FOR 30 editions and nearly 19 years, the Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI), the apex body of fashion design in India, has closed each edition of its coveted event India Fashion Week with a grand finale. Over the years, the people helming the organisation have changed, title sponsors have come and gone, but the grand finale — an Indian construct — has endured.
From single designer splashes to group show galas and lately, some interesting mentor-protégé jugalbandis, the FDCI’s grand finale has been its much touted jewel in the crown. And title sponsors, past and present — Wills Lifestyle and Amazon.in — have supported and purported the trend.
And while we are no proponents of grandiose presentations where a handful of senior designers get to display their creations season after season, we were surprised to receive a schedule with the closing show missing from the line-up. But that wasn’t the only surprise in store as the event unfolded. Apart from the missing finale, a less-than-stellar line-up of designers, a truncated schedule (four days instead of the mandatory five) and growing whispers that Amazon was trying to divest itself from the partnership, plagued the Fall edition of the event.
While Autumn-Winter has traditionally been the more business-friendly edition for Indian fashion’s Swarovski and wedding bling brigade, this season saw most established labels stay away from presenting runway shows and instead hold fort via stalls. A largely lacklustre line-up displayed a few spurts of life in the form of Aneeth Arora of Pero, Abraham & Thakore, Anju Modi, Madhu Jain, Akaaro, Vineet Bahl, and younger labels like Ilk, Kanika Goyal, Sahil Kochhar, Artivijay Gupta, but even those were too few and far between. Of the 16 designers on the FDCI’s Board of Governors, only seven showcased this season. The event’s official hashtag might’ve been #letitpret but many designers said they were too busy calculating GST to tally trends this season. ‘Blame it on DeMo’ (demonitisation) might as well have been the official response to everything.
As for dropping the grand finale and adding the ‘finale’ tag to the daily 9 pm show, an Amazon spokesperson responded via email, “We have always believed in introducing newer ideas to break free the monotony. Taking this spirit forward, every evening had the vibrancy of a grand show, instead of just a last-day finale, in order to commemorate as many designers as possible and to celebrate inclusivity.” And while the selection of these designers might have been questionable in a couple of cases, Sunil Sethi, President, FDCI, says the move was prompted by an increasing demand to be international. “Tokyo, Milan, London and Paris — they don’t have grand finales. We are following the lead,” he said.
When questioned about a parting of ways between the title sponsor and organisers, Amazon’s response was equally ambiguous. “We will continue to work closely with the Indian fashion industry and the FDCI to create engaging and innovative programs for the designers in India in our bid to bring exciting, affordable designer wear to our Indian customers through the recently launched designer boutique at Amazon.in,” said their spokesperson over email.
In times of social media maelstrom, where designers are favouring Instagram for collection launches and world over the “see now, buy now” format is finding favour, does the FDCI’s fashion week format and selection process need to be recalibrated? In a pre-event invite email Sethi said: “This year we plan to bust several myths”. We can think of a few that need to be addressed urgently.