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Education through fashion

Fashion weeks may be fast becoming overrated, but charity never goes out of style, or so believes Shabana Azmi, who is a veteran at leading a good cause. Rochelle Pinto tells more.

fashion and trends Updated: Oct 20, 2009 20:05 IST
Rochelle Pinto

Fashion weeks may be fast becoming overrated, but charity never goes out of style, or so believes Shabana Azmi, who is a veteran at leading a good cause.

For her latest good turn, she is rounding up young design talent to bring attention and funds to her NGO, the Mijwan Welfare Society started by her father, Kaifi Azmi, in Mijwan, Uttar Pradesh.

By design
The plan is to invite budding design talent from various fashion institutes around the city to participate in a competition, which will culminate in a fashion show called Mijwan, Sonnets in Fabric on December 15.

The bait-winners will get a chance to dress top fashion models and a couple of film stars. B D Somani Institute of Art & Fashion Technology College, SNDT Womens University, National Institute of Fashion Technology-NIFT, JD Institute of Fashion Technology and Raffles Design Institute are the participating colleges.

Designers Manish Malhotra and Anita Dongre will act as mentors to students through the competing rounds, first being an entry of 20 designs from each college. The top 50 designs will be selected and showcased at the fashion event. From the chosen 50, two winners will be short-listed by a panel of experts, which include Pradeep Hirani, proprietor of design store Kimaya, designer Shaina NC, Pradeep Huha and Azmi.

The students will be asked to use chikankari, a popular Mijwan fabric. Though shortage of time doesn’t allow Azmi and her team to source fabric directly from Mijwan, that is on the cards. “I’m overwhelmed with the response. Every person I asked has agreed to participate in the event,” reveals Azmi.

The endeavour is the brainchild of Azmi’s godchild Namrata Goel, who came up with the plan after a visit to Mijwan earlier this year. Funds will be raised through sponsorship of the main event and will help in setting up a distance-learning centre in the village. Despite having a computer centre there, teaching faculty isn’t available. Azmi hopes to bridge the gap between the rural poor and the urban centres, a policy, which was followed by her father.

“The youth are the ones who change the world. The platform will give young designers a chance to harness their skills and draw attention to Indian crafts,” she explains.