CERRITOS, Calif. — The latest and greatest in modern Indian formal wear were on full display in the Cerritos Sheraton’s grand ballroom as Saffron Spot and the Artesia Chamber of Commerce introduced the first-ever “L.A. India Fashion Week,” held Oct. 8 here in southeast Los Angeles County.

Hundreds of formal clothing items were presented alongside pieces of jewelry as a large crowd of fashion aficionados and curious onlookers strolled through the ballroom all afternoon. The Oct. 8 event, which featured multiple vendor booths and four fashion shows, was the culmination of a series of individual fashion events at Little India storefronts.

L.A. India Fashion Week, through it all, was designed to promote Indian fashion in the heart of the Los Angeles metropolitan area.

Smita Vasant, who created and organized the L.A. India Fashion Week, said the event aimed to highlight the various vendors – instead of designers – who connect customers to the latest designs.

“The heart of [L.A. India Fashion Week] is to promote Indian fashion. I’m bringing together vendors and designers from India, from local boutiques, and we have amazing fabrics,” Vasant told India-West.

Vasant added she hopes to see L.A. India Fashion Week occur at least once every year, most likely in the Cerritos-Artesia area.

Event host Nellie Christine told India-West the L.A. Indian Fashion Week was a great opportunity for her to learn more about formal wear from beyond her own culture; the event host is half-Iranian and half-Turkish.

“I’m actually curious to her from other Indian people what they think because it’s their culture,” Christine told India-West. “Even though I’m not Indian I feel a sense of pride. It’s amazing that we have L.A. Fashion Week, New York Fashion Week and now we have L.A. India Fashion Week.”

Meanwhile, Sanjana Deshmukh, who kicked off the afternoon’s first fashion show with a solo mashup of “Jiya Re” and Michael Jackson songs with her guitar and vocals, said the debut fashion event brings a segment of Indian culture to the United States.

“[L.A. India Fashion Week] shows how unique Indian fashion is,” Deshmukh told India-West. “We don’t get to see a lot of it here.”

Ziba Beauty’s Sumita Batra said the new L.A. India Fashion Week was the first of its kind in the country and could well grow into an event bridging Indian culture to non-Indian audiences.

“India is evolving. Little India is evolving. This is an opportunity, once a year, to make something fun happen, get people to come out during the festive season, and it’s a great way for new brands to gain exposure,” Batra told India-West. “It’s something mainstream America can get exposed to.”

The many Indian vendors participating in L.A. Indian Fashion Week were certainly interested in expanding their brand and sharing the latest fashion trends with anyone willing to be a customer.

Heeral Mehta, who helped expand Sari Palace from its Berkeley, Calif., roots, said L.A. Fashion Week provides her store with a platform to connect with customers seeking custom designs.

“Being a part of L.A. India Fashion Week helps us expand [the store’s brand] to Greater Los Angeles,” Mehta, who started Sari Palace with her husband, Harikrishna Mehta, told India-West. “We have ready-to-wear to bridal wear [and] customizable outfits. We really work on having a diversity of fabrics … and catering to every single type of crowd.”

The Indian formal wear event was certainly a platform for Frontier Heritage, as the Little India clothing business helped open the Oct. 8 fashion show.

“It’s great and convenient for people in L.A.,” Neeta Asija told India-West. “They don’t need to go back to India, and they can find the latest fashions right here.”

Also displaying the customizable designs from her store was Rohini Bedi, who said L.A. Fashion Week was an ideal venue for her to continue connecting with repeat customers.

“It’s very different from Fashion Week in India, that’s where the designers come. This is more like a sales event,” Bedi told India-West.

Artesia Mayor Ali Sajjad Taj and Cerritos Parks and Recreation Commissioner Ashok Patnaik were among the dignitaries present at the L.A. Fashion Week event here in Cerritos.

Vendors present at the L.A. India Fashion Week event included Frontier Heritage, Ziba Beauty, Sari Palace, Fashion by Rohini, Voila by Roma Bhalla, Namaslay, Ramuli Creations, Sai Raah, Navani Collections, Neo Moissanite, Big Bangles Theory, Glowworm Creations, ZZ Collections, Clumas Jewelry, Divine Kaya, Naiya Indian Fashion, Alka Vora Jewelry, Blue Lotus Couture, Style Paparazzi, Meeta & Malvika, Karmik Fashions, Karma by Sheetal Jaglan, Aanchal Designer Gallery and Prerana Kulkarni Art.

Frontier Heritage, Voila by Roma Bhalla, Sari Palace and Namaslay were among the vendors featured in the series of fashion shows.

Pastries N Chaat from Phoenix, Arizona offered a small selection of Indian finger foods for everyone in attendance.

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