It’s true, the cape was hardly a wardrobe staple due to the theatrical element attached to it. Draping a swoosh-worthy piece of fabric may seem too melodramatic for everyday wear. But in 2014, it finally earned its moment on the international catwalk and has reappeared on the Indian fashion scene with architectural lines, split sleeves and feathered embellishments.
A walk down fashion history reveals that capes were merely round pieces of cloth attached to a person’s collar. The French word ‘cloke’ is derived from the Latin word ‘cloca’ meaning cape. The earliest account of this garment dates back to 1303 where a shepherd or soldier was spotted wearing one over his shoulder. It was in the late 1300s that a woman was noted to drape one around her neck.
Elizabeth I was known to wear a cape only so that her feet wouldn’t get wet. But in the Victorian era scarlet capes became a symbol of high-fashion and in 1911, it was French designer Paul Poiret who transformed the cape — he played with its shape, added Batik elements and colourful swirls. Feminine and fluid, the cape has come full circle and is far from being an ultra cozy alternative.
“Capes are an easy way to change things up and add some glamour to your look,” explains designer Manish Arora. “Inspired by the sartorially chic women of Paris, I decided to incorporate this versatile piece in my new collection. The capes used are bold and a representation of those worn by superheroes.” Arora’s collection titled ‘Cosmic Love’ collection had exciting outerwear in Aztec prints and Art-Deco patterns. In his signature style, heavenly bodies were embroidered in a medley of colours.
A complete contrast was Gaurav Jai Gupta’s version in earthy tones. The cape came in a handwoven avatar, featuring tartans, stripes, and some were even glazed with metal.
“Outerwear is a challenge because it is difficult to be unique and stylish and also look cool,” says Falguni and Shane Peacock. So this time, they paired floor-length capes with ballroom gowns and bodysuits. “With a lot of thought process and man hours, we used elements of Swarovski and intricate embroidery. We wanted the look to spell grandeur and yet be simple and not overbearing.”
Less dramatic versions of the cape or “Capelets” that extend till the hip were spotted at Amoh by Monica and Karishma of Jade and Faabiiana. Feminine and flouncy, lace and embroidered trimmings made them easy coverups for gowns and sarees.
Hardika Gulati showcased an extension of the sleeves, which gave the billowing garment sharp lines and structure. Gulati calls them “ winged sleeves” and says “capes have returned this season since being edgy seems to be a big trend. A royal signature for centuries, all I’ve tried to do is add glamour and sensuality with side cuts for a crisp, rich silhouette.
Known for her quirky approach to fashion, Masaba re-imagined the dupatta and treated it as a floor-length cape seconding its versatile nature. “Capes are classic, they’re something that a mother can pass on to her daughter and it’ll always be in vogue” reiterates Arora. “It’s not just a mere trend or a fad that will stay for a season, capes are something you can wear all the time.”
Text by Wyanet Vaz