The most talked about show at Wills India Fashion Week is the “Finale”. To be the finale designer is a privilege. It’s a concept you will not see at most other fashion weeks, but in India the finale is definitely the most desirable show of them all. Firstly a designer gets a fee and the costs of the show are fully picked up by the sponsor. Fashion Weeks in India are still very sponsor driven, and while all designers pay for their slots, they are subsidised rates thanks to the money a sponsor puts it. Which is good news for younger talent, who would otherwise find the showing the cost prohibitive. That really is the raison d’être for a finale — the most important, best produced and best attended show is the sponsor’s. Since they are putting in the money, this seems apt.
Sponsors will naturally choose designers they feel have the best rub-off value on their brand. Hence the most-known names in the industry, Sabyasachi, Rohit Bal and Tarun Tahilani are often selected for finales. With many mid-level designers now coming of age, it would be exciting to see them given this honour and might add some freshness to this concept. It comes as no surprise that for this edition of WIFW, the first lady of Indian fashion, Ritu Kumar, has been chosen. Lakme Fashion Week (LFW) decided to take things in a different direction this season by giving this coveted slot to two up and coming designers, Kallol Dutta and Pankaj and Nidhi. In a way making a statement that LFW is a platform about younger, fresher talent. Now whether they stick to this plan remains to be seen.
WIFW, which is the largest fashion event in the country, goes for the larger names. But the essence of a finale is the same, it really is not about setting trends at but making a large celebratory statement. A finale show is always more theatrical in nature, it is basically about putting on a good show. Many fashion critics feel it is out of place at a serious fashion week and is now feeling a little out-dated. It does remind me of the genesis of fashion events in India which were always hosted by the textile mills. They had this “tamasha” element, as both showing of their fabrics and entertaining the wholesalers at the same time. After five days of show after show, looking at stall after stall perhaps this is not a wrong attitude to adopt. Why not keep things slightly more entertaining?