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Mar 13, 2008
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Asian styles in vogue at India fashion week

Mar 13, 2008

A creation by Indian designer Rohit Bal
Photo : Manpreet Romana/AFP
NEW DELHI, March 13, 2008 (AFP) - Models clad in kimono-inspired dresses and sarong skirts influenced by the Orient strut down the ramp at India's premier fashion event in New Delhi.

It's all about making a break from the West, says one of the maestros of Indian fashion at the country's biggest style show, which began on Wednesday here in the national capital.

"My collection celebrates the Asian superpower. The Indian and Chinese influence is big everywhere," said Suneet Varma, who enjoys a wide following among Indian fashionistas, as he took a break from the five-day Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week.

"I'm not thrilled by Western fashion. It's monotonous, while Asia has a certain culture and allure," the jeans-clad Varma said.

Varma paraded his women in draped dresses, straight skirts and pea coats in a palette of moss, teal and maroon on the opening day.

Models sported slanted eyebrows, geisha lips and bright knee-length socks to complete the Oriental look.

Verma is one of more than 80 fashion designers slated to showcase autumn-winter fashion trends for international and domestic buyers at the style extravaganza.

The look for men was androgynous, with skinny trousers and jodhpurs being the highlight of Manoviraj Khosla's show.

Khosla, another top Indian designer, sent the models in fitted jeans in suede, leather and denim, worn tucked into knee-length boots and embellished with cut work and appliqués.

"These clothes are meant for anyone who loves to party," said the designer.

Buyers from international stores such as New York-based Bloomingdale's were attending the show.

Designers such as Rajesh Pratap Singh and Manish Arora -- back in the country after earning rave reviews at the Paris fashion week in February -- were due to show their collections later in the week.

A number of other Indian designers have also won international acclaim at recent fashion weeks in London and New York, drawing global interest in Indian fashion.

"Fashion is all about building a brand, and India as a brand is as hot as can be right now," said leading designer J.J. Valaya, known for creating ornate wedding dresses.

The Indian fashion market's turnover is valued at up to 250 million dollars.

Sales have been growing fast but they still represent only a tiny fraction of the 12-billion-dollar domestic textile industry and are considered minuscule by global standards.

But designers see opportunities as a result of a rapidly increasing middle-class as the economy grows at nearly nine percent.

"Indian designers just have to be more assertive and stick to their identity to compete with international labels," Varma said.

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