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The foreign connection

With designer Kiran Uttam Ghosh unveiling a couture collection at the Rome Fashion Week on July 13, Metro takes a look at Calcutta's growing presence on the ramp at international fashion weeks

Kiran Uttam Ghosh

What: Rome Fashion Week.

When: July 2006.

Genre: Couture.

Season: Autumn-winter 2006-07.

The look: Subtle and feminine, despite the use of men's wear influences like pinstripes and checks. The silhouettes included high-waisted, pleated trousers with turn-ups, Jodhpuris, churidar pants, angarakhas, jackets, draped skirts and more. The colours were stark and muted ' black, white, grey, blackberry and white. The stark look was carried off by the models as well, with red mouths and hair tied back in ponytails.

Success/impact: 'As the ensembles came on the ramp, there were waves of applause from a very discerning audience. In the chaos of Italian, Czech and Hindi going on backstage, my heart soared when I heard it,' Kiran told Metro from Rome, about the Thursday show.

'When I was following the final line-up to take the bow, I could hear Stefano Dominella, president of the organising body Alta Roma, screaming 'bellissima, bellissima (beautiful, beautiful)'. They loved the Indian flavour within the international subtlety. They also loved the sari drapes,' she adds.

Lesson learnt: 'Next time, I need Italian models and backstage assistants who speak English. There was a huge chaos backstage because of communication problems with the models and crew.'

Coming up: 'I am already considering going back to Rome next year,' said Kiran.


Sabyasachi Mukherjee

What: Milan Fashion Week.

When: September 2004.

Genre: Pret.

Season: Spring-summer 2005.

The look: Shared the same sensibility as the Frog Princess line that brought him national glory at India Fashion Week 2004. It was an edited version, 'taking the best of the designs and concepts and developing them'. There were lots of distressed fabrics, tea stains, vegetable block prints, gussets and layering, mainly in chiffons and cottons. 'It was almost European with an Indian soul. I also carried some of Bengal with me, so there were lots of kantha stitch and quilting.'

Success/impact: The Milan Fashion Week show was a great platform for Sabyasachi that brought him a fair amount of international exposure, having showcased along with some of the best names in the world fashion arena. Businesswise, it brought him numerous enquiries from stores in Milan and Rome, some of which translated into orders. 'Looking back, it was a success for us, since people got to know us internationally.'

Lesson learnt: 'It was a great learning experience that taught us how an international fashion week works. We got to learn certain nitty-gritty about producing a fashion show, certain concepts that didn't exist in India then. For instance, we learnt how to put together a look book for a fashion show and how important it was. Also, we saw how organised the backstage of an international fashion show is.'

Coming up: Olympus Fashion Week in New York in October 2006 where Sabyasachi will unveil his spring-summer 2007 line.


Anamika Khanna

What: London Fashion Week.

When: February 2005, September 2005 and February 2006.

Genre: Pret.

Season: Autumn-winter 2005-06, spring-summer 2006 and autumn-winter 2006-07.

The look: Anamika's last collection showcased at London Fashion Week ' autumn-winter 2006-07 ' was 'unapologetic, bold, rich, sexy, elegant, sharp, edgy, grown-up, gorgeous, clutterless and clean'. Titled Ladies, In Waiting, the fabric-driven line emphasised textures and crafts. A strong attempt to stay away from bohemia resulted in clean and structured silhouettes without any amount of layering and flow.

Trapeze dresses, shift dresses, tapered legging trousers, dresses and skirts with high waistlines, jackets, tunic dresses with suspenders made up the line. The colour palette was dark ' black, chocolate brown, navy blue and burgundy ' moving on to muted hues like khaki, olive, mustard and beige, with ivory and white for relief.

Success/impact: 'The situation internationally does not work as it works in India. You need a lot of persistence and patience to make a foray into the world fashion market. But I have been very lucky right from the first season I showcased at the London Fashion Week. My collection immediately got picked up by Harrods in London. And thanks to my shows at the fashion week, I now have a presence in stores across the world.'

Lesson learnt: 'Every single moment in the process of doing these international shows has been a learning experience. I have learnt a lot about silhouettes, cuts and fits, which one doesn't get to learn in India. Also, I have realised the importance of the timing factor in the schedule of deliveries and production.'

Coming up: London Fashion Week in September 2006 where Anamika will showcase her spring-summer 2007 collection.


Watch out for...

Abhishek Dutta

What: Bali Fashion Week 2005, Asia Fashion Week 2005 (in Singapore).

When: Bali in July 2005, Asia Fashion Week in November 2005.

Genre: Pret.

Season: Both showcased Abhishek's spring-summer 2006 lines.

The look: For the Bali Fashion Week, he presented a collection titled Bedtime Stories that drew inspiration from fairytales. The look was feminine yet funky.

For the Asia Fashion Week later in the year, he presented a different spring-summer line called Rethinking Adolescence. Neutral colours and minimalist ornamentation defined the look here.

Success/impact: A 'lot of international trade buyers from reputed stores across South-East Asia' is what Abhishek has achieved from the fashion weeks. That apart, he also values the international media recognition that these shows have brought him. 'I was featured twice on the cover page of a Singapore-based magazine called Bohemia. That has been possible only because of the fashion weeks,' says Abhishek.

Lesson learnt: 'From the two fashion weeks as well as my shows in Kuala Lumpur, I have gained an insight into the South-East Asian market. I've realised that the market there demands neat cuts and finesse. There's not much scope for heavily-embroidered clothes.'

Coming up: Asia Fashion Week in Singapore in end-October where he will unveil his spring-summer 2007 collection.


Preeti Jhawar

Coming up: New York Fashion Week (Couture) and Hong Kong Fashion Week.

When: New York in September 2006 and Hong Kong in January 2007.

Genre: Couture in New York Fashion Week (Couture) and pret for the Hong Kong show.

Season: Spring-summer 2007 in New York and autumn-winter 2007-08 in Hong Kong.

The look: For the Couture week, Preeti is putting together a collection with an English look. English motifs like old roses and English origami, extensive use of nets and crochet define the look.

'The look is transparent, diffused with a lot of light and colour,' explains Preeti.

For the Hong Kong show, the designer will unveil a pret line that emphasises pattern-cutting, sans any embroidery. Structured silhouettes with a lot of shrugs and jackets make up the collection.

Expectations: 'The idea behind participating in international fashion weeks is to gain exposure. To showcase with the best designers in the world is in itself a great learning experience. That apart, I am also expecting good business from both the shows.'

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