Indian fashion- a domain that was once firmly in control of men. And then a few brave and plucky women barged into the scene and redefined fashion. They did not have it easy. Social and cultural restraints tried to clip their wings. Discrimination and taunts tried to hold them back.
But these ladies persevered. They blazed the trail for their sisters-in-arms. They are an inspiration, they are not just geniuses in their own right but they are fighters as well. Women everywhere can find encouragement and hope from the journey. Their success stories are the stuff of legends.
#girlboss truly defines these stellar women designers! Let us take a sneak peek at their lives.
1. Ritu Kumar
Hands down, she is the doyenne of Indian fashion! She has 50 years of experience in her bag. What surprises many people is that she did not study to become a designer.
In fact, she specialised in Art History and Museology. And her passion for the ancient arts finds reflection in her designs. Her signature is Indian classicism. She has explored this theme on many forms of textiles.
Embellishments and modern silhouettes make her label unique. It is a hit among the global Indian women who love flaunting their roots.
2. Ritu Beri
Ritu Beri is the true-blue ‘global Indian’. They sing her praise worldwide! Ritu Beri received her training in fashion designing at the National Institute of Fashion Technology, Delhi. She is the first designer from Asia to head a French couture brand- Jean-Louis Scherrer.
Her forte is embroidery. Rich, delicate needlework is the centre-piece of her uber-luxurious label. Bill Clinton, Ivanka Trump, Nicole Kidman and most Bollywood superstars have showcased her designs.
3. Neeta Lulla
She is the designer moviemakers go to. If a movie needs gorgeous, thematic and period costumes, then Neeta Lulla is the one you need.
She draws her inspiration from nature. Her style is fluid. It keeps evolving. The fusion of ethnic and western is the name of her game. An interplay of vibrant and pastel colours forms the background of her outfits. Her preferred canvases are georgette, silk and chiffon. Low necklines are her signature. She has designed outfits for all occasions- wedding, office, parties and nights-out.
Neeta Lulla is also vocal domestic violence. She uses her influence and popularity to advocate the cause of women.
4. Anamika Khanna
Jodhpur is this prima donna’s muse. She draws inspiration from the majestic silhouettes and lines of the cityscape. Anamika Khanna is also popular with movie-makers. Celebrities turn to her to style their outfits for magazine shoots or the red carpet.
Anamika Khanna loves working with soft palettes and shades of ivory and black. Many layers and painstaking embroidery and zardozi give her outfits a stately look. She is famous for designing Avant-garde sarees and saree dresses.
5. Payal Singhal
Wedding collection is Payal Singhal’s forte. She believes in making wedding outfits practical. But that does not mean she compromises on style. She infuses her outfits with contemporariness and modern aesthetics.
She designs clothes for a generation of women who grew up in western outfits. Certain occasions call for an ethnic look. And women who usually wear trousers and tees/shirts are not comfortable with them.
Payal Singhal set out do design oriental clothes that factor in comfort. Her line of bridal wear features light and breezy lehengas and sarees. She is fond of pastel shades and light jewellery motifs. She had once said that she would not design something that she would be unwilling to wear.
6. Rina Dhaka
She is the prophet of new-age Indian fashion. Her designs are edgy, bold and strong- perfect for the modern woman. She is comfortable with a wide selection of textiles. Rina Dhaka has designed stunners with leather, pashmina, georgette, chiffon and organza.
Flares, peplum, embroidery and lacework are her speciality. She designs only western outfits. Skirts, trousers, drapes, jackets, tops, woollens are her speciality. Her ensembles comprise of pieces that women can also wear as separates
7. Archana Kochhar
Archana Kochhar’s designs appeal across the generations. Anarkalis and sarees are her domain. And she has changed the way people look at these traditional outfits. Her designs are about sensuality and the wonders of the female figure.
That is why her outfits have soft yet clear lines and they hug the body. They can be austere or flamboyant. Archana Kochhar loves experimenting with zari and sequins. Her lehengas feature stunning bustles and flowing skirts. Her sarees incorporate the latest trends. They are usually light and breathable.
