Designer Ritu Beri, undoubtedly the poster girl of Indian fashion in the 90s, has become the first Indian to be appointed cultural and tourism ambassador for Uzbekistan in India. “India and Uzbekistan have a lot in common, like twins living apart. I was introduced to this amazing land when the first lady of Uzbekistan came to India in October 2018 and the country’s ambassador, Farhod Arziev, invited me to present a collection for her.
I again presented a show in Uzbekistan the following month and was so inspired and fascinated by the country and their fabric—ikat—that I created a whole new collection, which I presented at the Uzbekistan Embassy in March this year. With this collaboration, I plan to explore and work towards newer opportunities for both the countries in areas related to fashion, culture, tourism, food, technology and more.”
A protégé of the French embroidery maestro, Francois Lesage, Ritu was among the first faces of Indian fashion in Europe. She launched her label in 1990 when India was still awakening to the couture era and became the first Asian designer to head a French fashion house—Jean- Louis Scherrer. “I trained with Lesage during 1994 and in 1998; I launched my maiden luxe collection in Paris. Post that I have extensively showcased around the globe in cities such as Beijing, Mauritius, New York, Washington, Morocco, Russia, Cairo and more,” she says of her fashion journey.
By her own admission, she enjoys impossible situations, putting all her efforts to bring challenges to reality. One such challenge was making khadi a fashionable fabric. The designer says, “It was not easy. No job is easy unless it’s fully thought over and conceptualised with a vision. Once you do that, the process becomes comparatively easier.” Former US president Bill Clinton and Hollywood names such as Nicole Kidman have sported her creations. But for Ritu, the sari remains a timeless fashion piece and her muse is “every woman—women who I dress, who I see, who I work with. Each woman has a journey of her own and a beautiful story to share.”
This designer, who believes that true luxury is exclusive, unique and is not easily accessible, finds My Fair Lady, one of the most fashionable films of all times. Despite the gowns and tiaras in the film, Ritu’s own idea of fashion is comfort. An admirer of Kate Moss for her innate ability to carry off anything she wears, the designer says, “I like it when people dress according to their body type and not just because it’s trending. For example, one fashion trend that absolutely makes me cringe, is socks with sandals.”
A true designer, Ritu believes exquisite craftsmanship cannot be sold at a low cost. Of late, she has kept away from showing her work at fashion weeks. “I work on an inspired mode. If there is a possibility, I will definitely look at doing it. Now, I am taken up with the amalgamation of Uzbekistan’s ikat and India’s khadi.
That’s the most inspiring trend for me right now,” she smiles. The designer set up Blessed Hearts Foundation, a charity for children, in November 2008 with the intention to uplift the condition of the less fortunate. It provides education, nourishment and healthcare support, thus a better future for children. She also runs a non-profit foundation, The Luxury League—India’s first most powerful and influential platform for branding India globally. “There is no better way to appreciate India than by celebrating India’s rich cultural legacy through its various art forms. We believe that the essence of luxury lies in our heritage,” she signs off.