Designer Rajesh Pratap Singh gets candid about the fashion scene

He likes to keep it simple, his clothes, life, and almost everything else. But there’s something about Rajesh Pratap Singh that sets him apart from everyone else, and no, his love for the occult isn’t what you think it is!

“I am who I am, its too late to change now…plus the way I look at it, it’s all about making clothes’. Everything else is rubbish,” he shoots back sipping a black coffee when you ask him about all the other wine drinking-bottom pinching designer lot around him. “We’re not a circus for society women in the evening, we in fashion need to start taking ourselves seriously. The way things are right now, even our ministry doesn’t take us seriously.”

“I know it’s an insecure industry, but that doesn’t mean it’s not tough, we still have to work our butts off in our factories, but there is an impression that we as an industry have to battle,” Pratap goes on. “I’ve been trying to raise funds for my show in Paris, and everywhere I go, people say, you’re a designer, you’re rich, and I’m like hello…”

Wait-a-minute — Paris? “Yeah, I’ve been selling there for about three-three-and-a-half years now, and since we had to begin somewhere, we thought we’ll start at Paris next March, considering it’s a market I know. It’s really, really expensive. Paris has been doing fashion for a decade, we’re still just about getting there. We in India are zipping through but how old are we in terms of fashion? We started in the 80s!”

According to him, the problem is that we in India don’t take our designers seriously, “Why do you think Tarun has to go to an Italian manufacturer to get shoes for his show? Because an Indian design house wouldn’t do it – they’d make up a fictitious name like Peter England and market it rather than tie up with Indian designers — it’s retarded.”

However, ask him whether fashion at large lives in a sort of Utopia, untouched by realities of India and he agrees and disagrees, “Fashion has always been like that, when you walk out of the doors of a fashion week that’s how its always been — there is a stark contrast. Fashion was never a communist or socialist concept, it works on the ‘I have it, you don’t principle’… even in Russia, which is now the biggest fashion buyer now, not Paris anymore.”

A record 87 designers will showcase their autumn-winter prêt and diffusion lines at the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week (WIFW) here March 21-26.

“WIFW will see designers hailing from across different regions of India, making it a truly national event,” Rathi Vinay Jha, director general of the event organiser Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI), said in a statement Thursday.

“Having perceived the value in our event, our list of participating designers has consistently grown at each event,” she added.

“WIFW, an event dedicated to the business of fashion, will also preview some of the best established and upcoming names among models, choreographers, hair and make-up teams,” Jha stated.

According to Atul Chand, vice president for marketing of principal sponsor ITC’s Lifestyle Retailing, “we are extremely pleased to present an amazing array of talent who will showcase their creations.

“The coming together of India’s leading designers at this unique platform is a reflection of the event’s stature and grandeur,” he added.

Among the designers participating are Abraham & Thakore, Aki Narula, Ashima/Leena, Ashish Soni, Ayesha Depala, Rohit Gandhi & Rahul Khanna, Deepika Gehani, Deepika Govind, Falguni & Shane Peacock, J.J. Valaya, and Kavita Bhartia.

This apart, Manav Gangwani, Mandira Wirk, Manish Arora, Meera Muzaffar Ali, Raghavendra Rathore, Rajesh Pratap Singh, Ranna Gill, Rina Dhaka, Ritu Kumar, Rohit Bal, Satya Paul, Shantanu & Nikhil, Suneet Varma, Tarun Tahiliani and Varun Bahl will also feature at the event.

Said Ranna Gill of the fashion week: “Its my eighth year of participation in WIFW. It’s been a long journey since its inception to what it is today and I am happy that the shows have gone from strength to strength.”

According to Tarun Tahiliani, “as an Indian designer this is the premier and most comprehensive fashion week of the subcontinent that has opened many doors besides the most serious buyer profile”.

Rohit Bal said he was “always extremely happy to be part of WIFW and look forward to participating in March”.

