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Indian Designers show lot of Talent

According to a buyer at the American chain of Saks Fifth Avenue stores Indian fashion designer show a lot of talent// is open to joint development of designer wear garments.

"I was very astonished and impressed by the way young people are designing here. It's very international and there is a thought of India in their work which is very beautiful," said Lily Amir Arjomand, general merchandise manager for Style Avenue Middle East, the official licensee of Saks Fifth Avenue for the region, who is here for the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week that began Wednesday.

However, doing business with India is a while off for a variety of reasons.

"I certainly will consider maybe doing special projects in future with FDCI (Fashion Design Council of India that has organised the fashion week). Something that would be suitable for Dubai and would be of a standard and quality that Saks Fifth Avenue would accept," Arjomand told IANS in an interview.

"We are very open-minded. I would go for a beautiful design that is very well executed. I would look at the quality of the fabric, the production values, the shapes, the cuts - everything matching what we look for in Europe and the US," added Arjomand, an Iranian by birth.

Would that also mean joint development of ensembles?

"Absolutely. Whatever opportunities present themselves, we will look at them," she said.

Even so, whatever is purchased would be for the Middle East and not the US.

"We buy for what our local customer needs in Dubai and for international travellers who shop in Dubai. What the customer wants in the US or Europe is not necessarily the same.

"People in New York, for example, want clothing that is more tailored, that is more sober and discreet. People in the Middle East like more colours - more joyous outfits and more flattering for a woman and with lots of embellishments on them," Arjomand explained.

There is, however , an unexpected fallout of her Indian visit - it will enable her to directly source exports of accessories from India.

"I buy a lot of shawls and skirts, pashminas, and embroideries that are made in India but I buy them from Europe and the US. Now that I am in Dubai and I am so close to India, I'm thinking of going directly to the source," Arjomand said.

"This is a very good occasion for us to get to know great new sources," she added.

Responding to criticism that Indians were essentially designing western outfits with an Indian touch, Arjomand said: "This is my first time here and I was personally expecting to see a whole slew of very Indian type of outfits going down the runway. I was very astonished and impressed by the way young people are designing here.

"It's very international and there is a thought of India in their work which is very beautiful. Let's face it: all the big designers in the world, Valentino and Oscar de la Renta in the US and everyone else, all have beadings and embroideries done in India. So why shouldn't an Indian designer use his or her own country to bring out the beauty of what India can produce?"

Did that not mean that Indian embellishments were going out but Indian costumes were not? The answer was circumspect.

"Indian costumes are very national. It's like every country has its own way of dressing - like the sari. India has taken that step of crossing the line and coming out of the traditional outfits and getting on the international scale and international level," Arjomand said.

As for the fashion week itself, she considered it "incredible".

"It's a big step. I don't see many countries in the area that provide so many opportunities. There are so many designers offering their products to the entire world. I don't believe they should stick to just exports of outfits, they should think of exports of talent."

Arjomand is an American who lived in the U S for 27 years before moving to Dubai two years ago. She left Iran after the 1979 revolution and began working for Saks Fifth Avenue 17 years ago.

Saks has 59 stores in the US. It opened its first Middle East store in Riyadh four years ago, and the Dubai outlet in 2004. It plans to open in Doha, Bahrain and Kuwait in the next couple of years.


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