Fashion in the country has undergone drastic changes over the years which wouldn’t have been possible without the contributions of some of the fashion extraordinaire. From a small traditional outlet on the crowded lanes of Kolkata to high-street fashion boutiques on the by-lanes of Paris, London and New York, fashion connoisseur Ritu Kumar has not only evolved as a designer but has also contributed to the evolution of the fashion industry of India, as a whole.
Millennium Post caught up with her when she was recently in the Capital where she was a part of the jury in an event held to inspire and felicitate young-upcoming designers.
How does it feel to be a part of the jury and the event?
Well I have been a part of the jury for similar events, many times and I truly feel it’s very important to take time out to do that because it’s the future, future of the kids as well as the fashion industry. Very often, they need someone who has been in the industry for a while, has the experience and can give a feedback which will be very objective.
The present scenario where everyone is fashion conscious, do you feel that this is an advantage for budding designers as they possess the knowledge before setting their foot in the industry?
I think so. You know, when I started, there was no fashion in the country and all. There was no indigenous or organic fashion. Also, there were no choices, options or retail, of course today upcoming designers have much more options, they have access to schools, a great access to a variety of fabrics, to the media like yours and I think that’s an advantage. In fact, I think this is one of the reasons why India still has indigenous fashion while the rest of the world doesn’t.
Since you have designed a repertoire of bridal wear, what’s your take on the evolution in bridal wear with the modern Indian brides going over the edge while picking up their wedding trousseau?
Earlier on there was one occasion and one traditional outfit before the actual ceremony. In all the other ceremonies, most brides were asked to play down and you were not even supposed to be dressed up or seen. So that has changed now and brides today are very participating. They don’t want to hide anymore or shy away from indulging in. Also, they are very inquisitive. They want to have, sometimes, a mix of Indian-western, options to be specific. And now it’s not the case anymore where one is told that you can wear this or can’t wear that. Women, nowadays, enjoy their bodies and they enjoy the clothes they wear.
So, in a way are women moving out of their comfort zones?
No, they are moving into a comfort zone without being scared. I think it is more than the evolution of Indian women along with the evolution of fashion that has happened. Over the years, women have started to experiment with their looks and try new things.
From Miss World Aishwarya Rai to Priyanka Chopra, Princess Diana, you’ve designed for many renowned names of the showbiz, who have you loved designing for, the most?
You know, how wonderful it is that there was no one person. I mean, from designing a salwar kameez for Princess Diana to designing for Priyanka when she recently was in LA, I have loved every one of them. You see, there is a time and a moment and also the people you design for, evolve. What they used to wear earlier they don’t really prefer that anymore. In 1994 when Aishwarya won the crown, what she wore then, it’s not what she wears today. And I designed according to their characters and preferences and I don’t impose anything on them other than good craftsmanship.