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Snubbed at dawn, Tarun shows the day

New Delhi, April 30: Day Four of Fashion Week began on something of a downer for Indian designers, who were roundly ticked off by the two biggest buyers in attendance at the event. Addressing a seminar, both Michael Fink, fashion director, Saks Fifth Avenue and Albert Morris, buyer for the up-market London store, Browns, minced no words in telling the Indian designers that they were getting it quite badly wrong. Their basic criticism was that the designers — though high on imagination and creativity — were an essentially disorganised lot (with a few honourable exceptions, of course).

What these two men — who could well change the face of Indian fashion if they got their cheque books out — found particularly irksome was the lack of discipline. The stalls where the buyers are supposed to examine the merchandise and place orders never opened on time because the designers were too partied out from the night before to be up in time for business. The ramp shows were badly edited, with too much repetition of the same idea. Asked an anguished Morris: “Why would I want to see the same shirt in different colours and fabrics'” Added Fink later: “I also find that there is very little attention paid to the fitting of the clothes shown on the ramp.” And those that passed muster on the catwalk often didn’t stand up to closer examination at the stalls — when they finally did open. Sometimes the fabric quality wasn’t up to scratch and sometimes the finishing. The other sore point with both buyers was the complete lack of background information. Such things as a look book, style numbers, swatches, fabric codes and colours cards — standard fixtures at fashion weeks across the world — are alien concepts to most Indian designers.

The timing wasn’t exactly right for Fink either. As he explained: “I am already done with Fall-Winter 2004 (which is what Fashion Week is showing), so that makes no sense for me.” But, he added on a more charitable note: “This is essentially seasonless clothing and there are some interesting concepts that we can work on.” Morris agreed, describing Indian designers as “diamonds in the rough — we need to polish them”.

But Tarun Tahiliani proved otherwise that very evening, with a collection that highlighted his mastery of draping and construction. He also proved that some of his brigade aren’t quite so scatty, with a comprehensive news release — complete with CD with pictures — which included everything from information on the designer, the stores he retails from and the various elements of the collection he was showing.

The collection itself was a tightly pared-down parade of Tahiliani’s greatest hits, from which the buyers in attendance could choose whatever worked best for their stores and clientele. Thus, while Indian buyers could take their pick of the subtly-shaded chiffon saris with jewelled and feathered pallus paired with elaborately-ruched corset blouses or the quilted jackets that came in all lengths, the international buyers could forage among the cheongsam-style dresses and kaftans that came with silk cording around the waist and a host of separates that took in everything from tank tops to slip dresses. Those looking for formalwear couldn’t go wrong with the black beaded line that spelt understated glamour while those in the mood for a more funky take on dressing could go with the jewelled T-shirts embossed with digital photo-prints.

For the men, less was more as Tahiliani kept his colour palette stark and appealing, sticking to such sombre hues as beige, ivory, black and grey with just the occasional splash of colour. Here again, while there were the traditional bandhgalas for the more conservative dresser, Tahiliani brought in such modern elements as leather collars and cuffs for the trendy young man of today. As for the finishing — well, it would be fair to say that Messrs Morris and Fink should have no complaints.

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