To do, or not to do? That is the question! What makes the fashion entrepreneur tick? Some jump in for love and some to make a living. Is it wise to jump right in? The business of Fashion is a risk – not for the faint of heart.
For a population of seven billion is Fashion really worth betting on? If the Nightingale of Kuala Lampur, the diamond studded dress designed by Faisol Abdullah at a price tag of 30 million, in 2009 is any indication of Haute Couture, you bet it is! If 2% of the Indian elite equivalent to the entire population of Australia is craving 450 dollar skin caviar then I would bet this blog on the future of fashion! In 1945 the Paris fashion week had 45 designers on the runway today there are 17! 500 people in the world can afford Haute Couture or High Fashion where the dress is stitched just for them! “The insides are as magnificent as the outside” –George Simonton FIT. Is this the sign of the times? Or is there a famine in design? If I could forecast the future, I would think the 20’s are in the horizon. Fashion never really went away it just got Americanized! We just loved the idea of shorts and a plain t-shirt or Jeans, Boots and a cowboy hat! The French are still appalled by the uncouth Americans showing off their hairy legs on the streets of Paris! Well don’t take my word for it just ask any 60 year old in an American church their opinion on the dress culture at Sunday service. You’ll see what I mean. It will probably be the uncouth American who will bring back the dress code to its beloved theaters and operas like it was during the good old days when chivalry was still alive and men wore dark slacks, bow ties and buttoned up shirts; women were impeccably dressed the minute they walked out of bedrooms! So, if you are impossibly talented and you are the next best thing to “Worth” and “the Minister of Fashion” you best jump in! If not keep your day job and serve the rest of the 6.99 billion!
My first ever experience at India’s premier Lakme Fashion Week was everything I hoped it would be and more! I attended the Fashion week to learn of the untapped opportunities in the market. As a silent observer, an outsider looking in, I was amazed by the quality of the design expertise on the runway. The spectators, buyers and students were dressed impeccably. What was most striking was the absence of traditional India garb, both on and off the ramp! And, when it was present, it was done with a delightful twist! Surendri by Yogesh Chowdhury was as traditional as could be with golden embroidery and cutwork on bright orange, parrot green, black and off-white sarees. Debutante Gauri Khan presented her resort collection and was a breath of fresh air with her imaginative set décor. Mandira Bedi struck gold with her innovative blouses. Padma Shri Wendell Rodrick’s homage to Popology really was a feast for the eyes and deserved a standing ovation! The simplicity of his design was breathtaking, and one only wanted more when the shy Maestro finally walked on to take a bow!
The conversations I had with bystanders, organizers, buyers, designers, the press and the security guards proved to be a treasure trove of information. Everyone made me feel at home – isn’t that what Indians are known for? There was hope, and I came away a bit wiser than I had been a week earlier. I saw that the youth of India were comfortable, bold and proud, and I am confident they are capable of solving the problems that plague the country. Gone are the days when we needed Shabana and Nandita to speak up for Women’s rights. The youth are quite capable, and I think they are bold enough to make a statement of their own.
Notable amongst the young generation were Teresa Laisom and Utsav Pradhan of Munkee see, Munkee doo, the creators of a modern, clean-cut label with pastel colors and the image of guns strewn menacingly on feminine delicate clothing. – a statement too bold to handle for the faint of heart, but a statement nevertheless, by the young man in defense of the woman. An hour-long conversation revealed – that was his way of speaking up against the violence and his way to empower the woman was with the images of guns on the garment, as if to say, “Don’t mess with me!” Ankit and his label Greusha was enabling and empowering the LGBT community. Alan Alexander and his interpretation Kaleekal – of adult clothing through a child’s eye was an interesting use of the humble, unbleached cotton from Kerala. Salita Nanda’s couture designs inspired by Picasso were stunning, and the interpretation of Alaskan art by Babita was a total surprise! Who would have thought of putting Alaskan art on an Indian saree? The results were delightful! Yes, Indian fashion has truly come of age and it is my hope that the youth will take care of the troubles that plague the women and the downtrodden of India. The Fashion industry is alive and well, and has come a long way in the past 15 years with a voice all its own!