“What do I feel like wearing today?” It's a question that we’ve all asked ourselves one too many times, often finding different answers in different moments. We all have a different relationship with clothes. For some, it creates an identity, a change in mood, while for others it’s just a matter of throwing on the first thing you spot in a pile. Either which way, there is an invisible power to the fabrics because it has the ability to change how you see and feel about yourself, a choice that very often determines the confidence one exudes.
The fashion industry often gets a bad rap for being overtly critical of the female form, shallow and frivolous, but it’s an unfair blanket statement that doesn’t hold true for everyone. Understanding that clothes have a unique power to unleash your personality in full form, rendering bodies as a blank canvas of sorts to dress up in any form and colour to express yourselves, not to mention that clothes have held an important position in defining women’s empowerment, several designers have attempted to push boundaries. And Jaypore addresses these boundaries and questions quite aptly in a Facebook post: do clothes make a woman or does the woman infuse her natural charm into an ensemble and make it memorable?
Featured in the Jaypore post is Mandeep Nagi, director and chief designer at Shades of India, who set out to investigate and explore the answer to the question posed in a photo-shoot for their latest collection, Cinnamon. “The emphasis of our new collection, Cinnamon, is on textures and I wanted someone extraordinary,” says Mandeep speaking to The Hindu, adding that she prefers shooting “with women who don’t expect to be models, and suddenly feel empowered before the camera, in clothes that they like.” “Sometimes it’s a colleague or someone we know of. The age group has varied from 24 to 82,” she says, her team is used to working with “unlikely models.” Contemplating the photo-shoot for the new collection, Kamala (name changed), a mother of two who works as a domestic helper to make ends meet, caught her eye and she knew she had found exactly what she was looking for. When approached for the shoot, Kamala was slightly weary of the entire situation, asked for a day to think it over, and finally agreed.
Through the photographs we see her hesitant and apprehensive at first, but slowly grow in confidence as her inner and outer beauty thrives in the lovely designs, as she twists and twirls in front of the lens.“Those who saw the photographs have been mostly appreciative. A few felt it’s inappropriate to have Kamala model for clothes she cannot afford,” admits Mandeep, while also sharing that she’s doing her bit to help Kamala, “I don’t know if this shoot will change her life. I know that she cherishes the experience.” We’ve posted below images from the shoot, courtesy Jaypore and Shades of India, and Kamala with her grace, style and all-round fierceness, looks incredible in these photographs that have taken the internet by storm.