Style may be subjective, but some fashion-based shows certainly don't think so
Do clothes really “make the man”? Yes, if one goes by what some fashion-based shows on television preach. Shows promising a miraculous transformation — not just of appearance but of life itself — post a wardrobe change, are drilling this idea into our minds. Objectivity takes a serious beating on these shows, ironically by evading the mantra that style is subjective.
What else could be the motive of the Trinny and Susannah series of shows? The two women take on the roles of agony aunts/counsellors/fashion mentors to unsuspecting victims ostensibly suffering from low self-esteem.
The measure of them
Their ‘therapy' includes stripping their subjects off clothes (not to mention dignity) on world TV, measure and comment on their figures, and coerce them into wearing clothes they never would, all along making them believe they are ramp-ready. Their old clothes are torn and thrown away, like they have no business being worn anymore.
At the end of each episode, the two are greeted by the ‘victims' awe-struck friends, and by husbands who speak of romance rekindled.
Ruder, brasher and holding back no punches, is ‘Fashion Police' with an ‘elite' panel of ‘judges', including the very loud Joan Rivers, mock at celebrity fashion faux pas.
There is an Indian version, Planet Bollywood, where a Page-3 journalist rips apart B-Town celebrities' fashion sense with scathing criticism of an extra bow here or an inch-smaller heel there. One is reminded of a scene straight out of an all-girls college where the sorority sisters belittle batchmates in sweatshirts.
While on makeovers, how can one leave out weddings? Band Baja Bride on NDTV Good Times has a ‘style mentor' take the bride through a series of gruelling sessions, changing her hair, teeth, nails and so on, to make her look like “a princess on her special day”. How? By pointing out how imperfect she is. On one episode, the groom nominates his bride-to-be for the makeover. The bride's willingness leaves us wondering how she didn't take offence.
Sifting the good ones
However, it would be unfair to say that all fashion-based shows are judgmental rants. ‘Project Runway' on TLC is a fairly straight forward show lending a platform to young designers. ‘Making the Cut' on MTV also, well, ‘makes the cut' without deviating from the main theme, even as another set of the fashion brigade continues embroidering style with makeover.