Every title arrives with its own set of expectations. Will this book will educate, entertain, induce ennui, or broaden the reader’s perspective of the world of fashion? Fashion India is a stand out among its genre because the book is quite interesting, educational, and very much worth reading.
There is one thing that the reader must keep in mind and that is the book is written in a very formal proper English manner that is quite British in many ways, harkening back to India’s link to the British Empire. Once the reader adjusts to the linguistic nuances, the book proves to be very easy to read, navigate, and digest.
Fashion India is an examination of fashion in India but in the broadest possible sense. Phyllida Jay wisely takes on not only fashion in its most literal aspects but also in terms of its traditions, whether it be in style, manufacture, textiles, retailing, embellishments, and history. Yes, of course, her discourse includes Indian designers, but they are used as examples/tools when discussing the aforementioned aspects. It is a rather clever and striking device that really informs the reader on multiple planes.
Most fashionphiles will get a crash course in fashion as it exists today in India as well as what to expect in the future. What stands out is that much of the domestic fashion of this huge country is still rooted in Indian traditional garb. Even the so-called “Generation Next” retains some of that DNA, but by far they are the most advanced and progressive of the many designers offered in the book.
If one was able to offer suggestions about this work before publication, one of the biggest assets would been that the images should have been much larger with inset detail photos on much of it as the art and craft of embellishment from India is nothing short of astounding. Even when Jay delves into the textile areas, the reader wants a closer look. This would have been a superb larger format monograph given the amount of material there was to work with.
Anyone who searches for fashion information on a global stage needs to read this book as there will come a time when India will surely become a force of fashion.