Designers must revive India's dying traditions: Raghavendra Rathore

Kolkata, Feb 18 (IANS) Fashion designers should attempt to "seek and unlock" and "reach out" to bring India's dying textiles and techniques from the shadows back into the limelight, says ace designer Raghavendra Singh Rathore.

"Because fashion is such a communicative medium, it is a responsibility of the designers to do something. All the other design departments, such as jewellery, do not get that advantage," Rathore, famous for patenting the Bandhgala cuts and Jodhpuris, told IANS in an interview.

"It is up to them to seek, unlock and reach out to weavers and craftsmen to help bring dying textiles and techniques to the forefront," he said.

Related to the erstwhile royal family of Jodhpur with a rich legacy of 1,200 years and trained in Manhattan at the Parsons School of Design, Rathore worked at DKNY (Donna Karan New York) and Oscar de la Renta before launching his own label in 1994 under the Rathore Jodhpur brand.

The iconic designer also said seniors in the business had a tremendous responsibility to adopt a different perspective.

"It's a tremendous responsibility for at least the senior designers to once in a while reach out and see the world from a different perspective, not sitting on the top, perhaps sitting down somewhere which is what the weaver sees," he said.

"However it is not a prerequisite. It depends upon the mindset of the designer," Rathore said.

The versatile designer is also known worldwide for his efforts to popularise classic royal dressing with modern twists. He has patented the bandhgala and jodhpur cuts under his label.

According to the couturier, versatility is the calling card of the bandhgala jackets.

"The fact that you can wear jeans and bandhgala jackets and yet have your own style statement or signature style is the most significant factor of the bandhgala. It's so versatile. Gradually breeches are becoming popular," he said.

Rathore has translated his ideas to product, interior, architecture, landscape, corporate uniform and industrial designs and stressed on "business acumen".

"I think business is more important than designing. A good designer, who has good business acumen, can take the basic of designs and make it work. They are like magicians. That is what they do. They make something out of nothing," Rathore told IANS.

For him, the client is supreme and the cultivation of the craft lies in designing specifically for them.

"You have to design for other people. You can keep 10 percent of what you like in your clothes, but you can't design for yourselves. The mistake that people make is that they say: 'Oh, I don't like this fabric and I'm not going to make this for my collection'," said Rathore.

"With FDI (foreign direct investment) opening up, it's going to completely change the landscape. This means that whoever has his business engines running and can synchronise that with the change will survive," he said.

Finally, some suggestions for young designers?

"Young designers have an illusion that they will go to Paris and become a big designer. It doesn't work like that. I suggest you do that and get back to the real business," said Rathore.

"This is where the business is. This is where the future is. Everybody has a different requirement. So you have to understand your market," he said.

(Sahana Ghosh can be contacted at sahana.g@ians.in)

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