Swinging 60s, Hippie fashion set to come back to India?

Published: 24 March, 2013 02:39 IST | Kaveri Waghela |

Think big hair, mixed prints, go-go boots and a splash of bright colours; the '60s is back on the international runways. Kaveri Waghela catches up with those who lived it up during the swinging '60s to find out if hippie fashion is staging a comeback in India

When British fashion designer Mary Quant wore a mini skirt in the 1960s, it was not just a a new piece of clothing but a revolution. It was perhaps the first time that women were freed from wearing circle skirts and longer dresses that were hugely popular in the 1950s. The skirt was short and had an A-line cut and was also a symbol of rebellion in London during the Mordernist or more popularly known mod’ era.

A model wearing a black and white graphic print dress by Jattinn Kochhar

For veteran fashion writer and first Femina Miss India, Meher Castelino, it brings back fond memories. “The mini skirt and hot pants bought a serious transformation in the way people dressed during the 1960s. Hemlines were becoming shorter, in a way, I could say it was the trigger that broke the moulds of traditional society.” 


Fashion writer and first Femina Miss India

Fast forward to 2013, and some of the hottest looks of the 60s are making a comeback albeit with a little twist. After most international (read New York, Milan and Paris) fashion week Autumn/Winter 2012 collections popularised the 1970s, top international designers are now saying in unison that the swinging ’60s will be a recurring theme in their Spring/Summer 2013 Collections. 

Actress Sharmila Tagore’s winged eyeliner and hair bouffants were the most fashionable trends of the 1960s

It was Marc Jacobs who first took the fashion world by storm when he did a checkerboard box print dress with a ’60s A-line silhouette for Louis Vuitton. Soon, Miu Miu and Moschino too followed suit by showcasing short shift dresses, double breasted jackets with gobstopper buttons and the black and white stripes at the Milan Fashion week in February.

Castelino elaborates, “India has always been inspired by the retro looks. Fashion is reversible and a lot of Indian designers go back to a certain era to highlight its significance.”

Devieka Bhojwani in a printed dress, performing live for her band—The Jets. Pic/Devieka Bhojwani

The reverse fashion guide
The biggest change that occurred during the 1960s was in art, culture and fashion. The decade broke many social traditions that led to movements in different parts of the globe. In London, especially, a group of youngsters at Carnaby street, called the Modernists, defied fashion rules by wearing daring clothes which were not only shorter but had bolder colours like orange, red and neon.

Rahul Sharma wearing Barkha and Sonzal’s collarless embroidery kurta

India’s fashionistas quickly took note. Sharmila Tagore’s daring Bikini song in the film, An Evening In Paris (1967) raised a lot of eyebrows. In the next few years, many young men and women joined in the fun. Take, for instance, the story of Devieka Bhojwani, the well-known socialite and cancer survivor. Very few know she was a part of a music band called the Jets that she started with her husband Suresh Bhojwani nearly five decades ago! She recalls, “I was Devieka Rajdans then. I used to play old rock songs and wear long printed skirts. It was very hard to imagine me without my guitar during those days. I was quite a hippie.”

A model displays a kaftan jacket from Barkha and Sonzal’s menswear collection

Others who have only seen and read about that golden era are equally excited about its possible return. Says designer Jattin Kochhar, “I think the 1960s was one of the most important era's in fashion history as people were breaking the mould. Women were experimenting with shorter hemlines and by the end of the 1960s, the hemline of most skirts and dresses had reached the thigh.” Veteran theatre actress Dolly Thakore recalls, “I think the 60's were a fabulous time, there was so much of acceptance. I remember, the Beatles had just come up with their album called Revolver. It was just the best phase of my life. I was the first person in my group who wore colour co-ordinated bell bottoms. I received a lot of awkward glares.” Bhojwani agrees, “There was a lot of individuality and creativity in the 60s. I used to make my own kurtas and skirts with bright khadi materials while I was still in college.”

Louis Vuitton’s iconic checkerboard collection. Pic/AFP

The men were not far behind. Most of the clothes, we believe were unisex and could be worn by both men and women. Young menswear fashion designer Sonzal of Barkha and Sonzal says, “It was the first time that men were experimenting with pastel colours.” Sonzal says bolder printed shirts, candy colours and box jackets are making a comeback this season. “While black and white prints will be eternal, pinstripes in all colours are coming back to fashion. I have used a lot of bright colours and prints in both shirts and bottoms.”

