The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Facts fade amid farce and figures

New Delhi, April 28: Day two at India Fashion Week was an odd mixture of hype and hope, high fashion and low farce. While figures were bandied about with gay abandon (400 buyers were said to be in attendance, even though there weren’t as many people in the entire venue), facts had a rather limited shelf life. And though the focus was supposed to be the clothes, some of the ladies who lunch preferred to, well, lunch instead.

But then, trade wasn’t on the minds of some of the designers either. Puja Nayyar, for instance, chose to show a completely self-indulgent line that could best be described as Comme Des Garcons gone spectacularly wrong. So avant garde were the clothes that they passed everyone by completely.

Pegged on an anti-war theme with a music track that helpfully informed us that German radio had announced Hitler was dead, the collection revolved around the colour of peace: white, taking in everything from cream, ivory to beige. But the body-altering outfits in the tradition of the celebrated Japanese designer Rei Kawakubo missed the mark when it came to making a fashion statement — let alone a philosophical one.

Fabric treatment and textures have always been a particular strength of Nayyar, but these skills were swamped in a collection over-embellished to within an inch of its life. Every element from corsetry to ruching and lacing was in evidence, but such was the profusion of riches that it was difficult to tell the wood for the trees.

Faced with the criticism that the clothes were completely inaccessible to the audience — which had watched in bemused bewilderment — Nayyar said defensively: “Well, I’m really looking at international buyers.” Yes, but will they be looking at her'

Priyadarshini Rao, on the other hand, presented a very commercial collection of wearable separates that took in everything from silk, wool, tweed and velvet. The stand-outs were the velvet dresses and long silk coats that gave an interesting Eastern twist to the traditional trench, very much the coat of the moment in international fashion.

The look was an interesting mixture of Western and Indian and should travel well to the fashion capitals of the world

Rohit Gandhi and Rahul Khanna were, however, very clear that they were looking at the domestic market, with a collection priced between Rs 1,500 and 10,000. That said, they used such versatile fabrics as tweed, knits and leather which would work just as well in an international context.

Starting off with an unusual colour palette of orange with a hint of blue, they fell back on the safety of black, white and grey after a brief flirtation with psychedelic prints and a somewhat startling shade of purple with metallic embroidery. The clothes were wearable and well-made, but the show lacked the frisson a genuinely creative collection evokes.

That was left to Ranna Gill, who pulled the audience into a Moroccan fantasy world, peopled by the bronzed and the beautiful. This was a world in which the women were clad in gold bikinis, with colourful caftan-style printed tops and dresses worn over them.

The embellishments included jewelled cummerbund-style belts and necklines embellished with more jewelled embroidery. The men wore long printed kurtas with gold detailing and tasselled belts.

The old Ranna staples such as gara and phulkari embroidery were present as elements but did not overwhelm the show which was primarily Mediterranean in flavour.

Having done the gamut of Morocco, it went to explore the possibilities of the land of the pyramids with metallic gold sheaths which had the motifs of ancient Egypt embossed around the neck. As the designer said: “This is my tribute to the contemporary Cleopatra, who is happy to dig into the past.”

And if that results in such a great look for the future, who could possibly complain'

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