Why corsets seem to be the flavour this red carpet season

Corsets were born as an undergarment to sculpt the torso into the desired shape

I am not sure what to make of the just concluded Filmfare awards. I cannot imagine Ranbir Kapoor winning the award for best actor in a year when Shah Rukh Khan had the most historic comeback in Indian cinema, not once but twice over with Pathaan and Jawan. The popular choice should have probably gone to SRK, or then to Ranveer Singh, whose endearing, goofy, beefy turn as Rocky Randhawa in Karan Johar’s Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani, was a role tailor-made for him.

I cannot imagine Alia Bhatt winning best actor either, not for a film that clearly belonged to her co-star Ranveer Singh. Perhaps best reactor would have been more appropriate.

But I digress. My eyes are trained on all the superlative corsets so many ladies wore to the awards’ red carpet. Are they symbolic of maintaining a stiff upper lip and continuing with the on-camera smiles? Are they perhaps signifiers of being put in a tight spot by flying all the way to cut and dry Amdavad, when the snob value of Yash Raj Studios or the flash of the Jio Convention Centre would have worked just fine. Who knows, but skin-tight, lace-ups reigned on the red and almost dulled us with the ennui.

Janhvi Kapoor wears an outfit by Marchesa at the Filmfare awards | PTI Janhvi Kapoor wears an outfit by Marchesa at the Filmfare awards | PTI

I did like Alia’s satin dull gold corset meets sari meets dhoti number. I especially love the fact that the sweet-faced actor is taking such an effort in the fashion game. But once Janhvi Kapoor showed up in a sheer lace black corset number, looking part-time mermaid, full time sex pot—I mean, let’s just say Amdavad would not be cut and dry any more.

Janhvi had stiff competition from Tripti Dimri’s unabashedly sexy gown: her black lingerie generously peeping out of a silver columnar floor sweeper. Mrunal Thakur’s corset gown was also quite striking. I am not sure if these dresses at this awards ceremony are going to take Bollywood to Ahmedabad or going to bring the otherwise cultured and artsy Gujarati city—whose idea of sexy is a backless chaniya choli for nine nights of the year—running to Mumbai instead.

But corsets seem to be the flavour this red carpet season. Kylie Jenner wore a corset mini dress from Jean Paul Gaultier for his recent show in Paris last week. Janhvi wore a gorgeous blush corset a few weeks ago, as did Tara Sutaria for a sangeet ceremony recently. Kriti Sanon took the evening look casual with a denim corset for a promotion.

The return of the corset (French for ‘little body’) in fashion’s lexicon is an interesting idea. I have always been a fan, never mind the constricting of the body and making the modern woman look tinier and more submissive than normal. It is just so incredibly risque, it makes you feel at your most attractive.

Tarun Tahiliani’s sari blouses have long borrowed from corsetry. Tahiliani always says the real appeal of the sari lies in the blouse, and takes great effort in making his with boning and structure, with an added dash of beads and feathers to make it more burlesque.

Corsets may have been born as an undergarment to sculpt the torso into the desired shape, but the frugality post the World Wars relegated the uncomfortable and opulent dress code to the dust-bins of fashion history. Today they are hardly a period piece, they have been reclaimed by the likes of Dior, Dolce & Gabbana, Versace, Valentino and even the boring Burberry.

Perhaps the controversial garment is the right fit in the current political climate of stress and distress.