Indian designers: Success abroad, not reflected in India

Wednesday, 11 January 2012
Among the gloomy economic weather, one industry that continued to make a mark globally was the Indian fashion. Indian designers are increasingly being flaunted by top international celebrities at award functions, celebrity events, runways and social dos. Icons like Lady Gaga, Britney Spears and Katy Perry were greatly influenced by Indian fashion and the entire 2011 has been the year of Indian designers as they continue to create a niche worldwide.

Suneet Verma was roped in by American luxury brand Judith Leiber to design its international collections in 2009, and he continues to create an Indianised line for the brand. Manish Arora was roped in as creative-artistic director for Spanish brand Paco Rabanne in February, later, Gaga walked in his Paco Rabanne design to collect her trophy at the MTV European Music Awards. And his another creation, a psychedelic skin tight outfit was worn by supermodel Heidi Klum for a TV show in July and Mischa Barton endorsed Ritu Kumar’s ankle length flared dress with dorri work from her pret line Label. Actor Naomi Harris flaunted digital-printed by Mumbai-based Falguni and Shane Peacock and later an array of stars - Fergie, Rihanna, Katy Perry, Madonna, Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, Cheryl Cole and Kelly Rowland -- dazzled in their outfits. Even on home turf, Indian designers Tarun Tahiliani and Rocky S designed for Lady Gaga and socialite Paris Hilton during their visit to India.

The latest international celebrity to have taken to the Indian fashion design is the Black Eyed Peas singer, Fergie. She dressed in an electric blue and black short number by Indian design label Falguni and Shane Peacock for the American Music Awards held recently. Fergie is not the only one to have endorsed Shane and Peacock design, the list includes big names from Hollywood and international music like Cheryl Cole, Madonna, and Katy Perry.

But ironically, in the home country, Indian designer wear is mostly chosen for traditional occasions. Designers are not getting the kind of response they get on the international platform. Designer fraternity feels that there are two reasons behind the low response in their own country: Firstly, most Indian audiences are waking up to designer wear only now and secondly, the entry of global designer labels such as Dior, Versace and Chanel is making impact on the masses changing their outlook towards hi-fashion.

Falguni and Shane made a deliberate entry onto the hi-profile international platform since according to them, their designs are not meant for masses, whether in India or abroad. So they have never been a part of any of the fashion weeks in India in the past except the recent Amby Valley Bridal Fashion Week held in 2010. What could be the reason behind their design label doing so well abroad yet not making the heads turn here in? The reason: too much bling and embellishments attached to their outfits, which for Indian wearer is a bold style statement not suitable for a day-today wardrobe. It’s the psyche of Indian consumers, who give more weightage to such outfits only during elaborate traditional occasions. Indian celebrities are well-dressed but they prefer wearing designer outfits that are not fashionably adventurous. Does that mean Indian celebs are not fashion forward enough to experiment with something like Falguni and Shane? Most agree, according to the designers, barring a few, Indian celebrities don’t have the right body type to flaunt such outfits and they are definitely not fashion forward enough to carry the runway-kind of fashion wear. And though the fashion fraternity is hopeful that this outlook would change sooner or later, designers like Falguni and Shane, who are busy making waves internationally are in no hurry to get into the ‘saleable mould’.