Big events put India on world fashion map in 2011
When international pop icon Lady Gaga flew down here, she sported desi designers Nida Mehmood and Tarun Tahiliani's creations and was not the first one to do so. Throughout the year, high profile celebs like Britney Spears and Katy Perry sported Indian designers' creations and helped in augmenting demand for their sartorial elegance.
Pop star Lady Gaga sporting a Tarun Tahiliani creation
"India is the market to watch out for. So we must credit India first because it has put itself on the global map for so many reasons. It's not just fashion that is being liked and popular, India as a whole is becoming the place to invest in," Suneet Varma told IANS, commenting on the designer fraternity getting the spotlight in the global arena.
Varma was roped in by American luxury brand Judith Leiber to design its international collections in 2009 and continues to churn out an Indianised line for the brand.
When the West walks into an Indian designers' wardrobe, it is a notable act because they are looking beyond the four main cities London, Paris, Milan and New York that are known as trend-setters.
These four cities sport three different trends -- London for the British, New York for the American and Paris-Milan for European fashion.
India is nowhere on their radar. So when Manish Arora was roped in as creative-artistic director for Spanish brand Paco Rabanne in Feburary, it was considered an auspicious start. Later, Gaga walked in his Paco Rabanne design to collect her trophy at the MTV European Music Awards.
It's no mean feat, said Varma, lauding Arora's achievement. "In terms of fashion, I think this year's real hero is Manish Arora who has truly put India on the map of international fashion scene. He is the global voice for India," he added.
And what followed thereafter was like a dream come true.
Supermodel Heidi Klum wore a psychedelic skin tight outfit designed by Arora 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.
"India is definitely more on people's radar than ever before. From being a country identified for its exotic religion and palaces, it's being seen differently today. There is an awareness about Indian fashion and its unique contribution which is different to that of the prescribed dress forms relevant in the western world," Kumar told IANS.
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.
The duo once said that targeting international name was a strategic move and that after showcasing at London Fashion Week they managed to create a niche for themselves.
Even on home turf, Indian designers dressed international guests -- Tahiliani and Rocky S took care of Gaga and socialite Paris Hilton.
Varma gives credit to events like F1 and Hollywood celebrities like Tom Cruise landing on Indian territory for the Indian fashion scene getting a fillip.
"This year so many firsts happened for India. First F1 circuit, then Lady Gaga came here and then Tom Cruise. Apart from them, so many others too headed this side and it explains everything," he said.
Trade pundits feel the trend could be a result of clever marketing and smart public relations skill.
"What you see here is clever marketing skill. It is a vicious cycle and if you have right contacts then the world is at your feet. So, when you see celebrities wearing a certain brand, you know, there are many stakes involved and one who is convincing and clever wins the race," said a source.
Fashion Design Council of India president Sunil Sethi, however, believes in pushing the envelope further.
"A celebrity wearing an Indian designer is less important for me as my aim is to look at the growth of designers. I believe in collective growth and not individual growth," Sethi told IANS.
"So my sole aim is to get more buyers, generate better business and make sure that Indian designer clothes are available in various stores through fashion weeks. If this happens, you will see more and more people wearing our designs. And that will be an achievement for me," he added.
Whether it is a clever game or plain creative genius, as long as Hollywood swears by Indian fashion designers, it's merry time for them!