‘Freedom’ is a word that is shamelessly overused in fashion media and fashion marketing. The term is a staple of fashion campaigns – which a brief look at ads of the past couple of years can confirm. Freedom is promised to you, the reader and consumer, as long as you buy a freedom-inducing item.
The idea of time as a crumpled handkerchief offers a welcome alternative to the notion of time as a linear trajectory that is moving in the direction of progress and continuous betterment. Perception of time as linear is one of the legacies of the Enlightenment era which saw history as moving away from ancient barbaric, uncivilised and primitive times towards perfection based on rational thinking and efficiency. Time, according to the ideals of Enlightenment, is not just linear, but also competitive – whereas some are closer to the perceived ideals, others are believed to be losing out, those are the people steeped in timelessness, unaffected by change.
Vogue India, with its four million online readers and audience of seven million on social media, mostly catering to educated upper- and upper middle-class women, seems to abide to the very same attitudes that have been promoted by the Bharatiya Janata Party and right-wing groups. Overtly, it champions inclusivity and diversity, celebrates women’s empowerment, and decries discrimination. Dedicated to highlighting strong and independent women it predominantly features Hindu customs and upper-class Hindu women, signifying that Hindu upper-caste, upper-class femininity is – in contemporary Indian society – the desirable norm. Conspicuously absent from the magazine are Muslim women, Muslim Indian culture and Muslim fashion.