Passes for his show are easily the most sought after. When it comes to drawing in a crowd,he possibly ranks above Tarun Tahiliani,Rohit Bal and Sabyasachi,Indian fashions terrific troika. This season at Lakme Fashion Week was a special one,Manish Malhotra was paying homage to his greatest passion – Hindi movies – and a starry turnout was expected.
Alas,Kajol and Karisma Kapoor was seated on the front row,Kareena was already committed to the finale designer,who would walk the ramp then? Bestie Karan Johar of course,but also another smattering of superb directors: Zoya Akhtar,Anurag Kashyap and Dibakar Banerjee,who along with Johar are set to make a compilation of short feature films to celebrate 100 years of cinema. This lineup of unlikely candidates on the runway was a surprise alright.
Then followed two young Turks who my two nieces and every teen and pre-teen in the country are giggling about (add to that a few thousand gay boys and some wish-we-were-still-young mums too). Varun Dhawan and Siddharth Malhotra came on next,in candy-coloured summer jackets,if anyone noticed what they were wearing at all. Priyanka Chopra was there too,causing Christian Louboutins heart to skip a beat seated in the audience. Then was Bhanu Athaiya,the aged and acclaimed costume designer of yore and Indias first Oscar winner. Joining her were Hema Malini and the effervescent Asha Bhonsle. Chopra was unctuous in her praise for Manish: this is Bollywood after all,the most incestuous place on this planet.
Bhonsle was all warmth,grateful for being gifted a sari by the blushing coy designer. She said,In my 70-year-old career,I have sung and now acted too. The only thing left to do was walk the ramp. She sought the audiences permission and then walked as coquettishly as she could. Everyone got off their seats,clapped and hollered in cheer. The guests who had come for star-gazing. And snobby hacks who dismiss Bollywood. And Louboutin too.
In case you are wondering about the clothes? Heres my review: it was a bit of this,a bit of that,and a bit of the other. You dont come to Manish Malhotra for fashion,you come to him for stardust. So stick with it.
The next two days were spent reading derisive reports about how the clothes were unexciting. How fashion week should be about fashion only. And once again the question whether showstoppers are distracting or not. (This despite every celebritys picture gets published,on the runway and front row.)
Funnily,no one has noticed that Indian fashion is much bigger than the debate between having celebrity showstoppers or not. Or whether Mumbai is the most fashionable city of or New Delhi.
Just before Manishs show,we were treated to Masaba Guptas astounding collection of cocoon silhouettes. Mid-calf gowns were teamed with diaphanous pajamas,saris with a see-through layer of cocoon. It was a strong and brace line,and absolutely original in using the sheers-and-layers trend.
Along with her,showed Indias finest swimwear designers,Shivan and Narresh. Id go as far and say they are arguably the finest in the world,absolutely on par with Brazils Lenny and Australias Seafolly. Their candy-striped resort-wear was as international as it could get.
Even though fashion in this country has come of age and shows a remarkable maturity,some things seem to stay the same. Like Manish Malhotra. There is amazing talent,and theres entertainment too. You come to a fashion week and you take what you want from it.
Saint Laurents Hedi Slimade upholds the overwhelming advent of digital technology in fashion (multimedia,websites,immediate links),once said in an interview,The ‘catwalk is pure anthropology,something like an esoteric encrypted parade. It can totally be replaced but it will be missed.
Fashion purists may repudiate Bollywood,but if Bollywood were to disoblige fashion,wed all be back to the drawing board.