Stagecrafthttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/stagecraft-3/

Stagecraft

The fashion show is becoming less about clothes and more about entertainment once again. Only this time,it's not such a bad idea.

Truly blessed are those who watch fashion shows for a living. Really,can there be anything more glamorous and coveted than a fashion writer’s job? But if you ask us,we moan and groan and pretend our lives are all work and no play. Until you take away our front-row seats,that is.

There is also ‘fashion fatigue’— our new excuse for not being invited to a fashion show. If a dress is just a dress,and after a point all lehengas appear to look the same,how much can you write about a sequence of clothes? This is why we have something that is unique to Indian fashion shows — the showstopper.

Suneet Varma’s couture show last week in Delhi was loosely inspired by supper theatre. He had some highly unlikely showstoppers,making it the show we’ll be talking about for months to come.

The clothes were as celebratory as is Varma’s métier,coupled with Judith Leiber’s iconic bags from their couture line (the American clutch label was toasting their 50th anniversary).

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The show began with Ajay Bijli,the reticent entrepreneur of PVR multiplexes,who changed the way we watch our movies and in turn changed the film industry entirely. Bijli did something only his inner coterie of friends know he does so well — he sang.

The Delhi audience loves to be entertained. With Bijli’s rendition of O mere dil ke chain,guests were clapping,even grooving,as the shy suited-booted Bijli regaled a flutter of bedecked and bejeweled models.

Next up was the disarming Rene Singh,another pal of Varma’s who sang Jaiye aap kahan jayenge with beautiful expressions and appropriate hand gestures. Pallavi Lakshman crooned in a beautiful black kurta with Varma’s vivid embroidery. And the pièce de résistance was another of Varma’s besties and contemporary,Ravi Bajaj. Bajaj’s wicked wit is rarely enjoyed as the designer prefers to let his splendid tailoring speak for itself. But his shiny tux and sequined white shirt turned him into Jay Gatsby singing Roop tera mastana. He flirted with every model that came on to play coquette to his charmer act. The celebrity singers had turned Lela Katsune,president Judith Leiber,and her creative director Jana Matheson,into happy paparazzi taking pictures on their cellphones.

Varma’s pulled off some truly spectacular shows in the past year alone. His 25th anniversary celebrations from last year were hugely enjoyable for their retrospective styles (he is one of India’s most successful trousseau-smiths). His faceted revolving backdrop at the Leela Palace’s terrace last year is the stuff of a stage-designer’s dreams. Just when you thought he couldn’t do better,he stole our breaths with a set straight out of a museum inspired by Pompeii for his bridal show this summer.

In these times of digital media where newspapers and magazines are fast becoming irrelevant,the fashion show seems like such an unnecessary exercise. When clothes and accessories are being sold online and the website is the easiest,far-reaching and most logical alternative in shopping,a fashion presentation serves little purpose. Its only job today is to entertain and bring on emotion.

Let’s raise our glasses to that,for as long as we can.

namratanow@gmail.com