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Issue 57 / Q&A With Indian Fashion Designer Anita Dongre

Q&A With Indian Fashion Designer Anita Dongre

Jul 04, 2016


We get inside the mind of one of the most hard-working designers to find out how she stands the test of time while staying true to herself. 

The Mumbai-born, devoted vegan, Indian designer who began her career back in 1995 with the House of Anita Dongre Ltd. has established herself as one of India's leading fashion houses. Dogmatic to say the least, the hard-working designer hasn't stopped or looked back since. Influenced by Rajasthan’s rich heritage, she's built not just a fashion brand but a mini empire mastering bespoke bridal, couture, pret, menswear, western wear, jewelry and eco-friendly designs. When Googling the designer you'll find her name linked to "supreme craftsmanship."  

A success in her own right, she continues to engage with her clientele by unwavering from the cultural aesthetic she's had a long-time love affair with, making it her own by adding a contemporary sensibility in each and every collection. The sub-brands under her empire showcase this well.
 

Anita Dongre: Curated looks in bridal, formal wear, pret and menswear 
 


The Love Notes Campaign by Anita Dongre.
Photo Credit: Anita Dongre   


The Love Notes Campaign by Anita Dongre.
Photo Credit: Anita Dongre   


The Love Notes Campaign by Anita Dongre.
Photo Credit: Anita Dongre   


The Love Notes Campaign by Anita Dongre.
Photo Credit: Anita Dongre   


The Love Notes Campaign by Anita Dongre.
Photo Credit: Anita Dongre   


The Love Notes Campaign by Anita Dongre.
Photo Credit: Anita Dongre   

Pink City: Handcrafted jadau jewellery

Pink City 
Photo credit: (L-R) instagrampinkcity.anitadongre

Grass Root: A tribute to Indian artisans. The handcrafted eco-line. 


Beautiful handbag part of the Grass Root collection.

Photo Credit: Anita Dongre PR 

Her hard work hasn't gone unnoticed. In 2015 CNN featured her in their Growing India series, which was broadcast across 36 countries. Back in 2012, the Queen of Prêt (as she's referred to by Lakmé Fashion Week) was featured in Forbes India who labeled her as "becoming the largest, most profitable and fastest growing Indian designer." 



CNN profile on Anita Dongre.
Photo Credit: www.twitter.com/anitadongre 

Her accolades don't stop there. Dongre received the Inspirational Designer award from FDCI Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week in 2011 and in 2013 the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry Ladies Organization awarded the designer with an Excellence in Fashion Design. An avid philanthropist, passionate not only about the empowerment of women artisans, she's also a big animal rights activist and holds a PETA Approved Vegan Fashion Award (2013). 

The wife, mother, business woman and fashion designer is also a board member at Lakme Fashion Week, mentoring up and coming, next generation designers. With flagship stores in India and Mauritius, the empire of Anita Dongre is expected to reach a turnover in sales of 100 million USD  and if anything helped to contribute to this success we have to give some credit to the global audience she's recently captivated with the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton wearing her Gulrulch tunic dress at her recent trip to India.
 



Dutchess of Cambridge wearing Anita Dongre.
Photo Credit: Getty Images courtesy of Anita Dongre PR

I had the opportunity to connect with the busy designer to ask her about her steadfast passion for her craft, what she holds dear, her thoughts on fashion versus style, celebrity accolades and the future of the House of Anita Dongre.
 

Monika Bhondy: You’re known to be inspired by Rajasthan’s rich heritage, how does that continue to influence your designs today?

Anita Dongre: It is amazing how Rajasthan can keep inspiring. With each trip that I take to the state, I return abuzz with new ideas. That is the magic of Rajasthan.

MB: Since founding the empire in 1995, what has been the most rewarding milestone for you?

AD: Yet to come (She smiles)

MB: What are you currently working on? Can you give us a sneak peek?

AD: I am in the process of closing the Couture Week collection and the Lakme Fashion Week collection. And I am busy with the new flagship store in Delhi. It’s a 12,000 sq. ft. store and I keenly plan the décor for all my stores.

MB: As a vegetarian and member of PETA, how have you incorporated your belief system into your designs? And has it been hard?

AD: It’s not hard. We don’t use leather at all. The entire staff is served vegetarian food. And we also contribute to animal welfare.

MB: I see you've embraced social media with being on Twitter, Instagram etc, how has it worked with your brand awareness?
 
AD: Yes, we are looking into having a presence in North America by next year.

MB: How has the recent global exposure of Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, who wore your Gulrukh dress at her visit to India, impacted you and your company?

AD: It feels great! That outfit got a lot of media attention. It’s nice to have such international reach. I feel honoured that the Duchess chose to wear my label.

MB: Do you think it’s important for a celebrity to endorse a designer in such a public way?

AD: Celebrities make most of their fashion choices to express their personal style; not solely for endorsement. People love to follow the styles of the stars so that ends up benefitting the brand.
 


Sonam Kapoor in Anita Dongre.
Photo Credit: Anita Dongre PR


 Priyanka Chopra and Kalki Koechlin in Anita Dongre.
Photo Credit: www.instagram.com/Anita Dongre

 

MB: What is more important to you, celebrity status or accolades from the fashion fraternity?

AD: Honestly, my consumer is the most important to me. I create for them. They are my critics.

MB: Many leading fashion houses in the west have partnered up with retail chains to produce limited time, more affordable collections (not commonly seen in India) for example H&M & Balmain, would this be something you’d consider if the opportunity arose? 

AD: It is a great concept. I have always believed fashion should be accessible to all. I am all for designers bringing their signature styles into a line that’s more affordable.

MB: What is more important to you? Being fashionable or being stylish?

AD: Personal style rules over fashion.

MB: Name three must-haves in Anita Dongre’s closet that you can’t do without.

AD: I work six days a week so comfy linen pants, a cross-body bag in vegan leather to hold everything, and my iPad!

MB: With three successful sublabels (Anita Dongre, Grass Roots and Pink City) under your brand is there room for branching out to more, say accessories or home décor?

AD: I would love to do décor. I do love designing all the soft furnishings for all our stores. We will do accessories too – all after a year!

MB: If you were to do it all over again, what piece of advice would you give your younger self?

AD: I would change nothing. I did what I had to do and when I had to do it. 

Main Image Photo Credit: Courtesy of Anita Dongre PR

 

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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