I have seen and heard so many scams in my 24 years in fashion. But the biggest one came in my 18th year, the alleged formation of the Fashion Design Promotion Council (FDPC).The announcement of the same was followed by much fanfare first and a lot of fireworks later, but no one is talking about it now!
When I started writing on fashion there were only a handful of fashion designers in India. I remember one designer during my meeting with him told me that his fashion feature was coming in Vogue magazine. In those days it was so big that we used to write about it in the papers. Hearing it, I was excited and I wrote a 300-word story with a photo of the designer in the paper. As I write this blog, I still await the feature to come in the magazine.
Another designer once told me that he is going to the London Fashion Week. I wrote about it. The designer packed his creations in his suitcase and went to London humming his favourite song. What he really did was he did a trunk show somewhere when the fashion week was on, but never was part of it! I got fooled again. Did I learn anything from that? Not really.
A lady designer told me then that she’s going to the Paris Fashion Week. I did an exclusive interview with her not knowing that I was being fooled exclusively. She said the best names in fashion journalism such as Suzy Menkes, Anna Wintour, princess of many countries, etc will be part of it. When she came back she again told me the same. Of course, I wrote about it.
Many years later, I was at the Bryant Park (New York Fashion Week) having a coffee with one of the journalist she mentioned who attended her show. The journalist told me she was never even anywhere close to her show (and the show wasn’t even part of Paris Fashion Week!).
The difference between those days and in the last few years is that I have developed my contacts with the heads of New York, London, Paris and Milan fashion weeks. I got wiser. Now I make it a point to check with these heads or their federations when designers say they are going to such fashion weeks.
So, when I heard about the formation of this new fashion council, even as those who were behind it flaunted the textile ministry and the minister’s name, I was skeptical about the whole thing right from its beginning even as several well-known names in fashion designing rallied behind it. I realised from my experience that what is being shown is what is not to be believed. So I decided not to be part of it. Instead I started airing my skepticism through my columns in Hindustan Times’ lifestyle section HT City.
One after the other, those who were part of it started calling me and started criticizing what I wrote. One of them whom I thought was a straight forward guy, whom I never though will be part of such a set up, even called me one day to say that I am writing things without knowing anything about it and he warned me that my credibility will be lost if I continued with my ways of thinking about this venture. I was still skeptical.
My rival paper, where I worked for nine long years, was going gung ho about the whole venture and how nice it was and how their fashion week is coming up, etc. It went of for a few months paving the way for some of the worst confusions fashion weeks in India had seen till then.
Then one fine (not so fine actually for them), the head of this venture was picked up by the cops for an alleged finance fraud with a Bollywood actor. No sooner than our designer friends heard about it, they ran. They ran real quick from the spot, real fast. Literally, that was the end of the venture. In a few days time, the venture bundled up. Those who were part of it went back to their old body, the Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI) and wholeheartedly extended their full support. And what was once one, which became two and was about to be three, became one again. Delhi once again started having one fashion week.
Like I said, it was the biggest confusion or scam I have seen yet. Plenty of talks, plenty of interviews and photographs in the media, plenty of bitching and backbiting… all for what? Nothing!
But I didn’t get fooled this time!