Revenge served ‘hot’

In the early 90s, when Prince Charles admitted to cheating on Princess Diana, the latter made a bold statement with her outfit.
Actor Mehreen Pirzada in a yellow tulle corset dress by Geethika Kanumilli.
Actor Mehreen Pirzada in a yellow tulle corset dress by Geethika Kanumilli.

HYDERABAD: In 1994, when Prince Charles admitted to cheating on Princess Diana, the latter made a statement; not a verbal one but a symbolic statement which screamed revenge. She stepped out for a fundraiser dinner in a Christina Stambolian silk black off-shoulder evening gown, teamed with a pearl choker. 

Till date, women all over the world hail Diana her for it and with good reason. Hyderabad-based designer Ganesh Nallari calls it enclothed cognition. “This fashion statement gives an individual the confidence to move on from their past. Clothing not only acts as a social armour, but wearing the right garments can affect your cognitive process. This phenomenon is called enclothed cognition — the process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought and experience. A garment reflects the way you think, feel and function, and thus has a deeper impact on your mental state,” he says. 

He recalls this one time when a woman, very timid, conservative and had a history of domestic abuse, came to him for a wardrobe makeover. “Today, she is a power figure and a well-established entrepreneur,” he says. 

For fashion influencer Sharon Francis, who recently broke up, revenge dressing is not about drawing attention, but about feeling like a weapon that no one can hurt. “All it took was dressing up in a great outfit and uploading a photo of me on social media. I felt good and confident instantly. It’s about yourself first and reminding the world who the boss is,” she says. Sharon shares a few tips on how to nail the look: one part of your outfit has to stand out, use statement jewellery and whatever you wear, it’s got to be comfortable. “Fashion is an extremely powerful way to express oneself. For me, it is the only way to show the world who I am and how I feel,” she says. 

Pooja Kankariya, the founder of bespoke fashion label Almara, says revenge dressing is all about perspective and it does not have to be only a western outfit. While she shows us her Little Raven Black Dress and the Raven Black Saree which she designed, Pooja says anything that boosts one’s confidence during a rocky phase in life can be considered as a revenge outfit. Describing the dress, she says: “The puffy sleeves spell power, a bold, edgy and square neckline makes the shoulders look broad, and the organza material says that the wearer will not settle for anything small.” 

Geethika Kanumilli, who owns an eponymous label, says many women are doing this on a daily basis, they just don’t know that it’s called revenge dressing. “It makes them feel in control and is a great way to make a statement. I used to be that person back in the day, when I was studying. If I had a bad day, I would go out shopping, streak my hair or just change my entire look,” she says. The designer’s top colour choices for a revenge dress are black, red and white. “These are pure and powerful. Also, a corset is a great outfit that makes you feel powerful,” she says. 

Back in the day, we are speaking of the 90s, the concept of revenge dressing was linked with a break-up in relationships. But things have changed, says Ganesh. “Today, I relate this term to the pandemic and the aftereffects it has had on people during the series of lockdowns. After being at home and for most people, who are working from home and living in their pajamas for too long, there was an outbreak post the lockdown. They revenge shopped to feel better. After all, changing into and out of clothing helps psychologically mark their work time from their social life!” he says.

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The New Indian Express