Meher Castelino—renowned fashion journalist, former model and India’s first Femina Miss India—knows the world of fashion intimately. So when she writes about its inner workings, you better sit up and take note.
Glamour is a snarky world—full of tit-for-tats and dog-eat-dogs. That is why the snark in Castelino’s words matches the world she is describing. There is the head buyer of a fashion house whose “personality does not match her job profile”, who hates maths, travelling and is paralysed by enochlophobia, or the fear of crowds. There are the “fro queens”, or the page 3 regulars and movie stars who occupy the front rows at fashion shows. They are the trend-setters and the proud owners of the best dresses from the designers’ latest collections on the ramp. There are the couturiers who are great with resort wear, but bring out bridal wear collections that are a mish-mash of swimwear and sheer lehengas.
Castelino is a mistress of irony, and when she picks out certain “quirks” of the fashion world, such as the ever-increasing categories in beauty contests (best grey matter, Rummy champion, Tombola queen), you cannot help but smile. She is often ruthless, and no one is free from the fiery darts of her drollery, from the showstoppers who are tutored on how to talk, to the celebs who launch paediatric wards in Red Carpet gowns. The question-and-answer format in which the book is structured makes it a breezy read. And gives her leeway for some hilarious one-liners.
If some of the characters who unwittingly waltz into her line of fire are turned into caricatures, one must excuse the irreverence. After all, satire demands sacrifice of some form, and the fashion world seems to have taken the jibes in the right spirit. It is great that some of the biggest Indian designers, like Tarun Tahiliani and the late Wendell Rodricks, have chosen to endorse the book.
A designer might be nimble with his needle, but what a dud he would be if he cannot poke some fun at himself with it.
By Meher Castelino
Published by Meher Castelino
Price Rs295; pages 160