Herald: Goan women of substance shine at Cannes

Goan women of substance shine at Cannes

12 Jun 2019 03:48am IST

Report by
Dolcy D’Cruz

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12 Jun 2019 03:48am IST

Report by
Dolcy D’Cruz

Leave a comment

Two Goan women, Verma D’Mello and MaryJo De Mello, went to Cannes Film and Fashion Festival to showcase their individual talents. Verma was awarded the ‘Best Red-Carpet Designer’ and MaryJo sang her own composition, ‘Threads Up’ for the same ramp walk in front of celebrities from across the world

A design created by Verma D’Mello went through the

hands of young girls at Dabel in Cotigao, where they delicately applied embellishments and appliqué before the garment was worn by celebrities at the Cannes Film and Fashion Festival. This was the beginning of a wondrous journey of empowerment for these village girls, who are surviving in the remote village without proper electricity and water. Verma has been in the fashion industry for over two decades. Noted for her bridal wear in Goa, she has been presenting her collections at the Cannes Film and Fashion Festival for four consecutive years. This year she was awarded the ‘Best Red-Carpet Designer’. She received the award from Hollywood actress Amber Martnez, who also wore Verma’s creation.

Based on the theme of ‘I am Ganga, a woman of today’ to highlight India’s sacred river, the Ganga, Verma has been working on the collection since December. “We designed 78 garments, from which, 30 were shortlisted and the selected miniatures were sent to Cannes for approval. The designs had to be chic to appeal to the classy audience at Cannes. They sent 15 designs that were the final shortlist for the runway. The invitees included actors, bloggers and critics,” says Verma, whose designs at Cannes were donned by celebrities such as Amber Martinez, Alixzandra Dove, Aurelia Khazan, Apple Yang, Carrie Bernans, Anjelina Kali and François Durpaire.

Verma was the opening show for the fashion show and the only Indian among five other international designers. As the models were walking the runway, they were accompanied by the sweet voice of MaryJo De Mello, who sang in English, French and Portuguese. “Last year, MaryJo had composed a French song, ‘Maria’, for my fashion show at Cannes; the song was based on the theme of the event, which was ‘Lift The Lid Off Child Sex Trade’. However, due to bad weather, the venue at Cannes had to be changed and I felt the song was not given its due. This year, though the organisers were insisting on a renowned opera singer from France, I convinced them to invite MaryJo to perform for the show,” reveals Verma.

MaryJo has been in the music industry since the age of 15 and has won the Rotary Lifetime Achievement Award for being the youngest child artiste to release an album in different languages, when she released her first album at 17. She has performed with different bands but now performs as a solo artiste. “I feel extremely privileged to have been given this opportunity to perform for the 72nd Cannes Fashion and Film Awards. It was a great honour to have been invited personally to a festival of this calibre. As it is an invitation only event that has been attracting the best of the best for so many decades, it was absolutely overwhelming and surreal to stand and sing in front of celebrities who I have only seen on screen before. It was nerve-racking and thrilling at the same time and I’m very happy that it all went well without a hitch,” says MaryJo.

She adds, “Verma has been an absolute joy to work with and I am extremely delighted that she extended her invitation to me to be a part of her campaign to make the world a better place. It has been a great honour to have worked with her this year. I’ve worked on the song ‘Thread’s Up’ for over a year and worked on fine tuning the song for the last few months leading up to the festival. It was a bit of a challenge to put together the right combination of lyrics and music to get the right message across. The main focus was to be able to successfully portray the plight of underprivileged women and work on their upliftment. It was very satisfying to be able to get that message across to the world.” The song is available on various online streaming platforms such as Spotify, YouTube music, Amazon, iTunes, etc.

MaryJo is currently working on a few original pieces and looks forward to collaborating with international artistes. “My exposure at Cannes has given me quite a few opportunities and I look forward to these in the coming months,” she says.

Originally from Orlim, Verma has adopted the village of Dabel in Cotigao and is now planning to adopt Ambeli in Quepem. “I have adopted the village by empowering the girls and women. They have no proper water supply or electricity and since the raw materials are required, we have a partnership with Goa Sudharop, a California-based sustainable development non-profit organisation. I do the designing and stitching at the studio and the girls do the embellishing and appliqué work for the garments. They are really proud that their works have reached France,” says Verma.

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