Note-Worthy

Reading a press release has made geniuses out of fashion journalists.

Written by Namrata Zakaria | Published: October 24, 2012 1:55:34 am

Reading a press release has made geniuses out of fashion journalists

Fashion journalists have been called many things: bimbos,materialistic Mammons,lookist,judgmental and non-writers. Some of these apply to some of us. Sometimes,all of these apply to some of us.

But dumb,we are not (never mind our lack of distinctions). I say this with absolute conviction,simply because we have mastered the art of reading a press release.

A press release is a letter or email of communication sent to a journalist as a news pitch. Bill Stoller’s PublicityInsider.com is a website that helps start-ups and entrepreneurs with business and marketing tips. It states,and accurately so: “A press release is a pseudo news story,written in third person,that seeks to demonstrate to the editor or reporter the newsworthiness of a particular person,event,service or product.”

Sitting with reams of press releases collated from my seat after every show at the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week,I doff my hat to my colleagues in the fashion press. I feel their pain when they try to make sense of gobbledygook masked in verbosity. I share their joy when a complex pattern is simply pointed out. I echo their frustration when our seats are empty: some designers have actually spent months putting together a fashion collection but don’t care in letting the fashion press know what it’s about.

Sure we can tell colours,and generic styles,and even a circle cut from a bias. But the Muse,the underlying story,the newness in fabric development or the origins of the collection conceptually is vital to a review. Without these,the review is half-baked or simply fake.

Rajesh Pratap Singh,the guru of the esoteric (who marked his return to the runway with last month’s collection after a prolonged illness),insisted on baffling us. His collection was called ‘The Trilogy of a Broken Spine,Wolfpack and Catharsis’,and his press sheet read as scribbles from a hospital bed. “Run with your own,calling all the wolfpack/ Where did you go and when did you come back….Some new blended materials,experiments with silk…and tones of that manmade stuff.” With a show that was drowned by the excessive smoke machine,a line-sheet was missed even more.

When I caught up with the designer after his show,I said to him half-irritated,half-teasing,“If you want to show,please show.”

On the other hand,Nachiket Barve never fails at providing a release that is closest to perfect: the fabric,colour palette,concept and even key words are provided with neat subheads and an appropriate photo montage. Arjun Saluja’s androgynous styles were inspired by this year’s Booker-nominee Jeet Thayil’s Narcopolis ,where the character Dimple says,“Woman and man are words other people use,not me.”

Almost everyone provides a line sheet,a list that shows the order of the models and what each one is wearing. But Anupama Dayal’s line sheet,that has names like ‘Nefertiti Dress’,‘Giza Dress’,‘Cairo Dress’ instead of models’ names,caused much distress when the girls didn’t walk out in their correct order.

But us hacks must know it all. We must be Geography geniuses to know that teal comes from the neck of the Common Teal,a Eurasian duck. We must be heroes in History to know that today’s peplum on women’s blouses came from the Rajasthani kedhiya men’s shirts. We must be epicures too since ‘chartreuse’,the much loved green-yellow mix,gets its name from a French liqueur.

While you,dear designer,can confuse ‘inspiration’ with plagiarism,‘effortless’ with ‘careless’ and ‘a strong signature’ with ‘repetitious laziness’.

namratanow@gmail.com

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