Fashion designer Ritu Kumar has done more for the Indian fashion industry than can be asked of her — she owns her own fashion label and has designed the outfits of many beauty pageant winners from India, and has even won the Padma Shri award this year.
Metrolife caught up with her when she was in the City to showcase her new collection at the Bangalore Fashion Week (BFW).
On being chosen for the country’s fourth highest civilian award, she beams with pride and says, “It feels great, though it hasn’t quite sunk in yet. But more than a personal award, it means recognition for the industry. This is the first time that they’ve accepted textiles in the same space as art, architecture and writing.”
With almost five decades of work to her credit, she has mastered both traditional and Western outfits and is still always on the look-out for new ideas to play around with. “Designing is like writing — you always have different subjects that interest you,” shares Ritu. “This is especially true in India, where we have such a rich culture of textiles and one can always find inspiration in prints, embroidery and weaves. Nothing you do can be completely different from what you’ve done before. But what does happen is that the ideas and designed get layered and more evolved with time and research,” she adds.
Asked her prediction for 2013, she asserts that tunics will be the way to go. She notes, “I think India’s started to set its own trends, which is very encouraging to see. Our fashion is no longer dictated by New York or Paris and we’re finding our own feet in terms of what to wear — we tend to like happier colours and in fabrics, we’re moving away from synthetic polyesters. This year, I feel that tunic tops will be really popular and will be worn with a variety of things — churidars, jeans, tights, and even skirts.”
She also voices a strong viewpoint on newcomers entering the industry. “Fashion is made out to be much more glamorous than it is in reality. Any youngster, who gets into this field. will have to put in years of intensive study and work hard. At the end of the day, the chances of you starting your own line are not reasonably optimistic. But you have to be driven and analyse if it’s worth your time,” shares the 68-year-old.
What is her opinion on the fashion sense of Bangaloreans? “I don’t think there’s any difference in the fashion sense between Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi or any metro in the world. Today, the information technology has increased so much that no one is isolated. People are much more aware of styles, cuts, trends than what they were even five years ago. Fashion is therefore as young and vibrant here as in other places,” she wraps up.