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10 things we learned at Fashion Week

Last updated on: March 16, 2011 17:15 IST

Image: Those were the days! Narendra Kumar with Kangana Ranaut on the LFW ramp back in 2008
Photographs: Uttam Ghosh Abhishek Mande

Major designers missing from the scene, an absolute lack of Bollywood presence and ego clashes marked the twelfth year of the Lakme Fashion Week in Mumbai. But there was a lot more that happened and it wasn't all bad.

Having covered the LFW extensively this season, we bring you our experience of how it went down -- and the verdict.

1. Nari, Neeta, we don't miss you

The latest season will perhaps be remembered for the absence of some of the biggest designers.

Narendra Kumar was one who was most conspicuously missing as were the likes of Neeta Lulla, Vikram Phadnis, Lecoanet Hemant and the young Nachiket Barve who has been showing in Mumbai for over four years now.

The reasons for this rather mass exodus are varied and rumours have been flying thick and fast for the last few days now. One of the major reasons has been that a lot of established designers were denied sponsored shows.

Prominent designers including Vikram Phadnis, Neeta Lulla and Nikasha Tawade confirmed that they weren't invited to show at the LFW.

The buzz in that sense was certainly missing. However, many new designers did leave their mark.

Jelin George's collection was cute and wearable, as was Vaishali S' line 'Virus Free', in which she used Chanderi as her base fabric.

Sabah Khan's show was fun and Myoho's 'Cryptic Ink' us nodding.

2. Amalraj, Masaba and Siddhartha Tytler are now 'established'

Image: Masaba made her debut as an 'Established Designer' this season
Photographs: Rajesh Karkera

One of the rumours that has been floating in media circles is that the older designers left because some of the younger lot were bumped up into the 'established designers' category.

Siddhartha Tytler -- politician Jagdish Tytler's son -- has only just made his debut at LFW. In all fairness, though, Tytler has been around for more than a few years and is a known name in the Delhi circles.

Masaba and Amalaj Sengupta made their debut at the LFW together as GenNext designers two seasons ago. We're told that when one was bumped up, they had to promote the other too.

3. Young designers prefer the LFW to the WLIFW

Image: The LFW serves as a platform for young talent like GenNext designer Deepti Pruthi (right)
Photographs: Rajesh Karkera

There's no doubt that the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week in Delhi is a far, far bigger show than Lakme Fashion Week can ever dream of being.

Ever since the two separated a few years ago, both have been trying to poach designers from the other.

A young designer who has been showing at the Lakme FashionWeek for a few seasons now told us that the folks at WLIFW have been contacting him for some time.

The carrot that they are offering is a sponsored show -- a typical 20-minute slot costs anywhere between Rs 3 lakh to 5 lakh -- but the designer isn't committing.

"The fact is that there are a lot of big names at the WLIFW. I will be lost among them. At best I'll be relegated to one corner of the stalls area. The people at Lakme Fashion Week have been very cooperative. They'll ensure that the buyers connect with me and are always open to feedback. Why would I want to go?" the designer asks rhetorically.

4. The biggest star on the ramp was Geeta Basra!

Image: Geeta Basra on the runway for Parvesh Jai
Photographs: Hitesh Harisinghani

Lakme and IMG would ideally like us to believe that it was a conscious decision to keep Bollywood and fashion separate.

The fact, however, is that Lakme Fashion Week caught the media's attention when superstars walked for Manish Malhotra. During the seasons that Manish didn't show, the likes of Rocky S and Vikram Phadnis made up for the missing glitter.

For the last couple of seasons, however, Bollywood actors have curiously stayed away from LFW. Manish didn't have a single celebrityshowstopper -- Kareena and co did show up for the show but they didn't walk the ramp; Sabya's muses Vidya Balan and Rani Mukerji were also MIA and Rocky S had Zayed Khan and Dia Mirza -- two actors whose last movies were sometime way back in the last decade!

5: Swapnil Shinde pulled out at the last minute

Image: MIA: Swapnil Shinde on the LFW ramp last March
Photographs: Sanjay Sawant

Will he, won't he? The question hung heavy in the air. Till the last minute no one seemed to know whether Swapnil Shinde would end up showing at Lakme or not.

Even after the official press release announcing his absence went out -- he was supposed to show with Siddhartha Tytler -- Swapnil refused to confirm or deny his presence to journalists who telephoned him for a quote.

The media managers insisted that it was something 'very personal'. A part of the grapevine suggested that his parents were going through a 'rough patch'. However, another rumour that was doing the rounds was that Shinde was unhappy that some of his contemporaries got a sponsored show and he didn't.

What's the truth? We may never know.

6. The Japanese designers showed us how it's done

Image: A design by Japanese designer Tamae Hirokawa
Photographs: Rajesh Karkera

They came, they saw, they conquered.

Even as their country was ravaged by an earthquake, tsunami and faced serious nuclear threat, the three Japanese designers Motonari Ono, Tamae Hirokawa and Sara Arai put up one of the most memorable shows.

The pathos and the beauty in Ono's designs particularly and the music was only magnified in the light of the tragedy.

Later, they took questions from the media, smiled, joked and carried on bravely.

There was perhaps a lesson for all of us to learn from them. If only we do.

7. The line between journalists and models is thinner than we think

Image: It's getting harder to tell the press and the models apart
Photographs: Rajesh Karkera

The media is often accused of making stars out of its journalists. Lakme Fashion Week is where it hits you the most.

It isn't uncommon to spot tall five-foot-something girls wearing hotpants and designer dresses sitting in the media section.

A part of this, I am told, has to do with the fact that a lot of fashion journalists aren't media students but rather students from reputed fashion institutes across the country.

8. You can now watch fashion week showings live online

Image: If you can't score a seat, it's no sweat anymore -- catch the shows online
Photographs: Rajesh Karkera

This year, the organisers launched a new property -- -- where (if your bandwidth permitted) you could watch fashion shows live!

Now this isn't the first time shows from LFW were streamed live (a young Internet company had done this a few years ago as part of a marketing deal) but it is the first time that Lakme and IMG have taken the initiative themselves.

What's more, their Twitter handle and Facebook page have been more active than ever!

Indian fashion, it seems, has finally and fully embraced the new media.

9. Grand finales NEVER start on time!

Image: Gauri and Nainika's grand finale -- they only kept us waiting an hour and a half!
Photographs: Rajesh Karkera

It's more a norm than an exception, really. In September 2009, Tarun Tahiliani's show started two hours behind schedule, as did Suneet Verma's show in March last year.

Gauri and Nainika's grand finale however, managed to do it in record time -- just 90 minutes behind schedule!

Was the wait worth the while? We didn't mind, really. Though we did wish that someone had fixed the ramp, because despite the delay, at least half a dozen models managed to get their dresses stuck at one particular point.

10. You can take an Indian out of cricket but not cricket out of an Indian!

Image: What Fashion Week -- cricket enthusiasts were crowded around the set!
Photographs: Hitesh Harisinghani

As an aside, we can't help mentioning this. On the day of the India-South Africa match, the place where most of the action was happened to be the media centre, where some genius had managed to tune the television to one of the sports channels.

Hotel staff, media managers and journalists flocked around that single television screen cheering for Team India even as security personnel (half-heartedly) urged them to keep their excitement low. Of course, nothing could get them away from the TV, not even Kareena Kapoor, who had turned up for Manish Malhotra's show!