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Poll dampens India's fashion week opening

India's fifth annual fashion began quietly Tuesday with none of the splash and splendour of couture and celebrities that have marked previous years, perhaps because of the country's general elections.
PTI | By Indo-Asian News Service, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON APR 28, 2004 12:50 PM IST

India's fifth annual fashion began quietly Tuesday with none of the splash and splendour of couture and celebrities that have marked previous years, perhaps because of the country's general elections.

At oomph goddess Rina Dhaka's show, which opened the fashion week, the designer displayed a range of delicate and often brazen range of hip casuals, with lots of metallic glitter.

In ivory and browns, moving to beige, the collection was as strikingly sensuous as the designer's reputation but there was little sense of that zingy excitement that a fashion week being opened by Rina Dhaka - one of India's top three couturiers - should have.

The only celebrity attending was the ever-sartorially elegant politician T. Subbarami Reddy, who at end of it all said it was a little too much "exposure".

"They don't need to expose so much," said Reddy, wearing a dazzling black, crinkled fabric kurta and jacket with a crimson silk handkerchief peeping out.

Missing were the usual set of Delhi socialites. The only one spotted was Naina Balsaver, but she is a jewellery designer, so its business too for her.

"Too much work happening on the poll front," said Reddy.

That was perhaps what kept away the effervescent and omnipresent Amar Singh of the Samajwadi Party, who rarely misses a do of this sort.

But Tuesday was just the first day and many were hopeful that the crowds and the celebrities would come as the event unfolds.

Among the key pillars of the fashion week have been foreign buyers.

If London superstore Selfridges dominated attention for the first couple of years as they picked up Indian designers to place "along Gucci and Armani", last year it saw a barrage of French interest, including mega brand Celine.

This year, the arrival of Saks Fifth Avenue and Browns is expected to heighten claims that the fashion week, and India's Rs.250 million fashion industry, is getting better.

It's still tiny, considering the country's textile revenues amount to about Rs. 650 billion.

India accounts for around 2.5 percent of the global $200 billion apparel market and the industry accounts for 12.5 percent of the country's foreign exchange and contributes about three percent of the gross domestic product.

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