Gypsy people, now referred to as Romani, have their ancient roots in Rajasthan, and have been sharing their unique eclectic vibe with the world since leaving India over 1500 years ago.
Style-wise, floral prints, lace, full skirts, colourful scarves, billowing sleeves, large earrings, gold bangles, beaded jewelry and plenty of embellishments transformed fashion into a global playground. Jean Paul Gaultier, John Galliano, Versace and even Ralph Lauren have taken inspiration from gypsies. Anna Sui, Roberto Cavalli, Emilio Pucci, Dolce and Gabbana and Alexandre Herchcovitch created mesmerizing clothes embracing the gypsy fashion sense, while Camilla Franks, Free the People and Sabyasachi Mukherji have based their brands on gypsy inspired design.
But wait a minute…. Let’s think about this.
The gypsy style, lyrical, bold and ecstatic, has always been intriguing to fashion people. But fashion is not only pure aesthetics. It’s worthy of a deeper treatment. This ethnic minority actually suffered large-scale persecutions, discrimination and ethnic-cleansing in Europe during the past centuries. So this makes me think that when a stylist puts a model in a peasant blouse and a fashion writer dubs it ‘gypsy chic,’ they continue a cultural understanding of the Gypsy/Romani people as a romantic, arcane people out of a fairy tale. It essentially turns gypsy/Romani history into a Disney cartoon and sugarcoats the discrimination they face to this day.
As beautiful as boho-chic gypsy style elements are (and there is no denying that they are), fashion could and should get involved in politics and a deeper understanding of cultural legacies. Are the gypsies actually the thieving “pickpocket” culture as they have been labelled, or are we?
Story By: Paromita Naidu