Gautaman Bhaskaran
an indian journalist
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© Copyright 2004





In Fashion…Of stars, style and sorrow

Stars now turn stylists, perhaps trying to spread their signature. Shilpa Shetty – who created storm after storm with her little spat with a Celebrity Big Brother inmate and later in the arms of Hollywood heartthrob Richard Gere – is all set to open her fashion line.

After launching her perfume, S2, in Britain (where else), Shilpa is ready with her clothes line, also called S2. Should it not have been S3, after S1 (the mademoiselle herself)? She said that the designer wear would bear her individual stamp, but we have not been told who would style them.

But the lady is to be seen in the Parisian high circles rubbing shoulders with the likes of Karl Lagerfeld. May I guess that she is trying to learn (and perhaps unlearn) a few basics about couture and prêt.


While Shilpa turns stylist, ball bashing David Beckham is mesmerising fans, especially female, with his eclectic looks, daring to wear just about anything (or nothing at all) from tight Armani suits to deconstructed jeans and flashy rhinestone-encrusted tracksuits. So, David gives more than a good kick, and uses much more than a ball to turn night into day.

Beckham, now No 23 for the Los Angeles Galaxy Soccer Team, is often called a chameleon by fashion watchers. David’s shocking hairstyles and attention grabbing clothes make statements all right. Bu they also get his women admirers all jelly and jam.

Often, Beckham sports sexy body-conscious pants and shirts unbuttoned to the navel, clothes many American men, who are more ''nervous about their heterosexuality,'' would reject on principle. (Maybe they should look to his marriage with the coolly beautiful Victoria Beckham, aka Posh Spice, and a fashion icon herself, if they want reassurance that, yes, many women do like this.)

So what if women like David, adore his costumes and, better still, would themselves like to look as seductive. Terrible luck if a woman happens to be living in Iran in times as these when looking good can get you a ticket to jail.

The Mullahs have again clamped down a strict dress code in Iran, all set to punish women who look like models (read attractive) and men whose hairstyles are “un-Islamic” (read long).

Tehran's police force has been sending dozens of cars and minibuses into the early evening rush hour to enforce the dress code at major squares in the city centre.

Women in Iran are obliged to cover all bodily contours as well as their heads, but in recent years many have pushed the boundaries by showing off bare ankles and fashionably styled hair beneath their head scarves.

In fact, New Delhi-based designer Ravi Bajaj tells me that women even in extremely conservative societies such as Saudi Arabia find some way of dressing the way they like. “They have all women’s parties where they throw away their hijabs to reveal the world’s best fashion. The only pity, men cannot stand and stare, for they are not allowed inside these all-female gatherings”.

In Dubai, which is not so conservative, I did see great fashion, albeit partly hidden by the hijab.

So, while the Shilpas and the Beckhams continue to flaunt the latest designs, Iranian women find themselves in Black Maria or, worse, behind bars.

(Webposted July 24 2007)