(New York, NY- October 31, 2013) More than 250 fashion lovers packed the Angel Orensanz Foundation for the Performing Arts Sunday night to witness splendid, Indian collections that showcased in New York City for the first time. Top Chef Canada host and actor/author/activist Lisa Rayunveiled her “Ray of Hope” line for veteran label Satya Paul, inspired by the Sayta Paul sari she wore at her own wedding to Jason Dehni last year. Fresh off the runway of Wills Lifestyle Fashion Week in Delhi last month, designer Joy Mitra stunned audiences with his Rituparno Ghosh-inspired “Chokher Bali” collection.

Mitra, after designing costumes for some of Ghosh’s films, was inspired by the late actor/director/producer’s vision of a new world of cinema and a new language of fashion. Set against the backdrop of the bustling, sweaty, energetic streets of Kolkota, India, Mitra’s clothes evoked the memories of a bygone era, where class, culture and creativity collided. Bollywood actress and India’s “What Not to Wear” host, Soha Ali Khan, took the audience by surprise as a showstopper for the “Chokher Bali” line.

Ray’s collection of saris, on the other hand, was bold and vibrant with words like “hope,” “faith” and “love” jumping off the nine yards of fabric. Inspired by her recent battle with Multiple Myeloma, cancer of the plasma cells, the collection illustrates Ray’s experiences with life, love and fighting her disease; she calls it “wearable art.” As a prelude to her collection, modern dancers re-created a fight between good and evil to symbolize Ray’s battle with cancer. Recently-crowned Miss New Jersey USA, Emily Shah, walked the ramp to show her support for the cause.

The hour and a half of fashion programming was part of India Unlimited’s inaugural NYC event, “The Splendid Indian Closet,” presented by Etihad Airways and conceptualized by Evolve. The India Unlimited platform was created by Evolve to bring India closer to the world through fashion, dance, food and cultural events. “We want Americans to learn about our beautiful land, its achievements, festivals, culture and royal traditions, while experiencing some of our rituals first-hand,” said Sapna M Vats, co-founder of Evolve. “Over the next few months, the India Unlimited brand will launch several more events around the country in an attempt to demonstrate our country’s infinite potential and accomplishments.” This fashion show, choreographed by Ayesha Hakki of Bibi Magazine, will travel to Texas next, where it will engage audiences in Dallas on Nov. 15th, 2013 at the Park Plaza Tower and Houston on Nov 16th at the exclusive member’s only club, The Marque.

In addition to a runway show, “The Splendid Indian Closet” also featured an eclectic trunk show, where various Indian brands showcased their unique products. They included: Tina Tandon’s Indo-Western clothing line, Posh Pari, Sejal Jhaveri and Bhavana Gupta’s jewelry line and Ami Bhansali’s soothing collection of Indian teas, Chai Diaries.

Some of the event’s splendid sponsors included: Print Early and New York Banner Stands, Maharajas’ Express, Royal Challenge, Kingfisher, Flow Vodka, Zee TV, News India Times, Desi Talk & Indian Express.

Photos by  Andy Chang

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