Chained To The Patriarchy: Bvlgari's Elite Take On The Modern Indian Woman
Like all good revolutionaries that have come before her, India’s resident feminist- the one that promotes fairness creams, tweets in support of military forces and observes silence when it comes to the mistreatment of minorities in India, has reclaimed the mangalsutra. In Priyanka Chopra’s eyes modernising a token of heterosexual marriage is of utmost importance and the only socio-economic gap left in modern-day India. Thankfully, this ridiculously expensive necklace is launching in India and we can be just as radical as Priyanka!
Bvlgari launched their modern take on the mangalsutra exclusively for the Indian market on the 1st of September. The product was announced via a press conference with Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Mauro Di Roberto and Nonita Kalra. Throughout the press conference, Priyanka Chopra reiterated the need for a contemporary interpretation of this traditional piece of jewellery by stating that it is “emblematic of the modern Indian woman herself”. She also went on to say that by buying a modern mangalsutra for herself with her own money, she would be “smashing the patriarchy." Brb, need to save up 3 lakhs to smash the patriarchy.
The mangalsutra unlike any other piece of jewellery, brings with it a deep and problematic past. Akin to a wedding band, the mangalsutra is a tangible representation of the commitment and vows made to your partner, in this case, your husband. The mangalsutra has been a 'choice' majority of Indian women have to succumb to, lest face the wrath of the moral police as FIRs are lodged against those who oppose our 'culture'. (We are not kidding, look it up here.)
In theory, the mangalsutra is perfectly harmless but in a deeply patriarchal society, celebrating this signifier of marriage and making sweeping generalisations of its potential to become a symbol of empowerment isn’t the bold feminist move Bvlgari thinks it is. Gimmicky marketing seems more like it.
In a press release, Bvlgari’s managing director stated that “It took several years to design our interpretation of the mangalsutra for the modern Indian woman, for whom this piece is often one of the most important pieces of jewellery she wears”. It is unsettling that an Italian brand is assuming truths about these “modern Indian women” and reinforcing the wife and mother archetype that we as a community are trying hard to shake off.
Maybe if Bvlgari spent a year or two aside from their supposedly arduous design process to examine religion in India, they would have dropped the mangalsutra for something less cliched. Choosing Priyanka Chopra as the global ambassador for the brand and the spokesperson for its exclusive Indian launch is another cop-out, she is our token global representative. The Italian brand is positioned as aspirational, but churned out a mangalsutra laughably endorsing a false sense of empowerment while pigeonholing Indian women to yet another stereotype. The stereotype of the girl obsessed with their wedding. Bollywood has shoved it down our throats long enough, we didn't need an Italian brand to reinforce it. Bvlgari’s brand statement that promotes inclusivity and diversity falls short.