Designer Ritu Kumar© GettyImages

Ritu Kumar On Making A Comeback To The Runway With ICW 2023

Salva Mubarak
Senior Features Writer

ICYMI, India Couture Week 2023 has kicked off and among the many designers presenting their couture collections on the runway, one designer’s showcase is the most eagerly anticipated one. Veteran designer Ritu Kumar is making a comeback to ICW after more than a decade.

The couturier, who counts royalty as her patron, is presenting a collection that marries her label’s rich legacy with modern-day sensibilities. Just ahead of her runway showcase tonight, Kumar sits down with HELLO! for a chat about her decision to make a comeback to ICW, current Indian fashion landscape and more…

HELLO!: You’re making a comeback after more than a decade with this edition of ICW, so what made you decide to present a couture collection this time?

Ritu Kumar: “We have been on the ramp once in Bombay with the revival of Benaras weaves and once more with the collection of Ajrakh and crafts of Rajasthan – these needed to be highlighted with a fashion show. Post this came Covid. We have not been on the ramp for the Couture Week for many seasons and so this season, there is a sense of a revival of our efforts at the couture line over the years. It was time to bring back our line with our own clear handwriting but tweaked to give it a contemporary feel.”

Ritu Kumar for ICW 2023©Ritu Kumar

H!: Can you tell us what we can expect from the showcase?

RK: “The use of old age patterning and techniques which are customised for the young Indian of this millennium. The collection encapsulates a new feminine aesthetic through heritage textiles and nuanced classicism on dresses, jackets, capes and anarkalis. This season, the legacy stays intact while the mood mirrors the style of today’s India.”

H!: How do you think has the Indian fashion consumer evolved over the years?

RK: “The next-gen of fashion belongs to the Millennials and Gen Z. A lot is dictated by what they see on the ramps in both India and Europe. Our collection, across the board, retains the best Indian textile heritage but it’s tweaked to the style set this generation is comfortable with which is bolder and something that has an east and west synthesis.”

Ritu Kumar for ICW 2023©Ritu Kumar

H!: What are the most exciting things about the Indian fashion landscape at the moment?

RK: “Couture is leading the wedding market and is becoming more varied. There’s increased use of Indian textiles and the high skills of Indian embroiderers that are experimenting with varied inputs to create new handwriting. Also, now the craft people are being given as much credit for their role in creating masterpieces.”

Ritu Kumar for ICW 2023©Ritu Kumar

H!: What do you have to say about the state of traditional crafts and artisanship revival and how far we have to go?

RK: “Indian crafts have seen a revival and have created relevance for themselves in this country post-independence, which very few other countries have seen, most traditional textiles have been delegated to museums in most cultures while they are still present to be worn on an everyday basis in India. To customise for a younger market with designs which have lasting aesthetics is not difficult, one has to be confident not to come off the path too much, but play with shapes and style keeping the richness of the textiles alive. I am looking forward to seeing a newer interpretation of our traditional line which works for a younger generation.”

H!: What would be your advice for someone seeking to be more mindful of Indian techniques and craftsmanship, especially with regard to fashion?

RK: “Indian textiles have a technology that sometimes can be as complex as studying medicine. There is no easy answer to get to Indian techniques but study them; intern with someone who understands before starting on your own, and thereafter the styling and other aspects that are associated with fashion.”