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Fashion blends

It is that time of the year when one of India's biggest fashion events, The Blenders Pride Fashion Tour 2005, hits the road. Visiting five cities and showcasing six designers over 16 shows, the fashion gala kicked off recently at the ITC Grand Central Sheraton and Towers in Parel.

The tour began with Goa-based fashion designer Wendell Rodricks showcasing his spring-summer collection, Ripples. Wendell adorned the men this season with white trousers, shirts and jackets, while the ladies line saw a splash of colour as Wendell recreated ripples in red, black, sea-green and purple. Thoroughly wearable, the collection ranged from evening gowns to wedding trousseaux.

After Wendell, it was time for an even more colourful experience courtesy Aparna Chandra and Malini Ramani. Although the duo put up separate shows, it was hard to tell the difference. In shocking pinks, turquoise blues, parrot greens and oranges, both collections were a heady mix of the '60s and the '90s.

The second day saw Bollywood fashion king Rocky S showcase his latest. Starting off the show with his favourite Bollywood stars, Katrina Kaif and Arjun Rampal as the dazzling wedding couple, Rocky's show was inspired by the Indian bride, albeit with a funky take. Thus, layered ghagras with leather corsets and cholis did the rounds, and the showstopper was an asymmetrically-cut knee-length wedding gown.

Next up was Tarun Tahiliani's spring-summer collection, where clothes ranged from trendy skirts to salwar-suits in pastels and bright shades. Embellished ponchos with khadi stoles were combined with printed pants and true to Tarun's style, white was omnipresent.

The last day and grand finale of the show saw none other than the elusive designer duo Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla. The duo, which specialises in reinventing traditional Indian arts, had their favourite client Amitabh Bachchan, son Abhishek and daughter Shweta walking the ramp in stunning outfits.

Besides the handful of celebrity models, some of India's leading models who strutted their stuff included Nina Manuel, Fleur Xavier, Viveka Babjee, Vidisha Pavate, Tupur and Tapur Chatterjee, Jesse Randhawa, Carol Gracias, Noyonika Chaterjee and Upen Patel.

Among the Bollywood celebrities who turned up at the do were Hrithik Roshan with wife Suzanne Khan, Diya Mirza, Namrata Shirodkar, Dino Morea, Aftab Shivdasani and Samita Shetty along with theatre personality Dolly Thakore and ex-model Mehr Jessia.

Jassi's write stuff

Jassi of the wildly popular Jassi Jaissi Koi Nahin recently released a book at Mumbai's Crossword Bookstore. Titled Jassi's 7 Steps to Success in English and Jassi Ke Saath Safalta Ke 7 Seediyan in Hindi, this self-help book is a collection of Jassi's experiences at Gulmohar House, the fictional fashion house she works at in the soap. The event, organised by the book's publisher, Popular Prakashan, was the perfect opportunity for fans to meet and interact with the star.

Doing the honours at the launch were cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle and publisher of Popular Prakashan, Harsha Bhatkal. Priced at Rs 125, the book draws examples from everyday life to help readers become self-reliant and successful. It highlights the life lessons Jassi learns through simple anecdotes.

Divided into sections, the book gives valuable insights into the dos and don'ts of working in a big organisation and even includes handy hints on everything from attending to calls and making presentations to improving interpersonal skills.

For kids, Popular Prakashan has also introduced a set of three colouring books, Jassi at Gulmohar House, Jassi's Family and Friends and Happy Birthday Jassi.

Carefully crafted

The capital's cultural-cum-shopping centre Dilli Haat regularly hosts crafts exhibitions and cultural extravaganzas that combine an artistic journey with a culinary experience. But this one was different in that it mapped India in a very creative way, with the President, Dr A. P. J. Abdul Kalam there to give participating artisans and artists a round of applause.

Last week, Jaya Jaitly threw the Haat open to a unique event. Under the aegis of Dastkari Haat Samiti, a non-profit organisation she spearheads, Jaitly presented 'The Indian Crafts Journey', a multimedia exhibition of the 'craft maps' of India. The maps detailed the major arts and crafts associated with 24 of India's states. Natural materials like sand, glass, metals used by artisans and how they are available were also listed in the maps.

Music was the other focal point of the exhibition ' but this was an unusual CD made from the sounds of artistes working. That's the click-clack of the bamboo handlooms, the tap-tapping of the stone carvers, the sounds of iron mallets and the notes of hand-crafted instruments. Intrigued visitors made a beeline for the CD of this 'music', launched by sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar.

Jaitly explained that she was inspired to make the crafts map when she saw something similar in Bangkok. It took her some 10 years to put the exhibition together, and her efforts were rewarded going by the throngs who came to the Haat.

Word power

Publishing house, Rupa & Co recently held the first 'Publishers' recognition Award' in Delhi. The award was shared by Anurag Mathur, author of The Inscrutable Americans and Chetan Bhagat who wrote the story of his IIT days in Five Point Someone.

The evening saw noted lyricist Gulzar presenting a cheque of Rs 1.5 lakh to Mathur while Raj Chengappa, managing editor of India Today handed over a cheque of Rs 1 lakh to Bhagat. The publishers say that Mathur got the higher amount because his book has sold large numbers since it was first written in 1992 and because it's still selling.

The formalities over, Bhagat regaled the gathering with his observations on women. The audience then grilled him on the book.

Said Mathur, 'When my book was published, the Indian fiction-writing scene was just shaping up. Now, with the success of such books, fiction-writing has established a genre for itself.' In fact, as he admitted, the success of The Inscrutable Americans was such that people, unaware about his other two novels, knew it as his only one.

Photographs by Gajanan Dudhalkar and Rupinder Sharma

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