Where are Trinny and Susannah?
Imagining What Not to Wear without Trinny Woodall and Susannah Constantine is a tough task. No fashionista duo comes a close second to these outspoken ladies. Who else can say, “Blondes and shiny fabric equals hooker” and “Cropped pants make any woman look like a stunted man” while keeping a straight face and meaning every word of it?
So the BBC folks (producers of What Not to Wear) got Soha Ali Khan and Aki Narula to play the style police for the India edition.
Of course, they are no Trinny and Susannah. And then they aren’t that well-known either. Soha, for instance, has never been hailed as a fashion diva by the media or fans, and Aki Narula has more or less hung up his designing boots to focus on styling. But then, Trinny and Susannah became mini celebs after the show.
Bum shorts, anyone?
I had several initial apprehensions about What Not to Wear India. Firstly, would Indian women be willing be paraded on national television for their lack of style? Would the producers get interesting participants? And, most importantly, would the hosts be able to get across the much-needed fashion and style tips to us?
The answer is mostly yes. For instance, there’s a middle-aged mother of two who wore drab unflattering kurtis, and an aspiring model who only liked to wear “bum shorts”. Yeah, really!
Adopting the international format of the show, Soha and Aki first accost a subject nominated by friends or family, then put her in a “360-degree room” (completely surrounded by mirrors) in her favourite outfits. The duo then break down each outfit, explaining what works and what doesn’t. Explaining basic concepts of styling and fashion (like body types, prints, colours), a couple of sample outfits are demonstrated and explained. And then they both trash her earlier wardrobe. The “bum shorts” girl squealed as Soha and Aki dumped her entire hot pants collection. Then the participant is off on a shopping spree while Soha and Aki give their nods of approval or exclamations of disdain. Of course, it all ends happily ever after. 🙂
Yeah on fashion, meh on drama
Makeover shows are always fun to watch when executed well and so is this one. Soha may not have been a stylist but she’s got screen presence and explains style concepts well without talking down to the participant. My only grouse is that her look is the same throughout the few episodes I saw (feminine dress or blouse or with fitted skirt and heels). Aki Narula is his usual experimental style and though he doesn’t speak as much as Soha, his inputs are incisive. I especially liked his idea of using old saris to make stylish kurtas.
The show is a good pastime, though it doesn’t rank too high on the entertainment factor. I didn’t end up making a connection with any of the participants and there wasn’t too much “drama” to keep me hooked. No tantrums, no “I give up” moments, just a few tears of happiness on realizing the magic of dressing right. And the few opportunities for some cheeky moments are lost, perhaps to avoid offending sensibilities. So while Trinny and Susannah would have pronounced a certain participant’s style “slutty” without batting an eyelid, Soha and Aki were a tad more diplomatic.
Meanwhile, the fashion and style tips are quite handy for women watching the show. Even a self-confessed fashionista might get a pointer or two from the show if she watches carefully. What the show does miss out on is on the importance of accessorizing- it only gets a passing mention.
What’s important about What Not to Wear India is that it’s got an Indian perspective on styling- such as the right kurtis for you- which foreign makeover shows skip. We’ve always needed a reality makeover show of “ordinary people” so this show (along with Be Blunt with Adhuna Akhtar) will be counted as the early ones. And BTW, if you’re bored of Grey’s Anatomy (Season 1 -yawn!) and Vampire Diaries (teenybopper stuff), you should switch to TLC (they all air at 10pm).
Meanwhile, I hope for another season with some drama and outrageous makeovers.