Tennis aces walked the ramp at a fundraiser. T. KRITHIKA REDDY reports

There's no clash outside the court. Only bonhomie. That's what tennis stars Carlos Moya, Paradorn Srichaphan and Leander Paes demonstrated at an event in which fashion courted tennis in an unusual way. Organised by IMG and The Park, the fundraiser prelude to the Chennai Open saw one of India's top designers, Ashish Soni showcase the lines he had created for the New York Fashion Week. (Incidentally, Ashish was the first Indian designer to be invited to show his clothes at NYFW) Though beauty invaded the ramp, it was the beauty of the cause - to raise funds for tsunami victims - that made tennis fans and socialites turn up in droves. Seeing tousled-haired Moya, shy Srichaphan and poised Paes together, up close and that too sans sports clothes, was a memorable moment for the fans. As the three walked the ramp donning creations by Ashish, there were big laughs - and of course, bigger memories to take back for the audience. While Moya took to the catwalk like a pro, Srichaphan seemed a bit uneasy and reticent. Paes, in a formal suit and colourful tie, seemed straight out of a suiting ad. Quick-witted tennis ace Vijay Amritraj, who anchored the event, undoubtedly enlivened the tempo. In fact, had it not been for his charming conduct of the auction, who would have paid a whopping Rs. 30,000 for a suit worn by Paes? The aces and the awe-factor apart, the event also survived on Ashish's stylistic whims. His clothes reflected his urge to look beyond the conventional Indian style stew and dish out something more original. "It's inspired by a Japanese book," said the designer who will soon be featured at the Berlin fashion week under the premium category. As top models Jessie Randhawa, Carol and Tapur Chatterjee took the ramp, a black and white story emerged with the sound of dripping water in the background. Though there were no give-away Indian references, one could make out that some of the pants reflected Jodhpur styles. Simple and tiered peasant skirts and tops with gathered elastic necklines and generously puffed sleeves that gave a floaty look, were the highlights of the creations. And the models too carried off the restrained look with their dreamy eyes, wavy hair and unhurried pace. What followed too were departures - from set styles and colours. For instance, dove grey, earthy brown and burnt orange checked skirts that billowed at the seams were teamed with structured tops of various lengths. The embroidery and accents were subtle and surprises came in the way long kurtas were teamed with flowing skirts and fluid tops were combined with knee-flattering skirts. So at the end of the event which emerged the victor? Fashion, tennis or the cause? All of them.

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