Putting Down Stakes: Luxe Brands See India As Key Long-Term Play
Some 57 designers showed their fall collections at the five-day event, named after the cosmetics company that is its biggest sponsor, which ran from March 29 to April 2. Held at Mumbai's National Center for Performing Arts, an elegant, shoreside venue, the shows attracted a sprinkling of Bollywood stars, several of whom hit the catwalk.
Lakme Fashion Week took place only weeks after India Fashion Week, a rival event held in Delhi. The organizers banned designers from showing at both events, but the same preoccupation ran like a thread though both: India's arrival on the global fashion stage.
As in Delhi, a record number of foreign buyers attended Mumbai's show, according to Vikram Raizada, vice president and head of fashion for IMG India, which organized the event. Of around 150 buyers, more than 30 were from outside India, he said, constituting the largest number yet.
"India's in the process of being integrated into the global fashion world," he said, adding that several talent scouts from IMG Models in Paris and New York had come to scan the runways for new faces.
While India's most established designers — including Manish Arora and Tarun Tahiliani — showed at Delhi, the focus at Mumbai was on new and emerging talent.
On the penultimate day, designers showing for the first time exhibited a startling diversity at the Gen Next show.
While Manish Arora showed a predominantly cream-colored collection of baby-doll dresses and short drop-waist skirts with heavy woolen embroidery and large buttons, Geetika Gulia's kimono-inspired pleated dresses in a subdued palette of olive, bronze and plum were more simple.
Elsewhere, even within one 15-minute show, there was a bewildering range of trends. Many designers seemed to be appealing to two different markets at once: the domestic market, which constitutes more sales but demands a more traditional, subcontinental look, and the global stage, with its appetite for edgy, Western cuts.