The changing face of showstoppers in Indian fashion shows, beyond Bollywood

The first physical edition of the FDCI x Lakmé Fashion Week from 2019 it recently ended with actor Ananya Panday stepping off the ramp Falguni Shane Peacockthe creation. While the energy and enthusiasm of returning to the physical ramp was palpable in every aspect, from show themes to collections, little else felt different. Except for the showstopper.

It is a norm of Indian Fashion Week for a Bollywood celebrity to close the show; at least that of the established designers of the sector. The showstopper is kept secret and, as we receive in our emails from PR officials, “embargoed” to ensure a sense of surprise. There are many speculated reasons as to why Bollywood celebrities as showstoppers are a surefire formula for fashion shows: they enhance the glam factor of the show, attract wider media coverage, and tap into the star’s fan base that may not necessarily know the brand. Other celebrities this season included Janhvi Kapoor for Punit Balana, Kangana Ranaut for Khadi India, Criti Sanon for Tarun Tahiliani, e Mrunal Thakur for JJ Valaya, among others.

But this year’s surprise wasn’t so much the celebrity closing whose show, but was, instead, spotting some well-known and lesser-known faces like Ace Designer showstoppers. AAP leader Raghav Chadha, art curator Shalini Passi, singer Manasi Scott, influencers Masoom Minawala and Sakshi Sindwani, and even ace designer Rohit Bal have made the leap, tipping the scales towards non-regulatory showstoppers in Indian fashion weeks. While some attribute this to repetition and the need for inclusiveness, some think it was an inevitability in the post-pandemic world.

The domain of social media

As the tide progressively shifts towards social media, the focus also continues to shift towards influencers and digital content creators that promise visibility, age-old charm and, of course, access to their millions of followers. In fact, Masoom Minawala, one of India’s biggest luxury and fashion content creators, thinks “it’s a revolutionary step. For years we have had showstoppers and the title was reserved exclusively for the 1% of people who fit the social standards of “beauty”. When influencers walk the ramp for world-class designers, it resonates with communities. Being a show stopper is no longer an unattainable dream, it becomes reality. Coexistence with Bollywood celebrities as a stage of the show is certainly the future of a more inclusive environment “.

This season of LFW, Masoom has become the progenitor of designer Varun Bahl. She had it too closed the Vaishali S show at Milan Fashion Week this year, being the first Indian content creator to do so. Speaking of the experience, Masoom says: “There is unprecedented comfort in fighting for your country. When I walked up the ramp to Varun Bahl, the comfort and support from the audience was just touching. “

He also thinks that the designers who make influencers their muse is “a great way to recognize the contributions of influencers who have a mission to promote the magnificence of Indian fashion and become a symbiotic relationship. From my observations, the vision of the weeks of the Indian fashion is all about building a community, whether it’s laying the foundations for budding local designers or strengthening ties within the fashion fraternity. Engaging influencers as show stoppers is a way to connect with diverse masses and cover a broad target group “.

The designer also seems to agree. “I think it was a suitable thing to do,” says Varun Bahl without a moment’s hesitation. “She has made us very proud, she is so cute, confident and so passionate about fashion. She made absolutely sense. But everyone was so surprised! ” Bahl also attributed “repetitiveness” and the need for “unpredictability” when it came to choosing protagonists, acknowledging that “obviously, Bollywood is Bollywood”.

Relevance versus popularity

For Vaishali S, who recently became the first Indian designer to show at Milan Fashion Week, choosing Shalini Passi, a collector of art and design, also ‘makes absolutely sense’. Shalini has been a patron and longtime supporter of the brand. “I truly believe in Vaishali’s creations and wear them by her, supporting them for years now. Her clothes are artistic and well made. So, it was a real pleasure and an honor to be the showstopper for her. The dress was specially designed for me and it was really flawless, ”says Passi.

shalini pass, vaishali s Shalini Passi’s final outfit was designed with that in mind. (Photo: Shalini Passi)

It also poses a thought-provoking question when it comes to determining whether this showstopper change is a seasonal ‘trend’, or here to stay: “Bollywood celebrities as showstoppers have lost the novelty for some, but there are others who are still quite in love. of Bollywood. Sure it reaches a lot of eyeballs, but it’s those eyeballs that are relevant to the present day, is the question. He further adds: “Since the whole purpose of fashion is inclusiveness and not a targeted audience, it’s nice to see people from other walks of life as protagonists. The era (of Bollywood celebrities) is not over, I think, but there is room for positive and inclusive change. “

‘Fashion belongs to fashion’

On the final day of LFW, one fashion week constant walked for another. The ace designer Rohit Bal made her runway debut, after years of presenting her collection at LFW, as the leader of Abhishek Sharma. The decision was driven by emotion, Sharma shares, as she is Bal’s protege and worked under him for a decade. “I decided it couldn’t be anyone else but him. And Rohit also immediately agreed. Bal also spoke highly of Sharma and his “very, very special talent” in a exclusive interaction with chef Suvir Saran for indianexpress.com post the show.

Sharma also says that the public is much more aware of the fashion industry beyond its contours and that “there is no point in doing something for the sake of it. Fashion belongs to fashion. Having masters in your fields gives your work a stamp of approval adds credibility to the whole thing. “

While the motivation and inspiration for choosing one’s inspirational muse differ for each designer and collection, Varun Bahl’s concluding statement appears to be true for this changing form of showstoppers in Indian fashion weeks: “Change will be the only constant. Now. People will have more new and innovative ideas. Otherwise it will all be so banal and predictable ”.

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