| Anamika Khanna. Picture by Pradip Sanyal
Calcutta, July 2: The focus was meant to be on fashion. The hot topic of discussion, however, wasn’t clothes, but India. Questions just poured in, mostly from Pakistanis who had not been to this side of the border for decades.
“There was one gentleman who kept asking me about Calcutta, and was really emotional about places like Howrah bridge. He was nearly in tears when he said he wanted to be buried in this city,” recalls designer Anamika Khanna, back from Karachi where she had travelled last week as part of the Bridal Asia fashion extravaganza.
It was another first for India-Pakistan relations, and this time, creating history of a different design, was the fashion industry. The first-of-its-kind show featured three Indian designers — Ritu Kumar, with her roots firmly in Calcutta, Anamika, with her studio on Outram Street, and Delhi’s J.J. Valaya.
“Although Pakistani designers have showcased their work in this country, there has never been a similar exercise there, until now. And everyone grasped the significance of the event,” says Divya Gurwara, CEO, Bridal Asia, who accompanied the designer trio.
Back home after the “memorable” two-day trip, Anamika is all agog about the experie- nce. “There were so many inquiries about the designs, especially from prospective brides. They wanted to know how to buy the clothes on the Internet. There was a lot of curiosity,” she says.
The “Indo-Pak friendly show”, organised jointly by Bridal Asia and a weekly magazine in Pakistan, was a “huge hit” with the 700 attendees.
“It was wonderful. The people were really warm and our show was so well received. It was the first time, at least for me, that an audience applauded before the show began, when we walked into the hall to take our seats. And at the end, they couldn’t stop clapping,” smiles Anamika.
The Karachi show, on June 28, started off with two Pakistani designers, followed by the Indians.
“J.J. Valaya’s sherwanis were much appreciated, as was Ritu’s embroidery work. Anamika’s creations caused a stir, with long lehengas, small cholis and tall boots,” laughs Divya.
The Pakistani models displaying some of the wedding finery were just as enthusiastic about the clothes and the show as the Pakistani actress making her debut on the ramp.
Now that the bridge has been crossed once, Anamika is keen to do it all over again.
“I would definitely like to go back. I want to experiment with Pakistani styles and designs as well.”