Gautaman Bhaskaran
an indian journalist
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© Copyright 2004





In Fashion…Vogue comes to India

India’s is fast getting hep, and is all set to make its magnificent mark on the global fashion ground. Indian designers now show their creations on the ramps of Paris, London, Milan and New York. Stylists such as Ritu Beri, Kiran Uttam Ghosh, Rohit Bal and the like sell their labels in leading stores the world over.

It is, therefore, not unexpected that some of the greatest fashion magazines are catwalking into India. The latest is “Vogue”, which just launched its India edition, and, believe it or not, this is the last word in lifestyle.

India already has “Cosmopolitan”, “Maxim”, “Hello”, “Marie Claire”, “Elle”, and “Time Out”, but Vogue is in a class by itself. Established as a society magazine in 1892, it has now risen to starry heights, and is arguably the most influential read on fashion and style.

Vogue’s Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour, the inspiration behind the Meryl Streep character in the “Devil Wears Prada”, is so powerful that, I am told, no fashion event begins unless she arrives. Her written word makes and unmakes designers, and creates and cripples trends!

And Wintour says though she has never come to India, she has seen and experienced it through top stylists such as John Galliano, Christian Lacroix, Miuccia Prada and others. At some point or the other, “they have all transported me everywhere from Jaipur to Kolkata. It is fitting, then, that ‘Vogue’ should now be part of a country that has been inspiring for so long”.

I do not know if the India Editor of “Vogue India”, Priya Tanna (who once worked for “The Times of India”), can ever match Wintour in stature, but the magazine is bound to make its mark in the beauty shops and boutiques, design schools and ateliers spread across the country, and certainly among those who swear by style statements. And at Rs 100 an issue, it is not steeply priced, and would find its way into hundreds of living rooms.

Termed “Fashion Bible”, “Vogue India” with its 50,000-copy print run, may well blast out the rest of its ilk in the market.

The cover of the first issue, which hit the news-stands on September 22/23, carries the pictures of Bollywood beauties: Bipasha Basu, Priyanka Chopra and Preity Zinta, apart from Laxmi Menon, Monikangana and Gemma Ward. Each a hot favourite in the business of glamour, they were shot by Patrick Demarchelier, a leading fashion photographer, and clothed by Roberto Cavalli, Valentino, Giorgio Armani, Chanel, Christian Dior and Gucci.

The inaugural issue is a fascinating mix of visuals and words, and the words have been etched by a mesmerising medley of writers. Prize winning author Suketu Mehta traces the impact of Bollywood on India’s billion, while movie director Karan Johar and designer Rajesh Pratap debate an eternal question: how cinema inspires style, and how community trends dictate screen costumes. We have seen Dev Anand’s hair style being copied by millions of men, and Rajesh Khanna’s Guru Kurta transforming into a unisex rage. Schoolgirls sported the Sadhna hair cut, and women followed Rekha as she stepped on the walker and shed her flab.

“Vogue India” may well accentuate the contours of fashion consciousness and promote the svelte look. But I do hope that in all this excitement of having a brand new baby, Ms Tanna does not forget that Vogue must above all cater to Indian sense and sensibility. The nation has a great textile heritage. It has a wonderful feel for fabrics, and it loves colours and embellishments. Indian jewellery and aesthetics are awesome, and the women here seem chiselled by God himself. “Vogue India” must talk about these, and not just about some inane Western concepts, costumes and colours.

(Webposted September 24 2007)