Why Do People Attend Fashion Weeks?
Yesterday at WIFW,I tried to search for reasons why people attend fashion weeks. This renewed curiosity was provoked by the varying levels of applause at shows.
On Day 1,Anupamaa Dayal got a lukewarm response. She showed an interesting,colourful,playful line with live music and zany prints. But people barely clapped. Did this mean people didnt like her show? I asked a journalist sitting next to me. No,it is politics,as this is Delhi,she said without blinking. Unless you have your people in the audience,they dont clap,she added.
So do groups of people come only to root for their friends,disregarding merit? Apparently,say industry insiders. A section of the audience is there because they have been invited by the designer showing and feel obliged to clap. Personal politics gets skewed when it is a joint show (as Anupamaa Dayals was shared with James Fereira). Unsuspectingly,guests then get split into lobbies.
James was a very average collection this time,but surprisingly the applause he got was bigger than Anupamaas. At the same time,James is the last person to call guests to clap loudly so this applause politics cannot be generalised. Yet,the other half of the question remains: why do so many people attend fashion weeks (besides buyers of course).
The media comes to see but also to be seen. Fashion journalists arrive not in groups or teams but in hordes these days. The front row is colonised by the media and office hierarchy issues determine the game. Socialites who do fashion come to show themselves as the real beating hearts of the glamour industry. Others have businesses that deal with the fashion industry and must network with the hip crowd. They also insist on the front row.
A designer making his guest list a few days back told me how some of his socialite friends had called him to say that they wont attend if he didnt seat them in the front row. Celebs come because they are paid money to sit in the front row or to walk the ramp. Only some (read very few) are genuine clients of the designer they walk for.
Once you wade through this front row politics (it is intriguing and must be looked at from various angles for new insights),there are still seven or more other rows. This is where the new fashion republic sits,eager to be converted,aspirational and openly curious,young and not so young. They are the ones who will push new markets. Where they sit is not going to matter as long as designers figure out what they want to wear.
Sitarist and musician Anoushka Shankar sat with writer William Dalrymple in Tarun Tahilianis front row yesterday at the Blue Frog at Kila. They looked amused,not in the least intrigued. My favourite guest though of Day 2 was Buttercup,who came bundled inside his mistresss quilted black bag. Buttercup looked like a Chihuaha. It sat watching with his paws hanging out and decided not to clap!
So much Gold?
Designer Raakesh Agarvwal who has never disguised his obsession for bling went completely over the top yesterday. The show started with promise,with model,singer and former VJ Anushka Manchanda singing on the ramp. She wore a deeply slit long dress in deep mauve with mauve crystals on corseted top and nude coloured,impossibly high heels. After her,a rain of rain of gold,bright and yellow,hard and cold drenched everyone.
Models wore gold cuffs that came up to their elbows,gold shoes,some outfits were made out of gold chains and others had gold corsets paired with charmeuse lycra gowns and skirts. It was a misogynists view of fashion. Does Raakesh really want women to be chained to gold?
Do photo journalists like fashion weeks?
My guess would be no. Some photographers are clearly drawn to glamour and while a majority of them are male,there are some female photographers too these days with aggressive energy that helps them barge in with their male counterparts and secure a vantage point opposite the head ramp. It is quite a jostle. The responses of the two genders are dramatically different towards models. Prajakta Hebbar,one of my younger colleagues for whom this is a first time at fashion weeks pointed out,some male photographs whistle and heckle the models,call them items or aunties,chicks and babes. Distressing.
PS: Express photographer Tashi Tobigyal got these pictures of insanely high-heeled shoes yesterday! You will love them.
My favourite high-heeled fashionista yesterday was 24 year old Shubham Roy,a graphic designer,a man,he wore pencil heeled boots. Wow.
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