Fashion meets business

It was a cloudy day that saw the FICCI FLO celebrating Indian women in the business of fashion. The panel, moderated by Rajshree Pathy, Malini Ramani, Rina Dhaka, Ritu Beri, Kavita Bhartia, Ambika Pillai and choreographer Aparna Behl, spoke about how it was when they started their career, and what the scenario was like now.

Since all five had started almost at the same time, they had a lot of shared anecdotes as well. Rina recalled how when one celeb was driving her mad at a fashion show, she saw Aparna, whose show had some 10 Bollywood stars, shouting at them to get in line. Ritu said she was the First Idiot of Indian fashion and spoke about how she was the first one to hold a fashion week in India by the name of India Fashion Week with 25 designers. "I should have registered it then, I would have been sitting on a great property," she rued. She also said that after a point, fashion shows bore her, and she needs to keep doing other creative stuff.

Malini told everyone how she got into designing by accident, as Tarun Tahiliani was her best friend, and he told her he could get her in when the first ever fashion week happened in Delhi. But it was her most embarrassing moment that elicited most laughs - "The India flag outfit," she said promptly, when asked. "I had it put on a mannequin, which the cops promptly took and put behind bars in Chanakyapuri. I couldn't believe it happened. It was crazy. It's been 13 years since that incident now and I am still going to court for it - it's like we have nothing better to do," she said. Rina's most embarrassing moment was when she and a designer were gossiping and mimicking a third designer, not realizing her phone had connected that person as well...

Ambika recounted how, after she realized her manager was stealing right under her nose all these years, she's got a grip on her accounts now. Her high point in her career, she said, was "doing Sachin Tendulkar's makeup. I nearly fell on his lap and died. I am a huge, huge fan of Sachin's. I told him when I started, that if I swoon and fall down, please forgive me." She also said, "When it comes to makeup, models have no say in what they get; stars still do, but not models." To this, Ritu added, "Indian models are still treated as divas. They're semi goddesses. But in the West, it isn't like that - they come, do the job and leave. They don't get this kind of attention and adulation there."

Serious issues of fashion as a business were also discussed, about how our fashion industry doesn't have a second rung to pass on the baton to, and why we haven't been able to build a single fashion brand into a formidable entity.