She had just won an award recognising her work over the past five days, but exhaustion appeared to be competing with excitement on the model’s face as she received her honour. The Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week was a couple of hours away from its climax – the grand finale by designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee.
The Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI) was awarding the best new designers, models and photographers. Down the ramp, near the lounges, music played very loud and the bars were crowded. But the jives and thrusts appeared fewer. The fashion week looked tired. And blaming only the parties would be naive.
Over the past five days of covering the fashion week, I have appreciated some shows, and failed to understand others. Models have dazzled me with their looks and their presence. Others have failed to impress my untrained eye. But I have in the process seen through what I now think is largely a mirage projected by the fashion industry to the outside world.
The parties that represent the fashion fraternity to the outside world are the lacquer to their wood at best, more likely a cover to veil the hard work that is needed to succeed. The wonderful prints and audacious designs that I saw on the ramp this past week would, I realised, have taken massive physical and creative energy out of designers. The designers, at the end of the day, have to succeed as businessmen in order to continue with their passion. In some ways, I realised, the designer may have to separate his heart – needed at the fashion show to wow viewers – from his mind – needed at the exhibition area a floor below to earn hard money. I have noticed the same models adopt slightly different styles while walking down the ramp for different designers.
Presumably, the styles are demanded by the designers, in keeping with the image they want to sell through their shows. Selling that image, show after show, for different designers – all while staying near anorexic – must be tiring. Clicking photographs of glitzy models may appear a dream come true, but doing it five days in a row, while also capturing designers and wannabe celebrities at sideshow parties cannot be easy either. But doing all of this while pandering to the perceptions of the outside world must be hardest.
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