The term ‘socialite’ conjures up the image of an affluent, upmarket and stylish woman who attends all the top bashes in the city.
Their social presence is gratified by their photographs on Page 3 of most of the newspapers next morning. However, in times of gender equality, it is no more a female bastion — men can be socialites too.
In the city’s swish parties, among a jumble of glittered faces, flashes pop out as Rohit Bal, the ace designer walks in throwing air-kisses to a stream of women in designer labels.
Not to forget others like AD Singh, the restaurateur in his bright orange pants, industrialist Peter Punj, interior designer Naveen Ansal, liquor baron, Vijay Mallya, adman Suhel Seth, to name a few.
Glam sham: In New York, decades ago, men who went out constantly in high society were known as “walkers,” a quippy term to describe escorts of grande dames.
Today’s men whose lives revolve around attending parties in the public eye, a working definition of a socialite, object to being pegged as walkers. They say they have cracked the mould by offering more than just an arm to hold on the red carpet.
As designer Poonam Bhagat says, “They have been around for over 100 years. The society is no longer male-dominated and now they just add glamour and endorse conspicuous consumerism.”
Male socialites enjoy playing the same game which women have been doing — hogging the limelight at charity gala parties and store openings. Some men are even dressed by designers, lent free clothing for their public strut, an ancient measure of whether a socialite has truly arrived.
“Male socialite is a metrosexual, urban and hip guy — a term coined out of stratification of society.” says Peter Punj.
Changing act: But the male socialites of today are different from walkers of the past because they are in the game for business’ sake — to network, hob-nob and party. So what if business is mixed with pleasure — after all, being social is business. But becoming a male socialite is no easy feat.
Good looks, a smart wardrobe, impeccable manners and a sense of humour help, but sans networking skills, it is a task next to impossible.
However, there’s a catch: there is a difference between someone who goes out all the time and someone who is a socialite. He is someone who gets invited on private planes and yachts, has connections all over the globe and that’s what a socialite is. After the It girls, meet the It boys!