You may recall Mumbai-based fashion designer Archana Kochhar from our New York Fashion Week (NYFW) recap–her collection titled “A Tale of Two Travels” showcased the rural art of India and was inspired by her travels to the Taj Mahal as well as the villages of the Banjara nomadic tribes (known for the craft of the vibrant, mesmerizing colors and rustic mirror work).

Bollywood actress Sunny Leone (left) and acid-attack survivor Reshma Qureshi (right) at the Archana Kochhar Spring/Summer 2017 show at NYFW. Image Credit: Asim Farooki Photography.

Sunny Leone, who looked resplendent as the showstopper in an ivory Archana Kochhar gown, became the first Bollywood actress to ever walk the ramp at NYFW! And an even bigger first… acid-attack survivor Reshma Qureshi opened the show for the designer, in a beautiful ivory gown that was offset with digitally-printed Indian motifs, to create awareness toward the “Bring Beauty Back” initiative. (If you aren’t aware of Reshma’s story, you can read it online on Al Jazeera about what happened to her when she was only 17 years old and heading out of Mumbai to take an exam with her sister. Warning: images are graphic, but they showcase the reality of acid-attack survivors.)

Bollywood actress Sunny Leone shared the following words immediately after the show: “It’s unbelievable that I just walked at New York Fashion Week for designer Archana Kochhar wearing her Banjara collection. The energy here was superb and the response we received was phenomenal. I love this gown; it looks so ethereal. Archana is my favorite Indian designer! She is someone who inspires me as a woman. She has a strong will and goes after what she wants. She is here at New York and has done a spectacular job. Very few Indian designers have reached New York Fashion Week, but she has.” 

Mumbai-based fashion designer Archana Kochhar. Image Credit: Asim Farooki Photography.

The designer, herself, Archana Kochhar shared that, “it was a surreal experience. This is arguably the largest fashion platform in the world. It is a great honor to be one of the few Indians to have showcased at NYFW, for the second time. It is one of the most professionally run events in the world. As the NYFW organizers had told me, they don’t talk fashion – they own fashion. I am very grateful to Sunny, who’s a dear friend, and I think she looks stunning in whatever she wears. Also, I am very honored to have Reshma Qureshi walking the ramp and showcasing different facets of beauty to the world. Beauty should not be affirmed by a certain height, color, or size, it is beyond that. It should be an all-inclusive concept. We need such acceptance in society and I think such endeavors of mine will increase sensitivity towards this concept in our society.”

Acid-attack survivor Reshma Qureshi opened the show for Archana Kochhar. Image Credit: Asim Farooki Photography.

Acid-attack survivor Reshma Qureshi declared, “This was my first time at New York. I am hoping that my participation in this runway will inspire hope and confidence in other acid-attack survivors, that they can lead a normal life.” We hope the same, especially since (sadly) the number of acid attacks in India continues to rise. But, organizations like Stop Acid Attacks are working to combat that, and we hope you’ll support them in their efforts as well!

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