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August - September 2004


Lakme Indian Fashion Week

by Sandeep Sharma

Hello readers I hope you will enjoy the fashion articles I will write for you. Despite my background being in law, I studied art direction and fashion styling at Saint Martins College, London. I have worked in fashion Public Relations and have my own label in London. My aim is to provide you with information about fashion, both Indian and English in London and also trends and fashion news from India, I hope in future issues to also bring you interviews with Indian and British designers.

In this, my first article, I would like to give you the inside track on the history of India fashion week and developments, which took place in New Delhi recently. India has always had a rich fashion heritage, and is world renowned for its fabrics, colours and textures. In fact major international fashion houses have had many of their designs beaded and embroidered in India for many many years.

Over the years India has developed a strong and growing fashion industry, turning out very talented designers from places like the 'National Institute of Fashion Technology'(NIFT) in Delhi, and top designers for bollywood movies like Manish Malhotra and Neeta Lulla, infact some of you may have seen Manish's live fashion shows in London's Selfridges during there bollywood festival some years back.

Most major cities in the world have 'fashion weeks' e.g. London fashion week, New York fashion week etc. These usually take place twice a year concurrent with two annual fashion seasons (Spring/Summer) and (Autumn/Winter). Here designers present their collections to buyers of big stores who have their eyes out for what we, the consumers will want to buy.

Internationally, designer's have grouped themselves into various 'councils', like the Council of Fashion designers of America (CFDA) based in New York, the British Fashion Council (BFC) in London, and the Chambre de Syndical in Paris, all of whom play vital roles in promoting their own fashion industries, everything from their designers, models, make-up artists, hair stylists and manufacturers, to choreographers and the media.

With the growth in the Indian economy there is a need for affordable, ready to wear clothing in India, as shown by the boom in the Indian retail sector, also international stores like Selfridges and Browns in London and Leclaireur in Paris have sent buyers to past India fashion weeks and stocked Indian designers in their stores, which is very encouraging for home grown Indian designers.

Lakme India Fashion Week (LIFW) was born in 2000 and each year has gone from strength to strength, After the inception of LIFW in 2000 an increasing number of people and industry sectors entered the fashion industry on both the design and business sides.

In recognition of this, in 1998 the Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI) was formed as a single entity to represent the business interests of the designer community all over India. To meet the need to increase the target base and the industry, FDCI launched their 'fashion week' initiative, which would serve as India's single platform to facilitate buyer-seller interaction within the fashion industry

The objective of LIFW is to create business relations, and to encourage buyers globally.
LIFW 2004 was held in New Delhi between April27th and May 3rd (last year it was in Mumbai, each year since its conception the fashion weeks alternate between Mumbai and New Delhi). 57 Indian designers including seven first timers: Varun Bahl, Shane Peacock, Vidhi Singhania Dabiri, Namrata Joshipura and Narendra Kumar showcased their pret-a-porter (ready to wear collections). The seven day event also include exhibition stalls, seminars, workshops and symposiums as marketing tools that provided the designers with opportunities to form trade linkages within India and abroad.

LIFW 2004 attracted much media and buyer attention; altogether there were about 450 buyers (international and domestic), including Browns from London, and Saks Fifth Avenue from New York, LIFW last year generated business Rs.250 million this figure was projected to grow by 30 per cent. A large order also came from buyers in the Middle East where there is big interest in Indian fashion currently.

Designs by Sabyasachi Mukherjee were picked up by Browns in London and Saks, New York, whilst London's Selfridges praised designer Rathore.From the 57 designers who showcased this year included:

Anamika Khanna the Kolkata based designer who earlier in the year won the Kingfisher award for designer of the year 2004.

Rina Dhaka who has had her clothes stocked at Selfridges for the last few years and she won the Designer's choice award on May 16th at the Miami Fashion Week of the America's (Indian designer's also there included Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Anjana Bhargav and Payal Singhal.

Monisha Jaising - A graduate in Fashion Design from the American college of Applied arts in London

Rocky S - London store Selfridges stocked his clothing during their 'Bollywood' festival

Sabyaschi Mukherjee - Graduated in the summer of 1999 from NIFT Kolkata

Abhishek Gupta - He also received the 'breakthrough designer 2004 award at the Kingfisher awards

Ritu Kumar - One of India's best known and respected designer.

Rohit Bal - He graduated from Delhi's ST.Stephen's college. A renowned party-circuit regular with his trademark blonde hair.

Tarun Tahiliani - Famous for 'ensemble' the Bombay based store and the quality of his craftsmanship.

Suneet Verma - He graduated in London and is a highly respected designer.
Wendell Rodricks - He has designed for Bombay movie stars and socialites.

Trends spotted at LIFW 2004:
- From Narendra Kumar Ahmed extra long skinny pants
- From Tarun Tahiliani muted colours were in abundance during his catwalk shows.
-From Malini Ramani -t he 'metalic' look was very strong.
-From Namrata Joshipura - sari skirts
- From Rina Dhaka - one saw the introduction of the lycra churidar.

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