The launch of the Chennai Open was marked with Vijay Amritraj’s humour and tennis stars walking the ramp

Vijay Amritraj is amusing. He really is. Peering through his spectacles he read out from a script, now and then coming up with uproarious impromptu comments. His innuendo-laced humour clearly appealed to the crowd. It all happened at the fashion night and opening party of Aircel Chennai Open 2013 , presented by Marks & Spencer in association with IMG Reliance, where Amritraj played the MC for the evening. The tennis ace is apparently still fond of loud cheer and applause. When he entered the stage and the audience greeted him with a half-hearted ‘hello’, he went backstage and re entered... this time the greeting from the audience was loud and enthusiastic.

M&S being the official fashion partner this year, all the models and Amritraj wore clothes by the brand. Looking dapper in a suit, he spoke about the Chennai Open that is in its 17th year in Chennai, which has seen a host of famous players such as Boris Becker, Rafael Nadal and Leander Paes.

“Paes is acting in a movie that’s releasing this week. He plays the lead it’s not a horror movie. So, Paes acts and Bhupathi is producing films. Maybe the two can finally play together?” grinned Amritraj and then added, “Bopanna is looking to act...Somdev and I don’t think so.” The crowd was in splits, the biggest fan of Amritraj’s jokes was probably his brother Anand , who sat in the front row and laughed the loudest.

After numerous anecdotes and one-liners it was time for the fashion show to begin. It featured a few tennis players too. The first round showcased formal wear with models in knee grazing dresses in black, emerald green, rust and maroon. All the clothes were part of Marks & Spencer’s Autumn Winter collection. In the next round they flaunted casual wear that includes striped tees, printed jeggings, peddle pushers and bright-hued shirts. Yuki Bhambri ambled onto the runway in a suit looking rather “cute” as some girls in the audience put it. Sergiy Stakhovsky followed swaying to ‘Moves like Jagger’ and did a little step for the hooting audience.

Venu Nair, CEO M&S said, “The reason we tied up as the fashion partner for the event is because tennis is associated with fashion both on and off court. This will give us the opportunity to display our fashion credentials to a larger audience.”

Next up was the Career and Party wear round. The range comprised straight cut dresses, pin striped suits, blazers teamed with fitting short dresses, floral printed pant suits, sheer tops with shimmery skirts, sequinned outfits and embellished tunics in leopard print and with geometric patterns. This round saw Somdev Devvarman and Marin Cilic making an appearance on stage. Devvarman was suited up in a limited slim fit suit.

According to Amritraj, Cilic in his checked linen blazer and a pair of jeans looked like Clint Eastwood. Celic said, “I last did a fashion show here two years ago. It’s good fun and relaxing.” Devvarman spoke about his goals for the season which are “staying healthy and staying out of trouble”. And for those interested, the 27-year-old is single.

The fashion show went on for about an hour, post which the party continued. While Devvarman, Bhambri and Stakhovsky disappeared soon after, Cilic stayed on and interacted with the people. Those who missed the players on the ramp can catch them battling it out at the SDAT stadium. And this time they won't be in their formals.