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Fashion biz gets a shove at WLIFW

Everything else apart, what the just concluded Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week has firmly established is that Delhi is undoubtedly India's fashion capital

india Updated: Apr 10, 2006 19:52 IST

Everything else apart, what the just concluded Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week has firmly established is that Delhi is undoubtedly India's fashion capital.

If the Lakme Fashion Week at Mumbai March 28-April 1 had dollops of Bollywood celebrities, this element was in extremely low key at the April 5-9 show here, with business being the buzzword at what is clearly India's largest B2B fashion event.

And that's exactly how it should be, says French fashion guru Maria Luisa Poumillou.

"For heaven's sake, keep the celebrities out, unless you want to kill the event. Show organisers might say celebrities get an event greater publicity but this only results in the ensembles being relegated to the background," Poumillou maintained during a media interaction on the last day of the fashion week Sunday.

Hours after she spoke, precisely that happened.

The fashion week grand finale was proceeding at a trot when Bollywood star Bipasha Basu appeared on the runway to round off the show.

The audience and the media went berserk.

TV channels all but forgot about the 80-odd ensembles that had been presented at the finale as they focused on the star - an element the print media too reflected Monday morning.

Even so, if the abiding images of the Bombay week were wardrobe malfunctions on the first two days, those of Delhi will be the businesslike manner in which it was conducted, what with 170 buyers - including 70 from abroad - closely examining the creations of 80 Indian designers.

Entrepreneur Pradeep Hirani, who owns the Kimaya chain of swish fashion stores and who was the largest buyer at the last three editions of the fashion week, upped his purchases by a staggering 84 percent.

Kimaya has three stores running - including one in Dubai - and two more in the pipeline. Considering it retails the lines of 84 designers, it is proof enough that Indian fashion does sell.

Designer Tarun Tahiliani, one of India's top 10 designers, couldn't agree more.

"I'm very happy, everyone I've spoken to is happy. I can safely say that business is up 40 percent this time," he confidently asserted.

At the same time, it would be hard to quantify the business generated at the event because "this is a continuing process", explained industry expert Harmeet Bajaj.

"Forget for the moment London, Paris, New York and Milan (the world's top four fashion weeks). At every other week around the world, the event serves to showcase what is on offer and the buying happens after a series of follow up meetings," said Bajaj, who multitasks as an academician, choreographer and designer.

"We had people here from big stores like Bloomingdale's. Each one of them has said there is potential and they're going to look at it.

They've asked for pictures, they've asked for style sheets, they've asked for samples. They've said they're going back and will discuss purchases with their buying teams," Bajaj told IANS.

"Let's also not forget that 70 per cent of the business at the event is with Indian buyers," she said.

Rathi Vinay Jha, director general of the Fashion Design Council of India that organised the fashion week, termed it a "grand" event.

"It has been a truly grand event this year. The last five days have seen more designers, more talent, more buyers and more media than ever before. The new international formats have also been received very well," Jha said after Sunday night's grand finale.

The seventh edition of the fashion week was unique in many ways. For the first time, there were twin ramps that enabled 56 designers to showcase their work, while another 24 exhibited in the trade area.

The designers included Abraham-Thakore, Abu-Sandeep, Ashima-Leena, Deepika Gehani, J.J. Valaya, Ritu Kumar, Rohit Gandhi, Satya Paul and Tarun Tahiliani.

The trade area had 108 stalls where designers of jewellery and fashion accessories displayed their products.

Among the renowned fashion houses that participated were Bloomingdale's (Europe), Selfridges (London), Harrods (London), De Bejinkorf and SAKS Fifth Avenue (Dubai).

Besides, buyers from Australia, Britain, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates and the US attended.

First Published: Apr 10, 2006 20:30 IST