The high priestess of fashion is now bringing the Versace legacy to India.
At a press conference in Mumbai, blonde divaesque Donatella Versace let it slip that India will get a taste of Italian couture courtesy the opening of five exclusive Versace boutiques on Indian soil.
Besides the business angle, Donatella's first Indian soiree is by virtue of Versace's association with Lakme Fashion House, a reality show telecast on the STAR One channel.
"During my first time in India, I feel totally at home," says the diva with a heavy Italian accent.
She considers designers Sandeep Khosla and Abu Jani (right in picture alongside) -- the judges on Lakme Fashion House -- to be her new best friends. She has been out scouting for Indian fabrics that could inspire new designs.
And given a chance to dress up a Bollywood icon, Donna's first choice would have to be the lissome Abhishek Bachchan!
However, the most important reason for Donatella's visit to India is Versace's association with Lakme Fashion House. The agenda of the programme is to find the best young fashion designer in India.
And the grand prize awaiting the winner is a six-month stint in Milan to intern with the House of Versace, and an opportunity to market his/her designs under the brand name Versus.
During the internship, the winner will assist Donatella in designing her forthcoming collection, which by the way will also have the Indian element, courtesy Donatella's tryst with India and the winner's inherent Indian sensibility.
Abu and Sandeep, who have played the role of both jury and mentor to the participants have ensured the latter. Says Sandeep, "The winner must have a bit of India in him or her and take it to the international platform."
Besides the grand prize, the winner will also get to display his or her collection at the forthcoming Lakme India Fashion Week on April 24.
But behind the hype and the glamour, the journey for the participants hasn't been a catwalk. Thousands of applications poured in from designers across the nation, right from Patna to Meghalaya, from students of design to working professionals, many who have no formal training.
From these, only 16 designers have made it onto the sets. A challenging new assignment every week right from designing for Kareena Kapoor to creating superhero costumes, maximising the use of their skills and creativity and testing the limits of their own endurance against such steep competition, these were the elements which made up the lives of the finalists in the past few weeks.
In the current episode, being telecast this weekend on Saturday and Sunday at 9 pm on Star One, 10 designers are still in the running. However, the final episode, which will air on April 3, is being shot on Friday night and from 16, the number has finally boiled down to just six.
Helping Sandeep and Abu decide the winner is Donatella herself. Says she, "It will be very difficult to choose just one from six; I wish I could take all six with me."
Text: Merril Diniz | Photographs: Jewella C Miranda