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Issue 42 / Q&A With The Iconic Fashion Designer Ritu Beri

Q&A With The Iconic Fashion Designer Ritu Beri

Mar 18, 2016


The designer stalwart exclusively shares with us her insights on the luxury market and how The Luxury League is important for India. 

An iconic creative presence in Indian fashion, the name Ritu Beri resonates at home and around the globe as an established couturier because she's pretty much done it all. Trained under Francois Lesage, Beri was the first Indian designer to showcase a luxury line in Paris and head the French fashion brand Jean-Louis Scherrer. With over 25 years of experience, she has dressed both international royalty and celebrities such as Prince Charles, Nicole Kidman and Madhuri Dixit-Nene; won accolades that include the Global Excellence Award (2004); authored and published India's most expensive book (Firefly-A Fairytale), costing Rs 1 lakh; and has consulted with luxury retailers such as Harrods, Swarovski and Volvo to name a few.


Ritu Beri at Bangalore Fashion Week.
Photo Credit: www.bangalorefashionweek.in

I caught up with the couturier to talk to her about her recent participation at Prime Minister Modi's Make In India Week (Feb 13), where she was selected to head up panel discussions for The Luxury League, India's first, most powerful and influential platform for branding Indian luxury around the world which she founded. 
 
I asked her about the mission, their goals, how the league planned to tackle the global market and what she's looking to achieve for India in the future along with one or two, unapolegetic fan queries of my own.

Monika Bhondy: How did The Luxury League come about?
 
Ritu Beri: The Luxury League is a passion for me. It's a not-for-profit foundation with a mission, born out of a belief in India's rich heritage and culture. India is sublime luxury, which qualifies us to use luxury as an art form to reflect all that is distinctly Indian and authentically unique. Our desire at the Luxury League is to open the Indian doors to luxury brands from various countries. To learn from the masters and to bring them on board and make the voice of India audible abroad. 
We work to create an increased pool of knowledge and competence and eventually strengthen the influence of India in the Global Luxury industry. The Luxury League epitomizes the spirit of global creativity, perpetuates traditional artisanal skills and subtly sustains the element of fantasy that Indian Luxury has always inspired.
 
The Luxury League organizes roundtables and talks to promote our rich heritage with the culture and creativity through luxury as well as discussing issues related to the luxury industry. The first event was a massive initiative: The Global Design and Innovation Session on February 15, 2015, as part of the prime minister's initiative of Make In India Week in Mumbai. 
 

 
Ritu Beri (right) with Jesse Randhawa.
Photo Credit: Rajesh Karkera/Rediff.com

 

MB: From a scale of one to 10, how important is it to you to get India’s luxury brands beyond India? And Why? 
 
RB: Ten. India is a real treasure trove. It personifies the majesty of our prosperous culture and celebrates a prolific history of luxury. My vision for the future of the Indian luxury industry is infinite. I urge our talented craftsmen, designers and artisans to develop corporate houses and establish strong brand identities by focusing on niche aspects of Indian culture. 

Case in point is that of several Japanese designers who have today established successful international brand names while respecting the spirit of the Japanese culture in their design. This has enabled them to carve out a niche for themselves in the competitive international world. 

As we stride forward in the seventh decade of India's independence, each one of us Indians is obliged to be that cusp of change in order to experience a major transformation that we all dream of and deserve. We need to be that radical change, especially today. India, a young nation, with a vibrant democracy, a sixth of the humanity with our intellect, energy and creativity is poised to grow rapidly. 
 


Ritu Beri speaks at Make It India Week.
Photo Credit: Ritu Beri PR

MB: You recently attended the Make It India Week that took place in Mumbai, tell us what were the main topics that were addressed?
 
RB: At The Global Design and Innovation session we created a pool of talent and had debates to contribute to India's competitiveness. The objective was to examine topics of common interests and elicit mutually enriching feedback. Meetings were organized on brand building, brand communication, design, production, marketing, finance, history and culture. Our speakers were Chantal Thomas, an iconic French lingerie designer; Francis Kurkdjian, a contemporary perfumer; Stephane Parmentier, artistic director of Christofle Paris; French fashion journalist Antigone Schilling; and  Patrick Thomas, the former CEO of Hermes International, to name a few.
 
MB: What was the outcome?
 
RB: The outcome was phenomenal. The Luxury League event discussed the possibilities of Indian brands making a global impact. The speakers at the event were prominent global personalities, creative thinkers, corporate heads and coveted members of the Indian bureaucracy and politicians from India and abroad. 
 
Nirmala Sitharaman, our commerce minister, made a statement that our fashion industry is a dynamic one which brings new things on boards. So far fashion has been away from government trajectory. But now the ministry is actively engaged in promoting fashion in the country.

