A feast of fashion on the cards

COME AUGUST and Delhi's citizenry will be treated to an extravagant fashion carnival, Lakme India Fashion Week. The LIFW-2002 will unfold before the eyes of the Capital's who's who at Taj Palace Hotel for seven days from August 2. This one-of-a-kind show, which will see the light of day after much cogitation and behind-the-scenes work, will arguably bring together the best in the business and an audience that understands every nuance and statement of designers. India Fashion Week is reputed to be the mother of all fashion shows and the Capital, which is teeming with bigwigs of the political establishment, will momentarily become the Mecca for the fashion cognoscenti, who are expected to flock in from every nook and cranny of the country.

Surely, the proof of the pudding lies in its eating. But what shouldn't be forgotten is that apart from the hype and hoopla this show is generating even before the spectacular display of accessories draped by known models parading on the rostrum, it is going to be held on such a large canvas. It is a must not only for someone who can discern fashion statements but also those who want to follow along with the times. It is expected that more than 50 designers will participate and over 10,000 people will attend.

However one of the numero uno designers, Tarun Tahilani - who shot into fame when his chiffon kurta was worn by Jemima Goldsmith Khan when she tied the nuptial knot with Pakistani cricketing heartthrob Imran Khan - would be conspicuous by his absence. So will be highly acclaimed designer, Ritu Beri. Synonymous with the sobriquet "Princess of Paris", Beri is currently giving the finishing touches to her forthcoming October show in which she will be showcasing her range of accessories.

A feast of fashion on the cards

Rohit Bal is full of beans in anticipation of this show. He says that his collection will bear traces of his homeland, Kashmir. "I will be showcasing diffusion, which will be between upmarket and low market range. Balance, the new label that I will be presenting is going to be ready-to-wear. The price of my ensembles will be from Rs.1,250 to 15,000".

Designer Ritu Kumar opines that in order to internationalise their couture collection designers will have to manufacture clothes which have the feel of our country's heterogeneous culture. Also, the subcontinent's climatic conditions and do's and don'ts of society should play uppermost in a designer's mind. She says, "It is here that events like India Fashion Week can give an impetus and formality to this loosely structured industry."

Two criticisms in the media that are constantly hurled at the fashion fraternity is that they don't relate to any catastrophe - whether it is the bloodcurdling communal frenzy in Gujarat or the war mongering in the subcontinent. When Indo-Pak nuke brinkmanship was at its peak our designers were showing their dresses emblazoned with floral embroidery or dancing to the tunes of American singer, Shakira, whose mermaid wriggle so enraptured some of them that fish has become a dominant theme.

A feast of fashion on the cards

Designers, on assurance of anonymity, say that they aren't gullible so as to bite the bait of patriotism at a time when the entire global community is facing an economic downslide. However, they are ready to lend a helping hand for any altruistic cause or generating funds for relatives of Kargil martyrs. They don't want to show that they are virtuosos or holier-than-thou but want the public's evaluation - bouquets or brickbats - of their work. Another castigation frequently hurled at them is that they repeat ad nauseum designs inspired from traditional Indian wear. Designers on their part say that they cannot kill the goose that lays the golden egg. They are in this business to earn a buck. At a time when the whole world is feeling the drought after the destruction of the World Trade Centre on September 11, 2001 it won't do justice to their hard work if they fail to get commensurate returns.

FDCI, which is organising this mega event, is doing a commendable job by giving a platform to budding designers to showcase their talent. These upcoming young designers will exhibit their wear and style within a stipulated period during the event. But behind-the-scenes there is much more - months of hard work, entailing needlework that goes into the fabric in their workshop, which is filled with the smell of cloth and dye. FDCI's Vinod Kaul is cock-a-hoop about all the meticulously planned arrangements and the gruelling spadework that have gone into organising such a grandiose show.

Indian designers face a formidable challenge from their Western counterparts, who are able to take a large chunk of business in Europe and America as they are financed by top business houses. Until and unless the fat cats like the Birlas, Tatas and other business moghuls lend a supporting hand, this industry can barely manage to keep itself afloat.

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