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Dressing Up the Lady

Must we judge Susan Sarandon for not wearing Indian designers at IFFI?

Written by Namrata Zakaria |
November 27, 2013 4:43:23 am

For once,a controversy is quickly laid to rest. A few days ago,a Mumbai tabloid reported that top-league American actor Susan Sarandon,in Goa last week for the inauguration of International Film Festival of India (IFFI),refused to wear any clothes from Goan super-star designer Wendell Rodricks because she didn’t like them. Then,the report stated,she was sent some other samples from other designers,but the lady declined them all. She eventually opted to wear a friend,Chinese designer Han Feng’s,red dress. Rodricks refused to correct the story. But this morning,he posted on his Facebook page,blissful pictures of Sarandon and him,along with both their partners. The designer and the Oscar winner are on his personal boat riding through the backwaters of the Mandovi river. He shared: “I love Susan Sarandon for many reasons. A joy to share a private evening on our boat and a Goan dinner in Colvale with a star with many,many common interests. I was a fan. Now I am a friend and will definitely meet her in New York. I sleep tonight in bliss of meeting a wonderful soul to share our Goa with.” Sarandon,on her part,has also tweeted: “So happy to see the beauty of Goa thanks to @WendellRodricks & Jerome”.

Rodricks was contacted by Sarandon’s manager Bryan who happily hosted the actor at his ancient Portuguese villa home in Colvale village. He also pointed her to photographer Denzil Sequira’s beauteous home-stay,Elsewhere,and its secluded beach nearby. Rodricks further delighted her with a home-cooked dinner of prawn curry and rice,tambdi bhaji,prawn balchao and tuna cutlets. Amid all the white noise,the moot question here is why must Sarandon be necessitated to wear an Indian designer?

The idea of foreign celebrities wearing local clothes when on official visits is nothing but a protocol obligation by first ladies and politicians’ wives. When did this courtesy come to be expected of a Hollywood celebrity?

This craze is a result of the birth of the red carpet at film festivals. Ever since the Academy Awards became a fashion show of sorts,where top designer labels would woo stars and their stylists to wear the clothes for free,and,in turn,help boost their sales tremendously,a film festival must be a glamorous place. Festival de Cannes toppled the Oscars with a red carpet that began on the main road (the Croisette) that snaked its way to the staircase of the main hall,with a wall of photographers on both sides.

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No one wears only French designers when they are at this south of France film fete. Our own Sonam Kapoor peddles Dior thanks to the label’s energetic marketing VP Kalyani Chawla,while Aishwarya Rai Bachchan must wear at least one outfit from the Italian mogul Giorgio Armani. Celebrities wear what they want to. The pressing need here is to re-examine IFFI and turn it into an upscale event. It’s put in place by the Union Information and Broadcasting Ministry,and takes place in Goa for its tourist friendliness. It’s still a dull space filled with bureaucracy and babu log.

It would do well to outsource the event to an entertainment and lifestyle-related events organiser. To rope in local protocol officers to chaperone international guests to truly lovely haunts. To give the main venue — the grand Goa Medical College (or even the Charles Correa-designed Kala Academy) — some added moxie,by having pop-up restaurants,and even a red-carpet photo-op space. Maybe then next year’s purported guest Angelina Jolie will turn up in a black leather-embroidered Gaurav Gupta sari instead of her favourite noir gowns. But only if she elects to.

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