The FDCI Couture Hall of Fame awards honour Anamika Khanna, JJ Valaya, Manish Malhotra, Asha Kochhar and Vidyun Singh
By Asmita Aggarwal
The beautiful red roses were swinging in the spring breeze, hanging from trees on a night that for some time will remain etched in your memory. Flowers were everywhere thanks to Paras Baroliya of Geisha Rose, his new venture into décor, though he is better-known for his label Geisha Designs.
The tables were candle lit, on ground, but the stars provided their unmatched light too from above, at the FDCI Couture Hall of Fame awards, at the Taj Mahal hotel poolside, where black and white played a quiet soiree on two ends of the poolside, seeing a medley of couturiers.
The elegant tables were bedecked with not just the best silverware, but equally shining luminaries from the couture world. Whether it was the talented Anamika Khanna with her twin sons Viraj and Vishesh, or Asha Kochhar and Vidyun Singh the awardees of the night. Manish Malhotra walked in much expected like a star, while JJ Valaya had his entire family by his side, to applaud him for his arduous trek in the fashion world.
As each of the five went down memory lane, the intimate gathering knew their unmatched contribution to the world of style, taking Indian fashion to the global arena contemporising Indian crafts. Multi-faceted musician Taufiq Qureshi, Sahil Vasudeva on the piano and Madina on the violin set the right tone throughout the evening. The Chairman FDCI, Sunil Sethi, the architect of the evening and the brainchild behind the awards made sure there was always laughter around.
Though it was CEO Niti Aayog Amitabh Kant, who remembered how “two beautiful girls in college, Asha and Vidyun captured the beauty and charm of Incredible India” in government campaigns. “Vidyun wanted to sit for the IAS, she didn’t. The government’s loss is the fashion industry’s gain,” he chuckled as he presented the two with the trophy.
“It has been a lot of fun and hard work and I want to thank my mom for making me independent. Though this trophy is for all those invisible, unsung heroes— the backstage team, set and light designers as well as stylists,” said Asha. While her business partner Vidyun remarked, it takes many moving parts to get the show together. “The nutty business we are in with crazy schedules, I would like to thank my family for bearing with me. Above all, this is more like a family gathering for me, as I see only familiar faces around,” she smiled.
Rajiv Makhni, the host of the evening, had the advantage of knowing interesting details of each awardee, maybe due to his former model wife Ruchi, unafraid of sharing, he let the audience in on many secrets and facets of people, we often see on a public platform.
Dressed in her own label with a classic butter-coloured dhoti and cape, a combination she popularised winning her a legion of devotees, Anamika Khanna received the honour from Darshan Mehta, MD Reliance Brands and hoped to “continue this journey of honest and fearless design. Thank you for believing in me. This award will help me take more risks and push me more to do things I didn’t dare to”.
“She is an artist and is also non-conformist yet offers the most seductive silhouettes, inspired by a global language and various subcultures,” remarked Darshan Mehta.
The highlight of the evening was economist Montek Singh Ahluwalia, in an austere blue kurta, remembering the time when his wife Isher Judge used to wear saris to all Indian events internationally. She soon turned to trousers suits and always wanted an Indian touch to it. JJ came to the rescue by making the most beautiful coats, as he handed the award to Valaya. “This is our 30th year, that’s what makes it special, plus, the past, future and present are magically sitting on the same table together,” Valaya admitted.
The man who changed the way actresses dressed in movies, working tirelessly to add style to their clothing, Manish Malhotra aged 55, working for 32 years with a 16-year-old brand was grateful for the recognition. “When you get an award from your own fraternity you feel special; it’s from my people. I was such a big fan of the movies and I chose costume design, learning the ropes the hard way, making many mistakes,” he concluded.