Designer Mandeep Nagi is all set to debut at the LFW with girls rehabilitated from red-light districts modeling her collection.
The world of sartorial beauty and elegance might be far removed from gritty reality, but the strong human spirit that battles the tough odds of life and emerges victorious earns a designer’s salute, and can fuel her creativity. Proving the point, designer Mandeep Nagi of Shades of India is all set to debut at the Lakme Fashion Week on February 2 by collaborating with girls from Kranti NGO, which works towards rehabilitating women from red-light districts. In a special show, these girls will be narrating their life’s journey through a skit while modelling Mandeep’s latest Awadh-inspired ‘Bagh’ collection.
“They are fighters, survivors and high-spirited,” says Mandeep, who loves having unusual beauties model her creations. For one of her previous collections, she had chosen Kamla, a housemaid, as the model. For her Nazraana collection, she had turned to a masseuse.
“Designers are continually asked the question: What was your inspiration? Although the inspiration behind each individual collection might differ, it is important to look deeper into who inspired them to begin designing in the first place. I believe in normal, strong women — the everyday women. There’s no secret ingredient behind it,” says Mandeep.
Revealing about the whole idea behind the unique concept, she shares, “The idea, actually came from Gautam Vazirani, fashion curator with IMG Reliance for Lakme Fashion. He has long been an admirer of Kranti. And since LFW as a brand has been leaning towards fashion with social awareness or consciousness, he wanted to include a spectacular event that linked social responsibility with fashion. He approached me with the whole concept and it resonated with my ideology; I fell in love with it as soon as I heard. He then turned to Neeraj Gaba, popularly known as ‘Mr Gaba’ of India’s Next Top Model, to script and direct the show.”
Kranti, the Mumbai-based NGO, has won international recognition for rehabilitating girls from the red-light area. “These girls will tell their stories while demonstrating their pride and independence to send out a strong message: despite going through hardships, here we are happy and confident. In the world of fashion where everything is supposed to be aesthetically polished and layered with sophistication, I believe that this presentation will make an extraordinary impact,” Nagi shares, adding, “They have a never-say-die spirit, which I found extraordinary and palpable. Their worldview is entirely different, their experiences are beyond our imagination, but still they stay so positive. I heard some horrifying stories and when I sat to introspect… I felt humbled.”
Nagi says the 8-9 girls who will be participating at the fashion event are huge admirers of Mr Gaba, and are learning the art of the catwalk pretty quickly. Lastly, asked if these girls might overshadow her collection, the designer smiles, “It might be funny to hear it from me but clothes are not that important to me. My clothes are not statement-making in nature. They are about comfort, detailing and joy. I am not scared that they will be overshadowed, they have their own life and in fact, I like them to fulfill a purpose.”