New age calendars are now clubbed with fashion. It's not so much about dates any more. Photographer Subhash Maheshwar's limited edition calendar clubs environment and fashion

Fashion meeting a cause is in vogue, and if the cause is the environment, then it becomes haute. If the campaign is executed stylishly, it adds sheen to the cause. Fashion photographer Subhash Maheshwar has brought a table top calendar with ‘Save the planet' as the stated cause. Pirelli it may not be, but inspired by the Kingfisher calendar it is. The similarity with the calendar of ‘good times' ends there, says Subash. Let's just say we aren't ready for something of those ‘proportions'. The calendar has just been launched.

Subhash has been part of visual ad campaigns. He is not new to the calendar field, he shot the 2010 Miss Kerala calendar. The photographs were shot in real time in public spaces (think Broadway in broad daylight) with people milling around (and taking shots of their own on cellphones!). This time round he decided to change focus, and founded an endangered muse in the planet. Helping him translate his idea into garments was wife and fashion designer Rasna Subhash. Since the calendar is futuristic, graphics play an important role and the graphic designer was Sumesh. Most of the beautiful people in the calendar are the new crop of actors from the Malayalam film industry with a couple of exceptions.

In the beginning was the idea…

A couple of unrelated incidents set the ball rolling. A news report stating the sea was claiming part of Alappuzha, that parts of it were getting submerged… That we might be sitting on the verge of a catastrophe struck a chord in Subhash. “The worst we have seen in terms of a natural calamity in recent times was the tsunami but this struck me as being much bigger and very frightening too.”

Next, the expression on the faces of his wife's relative in Kattappana in Idukki when he mentioned the amount of money spent on bottled water – read mineral water. “The look of disbelief on their faces said it all, ‘buying water to drink!' seemed unthinkable. But do we think twice about it now? Five or ten years back, we would safely drink water from eateries etc without asking for the mandatory ‘mineral' water,” he says. At the time he was thinking about his new calendar and so everything was fait accompli.

As a matter of style…

There was an in-house (literally) designer, and that helped. Rasna is an alumni of the fashion design department of St. Teresa's College. A lot of thought, discussion and arguments have gone into the styling of the calendar, she says. The calendar's visual impact is accentuated by the styling and garments to a great extent. Each page of the calendar is a story and a campaign. Subhash would have a basic sketch ready for each sequence, says the doting wife. And she would ready the ‘look' based on what he had conceptualised.

Graphical description…

Sumesh, a freelance graphic designer's is the hand on the cursor, the mind behind the graphics. Since Subhash would have a storyboard sketch to refer to (complete with the ‘mood' of the sequence) Sumesh says it was easy creating the layout. The calendar is portmanteau – ‘photo – graphic'. There is the strong photographic element complemented by the graphics. Seen in isolation the photographs are nice but what makes them stunning are the graphics, 3-D effects particularly, which are a combination of various elements. Some may find the calendar too stylised but that is what fashion photography is. The plus point of working on the calendar was that most of the graphic elements he could create, since it was futuristic, gave scope for greater visualisation.

On the face of it…

Make-up artist Aniz Ansari and Subhash have worked together and this time round they teamed up. The make-up is edgy, models look edgier than pretty.

Presenting the calendar…

Each month is a doomsday prediction presented futuristically and tries to forecast what the planet would/could be. The underlying message, of course is, however bleak life on the planet may be fashion will rule. ‘Save water', ‘Avoid War', ‘Stop Marine Pollution', ‘Think Solar', ‘Think Green' etc are some of ‘the environment messages' on the calendar. If the visual element doesn't tell the story there is an explanation on the other side.

Among those who feature in the calendar are actors and models. Some of them are Rima Kallingal, Jyotirmayee, Dhanya Mary, Amala Paul, Mythili (of ‘Paleri Manikkyam' fame), Shamna Kasim, Rajeev Pillai etc. With the exception of Jyotirmayee, the rest of the actors are newcomers. Fewer hang-ups and easier to work with? Subhash diplomatically laughs and says that the bigger names proffered the ‘no dates' excuse. Another factor was the weight factor, “not too many have the figure for the concept. Of course Photoshop has been a great help!” Ah! The most reliable weight loss technique of the stars.

Clothes maketh a calendar…

Rasna says that she and Subhash threw ideas back and forth, before deciding upon what would be worn in each sequence. Almost all the garments are stitched except for a couple of garments which have been draped. “Shamna and Mythili's garments were draped and they had no idea what the end result would be like,” Rasna chuckles.

The costume Jyotirmayee has worn is wonderfully interpreted with inspiration drawn from solar energy panels. She has designed the garments with an edge, “because that is what was required.” She has taken care to include minor design elements that would accentuate the look. For instance, the marine pollution theme has a lost-looking mermaid in a stunning costume, the bustier complete with shells.

If there is one look at Rasna tried to create, it is the high-collared look “to give them a futuristic and edgy look.”

Don't go looking…for the calendars. These are limited edition to be circulated among a select clientele. You can get a dekko on www.saveplanetfashioncalendar.com.

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