LIFW tutorial session with the "fashion-(un)savvy" Mr and Mrs Simpleton

This is the tale of television viewers, Mr And Mrs Simpleton - conservative laymen (but notches above cartoonist RK Laxman‘s version of the common man) who have always considered ‘being fashionable‘ to be the exclusive domain of pristine socialites, celebrities and page three types. Even, when Mr Simpleton watches FTV furtively and Trendz even more surreptitiously (whenever Mrs Simpleton goes off to sleep), he never harbours visions that he would ever transform himself or his life to the surreal fashionable types. Although Mrs Simpleton (who holds the key to advertising mega-spends due to her constant TV fixation) still fancies herself to be an aspirant to high temples of fashion, but doesn‘t know where to begin.

Now, Sony Entertainment Television (SET), the ‘broad‘caster that acquired the exclusive official rights of the recently concluded Lakme India Fashion Week with Liberty shoes (LIFWL) 2003, plans to change the lives of Mr and Mrs Simpleton. In its efforts to kick off the drive to facilitate the ‘mass‘ creation of the fashion conscious ‘next generation viewers‘, SET will showcase the event on 10, 17 and 24 August 2003 (all Sundays) at 9 pm. It would interesting to see how SET combines chic with brands such as Chik (a shampoo brand) and chikan!

SET has already undertaken promotional efforts to popularise the shows. But if the channel‘s fashion cum programming consultants had cared to conduct a t?te-?-t?te with the Simpletons, the discussions might have gone something like this...

Mr and Mrs Simpleton: How do you plan to broaden the base of fashion and make it touch our lives?

We will use the footage of the LIFWL 2003 to develop three special one-hour capsules. The intent is to make sure that the ‘fashion revolution‘ reaches people in different parts of the country. After all, SET has a strong distribution post-World Cup cricket 2003.

Simone ‘Heena‘ Singh

Consultants: Our analysis shows that there is a gap in weekend programming. We lead the pack with thriller genre shows such as Kya Haadsa Kya Haqeeqat and the ideal way to change the mood is to introduce shows and serials revolving around fashion.

Of course, we shall make sure that all the regular Sony faces such as Simone Singh (Heena), Rahul Bhatt (Heena), Nausheen Ali Sardar (Kkusum) and Anuj Suvarna introduce fashion concepts and unravel the mysteries of the ramp and designer outfits. You will definitely become a part and parcel of the world of glamour and extravaganza.

During the SET LIFW capsules, will you really explain the difficult concepts such as pr?t, haute couture, ethnic wear amongst others? We tried to ask some of the fashion journalists present at the LIFW venue but none of them seemed to have a clue!

Each of the three one-hour episodes will have different themes and will adopt a magazine style storytelling format interspersed by ‘fashion messages‘ by popular television icons. For instance, the first episode on 10 August titled "Pret" with Simone Singh (her dress sense often seen in Heena is cool) will focus on ramp pr?t that has made it to Bollywood with a focus on top designers.

Fashion touches our lives through Bollywood films. Remember, the fascinating Aishwarya Rai‘s costumes in the blockbuster Devdas (shown on our sister channel MAX) that were designed by Abu Jani-Sandeep Khosla and Neeta Lulla amongst others. Similarly, the episode on 17 August will revolve around "ethnic make over" and Nafisa Joseph (the svelte model has sacrificed western casuals and will wear ethnic stuff with zardosi for the shoot) will take you through the various nuances of Indian ethnicity.

The third episode on 24 August will feature Rahul Bhatt (notwithstanding his false bald wig in a flop Bollywood film called Nayee Padosan) giving style tips on fashion trends in Bollywood. The idea is to maintain the tempo and sustain interest in fashion even after the LIFWL 2003 comes to an end.

All this is fine but we want you to explain about weird things that happened during the LIFW shows. For instance, why did the male models wear red tikka or sindoor on their foreheads while walking the ramp for Rohit Bal‘s show?

During the LIFWL 2003 collections, Rohit Bal plundered India‘s heritage treasure trove as well as the nomadic folk art cultures of Asia - right from Bosphorus to Mount Fujiyama. In fact, the Trans Asiad Nomad collection is targeted at the cool and confident man.

Our advisory committee team members feel that this ploy of using the red tikka was a masterstroke. By using this, Bal managed to create a unique identity for his creations amidst the clutter of 54 designers. The young studs with bare-chested torsos and with red tikka on their foreheads really made their mark on/off the ramp. The dumbest of nerds who somehow managed to break through the security cordon and walked in late for the LIFW show, knew that it was a Rohit Bal ‘Balance collection‘.

Why did designer Ritu Kumar use some Lucknow gharana nautch girl type songs instead of the regular westernised sound tracks that we hear on fashion channels (we always prefer fashion channels to music channels when it comes to listening to music)?

One of India‘s foremost designers, Kumar reflects the ancient traditions of Indian craftsmanship in a modernistic setting. Our ramp consultant says that Ritu Kumar tried various eccentric things to set herself apart from the rest of the pack of fashion designers.

