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Trendsetters no more

Designers accrue enormous publicity from Hollywood celebs but the same can’t be said about their Bollywood counterparts, writes Vinod Nair.
Hindustan Times | By Vinod Nair, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAY 23, 2009 06:25 PM IST

With the recent Parliament elections, the last several days was all about the kind of outfits worn by politicians in India, especially the young ones.

For several decades, we have seen hundreds of photographs splashed in the glossies on which film star wore what designer outfit on the red carpet.

What they wore
Politicians and, more importantly, film stars are, no doubt, vehicles for publicity for many designers worldwide. Surely what Kevin Costner, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and Cameron Diaz wear make a huge difference to the designers who lend their creativity to their wardrobes. But, I have my doubts as to whether the same parallel can be drawn when it comes to our stars, our designers and their clientele.

To begin with, the kind of appeal that Hollywood stars have cannot be matched by their counterparts in Bollywood. So while such brand endorsements translate into huge sales for designers in the west, the same isn’t true for India. The reason is that western designers have a worldwide following while our designers have, so far, remained within the periphery of our own country.

I think the Chit Chor days are long gone when, as a young boy, I used to see several ladies wearing Chit Chor saris. I didn’t quite know much about it except that it had something to with a Hindi movie. I still don’t know much, but the fact is that saris were sold in thousands.

I also remember seeing local guys wearing the stupid cap Aamir Khan wore in Dil Hai Ki Manta Nahin. Surely, that’s not the target audience our designers are looking to sell their clothes to.

The point is, no one in India, other than the nukkad londas, gives a damn about what a celebrity wore while shopping. In any case, when was the last time you bought something because you saw an actor wearing it? While writing this piece, I put the same question on Facebook: “Would you buy a designer outfit just because a celeb wore the same?”

No takers
The response endorsed my opinion that no one really cares about what our celebrities wear. Almost everyone said ‘never.’ There were a couple of exceptions though… a friend and colleague felt that there are girls who would die for that Kareena Kapoor-wala dress.

A designer friend wrote that he still gets requests for the blue sari that Madhuri Dixit wore in Pukar and the mirror work sherwani that SRK wore in some dance sequence. But these are rare.

Then why do most (I repeat most, not all) designers go in for such stunts? Who in the world really cares what these guys wore (politicians included)?

I suspect that the only ones who do are the designers themselves who love their 15 seconds of fame. And the celebrity who gets the outfit free so that for the one million appearances that he/she makes every year, he/she can have a different outfit. Hmm, not a bad deal.

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