Fashion is a huge industry in India. With globalisation Indian Fashion has got a wider platform to display their talents and introduce the ‘Sari’ to the world. India was always known as a country of jungles, snakes and poverty. But this has changed over the last decade. One of the reasons of India competing in the race among the leading countries of the world is because of its sudden burst of fashion exposure – both within and beyond the country.
India is a diverse nation and does not have one particular style to call its own. However, fashion in India placed itself on the map creating its own unique identity of FUSION – the beautiful blend and combination od various dressing styles in the country. Right from the traditional salwar kameez or sarees to churidars, kurtis, the semi formal way of wearing it over trousers or jeans, capris and the higly elegant and contemporary style of draping sarees, from simply cotton blouses to halter-neck, puffed sleeves, deep necks, and lycra-fitted blouses. Apart from regional attires, the Bollywood element also holds a domineering part in Indian Fashion style.
Lets take a look at the current top fashion designers in the country.
One of the earliest and reputed fashion diva amongst fashion buffs, Ritu Kumar has developed a unique style of her own. Her designs reflects the ancient traditions of Indian craftsmanship in a contemporary fashion. With a background of art history and musicology, which has enriched her horizons, Ritu Kumar’s understanding of ancient designs and the innovative use of traditional crafts has created a new classicism. Ritu holds the status of a revivalist in the Indian fashion industry, which has successfully bridged the gap between traditionalism and modernity.
Ritu Kumar has been designing the wardrobes of the three winning Miss India’s , for their participation in International Beauty Pageants (Miss Universe , Miss World and Miss Asia Pacific respectively ). In April 2002, Ritu Kumar launched her new sub brand, ‘LABEL’. ‘LABEL’ cater today’s woman, who is increasingly independent, discerning and global. It is a modern offering, focusing on the cut, color, drape and feel of the garment. This brand has a universal appeal aimed at today’s mobile lifestyle. It is fashionable, affordable and like all Ritu Kumar products, it is of the highest quality.
She is known as the first Indian designer to present a collection in Paris. There is no comparison for her style and elegance. Today her designs have become a highlight in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, USA, London and Paris. Ritu Beri’s ready-to-wear line is an impressive couture collection that had the French media raving about her. She is one of early fashion designer whose collection made it quite big internationally. Ritu started her illustrious career in fashion when she created her first line of clothing in 1990, called Lavanya. It was a complete success for Ritu in India and on the international market, with the range selling out very quickly.
Ritu graduated from Delhi University in 1987 and after this she decided to do something artisitc and ever since being interested in fashion, the natural choice was to try designing outfits. Ritu enrolled in the newly-opened National Institute of Fashion Technology in 1988. The tertiary education centre is linked to the F.I.T (Fashion Institute of Technology) in New York, and had just been established in Delhi. Lavanya was her graduation collection, if you will, created in December of 1990, after she became one of the first students to complete the fashion study course.
Titled as the ‘India’s Master of fabric and fantasy’ by the Time magazine in 1996, Rohit Bal’s sense of aesthetics is finely honed, and each of his creations is handcrafted to perfection, with meticulous attention to detail. He has access to the best the industry has to offer in terms of materials and workmanship. From villages where local craftsmen weave dreams with magic fingers, to factories, workshops and outlets where retailers jostle for survival, to the opulent grandeur of glitzy boutiques and malls at the best addresses in the big cities of high fashion, Rohit Bal can lead one to the doors of discovery, and he holds the key.
Rohit Bal graduated from New Delhi’s St. Stephen’s College with a first class (Hons.) degree in History. He worked for a few years with his brother’s export company and in 1990 he created his first line, traditional designer wear for men and the rest history. Some of his clients include celebrities like Uma Thurman, Cindy Crawford, Pamela Anderson, Naomi Campbell and Anna Kournikova. Most of the Rohit Bal’s fashion shows in India, New York, Paris, and Singapore are sponsored by The Swatch Group, and he is the brand ambassador for their Omega Watches, since 2001.
In 1997 Manish Arora launched his Label “Manish Arora” and started retailing in India. Three years later in 2000, Manish represented India at the Hong Kong Fashion Week and participated
at the first ever India Fashion Week held in New Delhi. The following year Manish launched his second Label “Fish Fry” and showed this collection in six leading cities in India and was stocked at Lord & Taylor, New York.
Arora’s future-in-outer-space inspired line at the Wills India Fashion Week 2007 attracted international viewers. A collaboration with MAC in the pipeline, a successful eyewear range for Inspecs just launched and two new stores ready to open in India in the next couple of months Manish Arora is one busy designer. Chosen for his vision and sense of style and colour references, MAC has enlisted designer Manish Arora to collaborate on a new, Raj-inspired beauty range. The Indian designer, known for his colourful fashion shows, has created a collection of lipglasses, lipsticks, blush and a fabulous eye palette (Eyes on Manish, £30) with bright shades from Yellow to Bright Pink and Acid Green for MAC. And, if what’s inside isn’t enough, the packaging is a fashion accessory in itself. These products will be available from October 2008.
