When models walked the ramp in Srinagar on Sunday evening, no one in the predominantly youthful audience could recall a similar event ever having been held in their strife-torn city.
“Certainly not since the insurgency began in 1989,” said Shekh Imran Bashir, one of the organisers of the fashion show.
The backdrop of the open-air theatre at Zabarwan Park, where the show was held, were the Zabarwan Hills, the very spot at which a four-day long encounter between the police and militants ended last Friday. One militant was killed and two jawans injured.
But the incident was the last thing on the minds of those watching. Though the 11 models who participated were all amateurs — and in some cases, the inexperience showed — the audience, specially the women present, cheered them wildly.
All the models were male. “We could not get any women to participate this time,” admitted Bashir. “But we hope they will do so in future.”
Even so, he had reason to be pleased. “I was told I’d get threatening calls from militants,” he said. “I feared people would throw eggs and tomatoes. But nothing of the sort happened.”
“My sole intention is to promote fashion as an industry here,” said Bashir. “We have such handsome models but they never get the exposure or the support they deserve.”