TREND Once a sturdy fastener, the humble zipper is now a piece of shiny embellishment
The trend of what was once hidden becoming a thing to flaunt has been a recurring thing in fashion. There's, of course, the innerwear-becomes-outerwear trend (camisoles, corsets, the likes). In the current fascination for military and industrial detailings on clothes, finding itself in new applications is the humble zipper. What was once a fastener used in bringing a garment together is obviously still so, but not just that anymore.
At the Autumn/Winter 2012 edition of the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week (WIFW) at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi recently, the zipper, mostly metallic, has emerged as a prominent form of embellishment, something not deliberately concealed in clever stitching and folds of stitching, but a thing of beauty that's okay to be seen. If it serves the purpose for which it was invented, fine. If not, so be it. As embellishment, the zipper was an integral part of the collections by Gaurav Gupta, Rishta by Arjun Saluja, Raakesh Agarwal and Anand Bhushan.
Internationally, zipper as embellishment rose to prominence in the Autumn/Winter ready-to-wear lines of 2009, when labels like Roland Mouret, Marc Jacobs, Jean-Charles de Castelbajac and Alexander McQueen explored it beyond its utilitarian possibility — a subtle way of introducing a sporty-meets-rock-meets-bling into garments.
At WIFW, Anand Bhushan called his collection ‘Junkyard'. With the idea of “creating something precious from the discarded” as the collection notes mentioned, the designer incorporated metal scrap and minute machinery components, including nuts and bolts, to piece together a line that saw stitching and welding in equal measure. The metallic zipper here came with the sole purpose of embellishment on mini dresses. As the designer mentions, the zipper has been central to his collections for four seasons now. “Because of that it's become signature Anand Bhushan,” he says. “I have been using it different ways each season — one season it's plastic, this season it's metal.”
The whole idea, according to him, is to take a conventional product and vent it out in an unconventional way. “Zipper dresses are one of my high-selling products and I hope to give a new version of it every season,” says Bhushan.
At both Arjun Saluja and Gaurav Gupta, it was about ways of exploring the structure-meets-drape concept. Saluja, in his collection called ‘No Ground Beneath My Feet', put out another version of his favourite themes — androgyny (where menswear elements of tailoring and structure were incorporated in women's wear, and traditional women's wear draping featured in menswear, like in the draped pants), circular cutting, and fit vs. anti-fit. In the collection, golden metallic zippers featured as spines on dresses and on dress fronts in stark contrast to a sombre winter palette of the fabric.
Gaurav Gupta created the “sexy secretary” look through power dressing that included elements of drape — fitted knee-length silhouettes, bold padded shoulders and his beloved birds (as prints and embroidery). Pointing out to a zipper embellished robin blue jacket later, where the zipper's been used as piping on the collar, he said, “We have a lot of these constructed pieces, like this jacket; they're power-driven. I love metal things, I've been using metal since my first collection — my first collection also had these metal zips. This time I've just gone to gold from silver. But I've brought in the metal zips again after a while and I just felt like playing with my construction and draping and having a dialogue between the two, and that's what's happening in the whole collection.” He pointed out to a few pieces that incorporate draping, zippers and construction together. Quite androgynous in a way, the zipper is like military detailing “that's been taken forward in a very severe, sexy way.”
Rimzim Dadu, who in several of her lines has incorporated industrial elements, in one of her earliest lines had used zipper pull tabs on tops to lend them an element of hard-edged fluidity. “My collections are all about using new material to create surfaces. At the time the attempt was to take waste materials beyond their traditional use. The zipper pull tabs gave me the texture I wanted.” Commenting on its use as embellishment, she says, “The reason the zipper is used as embellishment is that it is very flexible and can be used in a lot of different ways. The current inclination towards industrial elements could be one reason.”