NEW YORK — India has long been a source of inspiration to designers around the world, and now the fashion industry is galvanizing to help victims of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai last November.
Naomi Campbell, who launched her Fashion for Relief initiative with a runway show to aid victims of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, is now teaming with hotelier Vikram Chatwal to stage the “Mai Mumbai” (“I am Mumbai”) fashion show during Lakme Fashion Week. Campbell is also working with IMG Fashion in New York and in Mumbai to organize the event.
"I heard a charity fashion show was in discussion to drive awareness for the city of Mumbai as still open for business and also raise money for victims of the tragic bombings," Campbell recalled. "It all came together very quickly from there. I offered to become directly involved in making this important event happen and host a Fashion for Relief charity show in Mumbai working with IMG New York and their team in India. We all rolled up our sleeves and quickly got to work. Now the event is just over a week away."
The show, scheduled to take place on March 28, will feature clothes donated by designers from India and around the world. They include Dolce & Gabbana, Donna Karan, Vera Wang, Carolina Herrera, Anna Sui, Yves Saint Laurent, Versace, Zac Posen, Louis Vuitton, Roberto Cavalli, Isaac Mizrahi, Nanette Lepore, Oscar de la Renta, Diane von Furstenberg, Dennis Basso, Valentin Yudashkin, Naeem Khan, Ungaro and Matthew Williamson. Manolo Blahnik will provide the shoes. Indian designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee of Sabyasachi will design a special T-shirt.
“We asked designers to donate a dress from their collection or archive that is India-inspired,” said Fern Mallis, senior vice president of IMG Fashion and Lakme Fashion Week’s international ambassador, adding the pieces could be beaded, bejeweled or express India’s colorful aesthetic sensibility in other ways.
The pieces at the invitation-only show will be auctioned on eBay to raise money for Citizens for Justice and Peace, an organization helping the victims of the Mumbai attacks. Vikram Chatwal Hotel’s sponsorship, including its $20,000 contribution, will directly benefit the organization. "Fashion touches everyone and is a universal platform to reach people," Campbell said. "I wanted to bring Fashion For Relief to India because it was a catwalk show that was created for this purpose, to get the international fashion community involved in important causes."
Chatwal agreed the initiative will help the city and world communities in the healing process. “The priority is to really help the victims and create awareness,” Chatwal said. “Like New York, Mumbai is always ticking and pulsating and moving forward, and what Naomi is doing with Fashion for Relief, and Fern, will really help the city.”
Both Campbell and Chatwal will attend the show, and are expected to take a turn on the runway, alongside other notable Indian personalities, from Bollywood actors to sports stars and prominent leaders. Campbell’s Fashion for Relief show in aid of Hurricane Katrina raised over $1 million. Mallis said raising funds is just one of the aims.
“The most important thing we are trying to do is demonstratethat everyone loves Mumbai and that it is open for business,” Mallis said.
As for Campbell, she is looking forward to the experience. "It's a country I love and in terms of fashion so much inspiration comes from India,” the model said. “Despite all my travels, India is one of the few countries I have not walked the catwalk in for fashion week."
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