The pioneering Lakme Fashion Week (LFW), that introduced India to professional
and international style fashion shows seems to be losing its star status to the now successful FDCI run Wills Lifestyle Fashion Week (WLIFW). In short, Delhi is edging out Mumbai’s dominance over high fashion. Once the launch platform of many a fashion star, LFW has been instrumental in creating brand names out of designers like Rahul Mishra, Nikasha Tawadey, Asmita Marwah, Anand Bhushan and Nachiket Barve to name a few. Now, most have chosen to join hands with the WLIFW in Delhi instead. So this season, Mumbai’s Lakme Fashion Week missed some of its own protégés.
The oft-quoted reason for this mass migration is that unlike most fashion weeks, which show collections for the season six months in advance, LFW shifted to a current season format. But the real story is more complicated. There are many complaints, ranging from lack of professionalism to ego battles with younger designers feeling let down by the very organization that first gave them a chance.
Star protégé Rahul Mishra is one of the many who are clearly disgruntled with the same platform that created them. He agrees he has reached a position because Lakme gave him a platform. A product of the first Lakme Gen Next show he feels now it’s more obsessed with media hype as opposed to generating business for designers and it has become an event for sponsors.
Many designers seem to use Lakme as a launch pad to first gain recognition, but are forced to move to Delhi when their business doesn’t grow. As Misra says, in Delhi, the stalls are always full and one sees designers, whether established or new, busy at work. This helps draw in the buyers adds. Hyderabad-based designer Marwah sounds equally disillusioned. As an outside designer, Asmita spends over Rs 5 lakh to participate, but doesn’t recover the amount. Another designer adds that despite having been with Lakme for long, they still have to fight for good time slots. Also, their suggestion of using the grand finale show to promote five of LFW’s own finds also did not gain much ground among the organizers.