Fashion designer Ritu Kumar has spent four decades in the industry. Yet, the veteran couturier remains fascinated by it. She says, "Fashion designing is a vast subject, which cannot be understood at one go
It’s challenging and exciting at the same time.” Excerpts from an interview:
Who: Ritu Kumar, fashion designer
What: Speaking about her journey and the industry
No formal training
It was by accident that I ventured into the world of fashion. I had no formal training, whatsoever. I was a textile designer in a craft and textile industry. The terms fashion industry and fashion designer were non-existent. This was way back in 1967. But, I pursued it because I was keen to showcase my skillsets on a big platform.
Over the years, I revived hand-block printing and centered my work around zardosi and embroidery. Thankfully, my work was appreciated by all. Today, my only regret is that the handloom industry, which has its roots in India is not getting its due attention. The problems plaguing it needs to be understood and the industry needs to be revived by the concerned authorities.
The global influence
Today, fashion trends are as per the fashion dictates of Paris and London. People from all over the world including India try to ape that dress culture. Internet has made it easier for us to follow trends. You will see the fashion industry witnessing a lot of innovation over the past decades, which is a welcome sign. I feel women all over the world love gowns. India has a diverse culture, both saris and gowns get equal preference for social dos.
I have no favourites when it comes to actors who have worn my creations. From Rakhi to Rekha to Freida Pinto, I feel everyone has done justice to them. When I design for a film, I consider the actress’ role, character and also the director’s vision. Only after this is sorted, can I take a decision on the costumes for a film.
Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay, a social reformer who worked for the upliftment of the handloom industry was my guide and helped me understand the intricacies of fashion. My family has also supported me immensely. I am happy that my son, designer Amrish is now taking the fashion line to another level.
Away from the stores
At home, I unwind by listening to classical music by Kumar Gandharva. I also spend time reading and writing. I wrote a book, Costumes and Textiles of Royal India in 1999, and now I am now busy working on my second book based on the handloom industry of India. Travelling and experimenting with Asian and Oriental cuisines also interest me.