Sunday, September 09, 2007

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Bahl's show also saw Bollywood actress Celina Jaitley and other models walking the ramp in linen and muslin dresses in various shades of lilac and green.

Designer duo Abhishek Gupta and Nandita Basu unveiled a funky collection of multi-hued T-shirts and dresses with digital prints of Indian freedom fighters Subhash Chandra Bose and Bhagat Singh as well as household items like rubber slippers and sewing machines.

Basu said their 'Cent Percent Indian' line was aimed at the younger generation.

Experimentation was also the key for designers Aparna and Norden Wangdi who based their collection on a child's stuffed ragdoll. The result was a riot of colors in skirts, jackets and dresses with tassels and doll's gloves.

Designer Raghavendra Rathore's Indo-Western range gave a contemporary look to everyday wear. He draped his models in free-flowing shirts, shorts, jackets and trousers inspired by the north western state of Rajasthan.

More than 40 designers are showcasing spring and summer collections for 2008 at the five-day extravaganza which ends on Sunday. The shows are being held for the first time at Pragati Maidan, a sprawling venue designed for trade fairs, instead of in swanky hotels.

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Blow, one of the industry's great eccentrics who launched the careers of top models and designers, died at the age of 48 in May. She had been renowned for helping discover Philip Treacy, one of the world's most famous milliners, and launching the career of British designer Alexander McQueen.

The second half of designer Varun Bahl's Saturday night show at the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week included a picture slideshow on the fashion icon and featured models in chic black dresses with elaborate flowery headgear.

Blow, who attended the fashion week in New Delhi last year, had also been known for wearing unusual hats.

"She enriched us all with her presence, her effortless magnetism," Bahl said in a statement. "Isabella Blow is a memory to ignite us all, exhorting us to live knowingly, to treasure our moments of happiness as we pass through life."

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However, organizers said that the decision to hold the India fashion week alongside the one in New York had been deliberate.

"About 80 percent of our market is here (in India). Most of the rest is from the Middle East and only five percent are buyers from UK and the US," said Rathi Vinay Jha, director-general of the Fashion Design Council of India.

"It was a conscious decision to keep it along with the New York Fashion Week, since we had no choice. Had we kept the fashion week during the Ramadan period, our Middle East buyers would have been affected," she said.

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Sunil Sethi, who represents more than 20 buyers, said that because of the clash with the New York Fashion Week, some of his clients may come to India only after 10 days -- making the Delhi event "little more than a domestic fashion week."

Designer Zubair Kirmani, who had been in the process of completing a deal with Bloomingdale's, the chain of upscale American department stores, is not too happy either.

"No one from Bloomingdale's is here because of the clash with New York. Also, if US buyers come here, they would have stayed and seen the collection properly," the Kashmiri designer said.

Others feel that the problem is several big designers missing from the India fashion week this year. While Ashish Soni is showcasing his designs in New York, Manish Arora and Anamika Khanna will become the first Indians to unveil their collections at the Paris Fashion Week.

"When big designers are missing, big buyers will be missing as well," said designer Charu Parashar.

Yu Masui, a fashion consultant with Japan's Isetan department store, suggested that India could follow the lead of Japan which had in the past rescheduled its fashion week to avoid a clash with the Paris event.

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Both the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week in New Delhi and the fashion extravaganza in New York opened on Wednesday.

More than 40 designers are showcasing spring and summer collections for 2008 at the event in New Delhi, which ends on Sunday.

For the first time since India's fashion week started in 2000, the shows were held outside the ballrooms of luxury hotels and in the auditoriums of Pragati Maidan, a sprawling venue designed for trade fairs.

But despite the focus on making fashion a serious business in India, some felt that organizers should have been more careful while fixing the dates.

By the time the New York Fashion Week ends on September 12, the stage will be set for fashion weeks in London and Paris which follow in quick succession.