Power behind the power dressers!

Power behind the power dressers!

Power behind the power dressers!

Designer Neeru Kumar and her classy, traditional and yet innovative design.Have you ever wondered where power women like Sonia Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi, Sheila Dixit, Renuka Chowdhary, Barkha Dutt, Arundhati Roy, Rekha, Shabana Azmi (this list goes on) get their beautiful ethnic saris from? The lady behind the beautiful strong statements is Neeru Kumar. Based out of Delhi she not only dresses the power women of Delhi but also Bollywood's strong women like Shabana Azmi and Mira Nair. Not to miss the leading faces of Delhi and Mumbai's swish set. Traditional techniques, a contemporary sensibility, innovative use of colour — these are the hallmarks of designer Neeru Kumar's work, acknowledged today as a landmark in the evolution of Indian textiles.

A graduate of the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad she has dedicated two decades of work in the field of textiles, in developing, exploring, experimenting and innovating from the vast wealth available in India in terms of diverse skills, materials and references that led her to evolve her own unique brand of textiles and textile products under the brand name of 'Tulsi'. 

She seamlessly joined together two opposing sensibilities, which attracted buyers when she first entered the market thirteen years ago, and what has established it since as one of the most creative and sought after labels not just in India but in discriminating market segments of Japan, the US and Europe. Another reason for its astounding impact abroad is that Neeru Kumar's work doesn't shout its origin aloud but deliberately adheres to the understatement, the unmistakable sign of excellence in design.

She has been showcasing Indian fabrics under her own label out of 60 stores across 15 countries, including Selfridge's in London, Bloomingdale's in New York, and Le Bon Marche in Paris. While basic handlooms and khadi are transformed by her into chic outfits for working women, her range of textiles and saris in silk and cotton have been specially woven by traditional jamdani and ikat weavers.  Excerpts from an interview:

Designer Neeru KumarWhat drew you to fashion?

My passion for textiles. For any fashion base textile is the most important element so I ventured into textile development.  Fashion designing was just a step forward to take it to another level. Every garment that I do is textile driven and graphic in design. It is a conscious effort to weave both my knowledge of textiles and sensibilities with the right colours to come up with a strikingly different designs.

What is your inspiration?

All my work is material and colour and skill driven. Colour is the most important element. All my customers always remark about the unusual colour palette of my collections. So keeping skill, material and colours in mind I try and reach out to new heights in whatever is possible within that framework.

You have dressed some of the country's most powerful women…any one left on your to do list?

Hmm….I have pretty much done it. The power list doesn't really matter to me. What is important is people with good taste wear my clothes. My customers are very classy.

What about the men? Any plans on dressing them up?

Not really, I don't  have a men's line in mind. Though we have some very good jackets which a lot of male customers patronize.

What was the concept behind 'Tulsi' ?

When I started our after college I had two looms to work with. Then in 1984 I was approached by the Handlooms and Handicrafts Corporation of India to set up a design studio for them to develop textiles for them to export. That gave me the time and opportunity to invest in a lot of exploration. Around 1989 I developed a fabric in black wool and tussar silk with a very complicated weave. It was meant to be a wall hanging and had 40 different designs and textures in it.  By 1991 this was one of the most sought after fabric by the entire textile industry both nationally and internationally. It was a design that was so universally accepted that it took the world by storm. I called it the 'first design' and this is what established my label. It was selling as a throw, jackets, shawls , garments…everything that came after it was some sort of deviation from the original design.

One person you admire in fashion?

No one really.