Here’s what you need to know about the Showstopper Syndrome
Do fashion designers need Bollywood celebs as showstoppers? The fashion fraternity opens up about B-Town celebs hogging the ramp and why clothes need to be the only stars.Updated: Sep 15, 2019 12:04 IST
If you have attended a fashion week or a fashion show by a celebrated fashion designer, there is a moment during the show, where the lights go dim and amidst the cheering, enters a Bollywood celebrity wearing one of the designer’s best dresses. This act has become such a norm during shows, so much so, that for every show when the light dims, people expect a celebrity to pop up. However, not every designer prefers celebs hogging the limelight.
At the recently concluded Lakmé Fashion Week, there was an interesting session, titled Voice of Fashion, where the panel featured veterans such as David Abraham, Rajesh Pratap Singh, Rohit Bal, Shahab Durazi and Wendell Rodricks. Speaking about the most loved and hated word ‘showstopper’, the designers gave their opinion in a candid chat. Rodricks claimed that he was the one who started it all. “In 2004, I started this stupid thing called showstopper. I put Malaika Arora on the ramp for the finale of that collection called fashion democracy and I was ridiculed. I was threatened and was sent nasty letters saying how can you take this star into the press room. So, in 2004 when I put her on the ramp, I didn’t know I was starting this horror story called showstopper because I hate that word now,” says Rodricks.
Well, Rodricks is not the only one who thinks that designers don’t need celebrities. At India Couture Week, fashion designer Tarun Tahiliani’s collection was displayed by models wearing a showstopper badge. As per reports, Tahiliani went on to explain that the model with the “showstopper” badge covering her face, was to symbolise that the show should not be about anyone’s face but about the outfit.
Similarly, Durazi too voiced his opinion about giving the limelight to celebrities instead of the clothes on the ramp. “When you have a fashion show, the star on the ramp should be the designer and his craft,” says Durazi, adding a word of advice for young designers, “And for young designers, you do not need a Bollywood star. Instead of paying a Bollywood star money to come on the ramp, use that money well to invest in your infrastructure, skilled labour, raw materials etc. You will get a moment’s fame when you have a star, but will you be able to sustain that?
However, it’s not always the decision of the designer to bring on the star. At times, it is the sponsor of the show that intervenes and asks for a celebrity. Rohit Bal, who has always voiced his opinion on topics related to the fashion industry, did confirm that the reason they put a star on the ramp for a show is because of the sponsors and it is never the wish of the designer. He also went on to add that “maybe a showstopper is used by a lot of people as a disguise, for the lack of their talent.”
Bal also believes that a showstopper takes way from the entire hard work and effort of the designer because when you have a showstopper, everyone - be it the media or any social platform - the only pictures you see of their collection is the one worn by the celebrity. And sadly, it is the only outfit people tend to remember.
On the other hand, fashion designer Rina Dhaka, who has been in the industry for almost three decades now shares that she always ends up using a showstopper. “What Malaika Arora had worn for me in earlier shows still sell. Today, there is a lot of commerce that has entered in the industry. And showstoppers in India is a big thing. I cannot denounce their [celebs] right, it is their wish and they are getting paid,” adds Dhaka.
Fashion designer Rocky Star, who will be showcasing his collection at the upcoming London Fashion Week 2019, shares that in the two decades of him showcasing collections displayed by models and actors in India, the emphasis then was still on the collection. However, in today’s scenario he feels that the appreciation for couture is somewhere lost, where the collection is recognised by the showstopper and the people in the front row of shows.
When asked if things change when presented on an international runway, Rocky says, “I believe, with my showcases at London Fashion Week, the showstopper will always remain my clothes. The industry and the audience is there to see only your garments. That’s when reinventing with every collection becomes essential. It’s your art and creativity that takes centre stage and not the power of your celebrity pull.”
While the debate on whether the runway needs a star or not may never end, the fashion industry is one big platform where stars were born and careers were made.