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Updated: March 19, 2010 18:41 IST

The week that is

Shalini Shah
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Meera and Muzaffar Ali's collection displayed at the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week last year. Photo: R. V. Moorthy
The Hindu Meera and Muzaffar Ali's collection displayed at the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week last year. Photo: R. V. Moorthy

The Fifteenth edition of the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week, with a few surprises and additions, will commence this Wednesday in New Delhi.

Come Wednesday, March 24, and the 15{+t}{+h} edition of the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week (WIFW) will kick off, not at Pragati Maidan where it happened last season, but at the NSIC exhibition complex in Okhla.

“Pragati Maidan is closed to public due to renovation work ahead of the Commonwealth Games,” says Sunil Sethi, president of Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI), the organising body behind WIFW.

Sethi assures the Autumn/ Winter 2010 show will be a spectacular event, despite the venue change and rumours of a few big names' non-participation.

Some 75 designers are set to showcase their clothes on the ramp over 43 shows. Of the 19 designers making their debut at the fashion week, eight take the ramp and 11 will showcase in the stall area.

While the ramp, so far, has been about 64 ft long, this time it has been extended to 80 ft, says Sethi. “This is the largest ramp we've ever had,” he adds. This means more time for the shutterbugs and guests with the clothes and a longer walk for the models.

The show format has changed too, with the days' proceedings now set to begin before noon. Most days, the first shows start as early as 11:20 a.m. to accommodate more designers on the runway.

The Mumbai pack is represented by Bollywood favourite Rocky S., resort wear specialist Nandita Mahtani and milliner-accessory designer Shilpa Chavan of label Little Shilpa, all showcasing at WIFW for the first time. “Rocky S. has a rocking 9:30 slot,” says Sethi. Little Shilpa, on the other hand, is the opening show of WIFW.

While the absence of high-profile designers like Rohit Bal, Wendell Rodericks and Narendra Kumar has led to much speculation, Sethi says, “Four stalls have been booked for Rohit Bal. Regarding Wendell Rodricks, he's been on cruise for two months and hasn't taken part in any show this season. He'll be showing in a stall in WIFW though he is still in South America,” he says. Narendra Kumar, on the other hand, will be taking part in FDCI's other event, the Men's Fashion Week.

Don't be surprised if you see a dozen highly-ornate autorickshaws in the exhibition area. Artists Dilip Sharma, Farhad Hussain, George Martin, Hindol Brahmbhatt, Jaishree Burman, Jagannath Panda, Paresh Maity, Sanjay Bhattacharya, Satish Gupta, Sudhanshu Sutar, Yusuf Arakkal and Nitin Bal Chauhan, have worked on an autorickshaw each, using them as a canvas to represent various facets of India. Funds raised from the auction of these art pieces on day one of the fashion week will go towards World Action Forum, an initiative of NGO Khushii with which FDCI is partnering.

The reticent Rajesh Pratap Singh is the grand finale designer, narrating the story of the fashion industry in ‘Bespoke Tales'.

A pleasant surprise is Abraham & Thakore showcasing on the ramp for the first time. While the label has ensured its participation in the fashion weeks through a stall presence, it has always, conspicuously, stayed off the runway.

“It's nice to do the catwalk,” says designer David Abraham. “While people know about the label already, we want to reinforce the message and update our customers about the brand. The domestic market is a very important market. We've done everything backward – we went international first,” says Abraham. “On the ramp, you have to be able to distil an essence and communicate very quickly.”

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