It's back to Mumbai for Ritu Kumar

Jul 31, 2013, 08:18 IST | Ruchika Kher

Padma Shri Ritu Kumar returns to Mumbai's fashion circuit after three years with a vintage textile inspired show during the upcoming Fashion Week that begins in the city on August 23. Excerpts from an exclusive chat

For decades, she has worked relentlessly for the escalation of Indian textiles and the traditional crafts of the country, so it is rather befitting to have Ritu Kumar as the finale designer for Lakmé Fashion Week’s (LFW) Indian Textile Day, a day dedicated to Indian textiles during the five-day fashion event, which will kickstart in the city on August 23.

Designs showcased by Ritu Kumar at a fashion show in Thimpu, Bhutan. These will be a part of her collection that will be showcased at LFW on India Textile Day

The veteran, who became the first Indian designer to receive a Padma Shri for her exceptional and distinguished service to fashion, textile and craftsmanship, ended the three-year-long wait and is now set to showcase at LFW. Last time, she had wowed fashion aficionados with a casual line under her prêt brand, Label, but for this season, the designer, who has developed a unique style of her own, reflecting the ancient traditions of Indian craftsmanship in a contemporary vocabulary, will be showcasing a rich, vintage-inspired couture line.

This time, showing…
“The name of the collection is The Thunder Mountain and Curling Wine and it takes inspiration from the wooded and mountainous terrain of the Himalayas.

Part of the collection is the one that I showcased in Thimpu, Bhutan recently,” reveals Kumar, blaming a hectic schedule for her absence from the spotlight in Mumbai.

“For the last couple of years, my schedule has been so busy that I didn’t get the time. Plus, I believe in doing selective shows. Since this was for the Indian Textile Day, I wanted to be a part of it and worked over time to make this happen,” she clarifies.

The 68-year-old designer has used vintage textiles extensively for this collection, including Bhutanese Tangkhas and weaves like Kani and Jamawar from Kashmir. “Since many of the weaves I’ve used are not available now, I have used them as prints as a tribute to the master craftsmen who once created them. Fabrics are a mix of silk, woven shawls, etc, and warm, deep, rich colours have been used,” informs Kumar, who has dressed the likes of Aishwarya Rai, Priyanka Chopra, the late Princess Diana, Mischa Barton and Anoushka Shankar among others.

Fashion designer Ritu Kumar

Back then…
Kumar, who began her career in 1969, started with just four hand-block printers and two tables in a small village near Kolkata, but today, she stands as one of the flag bearers of Indian fashion. So, for someone like her, who is already at the zenith of her career and boasts of a long list of clients, including the who’s who of the country, how important is showcasing at a fashion week?

“We work on collections throughout the year but showcasing brings focus. That brings discipline and we get a chance to fine-tune our creations. But more than that, I enjoy showcasing when I have something to say, when I have to research a lot for a collection and when I feel good about the work I am bringing out,” admits the designer.

After this showcase, the designer wants to get back to what she does best — encouragement and promotion of the handloom textile industry.

Accolades all the way
>The French government has bestowed the prestigious award of Chevalier Des Arts Et Des Lettres (Knight Of The Order Of Arts And Letters) on Ritu Kumar. The award is a recognition of her contribution to Indian textile crafts, and traditional techniques.

>Indira Gandhi Priyadarshini award for her achievements and contribution in the field of fashion.

> Delhi Women of the Decade Achievers Award 2013 for Excellence In Fashion Retail by the ASSOCHAM Ladies League. 

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