She was considered one of the promising young faces when she burst on to the Indian fashion scene in the 1980s and today has clients like Naomi Campbell, Martha Marzotto and Uma Thurman, to name a few. Designer Rina Dhaka says when she joined the industry, there was no concept of money or trade and the world of Indian fashion was a different one altogether.
In an interview with IANS, the designer reflected upon the changes in the fashion industry.
“When we came in, there was no concept of money or trade. We came in because there was art and craft and fun, and we wanted to make clothes between a muse and the fact that late (designer) Rohit Khosla in a beautiful house in Maharani Bagh had a 1,000 sq ft place for a single tailor who made my clothes. There was no bill ever, we just made them and worked from show to show.
“It was a different world altogether. We did these shows aiming to dress up the models; nobody in the fashion industry cared about the audience, nobody cared about why we were doing it. Today, the concept has really changed, it’s all about business. And some designers, as a result, have done extremely well,” Dhaka told IANS.
The designer has showcased her work at The Louvre Paris, Metropolitan museum, New York, London, Mauritius, South Africa, Dubai, Singapore, Hong Kong and the US. She has been retailing in the US, Munich, Hong Kong and in over 20 boutiques within India and abroad.
Dhaka, known for contemporary women’s wear, has recently launched an exclusive line for multi-designer boutique Amaare in the capital.
She considers herself lucky to have arrived in the industry in the “non-commercial phase of fashion”.
“I was lucky because we came up during a non-commercial phase of fashion. We had great space to work in. It was great how we felt parallel to Andy Warhol in the 1960s, when the art revolution began. We had our own revolution where there was a Hauz Khas village in Delhi that wasn’t so crowded.
“We were a few designers, all were friends, lived in each other’s houses. Nobody thought of each other as competition. It was a joy to be with each other. We’re still the same,” she said of her contemporaries.
As a founder board member of the Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI), the country’s apex fashion body, and as a board member on the Crafts Council of India, she is happy with the way young designers are working nowadays.
“I love the work of young designers we see these days. It’s so out-of-the-box and so phenomenal. It’s incredible and a treat for the ones who make it to this level and whose work can be seen by us. Basically, that means they have gone through the struggle and have produced enough for you to see their collection out there,” Dhaka said.
How about the fascination for Bollywood fashion among the masses’
“I’m a bit tired of this Bollywood aping actually. The stylists decide what the Bollywood celebrities wear these days, then the media, which is backed as a nexus between stylists, the PR companies… Blindly, millions of people are following it, and it is a bit odd for me.”
And the aping of designer brands in the local market’
“It’s a big war out there. There is a world of exhibitions … which has competition from a parallel world and then you go down to a Big Bazaar or online websites which are selling products worth Rs 499. It’s going to boomerang. I don’t know when, but it will,” said the ace designer.
The designer ended up the conversation by saying that she also wants to work with Bollywood, and would love to work with some of the younger stars like Sushant Singh Rajput and Ranbir Kapoor.
(Nivedita can be contacted at Nivedita.email@example.com)