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Fashion Shows: Backstage of a Fashion Show
It's high time our people understood that fashion, as an industry, is more than just a bunch of people getting together to play dress up!

Being predominantly a textile nation, fashion design and the business of fashion is not just an increasingly imperative portion of our fabric and related industries.

Provided that we're able to follow the global business model of exporting fashion on a global level via a local fashion week, it could also serve to generate massive revenues for local industries and utilise local talent, those who are both skilled in urban fashion tailoring and local, ethnic designs.

The past couple of years have seen an increasing number of fashion shows being held by local designers in the country. The media boom has also facilitated a massive increase of activity within the local fashion industry. There are now so many newer 'designers' wanting to break in and take a piece of the fashion pie that it's difficult to keep track of who could potentially be the next big thing - there are just so many to chose from.

We might not have enough of a local market for designers to host bi-annual fashion shows (spring/summer and autumn/winter being the convention abroad, scattered with a few 'holiday' and 'resort' shows in between), however, with shows being held on a regular basis throughout the year, local fashion 'seasons' are beginning to take some kind of shape. And most of the designers who do show are taking it very seriously.

But even with such positive growth and development taking place on a local level, one cannot just hope that we will, as a textile nation, eventually manage to break into global fashion as an industry (and not as individual designers who have managed to introduce themselves). Having said that, it comes as a great disappointment when, despite everything that is being done within the industry and after having the bar raised when it comes to local shows and designs, there are individuals out there who tend to treat fashion as nothing more than a mere form of entertainment.

Fashion is a form of art, where self-expression in design and commerce is skilfully balanced, and it deserves to be taken seriously. Fashion shows are not held for models to sashay down the ramp as mere eye-candy for the attendees. They showcase designs that are a reflection of the designers' influences, the statements he/she is trying to make which could potentially result in a shift or an evolution of local cultural aesthetics.

An invitation was received last week for a fashion show being held at the Frere Hall lawns. However, on reaching the venue, I genuinely believed I was at the wrong place. There was a shoddy ramp set up several feet higher from the ground, there was not a single person from the local fraternity present and the seating area was full of families accompanied by screaming children, who in the first place had no business being there as late as around midnight. The stage carried an entire music band setup and despite the presence of the police, there was no 'real' security to speak of. Any random person could walk in, walk out, walk backstage (conventionally a big no-go area for anyone other than the management) and literally do whatever pleased them.

Backstage, the first thing I came across was the models sitting outside the changing room. There was no electricity or air-conditioning in the changing room for them to actually stay inside. The three or four senior models were angrily looking around for someone from the management and rightly so as everyone from sweepers, usherers and catering personnel were constantly coming up to them to get photos taken while the models were still in the process of preparing for the show.

A chat with the make-up artiste, who was absolutely livid at the lack of organisation, revealed that the models had been prepared and ready for the show since noon (it was close to midnight when I spoke to her)! Investigating further, I found out that there was no choreographer, the make-up artiste was not told what outfits she was preparing the models for (she still managed to do a fantastic job) and to add insult to injury, none of the models knew what outfits they were modelling. Inside the changing room, there were no tags on the outfits to indicate which model was wearing what first, and no one there had a clue.

The outfits themselves were nothing to write home about, other than being heavily embellished that is quite the norm at Gulf or Kehkeshan in Clifton. There was one outfit that simply stood out - a white 'gown' with a layer of starry net (the kind that was all the rage in the early '90s, and every girl's mother made her wear it at least once on Eid) over it which frilled at the hemline and was held up by tacky-looking roses in the same net!

Stepping outside for a breather, I saw children dressed up in flower costumes stepping on stage. It turned out that they were going to perform a tableau for the audience. The next thing on the itinerary was an extremely sleazy item number by a very generously endowed female dancer, followed by an item number by three male and one female dancer. An acoustic performance by a group of local underground artistes followed.

Going backstage again, some of the models asked me about what was going on on stage since no one was willing to tell them. With several hours over the aforementioned time on the invitation card and with no signs of the fashion show commencing till then, and having examined the clothes up close and the backstage conditions, I decided to leave the ridiculous circus that the event was.

The skills, expertise and experience of professional fashion choreographers and event managers exist for a reason. In any other case, there is so much that can (and will) go wrong as was the case in the event mentioned above. A singular event such as this not only serves to undermine efforts but also compromises the professional reputation of the models, make-up artistes participating in it. In short, it gives fashion a bad name.

How does one ensure that standards are met when organising a fashion event? Is it the responsibility of the two fashion councils to define the benchmark and keep a check? Your guess is as good as mine for now.

Posted on Tue Jun 24, 2008 10:55 pm by Admin Tue Jun 24, 2008 10:55 pm
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