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Fiasco before fashion flowers
- Show hits the ramp late, buyers without passes get locked out

New Delhi, April 27: The fifth India Fashion Week got off to a somewhat chaotic start today at Delhi’s Grand Hotel. Fashionistas queued up impatiently, teetering precariously on their Jimmy Choos and Manolo Blahniks, as the doors remained resolutely shut on their impeccably made-up faces. And when they did open, they still had a half-hour wait as the first show, featuring Rina Dhaka, started 45 minutes late. But they were the lucky ones — at least they got to perch on their first-row seats. The buyers and the media — at whom Fashion Week is ostensibly targeted — had a much worse time of it.

This time round, being an accredited buyer is not enough to get into a fashion show — you have to be given a pass by the designer in question. So, while the guys from Browns and Saks Fifth Avenue are inundated with passes, lesser mortals are left cooling their heels in the buyers’ lounge.

As Sunil Chawla, a buyer with stores in Marbella, Miami and New York, with a new one coming up in St Tropez, said: “This is a bizarre situation. I am hardly going to go around scrounging for passes for shows if I am not invited. Last time around in Mumbai, all the buyers’ seats were taken over by the film stars while we had to stand around at the back. And now, we can’t even get into the shows if we don’t have passes.” Whoever thought up that one deserves a special prize for lunacy.

The media contingent didn’t fare any better.

While editors of fashion magazines found that they didn’t feature on the seating plan, papers with minuscule circulation mysteriously found a place in the front row. The photographers and camera crews had an even worse time of it, packed together more tightly than a can of sardines.

But hey, this was Fashion Week and the fun was about to begin. And certainly, Rina Dhaka made it all worthwhile with a show that rocked. Built around champagne colours, glitter, spangles, net, mesh, and the odd flash of fur, this was a collection that was squarely targeted at the international market. Taking in everything from floaty chiffon skirts to punishingly tight shift dresses to spangled bikinis, the clothes were sexy, young, even trashy at times, but always fun. To those who carped that there was no Indian element to the clothes, Dhaka said: “That was a conscious decision. I am as good as any Western designer, so I made an international collection, far removed from any ethnic influences.”

But the day belonged to Rajesh Pratap Singh, who showed a collection that was dark, intense, even brooding, with the models wearing black bags over their faces to evoke a funereal mood. Pratap described his collection as embodying “the romance of death” and certainly, the clothes were to die for. Beginning with textured jackets in bright shades of orange and fuchsia, he went on to explore the dramatic contrasts of black and red using embroidery, patchwork and tie-and-dye to bring life to his creations. The skirts were a stand-out, going from gathered, ruched, crinkled, crushed to an absolutely amazing confection that was draped like a sari.

Leather cropped up in everything from the jackets — one with a spine embossed on the back made a particular impression — to tights/churidars that fitted like a second skin with lacing around the ankle. Print dresses provided a more fun element, while the fitted jackets and panelled skirts proved once again that Pratap is a master of both construction and tailoring.

Among those watching with avid interest was Albert Morris, the buyer from the tony London store, Browns. Earlier in the day, Morris had said he was on a sourcing trip, “looking for an exciting new talent”. It looked as if he’d hit pay dirt on day one.

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