Gutsy Guddu struck again! Rohit Bal in his inmitable "I'm not afraid of saying anything" style endorsed fellow Designer Shahab Durazi's recent post on Bollywood's nosey contribution to Indian fashion and the fact that many celebrities don't pay for the things they wear under the garb of 'endorsement'.
Ace designer Rohit Bal, who has been dressing A-list celebrities like Aishwarya Rai, Sonam Kapoor and Ranbir Kapoor among others, posted a long and fairly much-needed rant on Facebook about the issues Indian fashion is facing because of Bollywood. He has now deleted the post, however, we still have all the details about his concern for the fashion industry, and we're quite amazed at how bold he's been -- we can very well guess the celebrities and situations he's talking about. Here it goes:
"I have been wanting to express this for a long time. As a player who is a part of the fashion industry for over three decades I have witnessed the continued bastardization of Indian fashion. We have come a long way but are certainly not headed the right way. There is an innumerable malaise that ail this industry.
The most potent is the Bollywood bug that has rendered Indian fashion almost insignificant. Bollywood and the disparate costumes it generates (yes costumes… because anything designed specifically for a film is technically a costume and comes under the aegis of costume design) does not represent contemporary Indian fashion. These are merely costumes specifically designed to style a script and clothe a character within that script. Unfortunately, mass adulation that blindly follows this as relevant Indian fashion, needs to be addressed and the majority who see this as relevant, need to be educated.[sic]"
He made a valid point. Apart from a few celebrated designers, the artists behind the creations that our celebrities wear during film shoots, promotions and events are often not acknowledged enough. Everybody wants to wear that famous Kareena wala lehenga and Sonam wala anarkali, but most of them don't give importance to the designers behind those outfits. Rohit moves on to take the lid off another issue in the industry. The issue of brown-nosing and nepotism in both Bollywood and fashion media.
Bal continues, "This brings me to my second argument… our Indian fashion media. Fashion glossies compete with each other to patronize and pander to (often totally undeserving) film celebrities to adorn their covers and feature in their editorial content. Gone are the days of supermodels and super fashion. Every publication is vying for eye candy and often star kids with little or no credibility make it to covers of esteemed fashion magazines, simply because of their film lineage. These are seen as professional conquests, both, for the publication as well as the celebrity. Scoops! Trophies! Fashion is the loser in this tangled triangle of egos. This trend is regressive and invariably defeats the purpose of fashion. Fashion publications should present fashion trends, styles and accessories. They should resolve to create content that aspires and inspires the readers (including film personalities) to go out and shop. Advertisers pay them for that. Unfortunately, Bollywood has become the biggest player in an arena of misplaced advertising values. When a Bollywood star is featured on a cover or in a cover story, it creates ambiguous branding that confuses the reader with a myriad of conflicting questions. In keeping with the general admiration Indians feel for Bollywood, this is a clever ploy that attracts readership but discounts content and credibility in fashion. From personal wardrobes, snippets for film promotions and wedding albums, Bollywood is featured indiscriminately, with the sole intent of selling out to the public and reinstating ranks in a hierarchy that is distorted and discriminatory. Additionally, such magazines favor international brands over indigenous ones in compliance with their advertising policies: understandably so, but a balance should be maintained to ensure indigenous talent is represented fairly and new/emerging talent is given a platform for growth as these designers deserve an equal chance to be noticed."
Fair point, well made Mr. Bal! Now coming to money matters, this is the part that shocked us the most even though we had a fair idea about this so-called tradition in the Bollywood industry:
"We have the incestuous story of Bollywood stylists and their celebrated clients adding to the dilemma. Designers (with turnovers less than half the daily fee of these celebrities) are expected to provide their creations for red carpet appearances in exchange for publicity. My question is… why can’t these celebrities pay for what they wear like everyone else and why are designers succumbing to this for momentary mileage? Surely the designer can sell her/his creation and garner some goodwill for her/his creativity. She/he need not piggyback to fame riding on the credentials of Bollywood. Fashion and film are two distinct industries that can complement each other without diluting their inherent DNA. Often the designer hardly gets noticed for his work and it is the celebrity and stylist who walk away with accolades. If the style is not well received, the designer is ridiculed. Why is the apex designer body in this country allowing this exploitation and why aren’t their stringent rules in place protecting designers from such partiality? No film personality would do favors for free. Why do they expect others to do favors for free, more so when their earnings from films and endorsements are exponential? The stylist is paid for her/his services but the designer often gets nothing. Designers should deny sourcing requests and film stars and stylists should purchase looks for events. Not only would this enhance business for the industry but also structure celebrity styling. Unfortunately, like most other things, we have borrowed this model from the west where aggressive public relations teams source for celebrities for free. Surely, we can set an example and establish a structure that can benefit the celebrity, stylist and designer equally."
It is so hard to believe that all our famous celebrities, who mint money by the hour through their movies, events and brand promotions wouldn't care to pay the fashion industry its due. It's only fair to pay someone in exchange for their services. The barter system isn't a lifelong deal anymore and it's time Bollywood celebs and their stylists realise the same. And coming to the last part of Rohit Bal's post:
"Lastly, an unhealthy trend one notices is the tendency Bollywood stars have in favoring specific designers. Why does their personal relationship with designers have to be the criteria for choosing their wardrobes or putting together their looks? Their style choices should not be based on personal equations. If purchasing designs were the norm, then film stars would look beyond their designer friends for their wardrobes. Often, Bollywood weddings have most guests wearing the same two/three designers creating a uniform look. It is imperative in this context, to understand that Indian couture is not synonymous with Indian bridal wear and that couture is comprehensive and not confined to such celebrations or events.
Unless there is change, we will continue to see a steady decline in the aesthetic of Indian fashion and a path to irreversible mediocrity. I know my sentiments resonate with many within the industry. I hope to see a change. Thank you."
Well, after reading a legendary designer's perspective, we can feel that these thoughts have been building up in many designers' minds for a long time. We're just wondering how Bollywood is going to react to this. Or if any of the fashion publications will have the courage to own up or defend themselves!