Photo: India Today Group/Getty Images
Fashion designer, Ritu Beri was among the first few Indian designers to head a French design house. A published author and designer to some of the most famous people in the world, she understands the intricacies of the art as well as the business of fashion.
Excerpts from the interview:
Ranvijaysinh Jhala: Tell us about your journey as one of the pioneers of Indian fashion.
Ritu Beri: It has been a great creative voyage for me! We were among the pioneers in the business and we had no map to follow. For me, it was totally instinctive and I did all that I thought would work. As I went along, my most satisfying time was at Scherrer. I was the first Asian to head a French fashion house and it was a heady feeling. 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.
RJ: What kind of businesswoman would you say you are?
RB:I see myself only as a creative person; an intelligent, creative person, who knows how to extend one’s creativity into business as well. As a creative person in business, I follow my unique artistic ways of nurturing my ambition.
RJ: How would you describe the brand Ritu Beri?
RB: Ritu Beri, the designer, is known to be a pioneer with many firsts. I love taking risks and like to carve my own path, without following any set patterns or ways. I am a perfectionist and I’m easily bored by mediocrity.
RJ: What has been your process of evolution as a designer?
RB: The experience was fabulous. My designs represent my journey as a human being, a true representation of all the influences that I have had in my life; most importantly, in India and Paris. I have learnt a lot and evolved tremendously as a designer and even more as a person.
RJ: What does luxury mean to you?
RB: The definition of luxury has certainly changed through the years. There was a time when luxury was available only to the rarefied and aristocratic world of old money and royalty. Luxury wasn’t simply a product; it was a lifestyle, one that denoted a history of tradition, superior quality and offered a pampered buying experience. For me, true luxury is exclusive, unique and not easily accessible.
RJ: How would you describe luxury in India?
RB: History shows us that some of the largest fortunes were spent by our royalty on luxury and its products: the extravagance of the Cartier jewellery bought by the Patiala family, the Louis Vuitton luggage and, not to forget, the French chiffons worn by the Jaipur royal ladies. But, India today, is witnessing that luxury is no longer only the preserve of the royals. When India opened up to the world, in 1990, luxury entered a new consumer class, which comprised a large population of young working people, with increased international travel and real brand awareness. Hence, lifestyle and the habits of Indians have shifted from austerity to complete self-indulgence. Indians are now unapologetic about spending lavishly on luxury goods.
RJ: And couture in India?
RB: India is no stranger to couture culture. Indian designers are primarily couture designers, so Indian consumers are aware of high fashion outfits. Our weddings are a great example of our couture culture. Bridal wear is a big part of couture in India. Eventually, designers try blending the old charm of traditional embroidery with a modern flavour in western silhouettes.
RJ: Name some legends that have inspired you.
RB: I have been a big fan of Yves Saint Laurent for his classic cuts, Ralph Lauren for his unique depiction of sophistication and Alaïa for his genius. An international name in fashion that epitomised luxury dressing would have to be the late Yves Saint Laurent. This was before he retired and left the brand.
RJ: What’s your personal style statement?
RB: My style is intrinsically feminine and romantic, with a flamboyant twist. It is about enhancing a woman’s individuality and persona. Also, I love for women to look glamorous. A unique item in my wardrobe is a pair of gorgeous one-of-a-kind crocodile shoes, which I purchased on my last trip to Paris. Yves Saint Laurent had designed them for his last show. It is the only pair of its kind in the world and I have it!
RJ: What does the future hold for you?
RB: I continue doing my work with passion but what I enjoy most are challenging projects that I feel are worth my time. I want to explore the impossibilities and work in an inspired mode only to satisfy myself and my passions. I dream of writing many inspirational books and more than anything else, I keep doing my bit for charity. I am involved greatly with The Blessed Hearts Foundation, a charity that works to improve and uplift the condition of the less-than-fortunate children. We work to raise funds for autism and create greater awareness for the same.
RJ: What are your thoughts on a 10th anniversary?
RB: 10 is a powerful number and signifies a new start. I just returned from attending a friend’s 10th wedding anniversary in the South of France. They were joined by their three kids, along with 100 friends, from all over the world. It was an amazing weekend of celebration and positive energy.
NOW WATCH: Executive Life videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.