25 years down and I’ve lost count of the number of green rooms I’ve been in (for the uninitiated, Green rooms are designated areas behind the main stage and ramp in show business, where models/ actors/ dancers dress up and prepare themselves. The specific origin of the term sadly is lost to history, which has led to several imaginative theories and claims. One story is that London’s Blackfriars Theatre (1599) included a room behind the scenes, which happened to be painted green; here the actors waited to go on stage. Some English theatres contained several green rooms, each ranked according to the status and the salary of the actor: one could be fined for using a green room above one’s ranking. Of course, I have my own personal spin on this (purely going by the number of requests I get from expectant male friends to assist me): that it’s the room which derives its name from the colour of Envy, which, as most know, is Green!
Whatever the origin, it all started for me with my first green room experience in 1989 where I was a helper backstage whilst in design school; it was my first exposure to the ‘flurry behind the fantastic’ in the career I had chosen. Years later, it remains one of my favorite spaces even today, as this is where I witness magical and often extraordinary transformations. The audience up front of course has little idea of the organised chaos that exists here for all they see are beautiful clothes on poised models on the ramp and yet, this area is the very soul of a fashion presentation. It’s where everyone bonds, it’s where the mirror becomes one’s best friend, it’s where the quality of couture is put to test with hurried models starting to shed their clothes as they’re running back to the green room (try changing into a complete new look with jewellery, make-up and hair intact in 2 minutes). Unlike the west, it’s also where stars are born (many of today’s leading Indian film stars began their career in our green rooms e.g. Aishwarya Rai, Deepika Padukone, Anushka Sharma, Katrina Kaif, Sushmita Sen, Lara Datta, Bipasha Basu, Arjun Rampal, John Abraham… the list goes on and on), it’s where hearts are joined and also where they often break, it’s where everyone, be it models to backstage teams to make-up artists and stylists, design assistants and wardrobe managers, give those 25 minutes their all to help showcase months of hard work put in by the designer in the best possible way… it’s where selfies rule; it’s also where I manage to get some great candid images using my smartphone. The famous statement “the best camera is the one that’s with you” truly finds its meaning here.
Between the trauma of the stuck zippers to the euphoria of the deafening applause at the end of the show, the Green Room remains the beating heart of the fashion Industry.