As per Indian traditional thought and mythology there are five elements in nature-sky, air, fire, water and the earth. It is obvious that due to all these elements the life became possible on earth. But has anyone thought of its role in the fashion world?
The combination of these elements can be very easily related to the idea and construction of clothes in the primitive time. Nothing is perfect the first time, every invention of man is improvised with time and used according to the needs and benefits. As the people realized the need to cover their body, they started making clothes and changed them as per their understanding. The elements play a significant role in making them realize the changes.
- The sky– The basic property of this element is that it is limitless and seamless. With the use of the second property one can very well relate it to clothes of today. The first garment ever made was a single piece of cloth with no joints, just a large piece of cloth to drape around the body eg. Dhoti, sari, lungi, dupatta. Even today it forms a big part of the fashion industry. An Indian woman in a sari is a sight that takes away breath of the beholder. So by only looking at the sky one can get the idea of covering the body. In the ancient times the sky was even considered as a garment so that the people could feel comforted with their nakedness.
- The air– The basic property of this element is that it is omnipresent and can be felt everywhere. After the seamless garment, changes were to be brought in the fashion. It was so because the garments were then only draped around the body and the air caused them to move which caused difficulty for the wearer to carry them with ease without any inconvenience so alternatives were sought.If noticed, between tree branches joints can be seen in this air, giving the idea of pieces to be joined in the garment to make it more comfortable and to fit according to the body in the 3D world. Thus the idea of garment parts came into existence. It changed the fashion from a seamless piece of cloth to a seamed garment with many parts.
- The fire– The property of this element is to destroy. As the idea of pieces occurred something had to be done to cut off the unwanted fibres. Due to the unavailability of scissors fire was considered as an alternative. Thus the extra part was burnt in the fire to get the actual size of the pieces desired. This led to the making of garments that fit perfectly on the wearer’s body. Even today fire is used in singeing to remove the unwanted fibers from the surface of the cloth. The difference between then and now being it is done in a controlled manner with special machinery now.
- The water– The property of this element is to clean. Once the clothes are worn they get dirty. Every day neither can new clothes be made nor can dirty clothes be worn. So something had to be done to clean the dirty clothes so that they can be re-used. The water then came as a remedy for dirty clothes giving the idea of re-usability and thus changing the fashion perspective again. Not every man can afford new clothes every day.
- Earth– It is the source of life. Everything that grows takes the support of the earth to grow and to nurture. As the earth binds the roots of the tree to itself to support it thus occurred the thought of binding two pieces of cloth to give it stability and to fix them together for proper movement. As the roots have branches, the same way the cloth has fibers and it is the earth that holds them together thus signifying the property of the threads to sew them together.The other property of earth is to attract everything towards itself due to its gravitational force. This gave the concept of draping of garments to create different patterns and provide variety to the user.Draping forms the backbone of fashion world. The fashion industry focuses on different kinds of draping patterns and even students are taught draping in the basics before focusing on the rest.
Thus the fashion we talk about today is not a new concept. It was there in the nature itself, we just derived it from the nature and accommodated in our daily life. The draping ideas the designers use today are mostly inspired by nature. If we look deeper into the nature we will get new ideas related to the fashion today and maybe even get a new concept of Fashion all-together. Can you relate your daily life like this with the nature?
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