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The Geology of Dressing. -  Inertia: Being Both Twice.
The Fuschia Tree
Editor's Note.
Inertia is the string of force that holds the moon around the earth, channeling light to your dark parts; it is what keeps us spinning around each other, it is my constant love for you.

It's those moments on the dining table when the conversation blurs and you're still eating, but your mind has roamed Rome, wandered West, imagined an island and named it, Locomotion. Then someone swipes the linen from beneath the cutlery, and even as we ironically live in some postcolonial dream, everything remains intact.
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By Carol Singh, Issue 22, Inertia: Being Both At Once.
Where the mind chases motion and inactivity enrobes the body, when our muscles tense up and stifle movement, when the momentum of our thoughts incubates within a passive outward performance is when we find ourselves in a state of inertia.

The art of dressing has long been associated with notions of languor and luxury, but today such sentiments have morphed into a linguistic package that reads, succinctly, hottest, newest, latest.

21st century fashion is like a spinning top, ever-advancing in revolutions yet unchanging in plane. However, in order to move forward one must accelerate. Avant-garde British designer, Hussein Chalayan says inertia is “all about the speed in our lives and how it can only result in a crash”.

With almost four to six seasons a year, collections rotate every few months based on the requirements of the season, but progress at the pace of lightening, so fast that a blur has emerged and merged. We watch, astounded, as knee-high boots and fur boas fill spring collections and slinky chiffon slips and open-toed sandals pervade fall’s stock. Everything updates so often, yet nothing really transforms.

My current consciousness is very much akin to this schizophrenic stream of existence. I found myself feverish for the world of fashion at the green age of thirteen, and ever since then, this fantasy has fluttered forth seamlessly, yet surreptitiously. From the realms of writing to styling to cool hunting, I have been rolling without realizing the peculiar purpose of each. Now, I find myself in an unexpected farrago of functions that have created among them an ambit of obscurity, each bleeding into the other’s margin. I am, therefore, in as much a state of inertia as fashion is now.

And I question myself, is this state of in-betweenness, indolence, hence deplorable or is it a transit camp, hence necessary. To me, inertia is as much about being and doing as it is about rest and resistance. A moment that is mandatory to engage in, to evolve, and to eventually become.

Let’s cite ‘Fashion’ in the Indian context, for specificity’s sake. Costume design has forever been imbued with tradition but the need to modernize is mounting. However, keeping up with international trends that gallop as quick as the Sutlej currents isn’t easy, as we need to remain as rooted as the Banyan tree in order to reach out to local audiences who are more entrenched in a conventional approach to dressing. Can we immerse your finger in two jars at once? The present state is that of a balloon being squeezed from both ends, our references are borrowed from bygone decades yet the focus is only on what is to come.

Fashion today echoes this inertia: the twenties make a comeback, the fifties see a redux, the sixties are revisited and the nineties remodeled, yet they all become representational of the Now moment. The  mood: New. This meteoric motion of the oughties is only a harbinger of the crash—the moment when all matter breaks loose before it might reform.

Some say others constantly remain in a state of inertia, that they never begin. But we never do start with inertia, it is a thread that simply connects the shift to the quake, the appetite to the meal.

The story of fashion is similar to the earth’s lithosphere. It began, united, with continents connected through and through, but as the calamities laid control it fragmented into various different genres and cities. There used to be just Paris, but now there is a costume capital in almost every continent, which sheds its creativity on the entire globe. From a single couture showing in a year we now make a myriad lines, from prêt-a-porter to resort to pre-collections. Much like the plate tectonics that determine their type of boundary based on their relative motion—they are divergent, convergent, or transformational; fashion too feeds on its activity in a similar manner. The divergence has been diluted, but the convenience of this decade may have thrown fashion into a convergent limbo, but the transformation is to come. How radical will it be? It all depends on the motion we gain now, in this moment of inertia.

Perhaps, then, it is important to absorb as much of it as we can when we are in it—we glide through the galaxy gathering stardust so that when the big bang comes to pass, there is not just light from the glow garnered along the way, but flight too, footed by the friction of a whirling voyage.


Carol Singh is a former stylist at Harper’s Bazaar India and currently lives and works in New Delhi as a freelance fashion philanderer.

Also in this issue

  • Imbued with seemingly endless possibilities, the name CAMP comes to mean nothing. Or rather, it means everything. CAMP resists inertia (instead, it aspires toward infinity)...
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  • When you sketch market areas, people and objects are bound to move or block you from your view, this is something beyond your control. To counter this, I keep building an archive of the necessary key details in my head...
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  • The new aesthetic! Re-inventing the known, challenging the confirmed, making you think, not letting you be, and creating new comfort zones only to push you back into the uncomfortable earlier known console...
    Read More

Illusion: Seeing Beyond Seeing
Meaning: In Search of Significance.
Melody: A Different Tune
Rhythm: Ordering Time

Dhrupadi Ghosh is an old friend of mine. We have often had long sessions of adda late at night, discussing her dream projects since her college days at Santiniketan, where she majored in Sculpture.