Dressing Dolls To Dazzling Stars
Watching skinny models in fancy clothes one gets an impression that fashion is all about wearing stylish dresses. However, Jaipur based fashion designer Kirti Rathore debunks this false notion of fashion.
“Fashion is not about fancy dresses. It is a reflection of one’s personality. It also expresses a person’s mood,” said the designer popular for designing wardrobe of Bollywood stars including Arbaaz Khan, Shridevi, Boney Kapoor, Arjun Kapoor and Manish Paul. Apart from them she has partly designed clothes for Amitabh Bachhan, Kareena Kapoor and Varun Dhawan.
Among her clientle, there are number of television actors. “They all love my cuts, fitting and styling which I give,” she said.
Designing clothes may be a complex art but Kirti’s fashion matra is quite simple. “Carrying yourself confidently with ease is fashion,” she said. According to her one must look confortable in what he or she wears.
Nonetheless, she has a distinguished style. She effortlessly blends rich traditional design with modern style. During her first major show “Rajasthan Fashion Week” in 2012, where top fashion designers like Ritu Kumar, Vikram Phadnis, Anita Dongre, Lina Tipnis were participating, she used unconventional colours for menswear. “I didn’t even know the basics of a fashion show and ramp walk. It was a completely new thing for me but I accepted the challenge and designed the collection in just 20 days,”she said.Doing something different is her forte. And, not afraid of experiementing, Kirti did something unexpected of a new designer. “Usually, brown, beige and black are preferred colours for menwear but I used vibrant colours, which was an out of box thinking. People noticed this out of box thinking. In fact, it was a turning point for men’s outfit,” she said with a twinkle in her eyes.
If that was not shocking enough, contrary to general practice of using gorgeous models, Kirti used special kids to walk the ramp. “It was lucky that Vivek Oberoi was the showstopper of the show. He liked my work and idea of
giving platform to the special kids. In fact, everyone appreciated and applauded this noble gesture. And, I haven’t looked back since then,” said the designer who is now planning to showcase her work to international arena.
“I want my brand to be recognised abroad. We have done lot of shows overseas namely Spain, Valencia and Vancouver. It is not just about the brand but highlighting Rajasthan as well in Milan Fashion Week and Paris Fashion Week,” she said.
Talking about challenges in a fiercely competitive profession, Kirti said desiging clothes for men was not an easy deicison. People criticised and made fun of her. But, she was determined to prove them wrong. “I took up this challenge and showed people that why can’t a female be into menswear,” she said. Those who ask her about opting for menswear, Kirti replies with a counter question – when Manish Malhotra can design for Rekha, why can’t Kirti Rathore design for Amitabh Bachchan.
“I feel proud of myself when people say that “Wow! She is the only female who is a menswear designer.”
The decision wasn’t taken in haste but there was also a logic behind it. Kirti explained, “Earlier men had one or two suits that too in limited two or three colours while women had varied options from traditional saree, salwar suits to western outfits like suit, or gown for different occasions but today men don’t restrict themselves to just suit, they also opt for different clothes depending on the event.”
Behind every success story, there is lot of sweat and
sorrow. Kirti too had her share of both. She lost her father at a very young age. Later, when she was denied permission to join fashion industry because her mother wanted her to become civil servant. “I always wanted to be fashion designer. As a child, I often stood before the mirror, trying different outfits over me, watching myself. I often stitched clothes of my doll,” she revealed.
However, just two months after joinging National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) in Delhi, She returned to Jaipur to appear in RAS. But, an early marriage blocked that option as well. “Here I was a career oriented woman, had become a typical housewife,” she said. No surprise that she asks girls not to marry early. “First opt for a career and make yourself independent only then get married” opines Rathore.
Now, comes the sweating part. In 2010, she began with her marginal saving of Rs 5000 and one second hand sewing machine bought on installements. She had her husband’s moral support but no financial help. “It wasn’t as if he couldn’t help or care for my wish but he didn’t want me to do anything just for timepass rather he wanted me to pursue a career if I was really passionate about. A career in which I could really grow and make a future.”
She hired a karigar and started from garage of her home. Initial orders came from relatives for weddings and other occassions. The mouth publicity brought new customers but it wasn’t enough to sustain the business. The profit went into buying new machines and paying their installements.
Later, she decided to do bulk manufacturing. She got an idea of doing uniforms for the hotels. The first order was from Chomu Palace. She was expecting her second child yet drove 70 km daily to and fro to Chomu. But, the risk was worth taking as this order helped her financially and allowed her to expand the business. Two years later, Rajasthan Fashion Week became turning point of her career. Speaking about career opportunities in the industry, Kirti said there was a time people didn’t consider fashion industry in a greater way. Today, it has become a popular career choice. “Fashion industry has witnessed a rapid boom. There is immense potential for students not just in designing clothes but various other aspects like retailing, merchandising, designing wardrobe, fashion writer etc.”