Last evening, at the Wills Fashion Week in Delhi, 12 models walked the ramp wearing an outfit each by India’s top designers, comprising Manish Arora, Suneet Verma, JJ Valaya, Rajesh Pratap Singh, Rohit Gandhi and Rahul Khanna, Tarun Tahiliani, Shantanu and Nikhil, Ashish Soni, Lecoanet- Hemant, Ravi Bajaj, Ritu Beri and Ashima-Leena.
They’d come together for photographer Subi Samuel and the cause he’s supporting.
Since October 2011, Subi’s been working on a photo exhibition for You Can Free Us, an NGO in the US and India that works for prevention of human trafficking. Having known the organisation’s founder, Sujo John, for eight years, he agreed to a photo shoot with a rescued woman without even seeing her picture.
“She’s stunning and had delivered a baby just two months ago. What struck me was her desire to live her life freely and her belief that she could do it despite her dark past,” he recalls.
His exhibition is a series of images centered on the theme of Ashes to Beauty, which is depicted against a surreal setting inspired by Alice In Wonderland, featuring a girl wearing the 12 outfits from the ramp.
Initially, the girl’s fearful, stepping out alone into the world after being trapped in a hellish dungeon, watched by animals she can’t see.
These animals later become her friends and she frolics with them. But the past won’t leave her, it emerges in the form of dragons out of her hair, and she has to battle them before sitting down to a celebratory banquet. His model, who has been christened Alice to safeguard her identity, has also literally risen from the ashes.
“I hope we can rescue many more young women like her, rehabilitate them, go beyond medical help, emotional healing and vocational guidance to help them face life again,” says Subi, touched by the support of the designer dozen and global sports icon Leander Paes and actor Vivek Oberoi who walked the ramp at the finale.
“When celebrities come forward, opinions grow.” Unveiled in Delhi, the exhibition will open in Mumbai by the end of March.