Ritu Kumar, known for her ethnic designs, will be creating an exhibit of royal costumes of the country during the Games. “I’ll be showcasing costumes from all parts of India at the Commonwealth Games artists’ exhibition,” she says.
Designer Rohit Bal, on the other hand, is pinning his hopes on the Saree Project, an ambitious World Bank-funded venture by the Asian Heritage Foundation that is slated to take off around the Games. The project aims at helping artisans by popularising the different kinds of sarees across India with the help of designers and celebrities. However, Rajiv Sethi, who heads the Asian Heritage Foundation, isn’t so optimistic. “The project isn’t specifically designed for the Games, though it will be a good time to start it. Unfortunately, I have had several meetings with the authorities but they haven’t given us the go-ahead yet. I am still not sure if the project will coincide with the Games,” he says.
Meanwhile, designer Ashima Singh is researching the costumes for the classical dancers that they will be designing for. “I am doing my best to put in an element of vigour and vitality in the costumes in line with the idea of sport,” she says.
It is believed that there are two other female designers who will be doing the costumes besides Ashima-Leena for the opening and closing ceremonies. One of them is Mumbai-based Anna Singh.
While, most of the cultural events are still in the planning stages, designers are hesitant to divulge details of their participation. Delhi-based Raghavendra Rathore, who was supposed to deliver two talks on fashion opportunities in India during the Games, is now uncertain whether it will take off at all. “Everything is so uncertain, and with so much controversy around the event, I’d rather not speak about it till everything pans out,” he says. Likewise, Muzaffar Ali, who is scheduled to give a talk, is still uncertain about the details. “We need a week before we can finalise it,” he says.
Of course, there are those who are disgruntled with the way things are being conducted. “Commonwealth Games is a matter of pride for the whole country. To maintain the standard of an event of this stature they should have taken on a panel of designers, instead of just one. And even if they had to pick only one, it should have been the country’s best designer – like Rohit Bal or Ritu Kumar,” says designer Rohit Gandhi of the label Cue.