UNDERSTATEMENT: Diamonds now are fashion’s best friends


UNDERSTATEMENT: Diamonds now are fashion’s best friends

At the recent India Couture Week (ICW) in Delhi sponsored by Shri Raj Mahal Jewellers, a few of us got mistakenly ushered into a private “lounge” at Taj Mahal Hotel, the venue of the six day event. For those not familiar with fashion’s clucking ghettos, these spaces are reserved by and for special guests of sponsors and are loaded with fine booze and tasty snacks. They also double up as venues for some pre-show cocktail parties or post-show revelries. At the ICW for instance, the Logix group–also an associate sponsor–had a Logix Lounge where every evening, fashion’s VIPs sipped cocktails. The clothes, attitudes and business cards of people in such lounges are revelatory—they tell you about the designer’s inner circle, his dress circle that is the customers as well as the sponsor’s social net worth.

There is something about me that discourages bouncers outside such lounges from allowing me entry. I see many others also without coloured wrist bands that double up as lounge passes sail in cheerily, but I don’t have the luxury of a face pass. I wonder if my handloom saris are to blame or is it the C word written on my forehead (interpret freely). Often at the bi-annual Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week (WIFW), that takes place at Pragati Maidan in Delhi, if I want to interview a designer already inside a lounge, or catch a drink with a friend, I need a rescuer to take me in. “Do I look like a gatecrasher or some kid in need of a free drink?” I yelled at the hostess standing outside a pre-show cocktail party last season. She didn’t budge. Since I usually avoid sponsor lounges, I can’t even blame the organisers for not giving me those special wrist bands.

So at the couture week at Taj Palace after being refused entry–expectedly–into the Logix Lounge until a fellow male journalist spewed venom at the bouncer (don’t repeat what I said, he told me, it is not a ladies’ thing), I was more than surprised to be politely ushered into the Shri Raj Mahal Jewellers lounge. As were my companions. Inside, besides the expected booze and five star tidbits were people who didn’t resemble the usual “fashion crowd”. This term doesn’t have any democratic origins but it is useful to describe people who frequent fashion shows—high heels, funky bags, pretty dresses, zipped up stitched saris, latest accessories, luxe gowns, lovely tops with skinny pants, sexy makeup, lots of mascara, blow dried hair and exposed skin pampered with shimmery oils.

But inside the Shri Raj Mahal jewelers lounge, were a group of young girls dressed in decorative chiffon Anarkalis and ornate tunics accessorized with precious jewellery seated on sofas, eating from plates. No loud hi-hello, no air kissing, no squealing at the sight of the next guest. Jewels and ornaments were on display too in glass cases. Men were formally suited and booted but hardly looked like fashion’s faithful devotees and women from the not so young age group wore embroidered crepes and chiffons. The common tell-tale sign among the ladies was diamond jewellery. Bangles yes, but more noticeably diamond nose pins, of the size and quality most women at society events don’t wear even as ear-studs. I realised we were in the wrong place as did the person who had ushered us in. We left almost immediately but not before one from our group muttered, “let us go back to our own people”. It made me think about how social groups form and sustain seeking some common thread running through them.

The “subset” we saw in the sponsor’s lounge-expensively dressed but disconnected from the fashion community in more ways than one–is now a bonafide part of fashion and couture shows. As guests of fashion’s benefactors they lean in on fashion for entertainment, acceptance and visibility. Perhaps for entitled sightings of Bollywood stars who seem to happily walk the ramp at jewellery shows. They are new entrants, so they look a bit tentative, sizing up the fashion regulars in return, sometimes with visible disapproval.

With announcements of fashion events sponsored by jewellers getting flashed in newspapers every day, this is clearly a growing community. As a diamond dusted blitzkrieg begins to veil fashion’s real face, am I the only one wondering if this change in the consumers of fashion will influence its creativity and inspiration?