The lady who heralded the great change in India’s fashion scene, Ritu Beri, gets candid about her journey so far and the latest collection for her chic clientele.
- What makes Ritu Beri an ace designer? What are your inspirations and motivations?
I am a dreamer. I enjoy impossible situations; I put all my effort to bring challenges to reality. My work is a great moment of dream for me. My work is greatly influenced by my personal state of mind. I love to explore new possibilities and work in an inspired mode, while mostly designing to satisfy myself.
Today after 25 years I still love my work and enjoy fashion immensely. I have always been supported and backed my parents, and my passion for design helped me achieve whatever I have achieved till now. For a successful career, one should be self-motivated and have self confidence in themselves even if it includes breaking the norms. I have learned a lot and evolved tremendously as a designer and even more as a person. Today I have come full circle and know what I should do, and more specifically what not to do.
I grew up watching my parents, who are very well dressed. My mother is beautiful and dresses up stunningly ‘all the time’. I remember as a child, she lit up the army evenings with not just her looks, but her intrinsically impeccable style. She has always had a lovely collection of chiffon sarees which she wore with her trademark pearls. My father was fastidious about his appearance. A natty dresser in unusual colours and he would always wear his clothes with great élan. His socks interestingly offset his clothes. With such fine examples around me, I had to be inspired.
- You have been at the forefront of Indian Fashion ever since it first made its presence felt on the global scene. What was that like? What made you take the risks and initiatives that you did?
I love taking risks and like to carve my own path instead of following any. When I was small, I always wanted to be a doctor. I must honestly admit my doctoral ambitions were somewhere thwarted by the fact that I spent more time musing over how the wardrobe of the medical team should look rather than the more noble and glorious aspects of the trade. Mentally, I was always designing with the doctor’s overcoat with an interesting pocket detail for his stethoscope. My mind would buzz with designs for dressing up the nurses, designing starched headgear and improvising their apron, adding frills at the hem.
It didn’t take me long to figure out that this was my calling. Joining the first batch of NIFT proved to be a turning point in my life. I started my journey in the fashion world with Francios Lesage, as my mentor. He has been my real inspiration. We have had an eighteen year old association; he was my history lesson on the French Brands and their designers.
I became the first Asian to head a French fashion house. Back then not many Indian designers had even done shows in Paris, and for an Indian designer to be heading a French fashion house was an impossible dream. Being featured in one of the best international fashion forecast magazine ‘Promostyl’ was another truly memorable experience.
- Which time period in fashion do you most relate to and why?
Sixty’s and Victorian are my favourite periods in time.
My style is intrinsically feminine – romantic with a flamboyant twist. It’s about enhancing a woman’s individuality and persona. The flow, the cut, the attention to the detail, embroideries, draping; everything interests me since I’m a perfectionist.
Contrast, unpredictable, fun; I love clothes with humour and not like dense water of the Dead Sea. I think more than anything else the person’s personality is the most important. I try not to let my clothes camouflage that. The colours must complement and not over power, the design must enhance and not hide.
- Of all the renowned faces who have adorned your creations, anyone in particular you really enjoyed designing for?
There are many all around the world I loved to dress up; from dignitaries like the former US President Mr. Bill Clinton and Prince Charles to Hollywood stars like Nicole Kidman, Andy Mc Dowell, Elizabeth Jagger, Katie Holmes to Bollywood celebrities like Katrina Kaif, Akshay Kumar, Rani Mukherjee, Madhuri Dixit and Preity Zinta. From Jerry Hall to the prima donnas of the fashion industry like supermodel Laetita Casta, have all worn the Ritu Beri label. Each client is important and I treat them all equally special.
- Tell us about your latest collections, both in couture as well as home décor – the colours, the motifs, the materials, and the design philosophy behind them?
My latest collection celebrates India’s national fabric – KHADI. The collection consists of Indo-western silhouettes and reflects Indian charm, but with a modern flavour. I try to give Khadi a global image, to adapt it to different forms of creativity, instead of restricting it to the image of yesteryears.
The silhouettes are a mix of our rich tradition with a contemporary look. The clothes are easy to wear yet glamorous; essentially an eclectic blend of ghagras, salwars, choga like jackets and easy to wear tops.
Interesting details, a mix of appliqué as well as unusual embroideries embellishes this versatile collection of Khadi for today’s woman. The colour palette ranges from whites to pastels, metallics to blacks enabling the wearer to create her own chromatic world of fantasy. Also, the fifth edition of Baby Beri 2016 is coming soon and all set to rage the ramp with the little toddlers.
- Let’s now keep the creative genius aside and talk about Ritu Beri, the woman. How would you describe yourself? What do you hold most important when it comes to life? What are your much-loved pursuits when not designing?
For me, family has always been a priority and there’s no compromise on work either; it’s all about striking a balance, and we all get there sooner or later.
When working for yourself, you end up working 24×7. I try my best to find equilibrium between achieving all at work and spending time with my daughter, Gia and family. Sometimes I take Gia to office with me. The key is to give your best to whatever you are doing at a certain point in time. It’s about quality rather than quantity.