Rails of brightly coloured outfits dripping with jewels and crystals fill the room. Pearl-encrusted bangles are spread out on a nearby table and, in the corner, a glamorous makeup artist skillfully applies heavy eyeliner with a generous flick.
No, this isn’t the film set of the latest Bollywood blockbuster; it’s the offices of Sheffield charity Fable, in the heart of Netherthorpe.
Sheffield businesswomen have gathered here in droves to ready themselves for the event of the season - the Bhayani Bollywood Ball.
In the centre of the colourful chaos, the woman of the hour - Jay Bhayani - wraps a beautiful pink saree around her body and knots it expertly at the waist.
“The Bollywood Ball is an event with a difference and people have really been getting into the spirit of things,” Jay said.
“So many women came forward asking for help with ideas for their outfits, their hair, their makeup, so we decided to host this event - an Indian fashion taster - the month before to help them get ready.
“We have someone here today teaching ladies how to fasten their sarees correctly. It’s basically just one long piece of material so there’s definitely a skill to it.
“We’ve got beautiful traditional accessories on sale and some people demonstrating appropriate hairstyle and makeup techniques. The idea with Bollywood is to go very blingy and over-the-top. Everything is accentuated, which is a lot of fun as it gives us ladies the opportunity to go all out.”
The Bhayani Bollywood Ball, at Arooj Restaurant and Banqueting next month, will be hosted by Jay to celebrate the first anniversary of her company, Bhayani HR and Employment Law, located at Sheffield Business Centre.
Jay, aged 48, worked as a solicitor for 21 years in Sheffield before going into business herself last November.
“With our first birthday approaching, I really wanted to celebrate with the Sheffield business community that has welcomed us, so I joined forces with Sheffield charity Fable to turn my celebration into an opportunity to raise funds and the profile of a fantastic local cause.”
Epilepsy charity Fable, which celebrated its 20th anniversary this summer, was launched by Walkely mum Sandra Howard and her family in 1995 in support of her son Gareth who, at 15, was a severe epileptic. Sandra and her family will be attending the ball on November 7, when she will be speaking to the Sheffield business community about the important work Fable does.
Sandra, 60, said: “Gareth used to have 15 to 20 seizures a day until we heard about an implant that could help control his condition.
“The implant wasn’t available on the NHS so we began fundraising privately. Gareth now has just one seizure a month so his quality of life has been completely changed.
“We set up Fable to help pay for other children to have the procedure.
“We’ve had plenty of charity balls before but never a Bollywood ball, so we’re really excited!” she added, modelling a striking purple saree.
“I understand we’re going to be taught some Bollywood dancing on the night and there is a specialist DJ and a henna artist. It’s unlike anything we’ve ever been involved in and it’s great to come here today and learn the correct way to wear and apply these amazing outfits and accessories.
“We can’t thank Jay enough for making us a part of this wonderful event.”
On the other side of the room, Sofia Diniz and Alicia Reynolds, from Benefit Cosmetics, are having a blast.
“It’s so much fun to do this kind of make-up,” explained Sofia.
“Bollywood is all about brighter lips, coloured eyeliner, smokey eyes, it’s really fun and gives us an opportunity to do something quite dramatic.”
Sheffield hairdresser Olivia Loades agrees: “Bollywood hair is big, glamorous and over the top so it’s a lot of fun to do.”
Jay surveys the room happily: “At the end of the day, there is no dress code. I just want people to come, feel comfortable and have a great time, but it’s really lovely to see so many people making such an effort and really embracing the fun of the theme.”