More Manish Than Marchesa
Check out my piece in the Wall Street Journal this week.
More Manish than Marchesa
A girl never forgets her first fashion show.
Mine was when I was 14, an amateur affair at a small auditorium in Hyderabad in the early 90’s, featuring collections from local design school grads. Back then, fashion shows were more social events than business opportunities, but I was still dazzled by the vivid fabrics drifting down the runway on an army of sultry, brown-skinned waifs.
In that era, the nascent Indian fashion industry was moving beyond the local tailor, or darzi, stitching Bollywood knockoffs on demand and into a legitimate business. At the peak of my awkward adolescent years I could hardly be considered a fashionista, but I was hooked on this glamorous world. Whenever I went back from my hometown in Boston to visit my grandparents in India, I’d follow fledgling local designers by tuning into shows like Khoobsurat on Zee TV, where then-little-known models like Arjun Rampal and Lara Dutta (who have gone on to become Bollywood megastars) were first seen strutting on the catwalk for early design icons like Rohit Bal. I’d request copies of popular magazines like Femina and Elle and Verve whenever anyone was coming back from India, savoring the colorful couture of Tarun Tahliani, Ritu Kumar, and Sabyasachi. As the industry boomed into the new millennium, so did my interest: ever since India’s first fashion week debuted in 2000, I’ve dutifully paid pilgrimage to websites and blogs to follow the latest collections in realtime.