That's a Coco Chanel quote since I have had a weekend of fashion study that actually made me feel fashion is not so trivial as most of us tend to think. After all it has a history of its own. A fascinating one at that.
The workshop was at Manesar Heritage Resort (two hours from Delhi). The place itself was not five star but it was nice and quiet. Some of us were lucky enough to get single double bed rooms to ourselves because of cancellations by other journalists. And my room faced the swimming pool.
Some highlights from my trip:
As I sat on the other side of the desk and listened to lectures, I rediscovered the pleasures of studying.
I met several 'interesting' people on the trip. People with heavily false accents, supercilious attitudes, dirty old men, geeks and someone who suddenly and inappropriately reminded me of Horse & Hounds.
The individual in the first category, goes without saying, was shunned by all and somehow I did not feel sorry. And let me not stretch it to the plural. There was actually a dirty old man who insisted on latching onto every female on the trip. By the end of it he had succeeded in pissing off one and all. At the beginning of the trip when we met I remembered him from a French opera where we happened to be talking to the director of the opera. When we reached Manesar, he insisted on telling me that it is the dirty weekend retreat for some. Besides filling me up on how he sits at the Press Club all day and loves getting drunk. So when he was sitting alone on a field trip to a factory and asked me to sit next to him, I literally ran for my sanity. And plonked myself next to a person who reminded me of Hugh Grant.
Now when I say he reminded me of Grant, I don't mean physically at all. He was a nice guy with a sophisticated air about him. He was from some trade magazine, the name of which brought back Horse & Hounds to my mind. Weirdly I didn't at all feel he was trying to be overfriendly or irritating when he asked me about my beat and myself. Some people I am glad to say just don't rub you up the wrong way.
The export factory we visited had amazingly fashionable jackets. They apparently export to Zara, Tommy and the like. The owner and his wife (who impressed us highly with her oratorial skills) showed us around the place. Inside the place were some thousands of workers sewing, checking and rechecking the garments. It might be employment for those people, but a huge huge room chock full of people doing the same mechanical job for 10 hours every day didn't seem very cheerful. I can't explain it. It was just the sight of row after row of sewing machines and other machines and a sea of people inside that freaked me out.
Once back at the resort, we had more classes. For which PR girl BS made sure we were seated inside. She even trailed behind us to the loo!
The classes itself were really cool. And the persons taking them cooler. Not for a single minute did I feel bored. Though I must say the German lecturer, who took us on a presentation on fashion through the ages, was so flat it was unbelieveable. She could have made even rock n' roll sound flat.
As it became dark and we got back to our rooms to freshen up for cocktails and dinner, I was feeling so happy. There were diyas floating in the pool and Rajasthani folk singers playing there. It was just perfect. And the happiness increased as I tossed drinks down my gullet. One after the other... LIT, red wine, white wine, a delicious vodka drink...teamed with yummy chocolate cake. The effect may I say was profound. Besides the fact that I could hear only through one ear, the next morning I found my watch cracked and a spot of pain on my forehead.
The unexpected happened too. There were designers Ashish Soni and Manish Arora at the workshop. Credit to geek journalist who asked them, "Why don't these export houses tie up with you? The house we visited said Soni and Arora just make a lot of noise." You should have seen the reactions of the two. Arora who needs a setdown really badly got it. And it did Soni good. He spoke. At any given occasion, he who has the least to say couldn't stop making his point and making sense too! While Arora was this picture of amiability.
In the feedback sheets we were given to fill up, I recommended such workshops once a month. I asked some others. They wrote once in 6 months.
I guess I couldn't have asked for more. A drunken weekend and let's not even begin counting the calories...oily bacon rinds, pineapples, cheese, lots of meat, malpuas, gulab jamuns and chocolate... Besides of course the worst pasta I've ever had!