Patrick Thomas, the former CEO of Hermes, said India offers outstanding product quality, creativity and style, and that it has consistent style along with skilled people.

Vidya Balan said that the versatility of the sari was instrumental in making it a prime choice for most Indian women.


Ritu Beri's hat collection.
Photo Credit: www.rituberi.com

 
MB: How do you mean to incorporate the strategies discussed during Make In India Week to your own company?

RB: The Luxury League, is a not-for-profit foundation established to promote the concept of design, creativity and innovation in India. The main quest is to promote an environment conducive to creative thinking in the luxury sector of India. We embark to initiate an effective global movement through mutual learning and interaction to create opportunities by initiating new conversations that lead to long-term winning strategies and solutions of growth. There are world-wide opportunities. Now is the time to make the luxury movement of India an international force to reckon with.


Ritu Beri Collection t Bridal Asia 08.
Photo Credit: @BCCL via www.highheelconfidential.com

 

MB: Can you tell us how you foresee the role of design in India when it comes to branding a nation?
 
RB: The Indian fashion Industry has undergone a tremendous metamorphosis since I joined the industry back in 1990. Fashion was only a diversion for a small elite. Initially fashion was more to do with rituals dressing like a wedding, festival, etc. but now it’s more about being well dressed all the time. Now people are conscious about what to wear, they want to look good even when they wake up in the morning, which is fantastic! India has been a constant source of inspiration internationally. India is a land of rich culture and heritage. Indian textiles and fashion reflect a splendid past but also cater to the needs and requirements of the modern times. 


Ritu Beri designs at Kids Fashion Week 2015.
Photo Credit: www.fashionandflick.com  

 

MB: Will consumers see more of an international approach to design innovation in the near future from India?
 
RB: Yes the consumers will see more of an international approach to design innovation in the future from India. This event has enhanced the image of India and its culture to the world. It has conveyed the image of the modern Indian style. It has worked to open the Indian doors to luxury brands from various countries and to strengthen the Indian voice.
 
MB: Can you give us a few hints on what you’re currently working on for your own brand? Any collections?
 
RB: Today, more than anything else I am deeply involved in my charity for children, The Blessed Hearts Foundation, that works to improve and uplift the condition of less fortunate children. It also works to raise funds for autism. I’m also deeply involved in the creation of The Luxury League, which is a not-for-profit global foundation established to promote the concept of culture and creativity.
 
MB: With spring and summer around the corner, what are your top three fashion must-haves?
 
RB: Pastel lacy kurtas, chiffon skirts and mulmul layered ensembles. 
 


(L-R) Katrina Kaif and Vidya Balan for Ritu Beri.
Photo Credit: Prashanth Vishwanathan/Stringer India/Reuters and Manav Manglani/Stringer India/Reuters

MB: What is more valuable: creating an innovative, acclaimed line or having a celebrity wear your recent collection? 

 
RB: Both are equally valuable, whether it’s creating an innovative, acclaimed line or having a celebrity wear your recent collection. Creativity and innovation are necessary to refresh a brand and keep the evolution going. A celebrity wearing an outfit creates instant recall and helps promote a brand as more people notice it and imbibe the style. 
 
MB: Being in the industry for a few decades, how do you continue to stay relevant and a force to be reckoned with?
 
RB: I have always enjoyed thinking out of the box and going just beyond making clothes. I dream to take fashion beyond clothes and convert it into an art form. I was blessed to have many firsts to my credit from being the first Asian designer to head the French brand Scherrer to being the first Indian designer to be featured in Promostyl’s magazine Acustyl. It is important for a brand to move and grow with the times to stay relevant to the industry.
 
MB: What can Ritu Beri fans look forward to from you this summer?
 
RB: This summer is about dreamy Georgettes, delicate laces and interesting hand painted easy to wear ensembles.
 
MB: When it comes to design, what would you want India remembered for the most?
 
RB: India is no stranger to luxury. History shows us that some of the largest fortunes were spent by our royalty on luxury and its products. The extravagance of the Cartier jewelry bought by the Patiala family, the Louis Vuitton luggage and not to forget the French Chiffons worn by the Jaipur Royal Ladies.


Ritu Beri Design at Delhi Couture Week 03.
Photo Credit: www.dailymail.co.uk

 

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 also began entering a new generation of a consumer class which consisted of a large population of a young workforce, making serious money 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.

India will be recognized worldwide as the real connoisseurs of luxury and what it stands for.

Main Image Photo Credit: www.rituberi.com

Monika Bhondy

Monika Bhondy

Author

Monika is one of the original members of the ANOKHI dream team and a true jack of all trades. She currently holds the title of Style Editor and is a self-professed style junkie, constantly analyzing the trends from the world's runways to the best buys on the street. She recognizes what is h...

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