For instance - instead of lone models walking on to the ramp right at the beginning of each collection, all the models were present at the backstage end of the ramp right at the outset. Kumar also started off with asymmetrical forms and the models had exquisitely designed yellow gold plates around their necks. Our figure-conscious consultant opined that this was more dangerous - but definitely a fashion statement - than tight female tops that choke breathing but accentuate other accessories. Jewellery brands can definitely make an impact on the saas-bahu sagas through such elaborate ideas and brand placements in TV serials.

Kumar also made the models wear headdresses - they reminded one of the Saudi Airlines or Gulf Air airhostesses. Kumar also used denim with gold tops and the plated neck jewellery plates.

Not many women wear gold with denims and Kumar‘s idea was revolutionary. There is an opportunity for jewellery brands to conduct in serial placements with women characters in non-saas bahu sagas - modernistic women characters who don‘t wear saris but prefer jeans.

Yes, the icing on the cake was the brilliant Hindustani classics such as "Wah wah Rang Sajan Ki Hoor" and "Moh Se Naina Milaye Ke". Our advertising consultant says that Kumar is targeting SEC (socio economic class) A types - filthy rich connoisseurs who don‘t work but still live in the ‘British Raj‘ and ‘Nawab-Raja Maharaja‘ age.However, our ratings research expert says we shouldn‘t restrict ourselves to this target audience but move down the levels. Therefore, we are presenting Ritu Kumar even to SEC B and lower SECs such as your family. After all, marketers claim that lower SEC consumers buy all the goods whereas SEC A market is saturated.

The Tarun Tahiliani show began after a delay of nearly one-and-a-half hours but lasted less than an hour. Well, we agree that celebrity actors Kareena Kapoor and Fardeen Khan deserved to be seated in the front row but Hindustan Lever Limited chairman (principal sponsor) Vindi Banga had to push, plead, protect his wife in order to make his way there? Why were all these movers and shakers so in awe of the foreign management degree holder-turned-designer Tahiliani?

You are right when you say that the celebrities and audiences were enthralled by the T factor. A palette of colours ruled the roost.

In keeping with his ‘ideal for marriage‘ positioning, Tahiliani actually used the song "Bade dino ke baad mehendi ki raat aayi" very effectively. You must have noticed the broad smile on "Miss Snow White" Simi Garewal‘s face when the whites were showcased. Our consultants flipped when the mandarin outfits (blacks and maroons with red flowers) came out while the audio programming expert had the time of his LIFW-stint with all the heavy metal guitar riffs onstage.

The parrot green, orange and yellow lustrous sarees; the diamond studded straps used as blouses and gowns provided our creative directors with inspired inputs that can be used in our shows.

What about the Arun Nayyar connection with Malini Ramani‘s show and the party at Mumbai‘s hotspot Athena? The poor lady got embroiled more in the controversy than being given a chance to conduct business with prospects post-LIFW?

Nayyar, it seems had been scouting for costumes to cover Hurley (you know that she has always been spotted in various stages of undress or minimal garments) in the traditional Indian ishytle. LIFW was an ideal venue to undertake this exercise.

Arun Nayyar and Liz Hurley

You see, Malini Ramani hit the fashion scene with her ‘Rock star meets Indian princess‘ look only four years ago. She has tried her hand at a number of ventures such as nightclubs, designing and even television. When one thinks of Ramani, one thinks of the "Millennium Indian Love Goddess". Naturally, she will offer stiff competition to Hollywood-UK oomph goddess Liz Hurley.

Just as Hurley claimed to be maturing with years, Ramani (in her press note) stated that her LIFW 2003 collections (Jet Set, Magical Mughal Mistress and Warrior princess) were a little more mature and bizarre. Anyway, Ramani got a lot of publicity before she finally offered clarifications after some journalist traced her in Goa. If Nayyar finally selects a Ramani collection to drape Hurley, it will be an ideal icing on the cake.

We now hear that SET will also launch a soap revolving around fashion but isn‘t this a bit of overkill? Our daughter and daughter-in-law get enough fashion insights from the saas bahu soaps they are glued to. What more will you offer them?

Well, the channel is working on a drama, fiction based on the popular South American TV show named Betty La Fea. The show created hysteria in different parts of the world - comparable to the likes of Ramayan and KBC in India. It was talked about everywhere - from public buses and canteens, to beauty parlors and barbershops, and even in posh pubs in five-star hotels. Housewives stopped doing their chores just to catch the show. Some office workers instructed their helpers at home to tape each episode. A jeep driver bunked work to reach home at 11 in the morning just to watch his favorite teleserial. On a worldwide level, the show‘s popularity has risen to stratospheric heights, reaching some 80 million viewers worldwide

This drama is about a lowly, ugly and awkward accountant who metamorphosed into a sophisticated woman and even became president of the company that once kicked her out? Websites were also designed to show a photo gallery of how the Colombian actress Ana Maria Orozco, who plays the title role of Beatrice Pinzon Solano, was able to transform her TV character from an ugly and insecure office worker into a woman of grace and substance.

Female viewers says that the show proved that beauty is all about empowerment. From a male‘s point of view, its unique appeal lies in its being able to portray life in the corporate world. Others said that they loved the love angle between Betty and her handsome boss, Armando Mendoza. Still others say that Betty, a brilliant accountant, got respect when she became beautiful.

It will definitely capture Indian hearts. Irrespective of whether LIFWL 2003 generated business or not, we are expecting this show to do wonders for us!

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