It started with Dior.
An 850-strong crowd from around the world – and India – gathered in front of Mumbai’s mighty Gateway Of India monument on Thursday night.
Flowers stretched across the gray-tiled runway, as 99 Pre-Fall looks poured out, and international fashion editors exclaimed, “pink is India’s navy blue!” as the late Vogue editor Diana Vreeland famously put it.
The front row was, of course, spectacular. Hundreds gathered outside to catch a glimpse of legendary Indian actress Rekha, Thai acting sensations Mile and Apo, as well as British South Asian actresses Simon Ashley and Charithra Chandran, of Bridgerton fame.
Models Cara Delevyne, Karlie Kloss And Ella Richards attended and joined the Indian cricketer Virat Kohli, his wife Anushka Sharma and Indian actress Sonam Kapoor. It was – as the social media outburst that followed attested – a fashion show of a different calibre.
And it was just the beginning. Then followed three imaginatively embroidered days in honor of the opening of the new Nita Mukesh Ambani Cultural Centre, Mumbai’s first arts center of its kind. Like the building’s impressively decorated exterior, no expense was spared on this launch.
Friday was the first of the three-day, couture-clad bash. Priyanka Chopra And Nick Jonas arrived, respectively, in a see-through dress with a crystal-studded bustier by Elie Saab, and a black suit with lace shirt detailing by Valentino. Nailing the formal dress code, Gigi Hadid wore an intricately embroidered overcoat and wide-leg trousers by Indian courtier Rahul Mishra, while Bollywood star Deepika Padukone and her husband Ranveer Singh both wore custom Anamika Khanna designs.
Everyone gathered in the NMACC’s lavish new auditorium to watch a Feroz Abbas Khan-directed musical, which hit India’s history, religion and culture in an explosion of colour, with costumes designed by Manish Malhotra. This was followed by a drink in the center.
The following night, the stakes were raised again. Zendaya was the star guest, the epitome of elegance in a navy sheer Rahul Mishra dress with starburst studs, a floral embroidered hem and draped in sari style over a silver metallic bralette. By her side was boyfriend Tom Hollandwho was smartly dressed in a midnight blue tuxedo and bow tie, and took to Instagram to thank the Ambani family, owner of India’s most valuable company, Reliance Industries Ltd., for their trip.
Gigi Hadid, wearing a decadent gold and white saree by Abu Jani Sandeep Khosla, joined them at the Indian-inspired dress code gala; Rehka, who was a vision wrapped in green brocade; and Penelope Cruz, who made a statement in a pink feather dress by Tamara Ralph. For their second appearance, Priyanka Chopra delighted in a 60 year old vintage saree reworked by designer Amit Aggarwal along with her husband.
The evening was dedicated to the exhibition ‘India in Fashion’, which guests visited in their Met Gala style finery. Curated by Vogue and Hamish Bowles of The World of Interiors, the show looks at India’s influence on the fashion industry, featuring archival footage from the likes of Yves Saint Laurent, Jean Paul Gaultier and Dior, all of whom historically have drawn inspiration from the country as well as the best of India’s own design talents – from Anamika Khanna to Sanjay Garg.
The whole affair is now being called the turning point of haute couture in India and comes as luxury purchases by Indian consumers will triple by 2030, according to the Business of Fashion. If this is to mark a new beginning, brands that want to follow suit will have to think big: it was a triumph for sartorial fashion and added a proud chapter to India’s rich fashion history.
Scroll through the gallery above for the best celebrity photos from Mumabi’s fashion extravaganza