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Indian fashion's do-or-die week

The country's fashion week is turning four this year. And the apex industry body, the Fashion Design Council of India, is hell bent on making the Rs.1.8-billion industry among the best in the world.

india Updated: Jul 17, 2003 13:28 IST

It's being called Indian fashion's just-do-it year.

Become professional. Just do it. Become corporate and concentrate on business. Just do it. Go global and become a full-fledged industry. Just do it.

The country's fashion week is turning four this year. And the apex industry body, the Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI), is hell bent on making the Rs.1.8-billion industry among the best in global fashion's $35 billion market.

"It's going to be big, we are going to be big," said Vinod Kaul, executive director of FDCI.

With 58 designers, almost as many top models, and buyers from around the world, it certainly seems so.

"Selfridges is coming, so is Aesthetics, Pegasus Fashion Imports, Maria Luisa, Zingara, Kikis -- the top London stores, the top US stores," Kaul said. "Indian fashion must make or break this year. Never before have 350 buyers converged on the Indian fashion week.

"This year, we must understand where we stand, how Indian aesthetics can be relevant internationally."

That simply means that the show, this time at a Mumbai theatre rather than the usual luxury hotel, is going to be more hysterical, more hedonistic and more heavily professional than ever before.

In 35 ramps shows, the designers would unveil the latest, biggest, grandest trends amid a sea of colour, cut, coif and almost cannibalistic clothes.

"Are the clothes bigger or the wearer, hmmm," ponders the aquiline-nosed, regally patrician ace designer Tarun Tahiliani. "That is the question!"

He is going to show jewelled T-shirts this year and Tahiliani said the idea is to make everything, in one word, ravishing. "If you are not hot at the fashion week, you die!"

Fashion has never been so serious. Last year, the fashion week made Rs.200 million for the FDCI; this year, it could well be well above that.

With Goa-based top-notch designer Wendell Rodricks and couturier Hemant Trevedi doing the grand finale, the show promises to be spectacular. Said revedi: "It's going to be a no-hold's barred fashion week."

Over the years, fashion concepts in India have changed drastically. The question used to be "Whose fashion?"

The answer today has broken the neon-lit boundaries of the rich and famous. Last year, the joke at the fashion week was how anyone passing by Delhi's Taj Mahal Hotel, the venue for the event, would try to gatecrash.

But that's just the point. The lofty pedestals have toppled, the numbers game has begun and it's all about the masses.

That's why from the very beginning, the FDCI has avoided a haute couture line for the fashion week. It's always just been prêt-a-porter or diffusion (a mid segment line a rung lower than couture).

Cosmetic giant Lakme has returned as the title sponsor for a record fourth time this year and Kaul said it's setting an example. "The message is: Indian fashion is here for the long haul."

First Published: Jul 17, 2003 13:28 IST