Any designer would jump at the opportunity of presenting their work at the Lakme Fashion week, but not Mandeep Nagi, the design director of Shades of India. Never one to use professional models, Mandeep has been a crusader for positive body-image in an industry which is obsessed with looks. So when Gautam Vazirani, fashion curator for LFW, made her an offer — to use girls from Kranti, an organisation that rehabilitates girls from red light districts to present Mandeep’s collection — she couldn’t refuse.
The rest, as they say, is history, which will unfold on the ramp at Lakme Fashion Week, Mumbai on February 2.
Mandeep has a history of working with unconventional models, take her Cinnamon collection, for example. The clothes from the collection were worn by Kamla, an under-privileged girl working as a maid. The confidence to use fashion as a platform to promote a social cause comes not only from 35 years of experience in the industry but an assurance that she doesn’t have to worry about pleasing others. The only person she needs to please is herself. “I don’t worry if my goal should be to promote my clothes or designs. You should do what you want to do,” said Mandeep.
With the upcoming fashion week, Mandeep is at it again. The girls of Kranti will present a 20 minute skit called Lal Batti Express, and share their story through it — all this while being dressed in the Shades of India collection. The clothes themselves, which the girls are every excited about, are for everybody from ages 20 to 80, loose, easy and elegant — in everything from saris to cocktail dresses. These clothes have been designed using techniques that date back 60 years and the skit will be directed by Neeraj Gaba of India’s Next Top Model fame.
When we catch up with Robin Chaurasia, Kranti’s founder, he tells us how they have travelled to the US for six weeks to perform at the FB headquarters, juvenile jails and other locations, to change the mindset of the people towards girls from the red light areas. “It’s shocking for people to interact with the girls, after speaking to them they realise ‘Hey, they are normal people!’,” she said.
Reach Out: http://www.shadesofindia.com/mandeep-nagi