This season’s Lakme Fashion Week (LFW) will be a homecoming of sorts. After the namesake brand and the Fashion Design Council of India split in 2005, industry heavy weights Rohit Bal, Rina Dhaka and JJ Valaya bid Mumbai farewell.
Bal’s first show since will also be the opening off-site show for Mumbai’s premier fashion event on August 16. “I’m very excited to be back. I haven’t had a show here since 2005, since it was more convenient to show in Delhi, where I’m based,” Bal says, adding, “but I haven’t been showing in Delhi either for the past couple of seasons, just because it’s meant to be for mid-range ready-to-wear collections, and that’s not what I do best. So in Mumbai, I’ll be showing my couture line called Shanti at LFW.”
The theme, Winter Festive, is drawing fashion perennial Rina Dhaka back to the fold too. “I will be showing my Indian ethnic wear in Mumbai. I haven’t showcased this anywhere else, which is why I’m very stressed,” she reveals. What has both designers even more excited than a Mumbai show, is the crazy response from clients who want to see their work. “I just sent Anil Chopra (CEO, Lakme Lever) a message asking him to save my life because there are so many people asking for passes,” Bal groans, adding, “It’s like a battle trying to please everyone, and I’m desperate to add more seats.”
Dhaka chimes in saying, “Since everybody I know will be on the front row, it’s accommodating people in the other rows that becomes difficult. The cool crowd wants to come and support you, and it’s almost impossible to find a seat for everyone.”
Chopra admits he’s having a tough time making sure everybody gets a chance, saying, “I’m actually sitting with my secretary right now, trying to figure out where to seat everybody.” Ask whether he’s glad to have the Delhi designers back and he says, “We’ve always had as many Delhi designers as those from Mumbai at LFW, because this is a national event. But it’s good to have these established names, who’ve been around for years, with us again.”