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IFW design not a steal, says Carol Gracias

Gracias confirmed she had bought the dress from Shantanu and Nikhil, reports Khalid M Ansari.
PTI | By Khalid M Ansari, Mumbai
UPDATED ON JUL 23, 2003 03:21 PM IST

The controversy threatening India's biggest fashion fiesta looks destined to die a natural death with Carol Gracias, the model in the eye of the designer storm, denying any foul play.

Gracias, the actual owner of the outfit in question, broke her silence in an exclusive interview with Describing the hullabaloo as regrettable, one of the top rampwalkers in the country confirmed she had bought the white linen dress from designer duo Shantanu and Nikhil. She continued to wear it till her fittings trial for the IFW conducted by Lubna Adams.

"I must have lost it sometime during the fittings but didn't notice since I was awfully busy." According to her, there was an unfortunate turn of events at this point.

"Krishna (Mehta) was showing a similar line and the intern working with her picked up my dress by mistake and included it in lineup without first verifying its antecedents. Since it carried no label, the confusion is perhaps understandable. The inclusion of the dress in Krishna's show is therefore at most a human error and should not be blown out of all proportion," says Gracias.

The 21-year-old Goan beauty is in fact unhappy about Shantanu and Nikhil claiming ownership. The dress, she argues, has nothing to do with them except the fact they designed it. "If anyone needs to claim ownership, it should be me", insists Gracias.

She dismisses any possibility of Mehta or any of her production crew filching the garment on purpose. "No designer, specially someone of Krishna's repute would risk his or her goodwill for a dress that costs no more than ten thousand rupees. It is Shantanu and Nikhil who should have acted in a responsible manner by refusing to become part of the controversy. People have been casting aspersions on poor Krishna for no fault of hers," says Gracias.

With their role in the whole drama attracting a lot of flack, the designer-duo who presented their collection on the first day of this year's IFW, is understandably reluctant to talk. "Enough damage has already been done and we have decided to resolve the issue within the designers community without dragging it further," says Shantanu Mehra.

Detractors of the Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI) are looking at this as just another instance of inept handling and poor organisation that has marked the event right from the start. According to Rajiv Goel, fashion critic and editorial director 'F n L': "Shifting the venue to Mumbai was a serious mistake. The venue is a cesspool of confusion with buyers unable to reach the work displayed at stalls that are on different levels and halls. No signage or escorts have been provided to facilitate visitors. I believe the intern who mistook Carol's outfit as part of Mehta's collection, is also an unlucky victim of this chaos."

Vinod Kaul, FDCI's executive director, is however trying to play down the issue and refuses to comment citing procedural propriety. "We have a council that will look into the matter and only then we will know what actually happened", he says.

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