Powder Room by Shefalee Vasudev, the former editor of the Marie Clarie magazine tries to uncover the fashion industry in India in a casual, loose narrative. While the only one thing I can point out as a criticism is that the book seems disjointed with no strong “flow” in it, I am not happy to point it out because what Shefalee has tried to uncover is, in itself, too large an animal to fit in one book. She has tried and for someone like me – I am not a part of a the fashion industry in that I don’t work in it yet but “fashion” weaves in and out of my life almost on a daily basis – it is an insightful read.

Powder Room, Indian Fashion Industry book review

In the book, Shefalee has interviewed more than 300 people from various sections in the fashion industry and the book distinctly carries her opinions as well and if true, it is easy to tell her leanings, which gives context to her narrative. I quite enjoyed reading the book – it took me about three days – and I will be passing on my copy to a bunch of young friends who work in the fashion industry. I know they well tell me, “But Naina, what is the book going to tell us that we don’t already know?” and my answer’s going to be, “Who knows. Read it.”

Powder Room, Indian Fashion Industry book review

From the unfortunate decline of the Patan Patola sari [ I want one ] to the flamboyantly portrayed fashion designers, the small city darzis and the “logo” brands, Shefalee has tried to write something about everything and has done a decent job without running away with it. There is no gossip in the book that I didn’t already know although the author is not trying to create any. It is clear that “professionalism” does not exist in the fashion industry. I lament the lack of professionalism in nearly everything in India and this is another nail in the coffin.

Powder Room, Indian Fashion Industry book review

I have felt the pressure to “conform” where if I turn up in denims and sneakers to an event, I can see that I’m being judged. I have also struggled with accepting “gifts” from brands for featuring their content on this blog and I identify with Shefalee’s “half-virgin” stance. There are no defined guidelines or industry norms. Even calling it the fashion “industry”, in my opinion, is a fallacy. There is nothing organized about it. Politics and egos carry more weight than talent and business acumen. Which probably also means that the space is ripe for innovation – not in how things are produced but rather in how things are run in this “industry”.

If you are on Twitter, you will identify a plethora of people in this book whom you might already be following. From magazine editors to bloggers and fashion designers and more.

Shefalee currently writes for the Indian Express Unfashion blog. I was unable to find her on Twitter.

Also did a Storify of quotes / sentences from the book that I found interesting.

Powder Room

Powder Room by Shefalee Vasudev. An inside view of Indian Fashion

Storified by Naina · Sun, Aug 19 2012 06:46:25

I’ve also done a short review on the blog in case you’re seeing the Storify version only. Powder Room.
"A bride must be able to pick up the lehenga and go for a pee without feeling restricted". Tarun Tahiliani in #powderroomNaina
"If nouveau riche didn’t fall over themselves to buy embellished garments, designers like me would be nowhere" Raakesh Agarvwal #powderroomNaina
It would be interesting to know whether India is one of the largest customers for Swarovski. #powderroom #curiousNaina
"For the sake of your status you should atleast buy one nice handbag". #powderroomNaina
"On the other hand, much as we loved Louboutin loving our country, we wanted everything that was not from India". #powderroomNaina
"Fashion is the science of appearances, and it inspires one with the desire to seem rather than to be". E.H. Chapin #powderroomNaina
"The big question remained the same: how to distinguish yourself in a society that was saturated with wealth". #powderroomNaina
"The investments of both husbands and the girls themselves are all neck down". #powderroomNaina
"When you have a very visual job, your appearance is taken to be the most important thing about you". Naomi Campbell #powderroomNaina
"We have no modern, national concept of beauty". #powderroom #india #fashion #modelsNaina
"…ramp models are like mannequins in a funeral march despite an army of stylists, choreographers, make up artists…" #powderroomNaina
"I am free & that’s why I am lost". Franz Kafka. Also, every self-employed person. Lots of freedom, little power. #powderroomNaina
"…without stylists, interpretation of fashion is wide & scattered – it translates into a fancy dress parade at fashion shows" #powderroomNaina
"To be selected for a fashion show, a collection need not even be suitable to the theme announced by the organizers". #powderroomNaina
Chapter on Rohit Gudda Bal in the book. I don’t know him but I love him. #fashiondesigner #india #powderroomNaina
All fashion designers seem to have their production units in Noida. #observation #powderroomNaina
A tailor makes what his clients want to wear; a designer makes what he wants his clients to wear. Manish Arora. #powderroomNaina
"…bling obsessed rich Indians find it difficult to accept Indian handmade products as luxury". #powderroomNaina
"It is important to wear wealth, whatever else we may wear as most people I interviewed for this book told me". #powderroomNaina
Done reading Shefalee Vasudev’s Powder Room & realized, for a change, I know 75% of the people in the book. #fashion #india #powderroomNaina
The book also talks about brands giving ‘gifts’ to journalists. Little mention of bloggers though. #powderroomNaina

Verdict: Worth a read. Even if you don’t find it useful, it IS entertaining.

All Rights Reserved. All images photographed on the Nikon D7000. The book can be purchased from Flipkart with my affiliate link in this blog post. This is not a sponsored blog post. If you would have an interesting book that you would like me to review, please email me on blog@naina.co



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