According to Preeta Singh, CEO of event management firm PDM that is assisting in organising the event, “WIFW has promised proven support to the Indian fashion industry by constantly innovating to meet the needs of both the designers and buyers.”

FDCI, a not-for-profit organisation, is the apex industry body in the field of fashion design in India.

Its primary objective is to provide a cohesive platform for Indian designers and act as the mouthpiece of the industry at all relevant platforms, in a bid to promote Indian fashion – at home and abroad.

FDCI is also instrumental in facilitating designer-corporate tie-ups aimed at expanding the designer prêt market in the country.

Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week (WIFW) scheduled for next month will debut five promising designers confirming the event’s commitment to promote new talent in Indian fashion industry.

Ameet Sikka, Neetu Gupta, Samant Chauhan, Shubhra and Zubair Kirmani were selected to showcase in new Hi-5 category of WIFW from March 21-26.

Creativity, quality and design edge were the benchmarks for their selection. The selected five will be given the chance to show their talent through 12 garments each.

Kirmani, is known for blending contemporary minimalism with classic heritage.

Hence, the introduction of this initiative was only a natural step to take forward the process of evolution of the Indian fashion industry,’ said Rathi Vinay Jha, director general of the Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI) that is organising WIFW.

WIFW is India’s only fashion trade event which draws the biggest domestic and international buyers, media and fashionistas,’ an FDCI release said.

The government is proposing to set up a National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) centre in Rae Bareli, Uttar Pradesh, constituency of Congress President Sonia Gandhi.

Formalities for the proposal to set up a NIFT centre at Rae Bareli in UP will be completed in about two months, Textile minister Shankersinh Vaghela said on Tuesday night.

He said his ministry has received proposals to establish more centres of the prestigious fashion institute from various state governments including Punjab, Haryana, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

We can consider a proposal if a state government is willing to invest Rs 25 crore and provide land for the institute, Vaghela said at the NIFT convocation here.

With its hub located in Delhi, NIFT has already established six other centres in Gandhinagar, Bangalore, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Chennai.

From academic year 2007, NIFT will be able to award its own degrees as the institute has been conferred statutory status by an act of Parliament, passed in May.

On reports that there is shortage of teaching staff in some of the centres, Vaghela said he has asked the institute authorities to fill up the vacancies.

If there is shortage of staff, the institute can appoint teachers on a temporary basis or take loans to increase staff, he added.

Himanshu Shani, 26, a former student of National Institute of Fashion Technology is about to wipe out the stigma that Gujarat is not fashion savvy.

He has won award in the international fashion design competition at Gifu in Japan in 2000 and in Korea, in 2002.

He had the privilege of working with Renzo Ross, the head of famed Italian jeans wear Diesel on numerous projects.

He had done consultancy work with other Italian brands GAS jeans, 55 and DSL.

He is going to launch his international label ‘Nay-ked’ in Los Angeles, United States, in January 2007.

Shani’s apparel range, which is devoted especially to women, will be introduced at 1,000 stores all across America and Europe.

He uses natural fabrics, hand embellishments with a touch of feminity that will suit women in the age group of 25-35.

Bollywood stars Urmila Matondkar, Shilpa Shetty, Milind Soman and Dino Morea wowed the Pakistani audience as they modelled outfits by Indian designers at a Lux carnival in Karachi.

The works of top Indian designers, including Manish Malhotra and Tarun Tahiliani, were displayed at the annual Lux Carnival de Couture in Karachi Saturday evening.

Pakistan’s own fashion tycoon Rizwan Beyg displayed some of his best works, Daily Times reported.

Urmila Matondkar said that Pakistani and Indian actors have been trying arduously to bring the two countries closer, but she said bureaucracies of the two countries were ‘a major hindrance’ in their efforts.

She said this should not mean that attempts to create harmony and brotherhood between the two countries should stop.

Shilpa praised the local cuisine and said that both countries should always remain friends, the newspaper quoted her as saying.

Malini Ramani fashion show targeting Bikini wear. This was part of a recent Fashion week held in India.

Not sure if we can consider it anywhere close to International standards.