Diary of a fashion week virgin: Day Five
Day Five. It's the day of the grand finale. The famous Manish Malhotra is supposed to close Lakme Fashion Week. Non-model-turned-actress Kareena Kapoor is expected to be the showstopper. Needless to say, the hype is already generated. A good section of the media will do anything to get an exclusive picture of the two of them. All the efforts that the publicity team has put in these last few months will soon pay off in a matter of hours.
I'm expecting a lot of chaos and people, but when I reach the venue, I see that the media room is almost empty. There aren't any exciting shows lined up for the morning -- meaning, there are no celebrity showstoppers. So, photographers aren't too keen to click pictures of random designers except for archival purposes.
Post noon, however, things begin to change. The excitement is multiplying by the second. The who's who of the fashion industry and film industry are expected to grace the finale. If you ask me, I still don't know who many of them are, but you can bet that they're famous names. At least that's what I'm told.
By 8 pm everyone, including representatives of the media, organisers and a few volunteers are in never-seen-before avatars -- stunning eveningwear, well-coordinated accessories and the gifted height of a extra few inches.
They stand comfortably tall over my 5'2" presence. It's becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish a celebrity from a commoner now, especially for someone like me, who does not recognise a fashion celebrity even if their names are dropped.
The show is expected to begin at 9:30 pm. I'm informed that a certain amount of delay is to be expected. Nevertheless, I reached the entrance twenty minutes before time, hoping to take in the magnitude of the event and the attendees. Pretty soon, I realise that it was quite stupid on my part to have taken such a risk. We are made to wait outside for over an hour and a half.
Image: Makeup expert Cory Walia works on Kareena Kapoor to promote the new Lakme range
Photographs: Hitesh Harisinghani
My heartbeat grows louder, trying to decipher if all this hype is real
The conversations are largely industry gossip. Without any difficulty, I overhear what my dear friends from the profession have to say about Kareena Kapoor, the showstopper and their past experiences from attending or participating in fashion shows.
Outside, a few more celebrities have made an entry. "Deepika, Imran, Katrina aur Karan bhi aaye hain," announces an excited member from the crowd who has just witnessed the phenomenon outside. I call it a phenomenon because that statement is so significant to some of them that the topics of discussion for the next half-hour or so are how Deepika cannot act to save her life, how Imran is camping with Karan hoping to get some film offers, how Katrina dumped Salman and got back with him when Ranbir did not give her 'bhaav' and how Karan and Manish are married to each other, which makes his attending the show quite predictable.
Amidst all this, one of them complains how the absence of an air conditioner in the waiting area is making her uncomfortable, while some of the well-dressed ladies are worried that their makeup is giving way to sweat and vent that their toes are aching in their stilettos. But nobody leaves or creates a scene. Why? To most of them, including me, it's a test of patience and determination to witness such a celebrated event and the excitement to narrate the experience that only the privileged have access to, in their own snooty way.
Meanwhile, the gates open a little post 11 and the members of the media are the first to be let in. Huffing and puffing, each one of us are seated and this time, there are more lights than ever. There are more people than I can count and suddenly my heartbeat grows louder, trying to decipher if all this hype is real and why I was feeling so normal about it so far.
Image: The media and regular attendees scramble to take pictures of the celebrities as they enter the venue
Photographs: Rajesh Karkera
I have never seen any of them up-close
When the show begins, there are roaring cheers of applause from the audience and people jump up from their seats to capture every moment on their respective digital devices. I'm annoyed everytime someone else's camera or head comes in my way and distorts my view. I'm sitting on the far end and can spot Karisma Kapur, Deepika, Katrina, Imran (with his wife), Karan Johar and Shabana Azmi who are all chatting to each other like family.
I have never seen any of them up-close, but here they all are, very real and chatty. I can't tear my eyes away when I Kareena Kapoor walk down the ramp. It's the first time I'm seeing her too. I don't care to notice if she's a size zero or a plus size, but I must say she looks alluring, even in the not-so-great Manish outfit. She smiles, gracious as ever and I cannot help but smile too.
Post the show, snatches of media conversation and comments bring me back to reality -- Deepika has put on weight and Katrina was non-cooperative when someone requested her to pose for a picture. I remember my assignment -- I have a new experience to narrate.
After witnessing all I just did, I can relate to what a celebrity can do that a model cannot. No matter how we try to defend ourselves, we ordinary mortals will always be belittled by the larger-than-life phenomenon. In this case, it was the presence of the celebrities that made the event seem all the more spectacular and larger-than-life to the normal person. And anybody who states that they are not smitten by it is merely faking the attitude. Before I sign off for the day, I can proudly say that I am no longer a fashion virgin and despite my reservations about the industry, I have some strong experiences to take home from here.
Image: Spectators dance with the models at the close of Manish Malhotra's showing
Photographs: Rajesh Karkera