Rina Dhaka is India’s leading fashion designer who burst onto the fashion world in late 1980s. Winner of Yuv Rattan Award, she is counted among the creative and innovative designers of the country. After college, Rina Dhaka did a training project with Intercraft, and with designer Evan Grandhal. She also set up a ‘Salwar Kameez’ boutique for one of her acquaintances. Around this time ‘Mutiny’ and ‘Ensemble’ were just coming up as fashion houses and she made a line of designs for them.
She is best known for her theme collections – sheer trousers, crochet, and stretch jersey, woolens and spider web motifs. Her forte remains western wear, and she prides on the fact that her pieces can be worn as separates. Rina Dhaka emphasises silhouettes. She is not afraid of experimenting. In one of her collections, she had mixed fur and boots with her Indian outfits.
Rina Dhaka has held shows in London, Paris, New York, Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubai, and Jakarta. Her Singapore shows in 2001 and 2002 were major success. International fashion magazines ‘Vogue’ and ‘Elle’ featured her work. With brothers Shantanu and Nikhil joining her in late 1990s, Rina Dhaka’ s fashion design has become a family affair. Her designs are available in at Carma -Delhi, Design Studio-Mumbai, Kimaya-Mumbai, Selfridges-London, Coin-Italy and Lord and Taylor-New York.
Born and raised in the historical city of Jodhpur in Rajasthan, India’s premier fashion designer, JJ Valaya, has made a name for himself as one of the most original and inspired designers working today. The revolutionary fusion of traditional crafts and contemporary haute couture generates an alluring, urbane, one-of-a kind handiwork is the signature of the House of Valaya. Valaya has rejuvenated and redefined age-old Indian crafts as a profitable niche within the cosmopolitan market, allowing the valued artistic processes to live on despite the pressures of globalization.
In 1994, Valaya became the first Indian couture label to have a solo show in India. Met with enthused reactions by fashion critics and buyers, the label opened JJ Valaya Life, India’s largest single designer store till date. Since 1997, the House of Valaya has shared the catwalk with many of the world’s top designers in Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok, London, Dubai, New York and Paris. As one of the most respected designers in contemporary fashion, JJ Valaya continues to wow fashion’s toughest critics with his two apparel lines, Couture and Diffusion, and his product labels Valaya Home and Studio Valaya. JJ Valaya’s innovative and groundbreaking styles assure the majestic era of royal India will continue to reign well into the present.
Tarun Tahiliani is one of the most celebrated fashion designers of India. He acquired a degree from The Fashion Institute of Technology, New York. When Tarun Tahiliani came back to India, he realized that there was a huge scope in India in the designer wear sector. He brought a revolution in the field of fashion in 1987, by opening the first fashion boutique in India, ‘Ensemble’.
He established the Tarun Tahiliani Design Studio, situated in New Delhi. His own brand label is known as, Ahilian. The brand is known for its creative style and uniqueness. The designer clothes created by him are sold in Tokyo, New York, London, Hong Kong, Dubai and in his stores in New Delhi and Mumbai.
‘The boys’, as the twosome of Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla are known in the fashion circuit, can be considered among first names in that made it big, by way of success, attention, fame and hype. It is a creative alliance that exudes attitude and talent. They were one of the first to display their creations at Harrods. Ever since, the Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla show is a much awaited, though not so frequent event.
Though they lack in professional training, they push ethnic fashion to the limits, almost to the dictates of their fancies. No wonder they claim that they do not make garments, they make heirlooms.
Designer Wendell Rodricks started out as a catering graduate but found fashion designing was more suited to his palate. His minimalist chic style is a rage among Indian clothes lovers and he is known for his passion for white. He has written special features for Apparel, regular columns for Femina, Goa Today and freelance fashion journalism in major Indian news media. The multi-talented designer`s work includes theatre design, advertising styling and forecast portfolios.
In 1994, the Ministry of Culture displayed the Wendell Rodricks Shiva Temples Collection at the Festival of India in Peking, Canton & Shanghai. The designer is a keen art patron and promotes Goan artists through special promotions at the Wendell Rodricks Couture Salon. The Fundacao Oriente awarded a scholarship to the designer to intern at the prestigious Museu Nacional do Traje in Lisbon, Portugal. Wendell Rodricks also interned at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York to learn costume preservation and conservation
At the age of 25, Manish Malhotra forayed into Bollywood by designing for Juhi Chawla in Swarg. Today, at 34, his name is synonymous with style in Hindi films. He revolutionized the fashion scene in Bollywood by envisioning a ‘look’ for the character. His tenure as a costume-designer has seen him clothe most of the leading actresses in the film industry from Sridevi, Urmila Matondkar, Karishma Kapoor, Kajol, Raveena Tandon, Manisha Koirala, Madhuri Dixit, Twinkle Khanna, Shilpa Shetty, Kareena Kapoor, to Aishwarya Rai, Rani Mukherjee and Preity Zinta.
High on his success, Manish Malhotra decided to branch into mainstream designing in 1998 with his high-profile couture store Reverie – Manish Malhotra. He has done several wedding trousseaus for reputed families. His popularity soared during this period when he was exclusively asked to design clothes for Michael Jackson for his appearance during the Bollywood Awards held in New York. The performer was so please that he requested Manish to design outfits for his show in Munich and to design clothes for his children.