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Kolkata fashion week promotes weavers, but faces hurdles (Review)

Kolkata, Sep 15 (IANS) The works of weavers were highlighted and a galaxy of show stoppers dazzled as the second edition of the Kolkata Fashion Week (KFW)-II drew more crowds, despite the occasional hitches.

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Kolkata, Sep 15 (IANS) The works of weavers were highlighted and a galaxy of show stoppers dazzled as the second edition of the Kolkata Fashion Week (KFW)-II drew more crowds, despite the occasional hitches.

Kicking off with a show by the grand dame of Indian fashion Ritu Kumar, the five-day KFW-II had three sessions dedicated to weavers. Thirty seven designers displayed their collection, along with Manish Malhotra's bridal dresses which brought the curtains down on a high.

Celebrating the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation's declaration of 2009 as 'The International Year of Natural Fibre', KFW-II had 'Earth Couture' as the theme depicting India's ethnic roots through the works of West Bengal weavers.

The first show comprised of traditional saris like garad, dhonekhali, baluchari and dhakai, with a few kanthas, besides men's wear tussar churidar kurtas alongside chadars.

The second one dealt with innovation in weaves - batik, kantha on silk, wrapped like dresses, paired with a shirt, or a skirt. Cuffs completed the hip look.

Beautiful hand-spun saris of the weavers of Phulia (in West Bengal's Nadia district) -- a renowned centre of hand-woven fabrics -- dazzled viewers in the third weavers' show, that showcased a wide array of fabrics varying from tant, tussar silk, Bangalore silk to muga.

Apart from the story of weavers, there were 31 shows by the top names in fashion as well as the upcoming ones from the city and outside.

While Ritu Kumar's ensemble of Indian and western attire made by the craftsmen of the state regaled viewers, Satya Paul, the designer brand celebrating its 25th year, showcased collections based on hand weaving.

Kumar said it is the responsibility of the designers to make sure that the works of these craftsmen does not die out. 'It is our duty to bring out the best of the talents from these craftsmen into the ramp,' she said.

Bangladeshi designer Bibi Russell lent an international glow to the five-day event showcasing a wide range of natural fibres and hand weaving using cotton, some tie-and-dye, some checks and silk and crochet work for her collection that included saris, salwar kurtas, western wear and men's wear.

Among other leading designers, Neeta Lulla exhibited a breathtaking array of saris and lehengas suited for both traditional and 'destination' weddings. Designer duo Monapali captivated the audience with their 'tribal-yet-contemporary' wear; and Kiran Uttam Ghosh's spring-summer collection 2010, which focussed on digital prints, received huge appreciation.

Famed designer Anita Dongre made the textile heritage of Jaipur come alive as gorgeous models sashayed down the ramp displaying her collection produced in the pink city.

Designer Narendra Kumar unveiled a Japanese story as he showcased his collection on the fifth and final day of the Kolkata Fashion Week.

'It's a Japanese story that we have shown today. The jacket and shirts had lots of frills and it had an oriental feel,' Narendra Kumar told the media after the show.

But it was Tejas Gandhi's ramp show which drew attention because of its novelty.

From Indian women's cricket captain Jhulan Goswami, to famous percussionist Bikram Ghosh to hair stylist Brigette Jones, professionals from all walks of life -- many of them not even remotely close to size-zero figures of models one normally sees at such shows -- showcased Tejas' collection.

Among those who featured were dancers, journalists, lawyers and doctors, as well as a musician and a politician.

There were showstoppers galore. While actress Amrita Rao catwalked for Narendra Kumar, Irrfan Khan did the same for city-based Abhishek Dutta.

Star cricketer Virender Sehwag was the showstopper for designer Rocky S, Sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan and his sons Ayaan and Amaan walked the ramp in attires designed by Zubair Kirmani.

Compared to the maiden edition, KFW-II drew larger crowds, with shows like that of Manish Malhotra being sold out days before the event.

However, it was not all smooth sailing. Title sponsors Emami pulled out a day before the event started, and the organisers had to conduct the show without any replacement.

There was also much media speculation about problems and a probable split within KFW promoters Mindscape Maestros, though there was no official confirmation.

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