Designs on designers
ANUJ KUMAR meets some of the design people who will be at the centre of the annual Lakme India Fashion Week starting soon in Mumbai... .
A FOR abho, B for badla, C for cholu, D for doru... Foxed? One is not trying to bamboozle you with the words of a foreign tongue, but these are some style terms that will stand you in good stead if you want to relish India's biggest fashion festival - Lakme India Fashion Week 2003 in entirety and are ready to make your eyeballs move beyond the bellybuttons. The annual extravaganza, which sets the style trends for the season, will commence from the July 18 in Mumbai at the National Centre for Performing Arts. 58 leading designers including Satya Paul, Rohit Bal, J.J. Valaya and Rina Dhaka will showcase their oeuvres in the premiere fashion event of the country.
The history of Indian textiles tells us that though zardozi, dabka, jamawar, bandhini, chikan kari all owe their origin to this soil, till the 1980s it was considered modish to track down the unknown master in a by-lane, who would stitch a garment for a few rupees, give the fit and finish of a Dior and give the lady who wore it a chance to take pride in bagging a bargain.
With the opening of Ravissant and Ensemble in Mumbai in the early `80s, the concept of designer stores hit the Indian shores, and with it evolved the haute couture culture - or, simply put, fashion for the layman - and the four-digit price tags. What followed was the spawning of design schools and designers with extravagant outfits targeting the miniscule celebrity class, leaving the lady next-door to continue with her search for that elusive master, who could keep her floating with the designer times. This alienation of the masses never allowed the fashion business to take the shape of an industry in the real sense of the term. The common man's participation was limited to gazing at the models in print and picture.
The slump in business made the biggies realise that they could no longer just keep on targeting the West with opulent trousseau stuff, neglecting the Indian middle class clientele in the process. With this harsh reality dawned upon them the need to come down to lower priced diffusion and pręt lines and a platform, where they could reach out to them. The gestation period resulted in the birth of the Fashion Development Council of India in 1998 followed by The Lakme India Fashion Week (LIFW) in 2000.
However, J.J. Valaya, leading designer, who has been associated with the Fashion Week since its inception calls it a "natural progression". He says, "as in the West the couture sets the trends and then comes the pręt and diffusion lines. The same is happening here. But in India we are early as we are targeting middle class especially through this week during the nascent stage of the industry itself."
Though FDCI, the body behind the annual fashion carnival asserts that the Fashion Week is meant to expand the customer base with affordable pręt-a-porter clothing, priced between Rs.500-10000, some of the designers have Western markets in their designs. Kavita Bhartia, who is making her debut in the Indian Fashion Week after the Singapore week is eyeing the event as an opportunity to attract Western clientele for her occidental attire, which falls in the diffusion range, that is Rs.10000 to 30,000.
Vinod Kaul, Executive President, FDCI apprises, "FDCI developed LIFW as a platform for designers and buyers to come together in an effort to encourage forward linkages with retailers, corporates, exporters, etc. Over the years with increase in participation this event has developed into a meeting ground for all the industry players." He informs that besides 35 shows and exhibition stalls, trade focussed seminars and workshops will also be organised during the fair.
Get ready for the razzmatazz, when 48 leading models strut down the ramps to put on view the melange of fashion gurus from achkan to angarakfia. Hoodwinked again? Wait for more.
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