Right. So this year’s Fashion Weeks have come and gone. But Indian haute couture events and slick-chic style events continue at spots ranging from Mumbai and Delhi to Dubai and Paris. You name the city, you got it as our
fashionistas grab more global attention.
But a fear persists. What if there’s a malfunction or a silly costume gaffe? The inadvertent peekaboo instances featuring Carol Gracias and Gauhar Khan, on the ramp, are peristently cited.
So, does the fashion industry keep on its tips and toes throughout the year? They do, going by the persistent anxieties expressed by top models and fashion impressarios, to Sujata Reddy.
At a recent Fashion Week, it was dark back backstage. I couldn’t see that my churidar outfit was quite transparent. It showed when I almost hit the ramp. <b1>
I instantly wrapped the dupatta around my waist. I thought that could look foolish.
But still there was no other instant solution. To hide my fear, I put on a brave smile. Luckily, the audience thought it was a part of the theme. Presence of mind can evade disasters.
Two years ago, at a New York fashion show, I wore a Manish Malhotra ensemble and walked for JJ Valaya’s sequence.. by mistake. By the time the boys screamed that I should come back, it was too late. I was right in the middle of the ramp. I completed the walk.
(Laughs) The organisers were quite upset with me. They didn’t pay me a penny. And there have been instances when I’ve walked the ramp with my pant zipper open. That went undetected, mercifully, because the loose pants were covered by long kurtas. I wouldn’t mind my shirt falling off to reveal a bare chest. But I’m always nervous about a goof-up with trousers at a public event.
I’ve been through several footwear disasters. Once, the heel of my sandal chipped. Nobody in the audience noticed it, because I walked back on my toes.
Believe me, it was quite a chore. On another occasion, the strap of my shoe fell apart at the last minute. I couldn’t set it right because it was too complicated.
I half expected to trip on the ramp. Fortunately, I didn’t. So, I now take precautions during the fitting sessions. The last thing I want is to be the victim of a wardrobe malfunction.
Guys have it easy. It’s the girls who face the maximum embarrassment — from heels chipping off on the ramp to dresses falling off. Also, girls’ ensembles comprise skirts, blouses, jewellery, shoes and heavy make-up.
Comparatively, men have a far more chilled-out time. We don’t have to show off complicated outfits, let aside jewellery and make-up. But yes, I must admit that I’m a bit nervous to wear a dhoti or lungi on the ramp. On such occasions, I make sure the knot is tied firmly in place. When in doubt, I insist on a safety pin over the knot, just in case..
At times, a show can be extremely disorganised. The stage may look great but organisers often compromise on the space backstage, the number of mirrors, air conditioning and make-up artistes. It’s worse during summers. There’s loads of make-up on your face.
At such times, I get really uncomfortable. Not once but several times over, I’ve gone through a nightmare. I’ve seen colleagues wear wobbly heels and trip on a long dress. Fortunately, that has never happened to me. So thanks for asking.. I’m keeping my fingers and toes crossed.
As a fashion director, I use a device called ‘Clear Comms’ to communicate with the coordinators backstage. Once, I almost had a nervous breakdown when the device failed, with little time left for the show to start. Earlier, during my modelling days, I once walked to a full house, with the audience clapping and cheering for me. I was flattered. The next morning, I carefully scanned the pictures printed in a newspaper. To my horror, I realised that the crowd was cheering not for me, but for my open pant zipper. That was hugely embarrassing.
This happened at the technical round of a fashion show in Singapore. I ran towards the stage and slipped on the stairs. My knee was bleeding profusely. Still, I completed my rehearsal and walked for the main event. I have scars on my left leg even today. As for wardrobe malfunctions, every model should double-check if his or her outfit has been stitched efficiently and has a sufficient number of hooks. As a safety measure, I carry a box of pins and tuck them in the dress when I feel it may give away.
My worst experience was for a show in London. I was wearing a flared salwar kameez. I had to act as if I was running away from a boy. As I ran, I tripped and my shoe got stuck in the ramp board. I hope that never happens again.
As a choreographer and model, there’s always this dread that one can trip on a sari. So, I have a simple way-out. I just avoid wearing a sari. When I wore it once, it wasn’t tied neatly. Moreover, I had to rush on stage because I didn’t even have a minute to re-do it. I was tense but thankfully sailed through. I’ve seen wardrobe malfunctions at some of the most sophisticated fashion shows and pageants.
You must have nerves of steel to overcome such disasters. Some models are pretty blasé about errors.. some just don’t care.. and others get so paranoid that they call it quits. It helps when you have a supportive team that anchors you. But what can I say about that? Well, a fail-safe back-up team is a rare phenomenon.