Fire hazard fans finale flames at Delhi's IFW

Published: Mar 25, 2010, 07:44 IST | A Correspondent |

Failing to comply with fire safety norms, organisers forced to reschedule opening-day's shows to Monday; chaos ensues with both designers J J Valaya and Rajesh Pratap Singh laying claim to coveted finale slot

Failing to comply with fire safety norms, organisers forced to reschedule opening-day's shows to Monday; chaos ensues with both designers J J Valaya and Rajesh Pratap Singh laying claim to coveted finale slot

The Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI), organisers of India Fashion Week, a 5-day style extravaganza which was slated to open  at the National Small Industries Corporation (NSIC) Grounds in Okhla Industrial Area here last afternoon, had hoped for a 'fiery start' to an event that involves over 100 designers.


Will the wait ever end? A model sleeps at the venue as she waits for
the fashion week to begin. PIC/Subhash Barolia


Things got a bit literal when the Delhi police stalled the opening, stating that FDCI had failed to acquire fire safety permits. A no-objection certificate comes from the Delhi Police, usually after a clearance from the fire department. Smoke detectors and sprinklers hadn't been tested on Tuesday, and it was too late to do so yesterday since the clothes had already arrived and were stocked in the tents set up at the venue. This forced the FDCI to reschedule yesterday's shows to Monday.

What was meant to be an hour-long delay on account of customary chaos that "comes with the first day" according to Sethi, president of the Fashion Design Council of India that organises the event, turned into a day-long wait, with media, buyers and high profile guests finally sent away late evening after a confirmed cancellation of Day 1's agenda. When contacted, a senior official from the fire department said, "The inspection team is back. Work is on in full swing to comply with required norms. Another team will visit the venue between 7 and 8 am on Thursday. If the work is complete by then, a go-ahead will be given."

Finale trouble
While veteran Delhi designer Rajesh Pratap Singh was meant to showcase his garments at Sunday's grand finale, the unexpected change in itinerary has thrown fellow Delhi designer JJ Valaya in the wrestling ring. With FDCI president Sunil Sethi conforming the rescheduling, Valaya (who had the final 9.30 pm slot yesterday) will wrap up the event. In fact, Valaya contacted senior fashion journalists claiming to be the default finale designer. Sethi however clarified that the sponsored finale show would be presented by Pratap on Sunday as planned. "But JJ will end up closing the event," he said.

Pratap's spokesperson said the designer thought it the rescheduling unfortunate since he was happy with the venue. "A lot of people have put in effort. And an event like this is a logistical nightmare, so the show must go on. It's best to be cooperative," Pratap reportedly said in a reaction.

Sweating it out
The open-air venue, in Okhla, saw Delhi's glitterati sweat is out in 40 degrees, waiting for the opening show by Mumbai accessory designer Shilpa Chavan.

Shilpa, who has a PR agent in London, had arranged for representatives from Harvey Nichols and a bunch of Italian buyers to attend her show. Delhi socialites Tanisha Mohan, Amol Vadehra, and Christian Dior's Indian representative Kalyani Chawla had to take a U-turn for home. Veteran designer Tarun Tahiliani dropped in especially for Shilpa's show and made a quick stop over backstage to give her a hug. "I think you
need it," he said in his famous baritone.

Behind-the-scenes personnel, including make-up artists, however had simpler problems -- they were wondering whether they would be paid for a full day's job.

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