Fashion Faux Pas

The Delhi-Mumbai divide is doing more harm than good to Indian fashion.

Written by Namrata Zakaria | Published: August 29, 2012 3:04:01 am

The Delhi-Mumbai divide is doing more harm than good to Indian fashion

OF course,the necessary press rhetoric aside,if there’s anything that has come out of the two mega fashion weeks that we sat through this month alone,it is the fact that Indian fashion still keeps the Mumbai versus Delhi argument alive.

Mumbai’s Lakme Fashion Week quickly concluded on a high note — with an announcement that they are (finally) doing some business to speak of. A new “trajectory of growth” that spelt 220 registered buyers and anecdotes from young and forgotten designers on how sales were rather good. If the announcement is true,and genuine business is truly conducted,then that’s arguably good news for everyone.

New Delhi,on the other hand,has carped and guffawed at Mumbai’s preoccupation with celebrity showstoppers (Bollywood only,there are no other kind); it has failed to hold a mirror up to itself recently. Right from Madhuri Dixit and Sridevi to Katrina Kaif and Karan Johar,Delhi’s PCJ Delhi Couture Week had every top-lining movie celebrity on its runway.

What both weeks seem to tell us is that they’re only interested in catching up with each other. The fashion show has become a show of one-upmanship.

The result of this is a country that shouldn’t be as confused after more than a decade of fashion weeks. Instead of focusing on one week of mega fashion,where only the best and the finest in India is showcased,celebrated and made to inspire,we have a culture of unnecessary competition.

India was introduced to the fashion-week model to give the industry a vision and a direction,but we’re all still grappling with shadows.

Designers aren’t yet sure if they want to build their couture base,or go with the insane numbers of ready-to-wear retail. They’re still wondering if buyers from Europe or Hyderabad make better business sense. Then there’s the question of handlooms — how much is saleable and how much sentimental?

This new decade has seen a significant economic and technological advance in fashion. Thanks to the internet — in India and elsewhere — a fashion show is a redundant exercise. Not just bloggers,live-streaming and e-commerce,everything that is happening is happening on a website.

But a fashion show is never just that; it’s an emotional space. Hedi Slimane,the iconic new creative helm at Yves Saint Laurent (although he’s rechristened it Saint Laurent Paris),says it’s “purely and happily irrational… The catwalk is pure anthropology,something like an esoteric encrypted parade. It can totally be replaced but it will be missed”.

The problem with the two fashion weeks (and the others that go on in the country,with little else but a sponsor to back them),is that they are little else than a display of vanity or despair. They’re squeezed into our consciousness for all the wrong reasons. This is also why a premature Men’s Fashion Week collapsed. Besides,where do all these clothes go?

Magazines (all of them) are run by fashion houses who advertise in them. What we perceive as trends,as new things taking us to new places,are dictated more by one or two big-ticket labels rather than a cultural mood.

The fashion world gives way to the fashion system. And looking for a long-term vision is akin to waiting for Godot.

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