Metal fashion can be displayed both as headgears and garments in an artform owing to its visible aesthetic value. It is classy and sober with an old world charm fastened to it. Such engineered fashion displays a larger-than-life experience with unlimited dreams woven out of the box as if, conjuring a phantasmagorical world.
Clothing with metals or metal chips makes the pieces stunning and extraordinary because of the dazzling lustre that it reflects. A model clad in layers of yellow or white metal will automatically outshine others with the sparkling light emitted by a string of precious stones she puts on.
“By incorporating metallic elements into designs, it is easy to break free from the constraints of traditional fabrics. Metal wardrobe also provides an avenue for designers to showcase their technical prowess. The process of working with metals requires a unique skillset and a deep understanding of the materials. Designers who are adept at manipulating metals can create clothes that seamlessly blend artistry, engineering and fashion. It has an otherworldly feature, delving into sci-fi, cyberpunk and a fantasy realm,” espouses Raghav Mittal, chief creative and managing director, House of Surya, Delhi.
Designers are increasingly interested in importing metal into their collection because it allows them to produce that X factor to stand out from standard textiles. “Dabbling in metal necessitates technical talent and knowhow to manage the malleable and ductile medium without destroying it. This expands the designers’ scope for conjuring up different types of patterns in his studio,” views Dr. Poonam Bhagchandani, associate professor and head of the department (art and design) at Sharda University.
Flaunt Your Metal Fit
For women, one of the usual metal-infused outfits is the traditional sari. The pallu, the border or the blouse of the six-yard weave often feature detailed metalwork, such as zari work (silver or gold thread embroidery in clothing or on a rich brocade silk fabric) or metal sequins. These metallic elements make the outfits aptly fit the bill for special occasions and celebrations. In menswear, metal accents are often seen in sherwanis and achkans. The buttons and brooches on these garments are frequently crafted from metals like brass or silver. These metallic details lend a royal trait to the attire, exalting its overall majestic quality and dignity.
Additionally, both men and women can incorporate metal through jewelry and accessories. Traditional valuables like necklaces, earrings, bracelets and anklets are mostly made from precious metals, such as gold, silver and even bronze. These pieces not only complement the outfit but also serve as symbols of great cultural heritage.
As far as male fashion goes, a complete metal makeover would be impractical for everyday wear. However, fine minute metal details won’t do any harm to accentuate men’s wardrobe and appearance.
Leather belts with metal buckles or decorative components, shirt buttons made of metal or set with small gems, suspenders or braces made partially or fully out of metal, tie bars or tie tacs made of metal and watch metal chains worn around the neck can influence creative consciousness of menswear designers.
In womenswear, a number called ‘Ballerina dress’ features metal disks embracing organza frills and ruffles in a delicately constructed item.
Another example of metalwork used in a female ensemble is a pair of chainmail gloves accompanying a decorative lacy long-sleeved cream blouse or crochet/ macramé swimwear sets adorned with a filigree linkwork.
Genuine metal jewelry consists of either pieces made from cold connections (unlike soldered rings) and wire wrapping or headdresses made with metal-stamping machines. These headdresses are then assembled with cold connections via rings and findings.
There are certain metals towards which designers’ inclination tilt and trends are set. Some are in high demand for designing fashionable couture and elevating its attractive attributes. Gold with its timeless warm glow continues to be a sought-after precious metal for making haute couture in India. Its richness symbolizes luxury and heritage, making it a staple adornment in traditional Indian attire, such as bridal wear and festive costumes.
“The gloss of the yellow metal adds a dash of grandeur and regality to any ensemble. Whereas, silver has been experiencing a solid resurgence among the contemporary crop. Its sleek and versatile nature appeals to those seeking a modern and minimalist approach. Silver is often used to create statement pieces and accessories that exude sophistication. It beautifully complements both traditional and western ensembles, and is liked by fashion-forward individuals. Copper and brass with their earthy tones and intricate work are also gaining wide recognition all over, adding a rustic, tribal feel and depth to garments,” volunteers Mittal.
If you want to show your bohemian side with an ethnic flair, then opt for copper and brass in your jewelry and outfits. Designers with an unorthodox bent of mind can also toy with stainless steel, titanium and aluminum in Indian clothing. “We majorly incorporate Calcutta metal tikki (made of steel and coated with metal and silver paint) and zari in our creations. These metals lend a present-day edge and can be sculpted, laser cut or moulded into various shapes, resulting in bold couture pieces that counter customary notions of fashion,” adds the in-house designer.
Designer Ravi Gupta of Gargee Designer's fashion label uses brass buttons that are both functional and ornamented with designs through engraving techniques. These are all mostly used for Indian wear like sherwanis, appending vibrancy to the fabric. One can admire the exclusive array in a diverse palette of gold, silver, gunmetal, grey, black, rose gold, pink and green.
In his upcoming eclectic assortment, Gupta will introduce more metallic oeuvre for his Indian wear line. There will be a stylish addition of buckles, studs and eyelets in brass and steel, boosting the surface detailing of garments.
Iron and steel are the most commonly used metals in fashion because of their strength and ability to retain shape after being cast into various forms. “You can easily manipulate those specimens even at room temperature, unlike aluminum, the low melting point of which makes it a difficult-to-manage medium once melted and poured into moulds,” elaborates Prof. Bhagchandani.
Other nonferrous metals, such as copper, brass, bronze and silver are becoming increasingly popular, adding colours and patinas to the palette available to designers dealing with metals. Silver has an intriguing property of spontaneously tarnishing to black when exposed to air, thus eliminating any chemical intervention to obtain an ancient impression.
Unlike iron and steel, which require greater power to draw out thinner and more organic shapes, copper is malleable enough to form complicated figures. Depending on the alloys present, brass has a bright golden colour and fascinating color effects. Finally, bronze contains up to 20% tin, giving out a genial red tone while silver emits a silky grey beam. These metals are suitable for ornaments where skin complexion is vital to matching colours.
Among the galaxy of celebrities back home, the first name that comes to our mind in terms of nailing the metal fashion with swag is Deepika Padukone. With her tall frame, poise and confidence, the actress has the ability to carry off avant-garde fashion with élan. The other Bollywood diva is Kareena Kapoor Khan who pulls off metallic clothing with enviable perfection. Metallic skirts and tops chisel her out as a fashion goddess.
Internationally, Lady Gaga can rock a metallic outfit with her fearless, flamboyant image. Her daring persona is like tailor-made for the whole spectrum of metallic treasures on the red carpet or at parties. Rihanna is another superstar to parade metallic gems flawlessly. She is a constant trendsetter in making bold fashion statements so effortlessly. Renowned for her shocking and outrageous fashion choices, RiRi is versatile and a natural fit for slipping into innovative metallic silhouettes, metallic mini skirts and metallic bodysuits to just look amazing. Rest of the constellation includes Zoë Kravitz, who often incorporates metallic pieces into her outfits. She looks great in everything from metallic pants to metallic jackets. Albeit a Bollywood star, Priyanka Chopra has a global fanbase. She is a style icon and a stunner in metallic saris and gowns.