The Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week that takes off in the city today may be all about fashion, but for some, the mad scuttle for front row passes and party invites is also a profitable business proposition. Individuals and agencies in the business of ‘image management’ say they stand to earn as much as Rs 60,000-1,00,000 over these five days by ensuring the ‘right visibility’ for their clients.
"Fashion Week is the time when a lot of people who want to be noticed in the city’s social circles approach image consultants for personal profiling contracts. The rates for profiling go up to Rs 60,000-Rs 1 lakh during this time. This includes getting invites for the big shows and after parties," says a prominent consultant, wishing not to be named.
"Many newbies consider it an opportunity to be seen in the social circuit and thereby get famous," says image consultant Bharat Atwal, who recently declined requests for invites from some lesser-known socialites who were willing to pay. "We get many calls from people who don’t have anything to do with the industry, but want to be seen on page 3 or sitting in the front row at the shows. It becomes difficult to explain it to them that not everything has a price tag. So, now, we just let the designer draw up his or her own guest list for the front row," says PR professional, Rashi Rohatgi Khan.
"For after-show party invites, the rates start at R25,000. If they want to feature in certain papers that publish paid news and photos, they have to shell out Rs 35,000," says another image consultant on condition of anonymity.
It’s the grand finale passes that are the most sought after. "The finale seems to take the cake. Every Tom, Harry and Sharma ji starts calling up fashion PRs and flaunting high connections for invites," says PR guru Arjun Sawhney.
The organisers, though, remain unfazed. "We don’t ever sell invites. But the fact that so many people want to come for the shows is, in fact, a compliment for us," says Sunil Sethi, president, Fashion Design Council of India."
The number game
250 - Number of passes a designer gets for personal guests in a show with an audience capacity of 500
Rs 50,000-60,000 - What it takes to hire an image-consulting firm to procure invites to coveted shows
Rs 15,000-25,000 - What a consultant charges to get you on the guest list of an after-show party