1990: First fashion show at the racecourse
In the early 1990s, the Mahalaxmi Racecourse witnesses the first-ever fashion show, organised by Maureen Wadia. The show paves way for a host of future fashion events at the venue. More recently, there is a proposal to transform the racecourse into an entertainment zone.
1994: Aishwarya Rai wins over the world
After gaining public recognition for her appearance in a Cola commercial with actor Aamir Khan, Aishwarya Rai wins the second place in the Miss India Contest in 1994. The Manglorean beauty then wins the Miss World Pageant, held that year in Sun City, South Africa. She is considered as one of the most beautiful Miss Worlds of all time.
2001: Fashion Week takes city by storm
The First Lakme Fashion Week (LFW) is held in Mumbai. It is the first fashion week sponsored by a beauty brand. LFW has been conceived to redefine the future of fashion and integrate India into the global fashion world. Previously held at the National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA), the event is now held at the Grand Hyatt in Santacruz.
2011: Lakshmi Menon in the Pirelli Calendar
In 2011, Indian Supermodel Lakshmi Menon features in the famous Pirelli Calendar, photographed by Karl Lagerfeld. She makes India proud by being the first Indian model to feature in a prestigious publication that has been well-known in the art and fashion circuit since the last 40 years.
Then & Now: Fashion flashback
Meher Castelino, fashion journalist and consultant
I started writing full-time on fashion from 1975 but to sell a fashion article in the ’70s and ’80s, it took all my powers of persuasion to convince editors.
I was one of the first fashion journalists writing exclusively on fashion/beauty starting from MiD DAY and SUNDAY MiD DAY in 1984. Since then, the profession has snowballed into a career that has prompted fashion institutes to offer four-year degree courses in a subject called Fashion Communication.
The last three decades saw the rise of fashion with the launch of National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) in 1987. The number of institutes is over 300 now with an average of 25 graduates emerging annually from each one. The image of fashion shows has changed from dancing/entertaining extravaganzas showcasing the latest fabrics of well-known mills such as Khatau, Mafatlal, Morarjee, Calico, Binny’s Tata Textiles; to high fashion foreign trained designer shows with many making waves in the West.
The fashion weeks started in 2000 added three new words into the Indian fashion vocabulary — haute couture, prét and diffusion. Indian women learnt to differentiate between western and ethnic chic and men moved from staple shirts, trousers and tailored suits to high fashion Indian/western designer wear. The invasion of the foreign brands and couture labels gave stiff competition to the domestic stalwarts, turning the poor neighbourhood darzis into master-cutters for the latter category.
As a model in the ’70s we were a bunch of 12-15 who worked for ridiculous sums of R250-300 per show. The difference now is the addition of two or more zeros to those figures. Makeup/hairstylists, buyers, backstage managers, choreographers were non-existent, which are now high-paying jobs with a new career ‘Stylist’ turning into a special course at fashion institutes.