FASHION Musings Lady…

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Exclusive Interview with Mrs. MEHER CASTELINO;  Fashion Diva, Journalist, Influencer. 

We did not miss anything to ask! All about her journey, her take on the fashion industry and the best part, her new book.

We asked questions regarding the current scenario of fashion industry, influence of Bollywood over fashion, and we are as inspired as ever with her. Read on to know a lot more.

  • With such an involvement in Fashion and Beauty industry, you have come a long way today. What is your favourite part of your journey, the time, which speaks to you and is the most important to you even today?

The most favourite part of my journey has to be when I was selected Miss India 1964 and went on to represent India at the Miss United Nations Contest in Mallorca, Spain and the Miss Universe Contest in Miami Beach Florida, USA. The title of Miss India opened many doors for me then and even now after over five decades; the title has brought me a lot of attention and love.

  • What is your take on the influence of Bollywood industry over Fashion industry?

When it comes to fashion, beauty and glamour they walk together with the film industry all over the world. Even in Hollywood when a brand from any of these categories wants to attract attention, it is the film world that is one of the easiest avenues. When a film star or celebrity is connected with a brand or label, it is natural for the consumer to follow, though at times this association can be taken too far and may not be necessary for other products that are not categorized as glamour.

  • You have been in the industry for such a long time, and are still a prominent gem of Fashion industry, we would like to know from your perspective, what are the major changes industry has gone through in terms of Fashion designers and their practices, consumer perspective of fashion, and the very prestigious pageants.

The fashion and beauty industries have gone through a major change since the 60’s when I started. In the beginning, fashion was guided by the textiles mills in the country that set the fashion trends. Fashion shows were held all over the country to promote the latest textile collections of top mills like DCM, Hakoba, Calico, Khatau, ICICI Terene, Mafatlal, Morarjee and many more. It was only in 1987 when Ensemble opened with high fashion, foreign trained designers that the fashion designer culture started. Also, the start of NIFT in Delhi by the government brought trained fashion designers to the forefront. Since then the fashion industry has snowballed into a massive business in India with fashion institutes mushrooming all over the country and thousands of graduates emerging from them. This in tern brought the start of Fashion Weeks in India, which have turned, into a new avenue of business. The beauty pageants also took off after 1964 but in an annual manner. But after the dual win of Sushmita Sen and Aishwariya Rai in 1994, the beauty pageants became another form of promoting the beauty brands in India, which for many of the companies is a very big and important market.

  • Fashion is being commercialised. While most artists and designers regard it as a form of self-expression, what is your perspective on the commercialisation of this art form?

Fashion has to reach the masses from the classes if designers have to succeed in the business. So, the ready-to-wear market is very important and considering it as an art form is not going to make good commercial sense. Fashion trends change and that is what keeps the business of fashion moving, otherwise designers will be in trouble. Fashion is also an indication of the social and economic evolution of a country, so one can check the financial state of the world from the way people dress. The different decades have a distinct fashion story to tell which has been not only fascinating but also inspiring for the designers of the modern era.

  • Fashion is evolving at a fast pace. What are the trends/practices in the fashion industry, including journalism, would you like to bring back to today? And what are the trends/practices you absolutely love which are eminent today in the industry?

The evolution of fashion is important for the industry to progress and flourish. Trends are cyclical and they come and go all the time. But the practices in the fashion industry that need to be looked at closely are the retail and price structures.  What I am happy about today are the number of talented designers who have graduated from the well-known fashion institutes and their creativity, which they are bringing to the designing platform. As far as journalism is concerned because of social media everyone is a critic and tends to give opinions and advise whether they know about fashion designing or not.

  • How to you spend your whole day? What are your favourite things to do which keeps you grounded amid the charm and the glamour of Fashion Industry?

I spend my day writing and interviewing people for the many publications I contribute to. I also ensure that I keep myself updated on the latest fashion happenings in India as well as the rest of the world. I treat my work as a job like any other and don’t think it is a great glamorous achievement. I strictly maintain the deadlines given to me by the editors and often suggest story ideas that are relevant to the fashion business.

  • Amid the going pandemic, consumers have become more aware of their consumption habits and sustainable choices.  How do you think the industry will evolve now, in terms of consumer behaviour, designers, brands, labels, etc. 

The pandemic will definitely affect the designers, retailers, brands, labels, and of course the consumers. Gone are the days of impulse buying amongst the consumers. Now buying will be on a need base system with the value-for-money price tag being an important factor when a person goes shopping. The designers will have to concentrate more on the Made in India aspect because that is what the consumer will be looking for. The price will also have to be under control and no longer will a customer agree to shell out lakhs of rupees for a garment that will be worn just once. Even the bridal wear market will have to be very controlled. The concept of sustainability will have to be brought in my most designers since that is the only way forward for the fashion industry in India and the world. Our local textiles, crafts, handlooms and embroidery have to be promoted on an aggressive manner if our weavers and craftsmen are to survive in the future. India is the only country in the world that has this rich heritage, which the rest of the world is looking at and we cannot let it, fade away but have to now more than ever strengthen it.

  • Tell us about the book you are working on (We are very excited to read your words in a book!). What inspired you to write the book, and for what audience is it? Give us some sneak peaks into the area the book will be covering.

My third book “Fashion Musings” is quite different from my first two books. My first book “Manstyle” was on men’s wear and a guide for men on how to dress. My second book “Fashion Kaleidoscope” was the evolution of Indian fashion from 1960 to 1990. My third book “Fashion Musings” that was launched on August 31 is a humorous take on all aspects of the fashion, beauty and film business. It is a spoof on these industries and written in a very unusual style, which is the Q & A format. It is very, light, relaxing reading, which will keep the reader amused about the imaginary happenings in the fashion, beauty and film business.

  • At this point in time, what would you advise to the budding Fashion designers and journalists?

It is now a difficult time to be in the fashion and publishing business but what is needed is a different creative approach in both categories. The buyers for both may be limited so it will be necessary to think in a sensible manner, whether presenting a collection or writing an article. In both cases it would wise not to go for hype but present a steady good informative look. In the journalism segment it is wise to talk to the reader on a level ground and not preach from above and look down at the reader.

Fashion Musings summery :

Interviewed by – Ms. Prachi Ghelot , Intern – TVC