The hall was packed, audience expectant, and the release timed appropriately for Friday by the fashion world’s strongest Bollywood connection did not disappoint. I am a fashion novice, and those who have read this column over the past two days know well.
But as models sashayed down the ramp for Manish Malhotra, even I knew something brilliant was unfolding. Lilting Kashmiri sounds fused with faster beats created the atmospheric for Malhotra’s display of beautiful Kashmiri designs on ethic Indian wear. The prints were subtle, perhaps reflecting autumn, the season the clothes this fashion show, are tailored to. For the first time in this fashion show, I wished I had what the male models were wearing, and could buy what the female models were wearing, for women friends.
But I also knew, I was attracted to the show before the first model appeared, when the idea behind the designs was being introduced through slides beamed by a projector. This was a tribute to the lost crafts of Kashmir, a region I love and have fond memories of. I learnt that the same designer had focused on Kashmiri designs in his previous collection — for the summer gone by— too. Had proximity to brilliant actors made the designer one too? Was he playing with the sentiments and emotions of fools like me to sell his work? Or could the fashion world, behind its steely focus on the exterior, have a bit of a heart inside — one that occasionally peeped out on the ramp?
I noticed a Japanese lady sitting on the front row, at arms length from actor Neetu Kapoor, and my mind drifted out of the hall, towards the exhibition area, where I had earlier encountered something that stood out. Some things, actually — mannequins standing in audacious but fascinating paper and straw outfits. The showroom — one of the largest — displayed designs by students from the JD Institute of Fashion Technology. I spoke to two giggly 19-year-olds — both called Karishma — who were among the six aspiring fashion designers who had created the outfits.
There was a serene look to the paper designs, which used origami to create floral perceptions and signatures of peace and harmony. 'It is our tribute to Japan in its time of crisis,” one of the Karishmas said, while the other nodded. They went on to tell me how Rohit Bal had complimented them on their work. But I was impressed by what they had told me just before that.
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