One would think with me doing this series on Mythic Fashion i.e. fashion inspired by mythological characters and stories… that I’d primarily be picking the Goddesses! But the Gods in Indian Mythology are every bit as inspiring, gorgeous and ‘stylish’ as the Godesses…! (Sometimes even more! ;))
Take Lord Shiva for example!
“Shiva! The Mahadev. The God of Gods. Destroyer of Evil. Passionate lover. Fierce warrior. Consummate dancer. Charismatic leader. All-powerful, yet incorruptible. Quick wit, accompanied by an equally quick and fearsome temper.” (as described by Amish Tripathi, in “Immortals of Meluha”)
Lord Shiva is THE Yogi… the Ultimate Gypsy… detached from the materialistic world… Pure in his thoughts and actions…! Easily angered, easily pleased! Endlessly loves every being (good or evil)… because all he sees in them, is the positive.
Shiva is the 3rd and final part of the Holy Trinity! While Brahma is the ‘Creator’, Vishnu the ‘Balancer’, Shiva is the ‘Destroyer’! He represents the destruction and the end of all evils, in order for purification and rebirth to happen!
For this very reason, people in India have always, since times immemorial, been most in awe of Shiva!! There’s an old saying, ‘you always admire what you really don’t understand!’
People could at least make the attempt to try and understand Brahma or Vishnu… But Shiva, No one could understand! Even fewer could relate to him… Hence, not only did people admire him… they were also intimidated by him the most!
In today’s day and age however, Lord Shiva, isn’t feared anymore… He’s considered ‘Cool’ and ‘aspirational’… and has been made even ‘cooler’ by the fantasy-fiction versions of his story by writers like Amish!
Now, one would think that being a yogi… detached from the materialistic world, what fashion could He possibly inspire! And why am I talking about him on a fashion blog. But oh! In my mind, He is one of the most fashionable Gods ever!
So for this chapter, I decided to create a look, inspired by Lord Shiva: The Yogi, The Tribal, The Gypsy… But for a Woman! And by using all modern fashion accessories, so as to make this look completely wearable and practical (well… somewhat)!
Now, let’s look at his physical symbols based on how he’s been described in various ancient texts and his portrayal in mythological literature:
1) Jata: His hair tied in a tall half up, half down bun from which the Ganga flows out
2) Trident: His weapon of choice
3) Animal Skin: His loin-cloth is made of animal skin and he sits on a carpet of tiger skin
4) Serpents: Serpents form his key accessories (I’d tell you the super-awesome story of why that happened… but that would totally change the subject. So let me just tell you one of the symbolisms in short: Snakes represent ego… and by wearing a snake around his neck, it symbolized that Shiva had complete control over his ego :))
5) Rudraksha: Rudraksh beads / seeds around his neck / head. (While there are several mythological stories about why Shiva wore Rudraksha, my theory is this: Because the Rudraksha beads contain magnetic and electric inductive properties, wearing them stabilizes our bio-electric current, helping us manage stress and keeping us calmer. I’m sure an intense person like Shiva could use that to help him stay calm :))
6) Bhasma: Shiva rubbed his body with ash… Ash which symbolized death, moksha and being one with nature!
So using these 6 symbols, I’ve created this very mythic, yet chic & contemporary look!
1) Jata: I’m wearing my hair in a half-up do… with a bunch of Rudraksha strings rolled around my bun as a hair accessory! (Obviously don’t have Ganga flowing out of it ;P)
2) Trident: These trident earrings from DramaQueen are perfect to add this element to the look. (Though I agree that Gold is not a colour that is associated with Shiva…, I am, afterall, trying to ‘fashion-ize’ the look ;))
3) Animal Skin: Now obviously not the actual skin but am wearing these leopard print harem pants which I bought from Amazon. (Animal prints, by the way, are quite the flavour of the season ;))
4) Serpents: My snake arm-let, something I found at a Tibetan store in Goa, is perfect for this!
5) Rudraksha: The Rudraksha around my neck… Well, Mr.Wolf and I strung it ourselves to be a curtain string in our home… haha! Thought it was perfect for this look… (I’m sure he’ll be wondering where that went once he gets home :P)
6) Bhasma: A bit of face-paint on my arms for added effect!
Now Shiva was always described in scriptures as being barefoot… symbolic of being fearless and free from any materialistic bondage…! However, if in case he had to, in modern times, wear footwear… in my mind he’s wear heavy, masculine, combat boots! Why? Because he’s the warrior… the destroyer… the outlaw! He’s the ultimate man’s man… and anything less rugged or less destructive would be contrary to his personality (These boots are from Carlton London)
However, I’ve kept my top to a plain black, sleeveless leotard (from New Look) because while it’s simple enough and black represents Shiva and his state of being one with himself… it’s also quite glamorous for a modern day look for a woman!
This look is also inspired by the story of Lord Shiva and Bhang (Cannabis). In the ancient text Artharvaveda, Bhang is described as a beneficial herb that “releases anxiety”. Now, intoxication has always been associated with Shiva. It’s said in ancient scriptures that it was he found the transcendental properties of the mixture and it helped him transcend from the worldly worries into a state of spiritual ecstasy, trance and Advait (Knowledge of self)! (Btw, Cannabis is not just a thing of intoxication… it’s also a super-medicinal herb which can cure most common ailments possible ;))
The fact that he’s famously the inventor of bhang (Cannabis) also makes him super-cool in the minds of most youngsters. (It also somehow makes intoxication once in a while, e.g. on Holi, somewhat legitimate! ;))
Where would I wear this?
This androgynous, yet chic look inspired by Shiva I could wear to any chilled out, casual party or a pub. It’s also a wonderful look to sport when you’re travelling… let’s say to a Goa or McLeodganj – any place that’s chilled out, free and gypsy in its spirit…
One of Shiva’s most popular representations in modern times is the ‘Natraj’ – the cosmic dance of destruction… called AnandaTandav – The dance of Bliss! The modern day genre of ‘Trance’ music and Trance clubs actually originates here…
The demon on which Shiva’s foot is placed is supposed to be symbolic of ‘ignorance,’ and dance, according to ancient scriptures is believed to be one of the forms of expression that leads you to the ‘creator’ i.e. to Enlightenment.
So this look, with a little variation from the one above, I created to wear to a club or a trance party… where everything from the music, the lights to the dance is created and meant to transcend one into a state of trance and thereby reach epiphany.
I’ve primarily kept the entire look the same, except that I’ve changed the pants from the animal print, into heavily ripped jeans to symbolize destruction and loss of consciousness! (Which, btw, I DIY’ed myself :))
Hope you enjoyed this post and like the pics! Let me know what you think and do tag me in your posts in case you dare re-create this look! 😉
Photography Courtesy: Sonalee Das with Fahim
Makeup courtesy: Sangamithra Pillai