Nancy Tyagi and her DIY fashion was the show-stopper at Cannes

She stands for an India that thrives with its hustle, with its strong and loud voice

Never mind that India is witnessing a massive general election, perhaps one of the dirtiest it has ever witnessed. The month of May belongs to escapism. May belongs to vacations. And May certainly belongs to the gorgeous red carpets of the Met Gala in New York and the Cannes Film Festival in the south of France.

To be honest, the fashion at Cannes has never excited me. It is possibly the only film festival that believes in red-carpet fashion. Its massive rug trails down to almost half the Croisette avenue of the tiny seaside town where the festival takes place every year. Perhaps this is the way of the chief sponsor, L’Oreal, to ensure the focus is on glamour and glamorous hair-styles. Regardless, Cannes is almost always known for who wore what more than the films showcased here.

India has almost always had a lousy showcase on the red carpet here. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan arrived here first for a Devdas promotion wearing a yellow Neeta Lulla sari that perhaps should have been reserved for a friend’s engagement ceremony instead. Neither Vidya Balan nor Sabyasachi Mukherjee can live down the actor’s attempts at the red carpet at Cannes; so unfortunate was her styling. So many Indian actors feel obliged to wear saris, but it is time we accept that if we keep it traditional it looks out of place and too ‘exotic’ (I despise that word). Contemporary versions of the sari are such a hit and miss, either they may be inventive and chic or then just blah.

Nancy Tyagi at Cannes | instagram@nancytyagi Nancy Tyagi at Cannes | instagram@nancytyagi

The jury, for example, is still out on Alia Bhatt’s Sabyasachi sari with an elongated trail that she wore at the Met Gala two weeks ago. Pretty, but not clever enough.

Poor Aishwarya was done dirty by her stylists and designers. Both her outings were frightful. Her two gowns were designed by well-known couturiers Falguni & Shane Peacock, whose love for the outlandish defy good fashion. Both gowns looked like they were DIY fancy dress costumes, not a great look for India’s original beauty ambassador abroad.

Ironically, the one who genuinely did do DIY fashion was the show-stopper at Cannes. I hadn’t heard of Nancy Tyagi before this, but what can I say, I’m a fan. Tyagi is a young influencer from Delhi and Uttar Pradesh who has scored over a million subscribers on YouTube by making her own clothes inspired by famous fashion designers.

She looked gorgeous the first time her pictures and interviews were shared. She spoke in Hindi, saying she had made her own gown, a pink fluffy fun-fest, in 30 days using 1,000 metres of fabric. The next day, she bettered herself. She wore a contemporary sari with a hood, and even made a video of how she bought the fabric, cut and stitched it together.

Never mind the stars, Nancy Tyagi is such a hero for so many Indians. A young enterprising girl who found her fame using her hands and her inventiveness. Nothing about her clothes spell ‘fashion’ as we know it. Nothing is handmade, using craft or natural fabrics. It is commercial embroidered cloth sold in bales. All of India is filled with these fabric stores for millions of women who ape “Bollywood” styles and remake copies.

But Tyagi is that girl who made it among the Bollywood types and shone. She stands for an India that thrives and survives with its hustle, with its own strong and loud voice. There is no opposition, they say. But India’s people are the opposition. Like Nancy, the heroine of her own destiny, who came from the masses and stole the film festival from the film stars.