This weekend has been a study in contrasts. On the one hand was a night filled with glamour, luxurious leathers and runway shows, and on the other, a surreal morning of music, horses and great company. But let me not get ahead of myself. The celebrations kicked off with the annual three-day Leather Trade Fair and its fashion show that falls on February 1, every year. This year saw 12 companies—including Bachi Shoes, Tata, AVT Leathers, Unipel and Calonge—participating. Beautifully choreographed by Sunil Menon, the show began with an adorable bunch of tiny tots making a confident catwalk debut for Bachi Shoes. As the evening progressed, we saw beautiful designs by Chaitanya Rao (who had teamed up with Unipel), interesting leather finishes (like reptile skin) and techniques (like Calonge’s braided leather sneakers with ribbons for laces). The evening ended with Calogne’s grand finale, with showstoppers Parvathy Omanakuttan and Rochelle Rao walking the ramp. Though it was a serious crowd who attended, dominated by international buyers and national vendors, it just added to the feel of exclusivity.
The late night not withstanding (and another late-night party at the Madras Boat Club), most of Chennai’s who’s who woke up at the crack of dawn on Sunday, to head out to the ‘Piano by the Paddocks’ concert by Anil Srinivasan. Held at the Madras Riding Club, it was quite an experience. As we settled under the shamiana in the paddock next to the stables, we were surrounded by luminescent light, crisp morning air and the soft whinnying of horses. And then Srinivasan began making magic on his piano: a mixture of western contemporary pieces, like Fields of Gold (Sting) and Time after Time (Cyndi Lauper) that segued into Carnatic and old Tamil film songs like Chithiram Pesudhadi (Sabaash Meena) and Chinnan Chiru Kiliye (Bharathiar). “The idea was to take material but present them in my own original way. There was appreciative silence throughout, including from the horses, which was a special delight to me,” he said after the one-hour performance. “It felt magical because of the venue, the time (7.30 am) as well as the pieces themselves and their ability to delight everyone.”