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Catwalk confusion

As HT Style predicted, Bollywood was going to be a strong presence at the ongoing fashion week. But even we were surprised by the extent of its hold on the runway.

india Updated: Mar 30, 2006 04:30 IST

As HT Style predicted, Bollywood was going to be a strong presence at the ongoing fashion week. But even we were surprised by the extent of its hold on the runway.

Even as tinsel-town overdrive went into its second day with little-known designer Maheka Mirpuri getting Sushma Reddy to walk the runway, and the star hangover from the shows on day one with A-listers like John Abraham, Preity Zinta, Salman Khan and Malaika Arora walking the runway and Gauri Khan, Karan Johar to Kiran Rao and Karisma Kapoor tripping into the front row, the question is being asked: what’s with the Bollywood fixation?

“It doesn’t seem like Fashion Week anymore, it seems like Bollywood fashion week,” laughs outspoken designer and champion of FDCI Rohit Gandhi.

You could dismiss this as the obvious reaction of the ‘other camp.’ Stars and fashion, after-all, mix worldwide — most recently, we saw that at the Oscars.

A label worn by a star generates great publicity and is a huge advertisement for the brand, which explains why everyone from Armani to Valentino out-do each other to bag a star. But both the label and personality make sure they do something for each other.

Just recently at London Fashion Week, when Paris Hilton walked the runway for Julien McDonald, there was a connect between the ‘sexy’ label and the ‘sexy’ socialite.

Except that there seems to be little effort at brand building here and more publicity stunts. Surily Goel, for instance, doesn’t even do menswear and she had Salman walking her runway.

It was the same story with Rocky S – he got John Abraham to walk the runway in an embroidered velvet jacket, but the show was a womenswear line!

It’s all this, according to some Mumbai designers, that has international buyers confused.

And Delhi designers sniggering at the ‘non-serious’ approach to fashion. 

“Senior international buyers are calling us and laughing about the whole thing … it sends out a wrong impression to the international world,” says Gandhi. According to him, another important aspect of the whole thing is the fact that designers like Anshu Arora who didn’t have stars walking the runway were more than likely to suffer.

The point, as a Mumbai-based designer taking part in the Lakme Fashion Week explains, is to use star power and the pull to build a brand, something that Indian fashion struggling from the overdose of designer labels desperately needs at the moment.

“What we should also see is that they are all new designers and are just trying to make a mark in the big league, hopefully the use of star-power will mature in the longer run.”

The mindless overdose of Bollywood, as a couple of the buyers pointed out, was not fulfilling the purpose that it was meant to fulfil, but was instead focussing on just grabbing attention.

Senior Delhi-based designer Tarun Tahiliani too agrees, “If you have celebrities in the show, it’s perfectly fine, but what needs to be kept in mind is that the celebrities don’t overshadow the fashion… something that has happened this time, since I’ve hardly seen anything written about the clothes except the people who were walking the runway or sitting in the front row,” Tahiliani says.

“At the end of the day, it’s a fashion show, not a dance performance in New Jersey,” Tahiliani sums up. Or they could just call it Bollywood Fashion Week, as Gandhi suggests.