Art & Entertainment

Bappi Lahiri: A Fashion Genius Ahead Of His Time

Legendary singer and music composer Bappi Lahiri died on Tuesday (February) but his legacy lives on, not just in the music world but in the fashion industry as well.

Late Singer Bappi Lahiri

He was known as the King of Disco, for it was Bappi Lahiri, who introduced the groovy, foot-tapping music to Bollywood and mixed it with the Indian sensibilities to make it more popular. However, when one thinks of Lahiri, it is not just his music that comes to mind. Long dangling gold chains, shimmery jackets, and big sunglasses have over the years become synonymous with his personality. It is safe to say that the Bappi da, as he was called by his fans and film industry friends, has been a fashion guru in his own right.

Lahiri started his career in the 1970s and rose to great heights of fame by the late 1970s. As far as one can remember, Lahiri was always dressed in the most stylish ways. One cannot recall any other singer from the same era as Lahiri, whose fashion sense would have been this bold or global in approach and continued to strike a fine balance between his music and building a brand image for himself.

Fashion designer Rick Roy, who has designed for several leading Bollywood celebrities, calls Lahiri a 'marketing genius

"I feel that Bappi Lahiri was a genius not only in terms of his craft which is music but also in terms of branding. Bappi Lahiri was very aware that it is important to brand yourself and that is exactly what keeps you apart. From the time that he comes from, I don't think musicians and singers were bothered about it. But Bappi da knew that he had to create a branding for himself and hence he created it and became iconic," Roy tells us.

Many will agree that Roy reminds of the impact Lahiri has had on people.

He says, "Even after 50 years when you see a lot of gold and those big glasses, we say 'oh! you look like Bappi Lahiri'. So imagine the kind of impact he had on fashion. It might not be the so cold high fashion, but was a statement and so individualistic and brilliant. So, kudos to him for knowing what would add value to himself. He definitely was a marketing genius."

Renowned fashion designer Nida Mahmood rightly points out that Lahiri's style eventually became a statement of its own.

"Bappi Lahiri also known as the disco king had a very distinct sense of style. His love for layers of chunky gold chains and elaborate bracelets Teamed with bold jackets set him apart. He created an unmissable image and was never afraid to stick to his bold style. His style was so remarkably different that it set a clear genre that came to be referred to as a style inspired by him. It will not be wrong to say he was a fashion icon who had a very original style which became his permanent look," she says.

Men wearing chunky jewelry are often associated with American musicians and rappers, who have made it part of their identity. Does that reflect a connection between Lahiri and international music?

"He basically created iconic looks which might have been or might not have been inspired by the world, but he was so ahead of his time," says Roy. He adds, "We see hip hop stars doing all that he did in the 1970s and 1980s."

Decoding the impact, the late musician's distinctive fashion statement had on his fans, Nikita Jain, Clinical Psychologist and Psychotherapist, says, "The way Bappi Lahiri stood out from his contemporaries was also through his iconic style. He managed to create such a shining golden impression by bringing western influences to the Indian fashion audience. His distinctive style created an enduring visual impact in the minds of people  that I think he will continue to be remembered through it."