With the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) protesting the use of the recently restored Dr Bhau Daji Lad museum as the venue of a fashion show, the Lakme and IMG-Reliance combine’s plans to close the 15th anniversary celebrations of Lakme Fashion Week (LFW) with an elaborate Summer/Resort 2015 finale by designer Anamika Khanna at the museum in Byculla were foiled on the very day of the event.
Even as another off-site show by designers Shivan & Narresh was under way at the poolside of Palladium Hotel, which is otherwise the official venue of the LFW this year, confirmation came that the finale had been moved to the same venue.
MNS workers not only warned officials of the BMC, which owns the museum, and the Jamnalal Bajaj Trust, which maintains the institution, but also showed up on Sunday morning to stage a protest.
They said they would oppose any ‘commercial activity’, such as a fashion show, being organised in the museum premises. “In 2003, the BMC handed over the museum to the trust for maintenance. They can organise study tours, workshops, exhibitions and so on. However we noticed that the trust has been allowing commercial activities.
We should have taken up the issue earlier, this malpractice has continued for years. We threatened to take to the streets in large numbers if the venue for fashion designer Anamika Khanna’s show is not changed,” said Sanjay Naik, a local MNS leader in Byculla.
Naik added that once the organisers got to know of the impending protest, they invited local leaders to discuss the issue. “We explained our stand to them and our decision to not allow any commercial event in the museum premises henceforth. We got to know that the venue was changed and so the protest was called off.”
Lakme later issued an official press release, saying: “We have moved the venue of Grand Finale of LFW Summer /Resort 2015 from Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum back to Palladium Hotel due to unforeseen circumstances. The decision was taken keeping in mind the interests of all stakeholders. We are confident of a great finale show, like every season.”
While no one on the organising team confirmed having received threats of any kind, a source said that this was simply a precautionary measure.
While Saket Dhankar, Head, (Fashion) IMG-Reliance, refused to comment further, he was seen in an urgent huddle with Kolkata-based Khanna, Poornima Lamba, Head of Innovation, Lakme, and various members of the committee brainstorming on the relocation arrangements.
The move meant a change in set-up, choreography, seating and guest-list in a matter of a few hours. Interestingly, this edition of LFW saw two other off-sites — Sabyasachi Mukherjee’s show at Richardson & Cruddas Mills and Manish Malhotra’s at Great Eastern Home store, Byculla — both of which went off without a hitch.
Byculla police issued a notice to Shiv Sena and MNS members who had gathered outside the museum.