So much for being the country’s premier fashion event. In its eleventh year of hosting Fashion Weeks, the FDCI-run Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week could not have gotten off to a more disastrous start. Without a fire license, the Delhi police threatened to shut down the event, beginning by telling visitors to turn back at the gate. Even participating designers like J J Valaya were asked to go home as “the programme had been cancelled.” Later, a notice was put up at the main gate claiming that the shows were indefinitely delayed due to technical reasons, and visitors would be informed of the new timings. At the time of going to print, already facing a four-hour delay, there was no word on whether there would be a Day One of WIFW at all.
Initial complaints about the awkward location (a traffic nightmare) were compounded by badly planned parking setups. The event, spread out over the open-air grounds of the NSIC grounds at Okhla Industrial Area, allowed visitors to be scorched in the sun as they make their way from the parking lot to the main show area (MSA) or the buyers lounge.
Once the police arrived, guests carrying otherwise legitimate day passes were asked to leave the premises and wait to be let in once the licensing issues had been cleared. Models could be seen walking around, with hair and make-up in place, asking each other for updates. Designer Nida Mahmood, whose show was supposed to be the curtain raiser, looked increasingly frazzled as she ran around trying to get information on when she could begin. Puneet Nanda of brand Satya Paul said that he would cancel his show even if WIFW managed to sort out the license issues. “I’m not going to let my guests stand outside and curse me for being put through this inconvenience.”
“I’m beginning to appreciate Mumbai’s Lakme Fashion Week more and more,” stylist Mohan Neelakantan exclaimed. “Over there, no more than a 15 minute delay is allowed.”
Maybe the Capital could learn a thing or two about organisational skills from the Maximum City after all.
Fire-related tragedies in the past
Early this week, Kolkata:
Six persons were killed and 20 others injured in a devastating fire that swept through a 150-year-old multi-storeyed building housing offices and residences on upscale Park Street on Tuesday. The fire broke out at 2:15pm, but there was confusion on which floor of the six-storey building, Stephen Court, it broke out with panic gripping those trapped inside.
February 2010, Bangalore:
Six men and three women leapt to death from the top floor of a four-storey office building that caught fire on a weekday. Twenty-three others were injured. The fire was believed to have been caused by a short circuit. Panic-stricken workers in the commercial complex broke open glass windows to escape the billowing flames and toxic fumes.
June 1997: Delhi:
Fifty-nine people died of asphyxia in Uphaar cinema hall when a fire broke out during screening of the movie, Border. Over 100 people were injured in the subsequent stampede.