London rendezvous

It's their turn in the limelight. After quietly stirring the staid world of fashion in Chennai, five designers from the city are all set for their tryst with global fame. Thanks to Fashion Mania - 2003, the creations of Erum Ali, Tina Vincent, Binu Jha, Dipnaz and Richa and Aruna Rao will hit the ramps of London on November 8. And the look? Quite naturally, fusion. Desi designs in an international idiom.

Ask R.Ajit Menon, the man behind Fashion Mania, an annual Chennai-based fashion event, "Why London this time round?" and he says, "London is perhaps the first stop in our global rendezvous. Fashion capitals Milan and Paris will follow, depending on the success of this maiden effort. There's a huge Indian-Sri Lankan populace in London. The clothes for the forthcoming show have been tailor-made to suit their tastes. The styling is contemporary and sure to have a wide appeal, while the accents are typically Indian. Just right for that much desired desi spice abroad."

If beauty is the buzzword, the bottomline has to be business. And Ajit makes no bones about it. "Yes... in essence, the show will not just give local designers an international platform, but also allow them to explore market potential. And for the concept to survive, much emphasis has been placed on quality."

Well... not just that. Even variety, going by the range. At a rehearsal at Hotel Quality Inn Sabari, there's frenetic activity. Models have been specially flown in to try out the clothes. The make-up artist is busy experimenting with colours and hairdos. The collection is an eclectic combination of fuss-free evening wear, cropped and fitted versions of the kurta, subtly embellished saris, ghagras, etc.

Indian fashion has a strong design statement to make... . And it needs to do so internationally, immediately. It's not enough if Abu-Sandeep captivate Michael Jackson or Rina Dhaka beckons Naomi Campbell and Uma Thurman. Events such as Fashion Mania hope to put even low profile designers in a competitive environment.

Erum Ali, for instance, who has worked with multi-coloured threads for her ensembles, sees it as "a fine opportunity to explore new realms of creativity." Binu Jha chips in, "There's no established channel for sales abroad. Perhaps, this would be a starting point. Further, designing for a foreign market is a big challenge. And I really enjoy such exposure."

With the designers getting ready for their Westward journey, it remains to be seen if they will really gain brandwidth. London ho!

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