What's the dress code for the Bollywood Oscars? In two words, anything goes. Stars and fans converged on the green carpet for the International Indian Film Academy's first formal event Thursday night, a celebration of music and fashion called IIFA Rocks. And we do mean converged. In a chaotic PR mess that started more than an hour late, fans who had paid for VIP tickets shuffled alongside celebrities, creating a confused jumble of suits and sequins. Not all the stars who had been promised showed up on the green carpet. Word was many of them skipped voting in Mumbai for India's parliamentary elections to come to the event, including some former politicians. Still, through the mayhem and madness, we were able to spot some fashion trends forming before the stars and fans headed inside to the fashion show and rock spectacular at the Tampa Convention Center.
Keeping it classic
Traditional Indian saris and lehenga cholis, which are tops and skirts with scarfs, were plentiful, in bold shades like hot pink, coral and cerulean with elegant gold beading and threadwork or blinged-out necklines. Saris are 5 to 9 yards of fabric that can be wrapped around the body in dozens of different ways. Some women also opted for the slightly more casual salwar kameez, India's pants suit with a tunic and a long scarf. They paired the traditional garb with everything from elegant flat-beaded sandals to ballet flats to gold platform heels.
Mini-skirts! Stilettos! Glittery clutch purses! Basically anything you might see at a mall in Tampa walked the green carpet (IIFA's signature swap for red, connected to environmental causes), including a little black dress with gold punk rock shoulder studs on one British television reporter. Bollywood actor Yami Gautam wore a spring-like short A-line dress with a front zipper, and carried the best accessory we saw all night — a Lucite purse filled with a layer of pink water. Her handlers toted a dress bag with a garment she planned to change into for the show by Vikram Phadnis, one of the event's featured designers. Also spotted: A neon yellow peplum dress on actor Swara Bhaskar and one pair of Valentino's delicious Rockstud pumps on a fan.
Hear it for the boys
The guys were all about skinny pants and slick tailored suits, more blues and grays than blacks. Bollywood star Gulshan Grover wore a navy pinstripe suit with a blue and orange plaid tie. And he was so cool, he had not one, but two pairs of sunglasses — one on his face and one in his pocket. "I loved just being at the big open-air party," he said of Wednesday's IIFA Stomp party in Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park. "It really surprised me that so many people in Tampa love our films." Also spotted in pinstripes, Bollywood interloper Stephen Baldwin, producing a movie in India soon, who said he danced Thursday afternoon with Bollywood stars and "didn't know what I was doing." Actor Vishal Malhotra forgot to change before the green carpet, running amok in a green T-shirt and jeans. "I've got to go back and change," he said. "I'm the only one who's dressed up in rags." Indeed.