The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Real People on ramp, buyers breathe easy

It took Wendell Rodricks to infuse a sense of reality in a fashion week that was getting caught up in a mesh of fantasy clothing that has little relevance in the world we live in. He also brought some relief to the buyers, who are getting increasingly restless at the lack of accessible and desirable clothing on show this year. Apart from Rajesh Pratap (with his stand-out show yesterday), none of the designers have attracted much notice from the buyers brigade as yet — though Wendell looks set to change that.

In a show that shamelessly played to the gallery, he showed his collection on what the fashion world endearingly calls Real People, i.e., those who actually have bums, breasts and bellies that have the temerity to protrude on the perfect lines of designerwear. To the beat of rock classics, everyone from young kids, gawky adolescents, middle-aged people (with their fair share of middle-age spread) to the odd geriatric couple, sashayed confidently on the ramp, waving and throwing little props into the excited crowd that couldn’t get enough. As a counterpart to all the Real People, there was a smattering of the usual models and the glamour of Malaika Arora Khan who made a special appearance for her good friend Wendell.

The only problem was that the clothes got a little lost in all that showmanship — and that was a pity, because these were clothes that would fly off the shelves in any part of the world. Working with crushed, crinkled, pleated and bubbled fabric in such bright shades as blue, pink, fuchsia, orange and lime green to create a highly covetable line of what was essentially resort and leisure wear, Rodricks produced skirts that went from layered to asymmetrical and took in such elements as patchwork along the way, short tops, wraparound dresses, and even the odd sari with cut-out motifs, one positioned on the pallu so that you could insert your arm into it.

Manish Arora’s collection this year was apparently sparked off by a cartoon strip that the designer had created with himself in the starring role. This was quite fitting because the collection itself was a bit of a joke, with the designer effortlessly morphing into a caricature of himself. There were all the usual Manish elements like mad photo-prints, graphiti slogans, kinky embellishments and lots of kitsch. But the story is getting more and more tired with every collection and there is just so much egotism that designers can get away with. Really, does anyone want to wear a shirt embellished with a cartoon of Manish kissing a fish' Except, of course, Manish himself.

The evening belonged to the Calcutta brigade, with Kimono by Kiran Uttam Ghosh and Monapali hosting a joint show. Ghosh chose to go with the theme of India Shining and wove in such elements as the stock market (one of the models wore a bull’s head) and the IT revolution (a CD perched on a confection of wires made a fetching hat for another) into the show. There was even a Samsung T-shirt shown on a model representing Team India, while Bollywood got a nod as well, with a photo-print shirt sporting the faces of Shah Rukh Khan and Priety Zinta from Kal Ho Na Ho. The clothes had all the elements that Ghosh had made her own over time: layering, transparency, crochet, poncho-style tops and lots of lehngas embellished with khari prints. One of the more ornate lehngas was shown on a male model, but the irony was completely lost because the man in question played it camper than a row of tents.

Monapali stuck to their usual brief of making safe clothes for women of a certain age, but within the ambit of conservatism, their collection — built around such sombre hues as brown, black, grey and navy — hit its mark with the dhoti-style skirts and trousers attracting the most attention.

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