A year ago it seemed like a fantasy—Indian designers showcased in a major department store in Manhattan. After all, breaking into the upper reaches of the American fashion market isn’t easy. We are not talking cheap "garment export" stuff manufactured by the tonnes in India and shipped for retail in overseas markets for mass consumption. This is different. And last week, the fantasy came alive, complete with luxurious clothes, arched doorways, decorative lamps and tassels as hundreds of seen-that-done-it New Yorkers gaped at the windows—all 28 of them. Lord & Taylor’s flagship store on 5th Avenue was "Into India" and so were the eager, chattering buyers.
Four of India’s top designers had captured a definite spot in the more exclusive floor space of the store with their silk jackets, quilted kaftaans and funky mirrorwork dresses for the celebration. Within hours of the full-page ads in the New York Times hitting the stands, a woman had called from California and booked all the four dresses featured in the double spread. Full-page ads in InStyle, New York and W—all glossies—created more buzz. Within four days, 39 per cent of the featured merchandise was sold. The four designers bursting into black-is-always-right Manhattan with considerable colour and panache were Rina Dhaka, Vivek Narang, Manish Arora and Tarun Tahiliani. Narang said he already has "re-orders"—a sure sign that something had clicked in the American woman’s mind as she surveyed the clean lines and rich fabrics. Thankfully, the clothes were non-fussy.