It was in the late 1960`s that Ritu Kumar was to become the country`s leading designers of the buildings, garments, fabrics and accessories. Ritu began with hand block printers and two tablets in a small village near Kolkata. She was the first woman to introduce the `boutique` culture in India under the brand name `Ritu`. And in the last 28 years, Ritu`s team of dedicated designers have progressed to produce some of the country`s most exquisite garments and accessories in cotton, silk and leather. This range embraces both traditional textile crafts and the lineage of Indian design.
Ritu has pioneered the term `fashion` in the Indian context, and more importantly has demonstrated that hand made products can be as profitable and even more glamorous than those made by the machine. And that Indian fashion is more than capable of holding it`s own in the international arena of haute couture. Her couture is readily recognizable by its classicism, and finesse. Ritu Kumar`s forte is traditional Indian clothes, that draw heavily on the textile and embroidery heritage of India and remains classics of their kind. But she evolved another style for European buyer. Her Indo-West fusion wear has all the trappings of block prints, embroidery and craft inputs on a western style.
Her design philosophy is based on the premise that everything founded on a good aesthetic cuts across all borders - be they geographical, cultural or otherwise. This very aesthetic is the factor central to the Indian handwriting which underlies her creations.
Ritu has been designing the wardrobes comprising swimwear, evening wear, traditional Indian wear, casual wear and formal evening gowns. Ritu`s global achievements include the wardrobes comprising of the winning three Miss India`s, for their participation in the International beauty pageants (Miss Universe, Miss World & Miss Asia Pacific respectively), like Manpreet Brar, Ruchi Malhotra, Rani Jeyraj and Lara Dutta, to name a few. All these have won the award for the Most Outstanding Evening Gown in International pageants.
Today, Ritu has twelve outlets in all major cities in India. Ritu Kumar`s boutiques feature a multifaceted showcase encompassing the very best of Indian design, with specially produced range of high fashion garments and accessories using silk, leather and cotton. Ritu Kumar`s range of western and Indian apparel is all about tradition and individual talent, and women across the continents can easily identify with her vision of design. International style icons such as Late Princess Diana, and Jemima Khan wear her outfits, putting her designs and India`s talent on the world map. Ritu has also launched her book ` Costumes and Textiles of Royal India` published by Christie`s, London.
In sync with these evolving trends, in April 2002 Ritu Kumar launched her new sub brand, LABEL. This is a reflection of modern and global trends that shape our lives today. LABEL caters to 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 very highest quality.
Ritu Kumar presented her exquisite collection of Indian prêt that is true to her signature style. The Uzbek and Africa inspired prints on crepes, washed denims with tonal understated embroidery, badla work and her trademark zardozi on silks and patchwork were innovatively presented through the colours of evening desert, spices and classic blacks and whites. The jackets, blouses, skirts and jeans are all a part of the Label winter line. The finale for the show was a peek at Ritu`s new `Ri` collection. It had zardozi embroidery, which gave a metallic sheen to the fabrics and was patterned with stylized paisleys to create the enriched sophisticated look that the designer is so well known for.
Ritu`s collection was a perfect blend of classic and contemporary fashion. Silhouettes were simple and contemporary. Skirts were dhoti wraps, pants were mostly cut offs, and tops were slinky, often printed with stylised Hindu iconography. Her colours were hot and fiery in fact the first element of the show was redolent of Andalucian passion, choreographed to a flamenco beat. This is true global fusion: Ritu co-ordinated sarong wraps over cargo pants in Indian colours. The finale was the Ritu Kumar traditional bridal line: sensual saris in net that hugged the figure and shimmered with delicate appliquéd Banarsi buttis, and sumptuous ghagra cholis in sophisticated dusty colours.
Ritu Kumar`s collections this year featured an exhaustive range of crinkled skirts teamed with an assortment of tops. The controlled volumes of the crinkled georgette and chiffon skirts were seen in colours of red, pink, maroon, black, turquoise, fuchsia and cobalt blue. The design elements consisted of solid jewel colours, typical Ritu prints, and embroideries. An interesting variation was brought in by combining elements from the costumes of Rajasthani and Gujrati gypsies with those of Spanish origin. The skirts were embellished with zardozi embroidery, and some were even teamed with sueded silk-thread embroidered jackets. Another interesting line was the western wear range in faded denims and worked on with floral patterned vintage appliqués and embroideries. The fitted skirts, capris, jackets and pants were pretty and feminine. The lines of white and pastel kurtas teamed with skirts and churidars, and gota work odhni`s were equally elegant.
Ritu`s collection drew inspiration by the regions around the river Indus. Ritu, a well-known revivalist of Indian crafts concentrated on block prints, weaves and the use of kari. Embellishments were kept around the neck area and often resembled majestic necklaces. Ritu made rich use of kari and weaves embroidery in predominantly handloom cotton fabric. There were a lot of full bias cut tiered skirts, finished with coin hangings at the bottom-these were teamed with short kurtis and embellished t-shirts.The whole collection had a feel of a relaxed casual elegance, thanks to the use of cottons and easy cut kurta tops. She also teamed an embellished t-shirt with dhoti style pants.
Wills Lifestyle IFW 2006
The collection was very varied in essence. It included a vast collage of anthropological resources used to represent cultures that have similar textile repertoires in a modern contemporary handwriting shining through India`s vocabulary.