Indian designers show for first time in Paris

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PARIS, Oct 1 (Reuters) Paris Fashion Week, the last and most prestigious stop on the world's fashion circuit, has opened itself up to Indian designers for the first time as it tries to reflect new faces in an increasingly globalised industry.

Manish Arora, a young designer from New Dehli, presented a glittering first Paris show last night after four successive seasons in London.

''I wanted more access, there's bigger press, bigger buyers and at the end of the day, Paris is the city of fashion,'' Arora said after presenting a psychedelic spring-summer 2008 collection of Pop Art-inspired outfits.

''I think it's very important for Indians to be recognised as designers at an international level.'' Arora, who already has five boutiques and 75 sales points around the world, sent out models in floor-length peasant dresses, bell-bottoms, bodysuits and fitted hotpants dripping with sequins and in bright oranges, greens, pinks and reds.

The models teetered down the runway on gold and silver Christian Louboutin shoes.

A second Indian designer, Anamika, will present her collection next Sunday.

Paris Fashion Week, which follows New York, London and Milan, includes designers of 10 different nationalities but India's debut reflects the growing interest in Indian fashion and the country's increasing importance in the world economy.

''In the time of Christian Dior, there were one or two designers who set the tone for the planet. Today it's globalisation, different expressions are being married together,'' said Didier Grumbach, head of the French fashion federation.

HANDIWORK Arora's show also stayed close to his roots, using traditional images of Indian princes and princesses playing out scenes of love and power struggles.

He drew on embroidery techniques and the silks and cottons that come from India itself which for Ritu Kumar, the head of India's Fashion Design Council, is what sets her country apart.

''We have about 16 million crafts people actively working towards their craft and these are highly skilled crafters, printers and weavers,'' she told Reuters.

''The other thing is that the world is growing up to global warming and India is one of the countries which still grows cotton. That element of handiwork and organic fashion is also playing a part.'' She refers to a world where eventually most fashion will be made in India and China for economic reasons, but says India will stand out from China because of its skills base.

''How many people want 300,000 pieces of the same kind of thing? China is a better bet for that. They are more mechanised.

But whenever you need some handiwork...India is good,'' she said.

Chinese label Jefen, which made its Paris debut last year, opened yesterday's shows, taking inspiration from next year's Olympic Games, which will be held in Beijing.

REUTERS SKB RN1540

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