8. Anita Dongre
She is the founder of not one but four brands! She swears by jewel tones, Indian silhouettes and floral motifs. Anita Dongre has dabbled with every component of a woman’s wardrobe. She is as comfortable with sarees and lehengas as she is with jumpsuits, tops and dresses. Her outfits have sharp but feminine lines. Her line of bridal clothes (Anita Dongre Label) is grand and majestic. These lehengas and sarees feature-heavy floral embroidery. The wide skirts contain painstaking details that will remind you of flowers and vines of the wild. She often uses organza and net.
Her label AND caters to the needs of the 21st-century woman. This range includes both western and eastern outfits. Radical new styles define this range. Soft colours and summery textiles make AND outfits a rage in India. AND is Anita Dongre’s gift to young women. Uber-stylish outfits at an affordable price are the philosophy of this label.
The label Grassroots brought Anita Dongre international claim. This range features kurta sets, dresses, ethnic tops and lehengas. Every outfit looks and feels luscious. This label displays Indian textiles and craft.
The name of her other label Global Desi says it all. Soft motifs, breathable fabric and pretty colours define this range. For Global Desi, she from inspiration from Rajasthan’s folk art.
Masaba Gupta brings her intellectual drive to the table. A voracious reader, literary characters often inspire her. And she designs a collection based on that character. She aims to breathe in modernity to ethnic designs. But she balances contemporariness with a dose of tradition.
She is famous for her unusual drapes and silhouettes. She borrows from the Tamil script and ancient rock art, which she works into cotton and muslin. Her kurtas, dresses, sarees, dhotis, jumpsuits and jackets have a universal appeal.
She wowed the fashion world when she redesigned the classic Levi’s Jacket with her famous cow motif. Her youthful and innovative styles make her very popular among Bollywood A-listers.
What is the secret behind Masaba’s quirky style? Her Indian-African lineage and her mother’s unique sense of fashion. She is a staple at fashion weeks. She may be young, but she is a force to reckon with.
10. Surily Goel
Surily Goel’s designs map the phases of a woman’s life. They reflect her moods and state of mind- shyness, wonder, ambition, passion and sensuousness. Surily Goel is fond of bright tropical colours.
She designs for the independent and strong woman who is not afraid to experiment with her looks. Her collection features trousers, tops, jackets and dresses. Each features clear lines, bling and layers.
11. Puja Nayyar
Puja Nayyar is an innovator. She invents new techniques for constructing garments. She is famous for her surface embroidery and linear lines.
Her designs are grand and majestic. She shifts from western to a blend of ethnic and global with ease.
12. Ridhi Mehra
Ridhi Mehra is into niche fashion. Her designs symbolize heritage and class. Her favourite textiles are organza, satin and silk. Metallic hues with a blinding shine are her staple.
She loves to incorporate western details to ethnic outfits. Ridhi Mehra has redefined the modern saree and lehenga.
13. Asmita Marwa
Asmita Marwa believes in fashion with a conscience. That is why her outfits are eco-friendly. Her degree in psychology helps her explore the human mind through designs. Asmita has an imaginary muse- Maya.
Aspects of Maya exist in every woman. That is why Asmita designs outfits for a free spirit who is independent, strong and happy. She has designed costumes for the Telegu film industry.
14. Anjana Seth
Another designer with a conscience, Anjana wants to revive India’s dying textile and handlooms. Her works pay tribute to Indian tribal art.
Her designs feature bright colours and practical cuts. Her favourite textiles are khadi and silk.
15. Anaita Shroff Adajania
This lady has been on the board of major fashion magazines. Her immaculate sense of fashion made headlines when she designed costumes for some major Bollywood hits like the Dhoom series, Cocktail and Love Aj Kal.
16. Lucky Morani
Lucky Morani is a regular at Indian fashion weeks. She wears many caps. She is a theatre personality, an event manager and a movie actor.
All these women designers can teach us a lesson. How to survive in a brutal world and make a name for yourself. They have proved that masculine superiority is a myth.