If you looked up the meaning of the word ‘showstopper’ you would see that it refers to a person or a thing of arresting appeal that draws attention away from the others.
In the fashion industry, a showstopper is the person who opens or wraps up the show.
This technique is employed by designers with flourish to display a statement piece from their collection during their runway shows.
However, in India, this trend is more about the face of the showstopper than the outfit itself. We say this because most designers turn to Bollywood models to end their show and naturally the focus shifts to the personality of the celebrity rather than the clothes. We decided to take a look at this trend in Indian fashion shows to see if a Bollywood showstopper is really required on the ramp.
In a country like India where the lines between Bollywood industry and the fashion industry are so blurred, it is imperative for designers to invite stars to strut their clothes on the runway. Actors like Shilpa Shetty, Sonam Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor and Bipasha Basu often model the clothes for their 'designer friends' during all the major fashion shows. The presence of a Bollywood showstopper guarantees flashbulbs and comprehensive press coverage - just the buzz that designers need to push their collections. Also, with celebrity fashion being a major trendsetter in India, getting a Bollywood model to wear your clothes is a sure-fire way to make people want to emulate and adopt the style.
This phenomenon is unique to Indian fashion and is the designer’s way of ensuring that the collection gets maximum coverage. The Bollywood showstopper in turn gets those ten minutes in the spotlight and excellent press coverage in the subsequent week, making it a marriage made in heaven for both!
While it is great to have a big name modelling your clothes, we feel that it is a disturbing trend, a mark of the designer’s lack of confidence in her or his designs. Every time a Bollywood model walks the ramp for the designer, he or she becomes bigger than the clothes itself - as opposed to the popular adage that goes ‘clothes make the man’.
When such an influential face carries the outfit, the showstopper becomes the most talked about aspect of the show, overshadowing designs, cuts and silhouettes. One often finds the press highlighting only the outfit worn by the showstopper, skimming details about the design philosophy or the intricacies of the creations. Worse still, designers simply treat these Bollywood models as clothes horses, making them wear clothes that perhaps do not resonate with their personal style. End result - a gimmicky affair that makes the headlines and becomes the claim to fame for the collection.
Though this trend is much shunned in fashion circles, designers continue to feature Bollywood showstoppers on their shows. Sometimes the celebrities walk out of pure goodwill, sometimes they do so to create some buzz coinciding with the release of a movie and oftentimes in return for a hefty payment. With big sponsors from luxury fashion brands supporting major fashion events, there is no dearth of money to bring in Bollywood celebrities during fashion shows.
All said and done, there are some designers like Sabyasachi Mukherjee who, despite having staunch celebrity loyalists do not feature a Bollywood showstopper during their shows. These designers believe in their clothes and are confident about the mileage that the collection will gain purely on the merit of design. Designers like Mukherjee feel that putting a known face on the ramp only takes the attention away from the clothes. We cannot agree more.
But will a few voices against it put an end to the Bollywood showstopper trend? Not anytime soon. Bollywood and the fashion industry are closely knit in India and it would be hard to remove Bollywood from the ramp completely.
Though a Bollywood model on the ramp means better business for the designer, we think that the way it is being done today is overkill. If there is a celebrity friend who is a brand loyalist and also exudes the same vibe as a collection, then it makes sense to feature him or her on the ramp. But if the designer is going to randomly make a popular face walk the ramp just as a photo-op, then sorry to say, it clearly indicates a lack of faith in the creation.
Image credit: hindustantimes, indiatvnews