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February - March 2008


Indian Designers Storm Paris Fashion Week

by Sandeep Sharma

October 2007 witnessed two of India’s top designers being invited by the French Government to showcase at the prestigious Paris Fashion weelk on schedule catwalk show.

Manish Arora and Ana Mika were spotted by the French Fashion Council on their last trip to India and having seen over twenty Indian designers during Indian Fashion week these two were considered the best to represent Indian in Paris. Manish has always had a very colourful loud bling palette which could almost be described as the Versace of India although his images are more pop art and young trend. His influences for this season were ‘Bollywood Seventies Retro’ and as usual the styling included a lot of accessories including nose rings and hair pieces.

The images below will showcase this and highlight Manish’s extraordinary flair for colour, geometrics and love of retro. Manish has obtained quite a strong following in the West and although his designs may be too wacky for the majority of India he has got a large fan base for his clothes especially in Delhi and Mumbai. He collaborated with Reebok to start customizing their trainers and started his own Fashion line with Fish Fry.

Manish started to showcase at Indian Fashion week with other top Indian designers in the year 200. However his strong Western wear and bold patterns were more suited for the Western market and therefore he started to show at London fashion week four years ago. His premier catwalk show at London fashion week was a huge hit, the press and media loving the extravagance. For the first time a unique blend of Indian craftmanship was fused with bold gemoetric patterns and a vivid colour scheme incorporating pop art. However also in this twist was Indian images from gods, Bollywood and other art forms. Even the music to the show was remixed Bollywood seventies hits and the fashion invitation which went out to all the press had the face of ‘Ma Kali’ and ‘Lord Krishna’. I remember being at that show and feeling truly proud of being Indian and at the same time walking out exhilirated as though I had seen a ten minute Bollywood blockbuster. Here’s, hoping, Paris proves to be the international platform that this Indian designer deserves.

On the international fashion scene there is yet to be an Indian born designer to make his/her mark. However recently the fashion industry in India has boomed and with publications like Vogue and L’Offical launching there and India Fashion week going from strength to strength over the last few years, now taking place twice a year in both Delhi and Mumbai, this could be the ideal time for the designers.

Having gone to Indian Fashion week every year for the last few years I have seen the standards rising and the designers showcasing more western wear along with Indian wear; and this has initiated the interest and attendance of top foreign buyers from around the world on an annual basis at Indian Fashion week.

Manish Arora, for example, is now stocked in London at the prestigious store, Browns, on South Molton Street and at Dover street market. However, alongside Manish the other big label to be picked up from India and taken to Paris was ANA MIKA. Ana Mika, designed by Anamika Khanna, has been a big star in India for many years especially with occasion wear. Hailing from Calcutta her strong use of fabrics, textiles and craftsmanship have been her unique selling point. She was brought to London by Boho London and showcased at London Fashion week four years ago to a tremendous welcome. Ana Mika’s first showing in London was during London Fashion week at the Royal Academy of Arts and her first collection was picked up by the prestigious store Harrods who stocked her collection exclusively for the first season. This is unheard of and a great compliment to the label. Harrods feedback emphasized her use of craftsmanship, pattern and detail on western silhouettes that has never been seen before and the finish is of high standard.

Fast-forwarding to Paris October 2007 it was no surprise that Ana Mika was the only other Indian designer to be invited to do a catwalk show. The show took place at the impressive venue, The Lourve. The large venue was packed with press, celebrities, top buyers and even the cream of Indian designers including Rohit Bal. Her sophisticated clothes were accompanied by genuine rock diamonds, emeralds and rubies by top Indian jeweller designer and friend of Ana Mika, Raj Mahtani.

Top press from Vogue, Fashion TV, Financial Times etc covered the Ana Mika show with rave reviews. Respected French newspaper, La Monde carried an in depth interview highlighting her genius at bringing Indian craftsmanship and a strong sense of textiles and putting it on cutting edge western silhouettes and delivering a truly exquisite, sophisticated show. Ana Mika has found loyal fans in over 350 stores worldwide including The Cross, Feathers in London, La Bon Marche in Paris, Saks Fifth Avenue in Dubai, Fred Segal in Los Angeles and many many more through-out Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

This indicates that maybe Ana Mika will be the first Indian Label to make it international.

I truly believe this to be the start of the true potential of Indian Designers going global. It is a well known fact that couture labels such as Gucci and Ralph Lauren have always sent garments to India for embellishments and embroidery and now Indian Designers are using their own famous craft skills and taking it to the West, the difference being no longer do they just adorn Saris, and lenghas but now have moved on to dresses, coats and jackets, as obviously there is a bigger market with the western shapes through-out the world.

The talent in India is there as long as these young designers can keep up with the trends and make sure their finished product is of superior quality demand will continue to rise.

The west if also very keen to exploit the Indian market as high fashion, trends, even the latest in glamorous restaurants and bars is hitting Indian cities such as Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore leading to and nourishing a sophisticated, busy, and thriving Indian Fashion Industry.

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