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Ramp raves and rants

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You can love it, you can loathe it, but there's no way you can get through the next couple of seasons not noticing the ubiquitous skirt. The strongest style dictum of India Fashion Week 2005 in Delhi, the skirt ruled the ramp right from the opening shows to the grand finale and almost every show in between. While Ritu Kumar flagged off the Fashion Week with her trademark crinkled gypsy skirts, young designer Monisha Jaising sealed it off with her line of minis and fitted knee-length ones. Crinkled, gypsy, A-line, layered, gathered, pleated, straight, pencils and minis ' the shapes and styles thrown up were as wide as it can get. And the new twist to the skirt story saw the garment stopping at the knee.

Ritu Kumar called the skirt a 'must-have' for every wardrobe, Ranna Gill christened the 'full-circle gypsy skirt' the 'IT' silhouette of the moment for the Indian woman.

Price point

Whoever thinks designer wear is all about exorbitant price tags should have been there at the Fashion Week. The post-show conference after each collection display invariably threw up a discussion on the price point of the clothes. And clearly, less was more, lower was better. While the upper limit was kept strictly unspoken, one saw designers scrambling to flaunt the lowest starting points ' Rs 800, if you please. Rs 1,500 was a common count, although for something like a designer tee or a designer singlet.

Business boss

The week that was had its share of Bollywood biggies in attendance ' Sharmila Tagore, Shabana Azmi, Jaya Bachchan, Dimple Kapadia, Vinod Khanna, Sonali Bendre, Rahul Bose' the list could go on. Yet, the most-wanted visitor at the designer stalls was no cine star, but a man named Michael Fink.

The fashion director of the US-based Saks Fifth Avenue was clearly the man to be seen with and by. Glued to his seat on the front row, along with buyers from Selfridges and Harrods, Fink's discerning eye scanned almost every show from the first day through the sixth. On the final day, however, he gave the ramp a miss to deal with business matters in the stall area.

And while almost every designer worth his or her stitch would inform you in hushed tones that Michael Saks Fink had shown interest in the collection, the results will only be known over time. Designer fingers will remain crossed till then.

Show stopper

To single out the best collection from the biggest fashion extravaganza of the country is the toughest task of all. While many of them ' Tarun Tahiliani, Rajesh Pratap Singh, Rocky S, Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla, JJ Valaya, Wendell Rodricks to name a few ' enthralled with their creations, it was Rohit Bal who scored full marks for showmanship. If drama is your thing, Rohit remains your man. A sparkling collection of layered lehngas, skirts, jackets, bustiers and sherwanis in winter whites was unveiled around the theme of Sheen Mubarak, the first snowfall in Kashmir. A happy whistling tune and the magic mood drew cheers, applause claps and even impromptu jigs from the audience.

Pet peeve

From early morning show timings resulting in poor guest turnout to a Bollywood actress hogging the limelight at a designer's media conference, the list of complaints from the fraternity could be longer than a Ritu Kumar sari. But the most consistent crib among the designers was the poor quality of the stall area. The outdoor parking lot of The Grand was covered to make space for the makeshift stalls. The inadequate air-conditioning forced designers to sweat it out in the mid-April Delhi heat, as they stayed put in the tiny stalls from morning till night, waiting for buyers.

Things turned messy on Sunday evening when the rains came down and through the roof of few stalls. Even Rathi Vinay Jha, director general of the Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI), admitted that the 'stall area could have been improved'.

Catty call

Neither the sexiest model ' a photo finish among Vidisha, Jesse and Monikongona ' nor the most bare-dare outfit on the ramp can add more spice to the fashion week than a dash of designer war. This time, the controversy that hogged the limelight was more fact than fabrication.

After the first five days of a rather masala-free fashion week, matters off the ramp suddenly grew red hot on Day VI as designer Suneet Verma slammed fellow stylist Aki Narula for ripping off one of his designs while creating an outfit for Rani Mukherjee in Bunty Aur Babli. Aki pleaded innocence maintaining that he had bought the outfit (a blue poncho with tassled-edges paired with a black embroidered trouser) from a store in Mumbai and had no idea it had anything to do with Verma. Investigations by FDCI and Verma are pending, but the little blue dress gave the fashion week what it so wanted: gossip!

Calcutta card

Our city has been sharing the spotlight with Delhi and Mumbai at the India Fashion Week for the last three years. Ever since Sabyasachi Mukherjee brought Calcutta firmly into fashion focus in 2002. Fashion Week 2005 saw another dazzling debut from Calcutta with newcomer Shantanu Goenka's dramatic and vibrant collection inspired by Lord Krishna drawing attention and accolades.

Most biggies displayed their trademark styles. The Nair Sisters showcased by Sabyasachi was a rather sombre affair, drawing a muted mutter of 'repetitive' from some quarters. But then, the boy-man, also known as Pepsi, seems to have his sights set more on Saks Fifth Avenue than on Vasant Kunj. Portrait of a maverick as a market player, maybe'

Kiran Uttam Ghosh and Anamika Khanna raised the bar this year, with trademark texturisation and look, with a distinct international feel. Monapali, who shared their show with city designer Lalit Jalan, infused a lot of freshness in their conventional brief.

Is there hope of our stylists stitching together a 'Calcutta school of design', after all'

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