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She's got the Puja look

A sari like Sush, jewels like Ash, locks like Preity... That's the look women are gearing up to splash during Durga Puja 2004. The shopping season may have extended to a year-round fiesta, but the Puja spurt is still indicative of what makes Calcutta's sartorial senses tick. With there being no real-time ramp show like the four festive days, Metro takes a head-to-toe glance at what trendy pandal-hopping gals are going for.

clothes line

Nothing beats the filmi effect when it comes to shopping, and it is the ethnic trends that reflect this best. Sushmita Sen's black-sequinned red sari in Main Hoon Na and the pastel chiffon saris flaunted by Shilpa Shetty in Phir Milenge are flying off the shelves this season. 'We have innumerable orders and bookings for the Sushmita Sen sari,' reveals Arun Diwan of Rozelle on Park Street. Down the road at Raj Gharana, film fads reportedly account for '20 per cent of sales a day'.

TV, too, has become a trendsetter. 'Our Bengali clients are constantly asking for what they see on TV,' explains Ajay Jajodia of Raj Gharana. The Kumkums and Kkusums have become fashion priestesses, placing pastel shades and bright colours on top of the heap. Mirrors, glass, beads and sequins have replaced traditional embroidery.

Fashion houses like Satya Paul have piggybacked on the TV craze, too, leaving the saas-bahu heroines behind in favour of Jassi. 'This collection is for middle-class working women with character,' says Alpana Binani, Calcutta franchisee.

Western wear has shifted gear, with the crushed Bohemian look giving way to a structured silhouette. Vibrant colours are hot, as are vertical stripes. Shirts will be formal, tops body-hugging. 'High-waist trousers and denims, straight fits with flared bottoms are moving,' explains Shompa Mukherjee, floor manager, ladies section, Shoppers' Stop. Skirts ' crushed, flared or with Indian embellishments ' are still falling just fine.

Indo-western has taken over the ethnic rack, with dupattas being passed up for stoles and scarves. While short kurtis have grown to mid-length, kurtis the size of shirts are doing very well, Chinese collar and all, confirms Kamna Saraf of Cotton World.

glitter game

Desi tradition meets the best international styles, according to a World Gold Council study of market trends for Puja 2004. Chiks (chokers), churs or ratanchurs (bangles) still reign supreme (think Devdas, Chokher Bali, again!), while the most happening movements from world design have also crept in. Geometric patterns -' circles, squares, rectangles, triangles ' have caught on, as have the clustered, Arabian and abstract looks.

The Gold Factory experience confirms this. 'Young buyers are going for chunky jewellery, big pendants, thick beaded jewellery,' explains Brinda Ganguly Sarkar. Minimalism is being passed up for showy designs. Armlets and tiklis are still going strong, as are small diamond rings. Older women stick to the usual trend of buying something heavy ' like a bala or a special set ' for Ashtami.

The Platinum Guild International, the jewellery-marketing arm of the international industry body, has launched a special festive collection called Dew Drops, inspired by water.

tone toppers

Make-up preferences depend on how you perceive the season, feel leading professionals.

'Clean skin and a natural look are what women want this season. They go in for numerous skin-based treatments like facials and exfoliations. The point is to look glamorous and yet maintain the ethnic touch,' is what make-up expert Prabir De feels.

'You will see most people with eyes heavily outlined in kohl but with light, frosted shadow and lips in dark colours like maroon and brown,' he points out. Shimmer and gloss are certainly in. Accessories will always include different coloured and shaped bindis.

Aniruddha Chakladar feels pandal-goers should tone down their make-up. The elaborate smoky look makes an obvious statement, but Pujas, he believes, are meant to be traditional and natural.

For stylist Bridgette Jones of June Tomkyns, the Pujas are a reflection of celebration, and this comes out in make-up featuring a little shimmer.

Most salons report a huge rush in exotic facials and hair styling during the Pujas, peaking post-Sasthi.

Colour code

Colour is the code in hair fashion this October. The more the better is the mantra, so you could go for three different shades on three sides of your head and be the cool cat of the pandal. 'Gold is a hot favourite and so is ash, but you should know how to carry these colours off,' advises Sabina Yah of Sunflower. Many young people and even some adventurous older ones are opting for the 'colours of the season'.

'Perms are back with a bang,' adds Saroj Mundra of Rapunzel. So the Preity Zinta look in Lakshya is what you might be flaunting this autumn. If you freak out on straight hair but want a new look, asymmetrical fringes and layers are a safe bet.

sole search

After Thursday showers, the shoppers were at it with a vengeance on Friday-Saturday and most included shoe stores on their hit list. Long queues to bag the best buys are on at the footwear chains as well as the standalone shops.

Slip-ons are the biggest hit. 'Pointed heels are not so much in demand. Platforms are doing well,' says a spokesperson for Metro shoes. Bright coloured slip-ons with zari and sequin work are on the bestseller list as women try hard to get the colour of the footwear to match their sari pallu.

'Budget slip-ons priced between Rs 120 to Rs 200 are doing well, with most women picking up more than two pairs,' observes a spokesperson for Sreeleathers. Ethnic pairs seem to be scoring over westerns. 'Only the college crowd is opting for the funky cork soles or the boots,' feels Anamika of Footsie, in Metro Plaza.

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