She is a global figure in fashion but her works go far beyond simple fashion statements. They can be aptly described as supremely stylistic expressions where colours and cuts, fabrics and embroidery have created enduring art forms for generations to admire.
Her sense of style extends to her dynamic personality too. In fact, when you meet Ritu Beri, you cannot help admiring her innate sense of style, irrespective of whether she is dressed in a pair of casual jeans and t-shirt or in a designer wear.
Ritu is extremely elated over the fact that Indian fashion has come of age in the international fashion arena. “These days, India’s fashion is spotted on the fashionable ramps of the world and is a huge source of inspiration,” opines Ritu, omitting to mention her immense contribution in giving Indian fashion industry global recognition.
However, she doesn’t need to, for the prominence of her works, like her ravishing beauty, speaks for itself. If Indian fashion has gained international recognition in the present decade, with so many of our designers showcasing their creations abroad, then the credit for this must go to fashion diva, Ritu Beri, who was the first to give Indian fashion industry global acceptance.
The first Indian fashion designer to showcase her creations on the catwalks of Paris, and the first Asian designer to lead renowned French fashion house, Scherrer, Ritu can be credited for giving the connoisseurs and creators of fashion in the West the glimpse of the style of a fast evolving modern nation, which is still seen often through a mystical perception.
She showed the West that the so-called land of sadhus and snake charmers can also produce a creator who can match the best designers in the West, and easily dress their most powerful and trendiest celebrities.
“Yes, I was the first Indian designer to present a collection in Paris. I must admit I was mesmerised by the fashion scene there. I believe Paris is one place where style is inspired and fashion thrives,” says Ritu, recollecting her first date with Paris’s fashion scene. “In 1995, I presented a collection in India inspired by France, after spending three months in Paris working with Francois Lesage atelier during the haute couture week in Paris,” she adds.
The Budding of a Fashion Genius
An alumni of National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), New Delhi, who did her schooling from Army Public School, Dhaula Kuan, in New Delhi, Ritu launched her label way back in 1990 when Indian fashion industry was at a nascent stage; just awakening to the couture era.
She was amongst the first batch of 25 students at NIFT, who were selected from a plethora of applicants across the nation. After her graduation from the Delhi University in 1987, Ritu’s innate creativity in fashion designing took shape in the form of designing clothes for herself, and her close friends. Soon, in 1988, she enrolled at NIFT and by December 1990, she came with her first fashion studio, whose aesthetic name perhaps reflected her potent aesthetic vision.
Lavanya, her fashion studio, became a runaway success story. Since then there has been no looking back in her journey through glamour and success, awards and accolades, where immense talent and great hard work were her mainstays.
The name of her company is Ritu Beri Designs Pvt. Ltd. “I joined the industry with my label in December 1990, more than two decades earlier,” she recollects with a smile. Within the short span of two decades she has become an institution in the Indian fashion industry.
Inspirations and Favourites
Ritu considers Francois Lesage, the legendary French embroiderer, known as the guru of embroidery, her mentor and inspiration. “We have had an eighteen-year-old association; he was my history lesson on the French brands and their designers,” says Ritu.
Ritu trained with Francois Lesage in Paris during 1994.She considers herself as a protégé of Lesage, who passed away in December 2011. Lesage, too, seemed greatly impressed by the fountain of creativity that cascaded in Ritu’s mind. He describes her works as “Amazing, modern, fabulously coloured, respectful of Indian tradition, innovative.”
According to him, “Ritu’s collection appears to me as a young and talented expression of her sensibility. Her work, especially for me, is a great moment of dream, close to the reality of a talent in constant evolution into perfection. Ritu’s contemporary expression has given to an Indian tradition of clothes a mood of the Yves Saint Laurent collection of the 80s.”
Before Francois Lesage, Ritu’s early influences were her parents. Her father and mother, with their immaculate dress sense and intrinsic style, cast an enduring influence on her fashion sense and sensibilities at an early age.
Besides the inspirations she has her favourites too. “I have my all time favorites like Yves Saint Laurent for his classic cuts and Ralph Lauren for his unique depiction of sophistication. I like the fact that they are understated with a distinct identity,” concurs Ritu.
Among the models, her favourite is Mehr Jessia. “She was a true clotheshorse and always focused first on the clothes she was wearing and then on herself,” states Ritu fondly, as she remembers her creative works with the yesteryears’ supermodel.