Kochhar however, confesses that though the 1960s trend is coming back, Indian designers may only be adapting it to suit the country’s seasonal needs. He explains, “Velvet dresses and a lot of winter fabrics like wool were in vogue during the ’60s. But though the fabrics look great, we can never use them in India.”

A model showcases Moschino’s Spring/ Summer collection at the  Milan Fashion Week 2013. Pic/ AFP

More is less
Of course any discussion about the return of the 60s sounds incomplete without talk of make-up. American heartthrob Twiggy bought in a revolution with thick spider lashes. Closer home too, Bollywood heroines such as Sharmila Tagore and Waheeda Rahman accentuated their eyes with the cat-eye, winged eyeliner look. Beauty expert Samantha Kochhar says, “The lips and eyes became the prime focus during this era. The cat-eye winged eyeliner was famous. Lips were painted in bright neon orange and fuchsia.”

Even today one stares in awe at Sadhana's hairstyle (immortalized as the Sadhana cut) — short bangs falling on the forehead or Sharmila Tagore’s large bouffants. Kochhar elaborates, "I think these hairstyles can never go out of style. They help in trimming down a large or round face. It was an era of stylish short kameez with churidaar pajamas, the beehives, the Farrah Fawcett (or Sharmila Tagore) hair and the cat eye make-up on young, stylish, women who still retained a very Indian look. The style is a classic.”

Hip Hip Hippie in India? 
Shireen Chulani, hairstylist at a popular salon in Mumbai says there is a sudden demand amongst her clientele for soft wavy curls while bouffants are a favourite amongst the older women. “I get a lot of requests from women with straight hair to get their hair curled up or blow-dried for that 1960s Bridget Bardot look. Actresses like Bipasha Basu and Priyanka Chopra have been sporting the big hair look as well.” Overall though, even as Milan and New York go gaga over go-go boots and flower prints, the rage is yet to catch on in India. Castelino explains, “Trends in India can never be clubbed into a particular category. More than the 60s I feel that the current trend is quite retro with a little bit of the 1960 mini dresses and the 1970s maxi dresses coupled with the grunge look of the 1980s. The Hippie fashion may have returned abroad but it is yet to wholly come to India.” Others like Thakore say just by wearing shift dresses or big sunglasses, one cannot recreate that amazing ’60s life. “Fashion is in the attitude, not just the clothes,” she smiles.

How to create the 1960s makeup look at home
The wing tip Cat's Eye is a signature look from the Golden Era of Bollywood. Use an angled brush and a gel liner or a liquid liner to create it

1 Start by figuring out where you want the wing tip to end on the outer corner of your eye.
2 Use the end of your eyebrow as a guide for placement. The end of the tip should be in line with the end of your eyebrow. Join the end of the tip to the outer corner of your eye. 
3 Draw a line from the inner corner of your eye to the end of the tip, and fill in the space with the liner, getting right to the base of your lashes. In creating this line, you can either follow the shape of your eye, in which case the wing may be more pronounced, or you can take your liner in a fairly straight line to meet the tip.

1 Beehive hairstyle was started in 1960s and gradually became popular. For many years, celebrities and young women were seen sporting this beehive hairdo with style
2 Don’t use a hair dryer. You can comb once and try to set wet hair by back combing. Use clips to set the hair after back brushing.
3 Back comb is the key for the beehive hairstyle. After the hair dries, open the clips and back comb your tresses.
4 Apply a hair moisturiser and follow up with a setting lotion. Leave it on for two-three minutes.
5 Now comb the hair with roller brush or close tooth hair brush in backward direction. Take hair from the forehead and roll back.
6 Pull your rolled hair a little front to create a swollen beehive. When the hair looks big and like a beehive, set the hairdo with hair pins or clips. You can also use colourful clips to get the stylish look.

For straight hair, beehive hairstyle can be best complimented with a ponytail or French bun. Try to take out few locks and use a clip to set them and cover the forehead. Beehive can make the forehead appear big especially if you have thin straight hair. After you make the beehive hairstyle, set the hairdo by spraying setting lotion or mousse if required. 

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