Ace Bollywood designer Vikram Phadnis, whose creations were seen in the recent release Salaam-e-Ishq, is to open an exclusive store here soon with a South African partner.
Phadnis made a brief visit to the city to scout for locations, indicating that he and partner Sureka Seeth, a water purification engineer who has set her heart on switching roles, were likely to settle for the upmarket suburb of Sandton.
Phadnis said that after his first visit to South Africa for the SA Fashion Week last year he had fallen in love with the country, especially after he was lauded for his work incorporating African beadwork, something he has since featured in his Bollywood designs as well.
"In my 14-year career I had not got a standing ovation like I did that night at the finale of the Fashion Week," Phadnis said.
"I've done shows everywhere - in London, Dubai, Amsterdam, but the kind of response that I got here made me realise that I had to come here."
Offers of partnership have started pouring but he had spent time sifting through them before agreeing to work with Seeth, said Phadnis.
"Obviously, I don't want to open a small little shop - it has to be a studio where I do a brand of fusion and a couture line, and I want to do men and women's wear."
Emphasising that his kind of clothing was not for any particular community or class, Phadnis said he had been working on the creative material for a couple of months now and hoped to open in Johannesburg within the next quarter before looking at Durban and Cape Town as well.
The new partners said they hoped to have some big Bollywood names present at the launch event.
Seeth said she had approached Phadnis after seeing his fashions at the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Awards in Dubai last year and then again at SA Fashion Week.
"We are looking at very high-end upmarket clothing in a boutique style, where you only get one of a kind of outfit.
A lot of people want to look like the Bollywood stars so there will be that opportunity as well.
What I like about Vikram is that he keeps the Bollywood elements in his design as well," she said.
The garish outfits of Bollywood have given way to more of what Phadnis called "character-driven scripts".
"Even my latest film, Salaam-e-Ishq, is very character-driven. People don't take liberties with those larger-than-life clothes. Everything is according to the character, according to the script.
"Previously you would see bizarre clothing that you can't really wear on a day-to-day basis. But today times have changed and people want to wear clothing that you can identify with - comfortable and absolutely realistic."
Phadnis said although he was currently very busy with two Fashion Weeks in India, he is also working on a film featuring Sushmita Sen; another with Suneil Shetty called Golmaal, and God Tusi Great Ho with Salman Khan and Amitabh Bachchan.