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Red carpet wisdom

Cannes has taught Bollywood the importance of planning for red carpet events with greater care and attention.

If you are in the fashion industry then you have to be analysing Cannes. A lot of questions are being raised about the sartorial choices of the Bollywood invitees this year. But, there's a lot to celebrate too. Indian fashion is everywhere, thanks to Cannes. Jury member Vidya Balan chose to go Indian all the way and wear her favourite designer Sabyasachi. Sonam Kapoor, Aishwarya Rai and many others in the Indian contingent chose to wear Indian at important red carpet appearances. They mixed the best of international with Indian designers and that really represents the way a modern Indian woman dresses. From chic saris to ball-gown anarkalis there was enough Indian fashion on the red carpet for us to be proud of. This is an apt style statement in the year that Indian Cinema celebrates its 100th year.

In my near 20 years in the business, I have never seen fashion receive so much front page coverage. The Anamika Khanna look worn by Sonam Kapoor has even received international accolades. This is bound to build excitement around Anamika's show at the Delhi Couture Week in a couple of months.

We proved that we are not only about saris, lehengas and anarkalis. Freida Pinto opted for a Sanchita Ajjampur gown, and Bai Ling went for cocktail chic in a Rohit Gandhi and Rahul Khanna. Both these evening dresses worked and looked as good as any Gucci, Elie Saab or Marchesa, the usual red carpet choices. There is Tarun Tahiliani, who was been asked to be a part of Cinema Against AIDS gala, by the French high priestess of fashion, Carine Roitfeld. Tahiliani's gold sari dress was modelled by Karlie Kloss. Other participating designers include Giorgio Armani, Roberto Cavalli, Christian Dior, Gucci, Marchesa, Alexander Mc-Queen, and Alexander Wang.

Of course, there were some bad choices. Vidya Balan started off on a stylish high note with a sophisticated red lehenga and followed it with a chic, khadi day sari. With her curves and her personality, sticking to the Indian look was a wise decision. But then the dupatta debacle happened on Day 2, and after that nothing went right for her.

Sabyasachi was held responsible for this fashion faux pas, and rightly so. He will have to answer to the fashion press in India for his decisions. But I am sure that he will have the last laugh. He may not have shown at fashion weeks for the last couple of seasons, but that does not matter. Thanks to Cannes, he will be on the most wanted list of women here. That is how the industry works. Then Vidya chose to wear a red chiffon sari teamed with pearls - an outfit I liked. It also received 1, 000 likes on Facebook within an hour. The similarity of her looks may have bored fashion observers and her designer's decision to not use this opportunity to showcase the range within his signature style may actually work for Sabyasachi's business. Now his look for the season will be recognizable from a mile away. He could not have asked for a better advertising campaign.

Perhaps Vidya was trying to make a Rekha-like style statement - who always wears Kanjeevaram with traditional jewellery - but it did not work for her. The styling with the granny bags, out of date watches, boring hair-dos and predictable make-up did not help either. Perhaps Vidya needed a good stylist working between her and Sabyasachi.

L'Oreal brand ambassador Sonam Kapoor had more hits;perhaps, her only miss was the Shehla Khan lehenga. Styled by her sister Rhea Kapoor and made up by Namrata Soni, she managed to retain her fashion crown. Fashion is something that Sonam not only loves but also understands. Others could learn the importance of a having an expert fashion stylist on their speed-dial. Both the Anamika Khanna and Dolce and Gabbana looks were spot-on for me. But Sonam's real elegance showed when she tweeted, "Vidya Balan is so dignified and graceful. Everyone was full of praise for her. " The other face of L'Oreal, Aishwarya, a Cannes regular, too had her hits and misses. But she did better than last year.
Bollywood is finally realising the importance of the red carpet. All actors looked like they planned their looks and put a lot of thought into their choices. Back home, at film awards functions, many actors look like they wore the first thing they saw in their wardrobes. But this is now changing.

The Oscars night is as much about the clothes and style as it is about the awards. Here is to seeing more - and better - Indian fashion on the red carpet.

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