Summer 2022 is about chainmail

 Can the reflective textile be worn during the day, or at home while snacking on gourmet food? Leading designers and stylists break down this glittering post-pandemic fashion trend

Published - February 16, 2022 02:14 pm IST

Designs from Burberry, Dior and Lanvin

Designs from Burberry, Dior and Lanvin

Shine is a recurring element at any fashion outing — whether it is Spring/Summer, Fall/Winter, cruise or the red-carpet season. But Spring/Summer 22 takes it one step further, courtesy chainmail sheen. Fall 2016 saw its second coming but since late last year, international runways and campaigns have had more than the usual sightings of this fluid fabric, together with sparkling mesh, crystals and heavily-embellished styles, be it at Dior or Gucci Alaia, Bottega Veneta, Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Armani, Junya Watanabe and Michael Kors. Evidently, the look isn’t reserved for just supermodels Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss (Versace chainmail slips circa 1999) or Zoe Kravitz (at last year’s Met Gala).

Namrata Joshipura works with chainmail

Namrata Joshipura works with chainmail

India shining

“ It’s a tricky trend and you need a certain confidence and carriage to pull it off. I can so easily picture Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Deepika Padukone and Sonam Kapoor Ahuja rocking it effortlessly” Falguni, of Shane and Falguni Peacock

Back home, the chainmail club is led by designers Namrata Joshipura and Falguni and Shane Peacock, the first with a unique shimmering fabric with micro beads, and the latter adding it as drape on blouses and T-shirts and as a harness. “Honestly, it’s a classic and not a trend. Having said that, it’s a tricky trend and you need a certain confidence and carriage to pull it off. I can so easily picture Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Deepika Padukone and Sonam Kapoor Ahuja rocking it effortlessly,” says Falguni, one half of the duo that international pop icons love.

Hyderabad-based stylist Preetham Jukalker, currently working with actor Samantha Ruth Prabhu, has several looks lined up. “I can totally see myself styling Samantha in either a mesh rhinestone jumpsuit or a chain mail dress on the red carpet,” he says.

Arpita Mehta’s chainmail top with a lehenga skirt

Arpita Mehta’s chainmail top with a lehenga skirt

How to rock a lehenga

Interestingly, chainmail’s desi iteration includes resort and bridal ensembles. Designer Arpita Mehta has appliqued her signature hand-embroidered mirror flowers on this fabric, a throwback to the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, following Gianni Versace’s introduction of the fluid metallic mesh material he named Oroton.

“I’ve always been inspired by the ‘80s supermodels. I remember my first club outing when I had worn a chainmail backless tie-up top,” recalls Mehta. In her recent resort presentations, the designer’s teaming of a chainmail top with a lehenga skirt has gone down well with her clients. “Young girls have warmed up to it instantly. Chainmail is a subtle way of doing bling. It’s not sequin-induced sparkle but has a different sheen. Designers this season have made it more street and approachable — one can wear it anywhere, to a day event or a night out,” she adds.

Break some rules
 Designer Aniket Satam, whose sparkly ensembles are favoured by actor Alia Bhatt, notes that the shine quotient is also “creeping into our daytime wardrobe”. “Post the gloomy pandemic, we all definitely deserve an eclectic restart and what better than a bold dose of glitter and glamour,” he says. Designer Pria Kataaria Puri, known for her glamorous kaftans, agrees. “Being sad and indoors for so long, people want to celebrate. I won’t call it revenge dressing but the new normal. It’s okay to dress in chainmail at home and eat gourmet food,” she concludes.

Styling by the experts

Try the slip dress, says Ohaila Khan: The designer sees the trend making its way into slip dresses, evening gowns and blazers. “For me, this trend had a major moment when actor Angelina Jolie sported the Atelier Versace chainmail gown at the Rome film festival last year. She was draped like a Grecian goddess-meets-warrior princess,” says Khan.

Start with a bag, says Allia Al Rufai: The stylist agrees that the slip dress is the sexiest way to wear this trend. “Or a more fun approach would be a cowl top, styled with denims. To exude a youthful, fun vibe, I’d suggest a play with colours. It also works well as a mini skirt [if you don’t want to go all out] or an embellished handbag,: suggests Rufai.

Take baby steps in sneakers, says Ami Patel: The stylist welcomes the switch to unapologetic sexiness after months of loungewear during the pandemic. “The shine is always part of every collection, but I see its resurgence in a big way with the likes of Balmain showcasing it in a high-octane format. Personally, I am not a ‘shine person’ but I feel chainmail is a great investment piece for upcoming seasons. Opt for it if you have the confidence and attitude to carry it off. If it’s too much for you, opt for a pair of bling sneakers,” says Patel, nominating actor Ananya Pandey for the trend. “She is someone with great style, confidence and carriage, and I think she’d complete justice to the trend.”

Borrow Gen Z tips, says Pernia Qureshi: The stylist-entrepreneur suggests taking a note from Gen Z street style. “You can do a fun chain mail top with baggy, wide leg jeans or sport a metallic dress with flats or even sneakers. The idea is to make the trend a little more relaxed and fun to go with today’s casual fashion atmosphere,” says Qureshi.

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