: to include a plus-size model as part of the show, or devote an entire show to plus-size. A fashion show by Prabal Gurung, the boy from this part of the world who has captivated the Western world, is also an exercise in diversity, of ethnicity, race, gender, body size and body type.

Yet in reality not much has changed. The tyranny of sizes remain. Despite all the political correctness, the mannequin remains the ideal shape for the woman in the fashion world -- and outside. The mannequin has been internalised, literally, not only by women in the West, but also in India. The curves that Indian women are celebrated for are now often wished away.

Models here are sent back from shoots for being 'fat', which can mean just big-boned or curvy. An Indian woman with an average body, buying clothes off the shelf or online, split between the measurements of 'XS', 'S', 'M', 'L' or 'XL', often doesn’t know where to fit.

Madhuja Aditya Chaudhuri
Madhuja Aditya Chaudhuri Photo: Ipsito Das

Here we feature a collection from the label Kommal Sood rebels against this tyranny. The collection, meant for the regular woman, is called Happy Bella. The elegant, chic designs use fabrics like georgette with custom-made subtle embellishments. The line has just been updated for the festive season. The model is wearing clothes that neither hide nor show much, but flow. 

Madhuja Aditya Chaudhuri
Madhuja Aditya Chaudhuri Photo: Ipsito Das

“We inherit US Size 4 or UK Size 8 from our design schools,” says Komal Sood, the designer behind the label who spells her name with one 'M' less. One of the most important lessons to bear in mind and respect, says Komal, is the difference of body types between women in the West and in India. Genes play their role, but culture and the kind of work that is assigned to a gender by a community or society also decide the body type of women, she reminds us.

Indian women typically have smaller torsos, narrower shoulders, fuller waists and fuller hips than Western women. Clothes designed for the Indian woman, western or otherwise, should flatter her form, not constrain it. This Komal remembers when she designs her signature gowns as well. The label, known for the glamorous gowns and evening-wear that shimmer in the display window, is sold from Soods, Formerly Burlingtons, in Free School Street.

Madhuja Aditya Chaudhuri
Madhuja Aditya Chaudhuri Photo: Ipsito Das
Madhuja Aditya Chaudhuri
Madhuja Aditya Chaudhuri Photo: Ipsito Das

This collection is not partial to the perfect body. The long dress that the model is wearing, Komal points out, has been made out of 15 metres of cloth and has been given a bias cut. The cut makes the dress flow without giving it bulk. In fact, it drapes along the contours of the body, reiterating the A-shape. At the same time, the designs remain flexible and can be fitted to any body. “That is why we use lots of cloth in our designs,” says Komal.

Many women pick up the Happy Bella designs, she adds, along with the heavier eveningwear available at the store, or without it. “The number of women who go for this line has jumped so much,” says Komal. She sees it as a sign of change. Maybe something is changing, after all? “The new idea of a woman’s beauty is not about thin or fat. Strong is the new beautiful,” she says.

Maybe mannequins will start coming in bigger sizes too?

  • Models: Madhuja Aditya Chaudhuri
  • Hair and make-up: Amit Karak
  • Photographer: Ipsito Das
  • Creative direction: Nick Rampal