The Liberation of Gender-Bender Fashion

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Why male designer Dhruv Kapur wore a tight-fitting gown at Mumbai’s Lakme Fashion Week
It is unusual when a male designer walks the ramp in an off-shoulder tight-fit gown at the end of his fashion show. In India, it may have never been done before. Designer Kallol Datta does saunter out after his show in one of his distinctive oversized creations, but Dhruv Kapur made a different kind of statement on Wednesday at Mumbai’s Lakme Fashion Week as he walked the ramp in a lady’s gown cinched high at his chest and with a high hem at the back. Last year too, the Delhi-based designer, known for his label DRVV, had made an appearance in a black shift with a slit.

Kapur says he wore a gown this time as a reflection of his collection’s ‘duplicity and duality’. His website says that he seeks to transpose those two traits ‘onto clothes that lie to the onlooker or serve a dual purpose’: ‘We all lead lives that are dual—one for society and one for ourselves. I want to say that you should love and live life the way you want to,’ he writes on the site.

Largely composed of unisex garments, like pants and tunics, his collection is full of muted colours such as black and grey. Singer Anushka Manchanda, who attended the fashion show, tweeted a picture of a black shift that she saw on the ramp—worn by a male model—as an item on her ‘I want’ list.

Kapur, who attended London School of Economics for his higher education and had never wanted to study fashion, has now come to be known as a designer who excels in minimalism and straight chic lines.

Basking in the attention he got after his ramp appearance, he smiled on being asked what he wanted the audience to take away from his gender- bender of a show. He said, “In the beginning, you should be awed and surprised, but at the end of it, you should feel utter and complete liberation.”

Kapur promises to make his next collection even more dramatic. It’s going to be about “the animal inside all of us”.