IF THE Western world had fashion leaders like Coco Chanel, Christian Dior and Yves Saint Laurent, we in India also have some pretty powerful designers who changed the rules and set the stage for Indian fashion. These are the people who have contributed most to the fashion industry in India and have made it what it is today. Their designs are minutely dissected by the masses and the trends they set make it to the street.
Ranjit Rodricks takes a look at a few designers who changed the face of Indian fashion.
The entire fashion revolution began with the opening of Tarun Tahiliani’s high fashion boutique, Ensemble in Mumbai at the fag end of the Eighties. Egged on by his close friend, the late Rohit Khosla, Tahiliani introduced haute couture to India by displaying the creations of Abu and Sandeep, Zandra Rhodes, Neil Beiff, Rohit Khosla, Amaaya and his own signature label on the Ensemble racks. It was a pioneering team effort that paid off.
Following in Tarun’s footsteps, a load of other boutiques started stocking clothes by numerous designers – Glitterati (now shut-down), Melange, Carma, Ogaan, Ffolio, Kimaya and Aza to name a few.
Today, Tarun has numerous Ensemble stores across India, to his credit – and also his signature label boutiques – Tarun Tahiliani. He also designs a range of jeans for a multi-national denim brand and his wedding trousseaus are the most sought after by Indian celebrities.
Where would Indian fashion be if it weren’t for Ritu Kumar’s passion to revive old and almost extinct embroideries? Ritu Kumar’s drive finds her in hovels and dingy by-lanes in tiny hamlets and villages, seeking out the best craftsman who are out of work and hence have almost forgotten their art form. She not only gives them a new lease on life by providing them with an income, but she also gives us the kind of prints and embroideries our ancestors enjoyed.
So popular is Ritu Kumar even abroad, that before a trip to Pakistan, the late Princess Diana stopped off at Ritu’s retail outlet in London and picked up a few Shalwar-Khameez ensembles.
Following in Ritu Kumar’s footsteps are Mona Lamba and Pali Sachdev (Mona-Pali) of Calcutta and Muzaffar and Meera Ali (Kotwara) of Lucknow who have taken it upon themselves to salvage the dying art of their local embroidery techniques.
Talk about Rohit Bal and the first image that comes to mind is that of a diva. Yes….his clothes make you look sexy, cool and with it! But when we talk of “Diva”, it’s Rohit himself we’re referring to. His tantrums and brawls are legendary- (who can forget his outburst at India fashion week a few years ago?) while his parties are even more talked about – Dress To Be Molested was one of the tamer themes he’s had!
If you want a saucy and racy quotable quote, Gudda is the one to oblige and of course, if you want a really daring outfit, he’s the designer you cannot think beyond.
From his link-ups to his health scares (which had the entire country praying for his revival), Rohit Bal is always in the news. It’s no wonder then that he’s a legend, right up there at the top.
From being Rohit Bal’s assistant to dressing the biggest celebrities in the world, Delhi’s Manish Arora has quirked up many a wardrobe with his startlingly bright hues and avant-garde costumes.
His celebrity clientele includes Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Nikki Minaj. And when he’s not busy thinking up extravagant costumes, Manish also designs shoes for Reebok, crockery for Good Earth and make-up for MAC.
Early this year, he was appointed Creative Director for legendary fashion brand Paco Rabbane.
Most notable is his constant visibility at the London and Paris fashion weeks. No other Indian designer is as sought-after internationally as Manish Arora.