Spanish fast fashion giant ZARA is making headlines again — this time for a new apparel
"Would you happen to have the new 'lungi' skirt?" I ask a helpful retail assistant at Zara's expansive store at Phoenix Market City in Chennai yesterday. "Lungi, madam?" she asks, looking at me in consternation. "Yes." I confirm confidently, "The lungi-skirt."
"This is only western-wear madam." the sales person responds, giving me a condescending once-over that would do Cruella Deville proud, "I think you will need to go to Pondy Bazaar for a lungi."
Do I? Zara's new 'check mini skirt' priced at `4,990 on their e-store doesn't just pay design homage to a lungi, it looks like a lungi! The green-brown (described by Zara as 'mink') even bears the traditional black checks of a lungi and the draped skirt even has a slit detail at the front.
This isn't the first time that western designers have been inspired by Indian vibrant heritage of textile and design. In the last few years haute couture might as well be re-christened haute curry with India-inspired silhouettes and embellishments from Hermes' saree-gowns and Alexander McQueen's zardosi in 2008, Karl Lagerfeld's ode to maharajas with a collection called 'Paris-Bombay' (2012), Isabel Marant's Rajastan-inspired colour palette in summer 2016 and many more.
Closer to home, the actual lungi has enjoyed great sartorial success in both Kollywood and Bollywood. Actor Shah Rukh Khan paid homage to superstar Rajnikanth with his 'lungi' dance in the film Chennai Express (2013). Bollywood actors Shahid Kapoor and Deepika Padukone danced with Kevin Spacey at the IIFA Awards in 2014 —all of them wearing lungis! Worn by men across south-east Asia including in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Myanmar, whether the Spanish retailers consciously knew that this 2018 design resembled a lungi or not, they have mad guts to sell it for `5000 in Chennai!
Just ask superstars Rajinikanth, or Kollywood and Tollywood heroes Dhanush and Mahesh Babu — an actual lungi can be bought at any of our local shops for less that `150!
So will the fashion-forward fashionistas in the city be rushing to the mall to pick up this new trend? The answer is a resounding 'NO' — don't just ask us, just look at some of the simply hilarious reactions on social media. City-based image consultant Sulakshana Badani commented that whilst 'madas' checks have always been a fashion favourite of the British, again at 5k a skirt it would be simply ridiculous to buy this Zara creation.
But, most importantly, what would our family and friends in Chennai think of this inspired piece of apparel? When asked my Thatha was mildly amused. My Patti threatened to rewrite her will. I know that Supraja Mami next door would wince (again) and covered her pre-adolescent son' eyes if she saw me in the lift...
Unfortunately, neither Thalaivar Rajnikanth nor Zara's representatives denied to respond to us with a comment....