Top Indian fashion designers enthrall for South African charity

June 29th, 2008 - 3:34 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Jodhaa Akbar

By Fakir Hassen
Durban, June 29 (IANS) Three of India’s leading fashion designers presented their latest creations at a special show in aid of a children’s charity here. Tarun Tahiliani, Rohit Bal and Neeta Lulla Saturday thrilled packed audiences with two shows at a specially-created venue as part of the annual Durban Fashion Week. They participated in the Eastern Mosaic Style Showcase, which regularly proves to be the showstopper as local and international designers showcase their wares in several shows over four days.

The first show featured the cream of South African society at the keenly awaited Indian element of the Fashion Week, where Indian designers have become a regular feature of the annual event since it started three years ago.

The second show saw proceeds going to Save Our Children, a charity chaired for the past five years by South African Indian businesswoman Vanashree Singh, who is the convenor of the Durban Fashion Week.

“There was such a huge demand for the first show and we just could not cater for it, so we decided to do something we do not usually do,” Singh said.

“We do not repeat a show at Fashion Week because it is about showing new ranges and giving everyone opportunities. We could have filled two more halls with the demand (for the Indian designers), so after speaking to the Eastern Mosaic team, we decided to have another one that the children could benefit from, and it was sold out just as quickly.”

Singh said the funds would be used for projects to teach women in rural areas to care for their children adequately and also to support child-headed households where parents have succumbed to HIV-Aids.

“You are doing something for the cause, for the people, for the children out there who need your love and caring. Whatever little we can do; it makes a difference,” award-winning designer Neeta Lulla told IANS.

“I have been involved in other charity events for children, cancer patients and Hepatitis-B, so it’s good to get the opportunity to do something for children here as well.”

The flowing styles of Tahiliani; elegant opulence of a bygone era in Lulla’s work, which she said was inspired by her award-winning costumes for the period film Jodhaa Akbar; and the predilection for large metallic roses and almost sci-fi outfits in a few cases left local and international designers in awe.

“Their craftsmanship and workmanship is impeccable,” said respected creative director Dion Redman, who has worked in all the major fashion centres of the world.

South African producer Danny Moodliyar, who recently took South African designers to India, said it was good to see Indian designers returning to their roots as the West was rediscovering the ancient techniques of India.

“I found that they are increasingly going back to the huge diversity in the thousands of rural villages of India and incorporating that traditional beauty in their garments,” Moodliyar told IANS.

The Indian participation in Durban Fashion Week is the brainchild of Sara Esa, a television producer whose company has been making the television programme Eastern Mosaic, broadcast weekly to showcase Indian lifestyle on the national public broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, for nearly two decades now.

Esa, who first brought out Indian designers to Johannesburg four years ago, said the relationship that had been built with Indian designers saw them being more than willing to make time in their busy schedules for the South African events.

Esa supported Moodliyar’s views on Indian designers: “These designers are so big in India that they don’t’ have to be aping the West in any way or pampering to the tastes of the Western world. They also have a huge market elsewhere in the world to provide everything Indian.”

Both Esa and Singh said they were exploring the possibility of taking the Indian designers to other major South African cities such as Cape Town and Johannesburg in future because of the demand for this there as well.

The show was co-sponsored by the Indian Tourism Office in South Africa.

“This was a wonderful way in which to promote the beauty of all the regions of India in such a vibrant and colourful way at an equally vibrant event,” C. Gangadhar, Assistant Director for Africa of India Tourism, told IANS.

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