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Made in India worn in the west

From Katy Perry and Shakira to Rihanna and Paris Hilton, international celebrities are now flaunting Indian designs on the red carpet

Asmita Aggarwal 

Jennifer Lopez in an FSP costume

It was at a show in the United States that stylists Rob Zangardi and Mariel Haenn came across Khushali Kumar’s designs. They were on the lookout for an outfit for Shakira that combined glamour with sensuality, and Kumar’s gunmetal short dress, complete with tulle, chains and fringes, seemed to fit the bill. When Shakira wore the dress recently to the premiere of the sixth season of The Voice, Kumar instantly gained international recognition. She is no longer just known as cassette king Gulshan Kumar’s daughter, but has carved a niche for herself in the fashion world. Today her body huggers are sported by Hollywood stars like Melanie B, Carmen Electra and Jenna Dewan. Not just that, Justin Bieber’s hit video, Wait for a Minute, had three models in Kumar’s fringed metallic gowns, embellished with feathers, pearls and metal.

Over the past few years, Indian designers have increasingly become the favoured choice of international celebs, be it for the red carpet, cocktail events or weddings. Tarun Tahiliani seems to be a favourite when it comes to bridal couture — Elizabeth Hurley wore a stunning pink silk lehenga during her wedding with businessman Arun Nayar, and more recently Oprah Winfrey created quite a buzz when she wore Tahiliani’s orange and golden Kanjeevaram during her India visit. Manish Arora too has been dressing popstars and actors in his quirky ensembles. In 2008, Katy Perry wore a fantastical carousel dress by Arora to the MTV Europe Music Awards, while Suneet Varma has collaborated with Sarah Jessica Parker, Mariah Carey and Jennifer Lopez in the past. Today Kumar and other designers like Shane and Falguni Peacock have made these one-off collaborations regular affairs.

For Kumar, it all started when she travelled to Paris five years ago after having launched her label, Reve. There she attended shows like Coterie, New York and Vendome Luxury Mode. She was later invited to these after going through a rigorous selection process. Today, celebrities are opting for her designs over other international labels for launches and premieres. Like Shakira, Spice Girl Melanie B too opted for a short dress with a mirror effect low back in chrome and gunmetal for America’s Got Talent, the TV show. Electra chose a soft blue, angel wing, crystallised bustier with a low back for her music launch in Hawaii. “I don’t use typical embroidery, sequins, or cut danna. Rather, I work on each piece as if it is a showstopper. So, angel wing is something I have grown to love, as it ingeniously uses chains and metals to give a winged effect for my gowns,” says Kumar.

Shakira in Khushali Kumar
Most of Kumar’s palette includes nude, white and soft grey, while occasionally adding a pop of colour but never letting it dominate the silhouette. “I cater to girls who want to look glamorous, they want to stand out in a crowd and are unapologetic about being uber chic. That’s why supermodel Joanna Krupa and Jenna Dewan (for TV series Witches of Eastend) have picked up my ensembles,” she says. LeAnn Rimes was seen sporting a Reve at the Grammy’s, as was singer Ashanti at the Soul Train Awards.

Shane and Falguni Peacock, or FSP, too have reason to celebrate. Jennifer Lopez wore a glamorous body suit with a purple metallic fringe by their label for a performance at the 108’s Kiss Concert 2014 at Xfinity Center in Mansfield Massachusetts. The duo, who are celebrating the 10th anniversary of the label FSP, is delighted that Lopez chose their designs over many international labels for the prestigious Gucci Change for Chime concert. “This really motivated us. It made us believe that we were doing something right,” says Falguni.

The list of celebrities who have worn FSP in the past include Lady Gaga, Madonna, Katy Perry, Fergie, Nicole Scherzinger, Rihanna, Kim Kardashian, Britney Spears and Paris Hilton. Fergie of Black Eyed Peas was the first music star that they designed clothes for. This was for her performance at FIFA 2010. “She wore a black body suit with a 3-D belt, gold chain embellishment with lots of crystals,” says Falguni. The next stop on their international fashion journey was a black body suit for Rihanna’s Ukraine tour. With print details and leather cutouts at the bustier, the suit was meant to be worn with a harness.

Paris Hilton in an FSP gown
Another event that got the pair excited was Madonna’s birthday party where she wore a black cutout dress by FSP. Spears too wore their designs for her comeback videos, Hold It Against Me and Work Bitch. “The best part is when artists ask us to repeat outfits. But there is no formula that we follow. Each artist wants a distinct look and feel, so we must understand the dynamics of stage performances where ensembles need to be sturdy and glamorous,” says Falguni. Among the various celebrities, they count Hilton as a buddy of the brand. The socialite even came down for their show at the Cannes Amfar event and wore a beige-and-pink long gown with tone-on-tone embroidery and pink feathers, an FSP signature.

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First Published: Sat, June 14 2014. 00:27 IST
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