On fashion weeks – Priyadarshini Rao
October 30, 2006
I truly believe that fashion weeks in India have been widely misinterpreted. And, now, what with the abundance of them (we actually have four in a year), I shudder to think how disdainful one could get of the entire lot of designers.
That brings me to the designers themselves. Now, these to most people are a strange lot of characters. They dress strangely, they usually have no sense of time and they love to party, apart from the fact that they make sequinned kurtis for a living.
Today, we have an abundance of fashion design graduates spilling out from self-styled institutions. While about 15 years ago (I actually graduated that long ago), the meagre numbers that stumbled out of such institutes were considered darzis and sent straight to the workshop to learn skills from the pattern master. It’s true, I am still amazed when I come across fresh graduates from design schools with massive egos who tell me that spending time at the workshop is a complete waste of time and immediately twirl around to get their show together at a fashion week.
I can go back to the year 2001, when I showed at my first week at a group showing. The new crop of designers included Savio Jon, Anshu Arora Sen, Aparna Chandra and Aki Narula. Then anyone under 40 was a new designer. But when I look back today, I see all of them have achieved the recognition they deserve. In 2002, I bumped into a young kid called Sabyasachi Mukherjee. And in 2004, I met a nervous Varun Bahl who was showing for the first time.
I believe fashion weeks in India have become a fertile breeding ground for real talent. It has offered direction to a lot of designers and for some of us who do not indulge in active PR, it has been the best way to stay in contention without having to attend every glitzy party.
And yet today one sees dozens of new names at each week, that just somehow seem to vanish in thin air before the next one comes along. Fashion is a fickle thing, and yet the winners are those who can sustain. I see some of my students, clients, assistants et al, all wanting to jump on to this gravy train called fashion week, and I sigh in disbelief.
At the risk of sounding a like a sceptic, I wonder what direction the fashion frat will take? According to me there are currently three levels to this entire lot. On one hand, there are those who have revolutionised Indian fashion with their years in the business and are a defining force. While the next level of designers are the younger lot, who are showing their business skills with corporate tie-ups and their passion for prêt-a-porter. And then, there is this last underbelly swarming with self-styled stylists and 20-something kurti makers who seem to have ample direction but no focus. But I guess they are important too, they make the good ones seem better.