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Designer Rachel Roy talks about Indian connect

The gorgeous designer shares her Indian heritage, her thoughts on desi fashion and dressing up First Lady Michelle Obama.

fashion and trends Updated: Nov 02, 2012 17:17 IST
Snigdha Ahuja

We caught up with celebrated designer Rachel Roy during her recent visit to the Capital and spoke to her about her Indian connect, launch of her collection in the country, dressing up Mrs Obama and more.

On her visit to India
I have been wanting to work in India for a few years now, and I am happy that I’m finally getting to do that. I’m part Dutch and part Indian, as my father is from Madras. But, I am visiting the country almost after twenty years.

Indian influences at home
My father was and still is very strict. We had an absolute no-television policy at home. How I present myself, the food, respecting elders — all of this I learned from growing up in a very Indian household. But, it’s sad that I don’t speak any Indian languages. Me and my brother had to find work by the age of 14, and I initially got into retail, and eventually designing and having my own label.

An eye on desi designers
Well, when it comes to Indian designers, I am only familiar with those who work abroad. We are actually a very tight-knit community back in New York. I am close to designers Naeem Khan, Prabal Gurung and Bibhu Mohapatra — who I have known for many years. We as a close Asian community stick together, whether it is for shows, for work or at dinners.

On the filmy front
I haven’t seen many Bollywood movies and l don’t watch much of American TV either. My escape was not television, but fashion magazines, and I still have them saved in my studio. But, one person I do like to watch on screen is Freida Pinto. I really admire all her work and she is also a good friend.

Dressing up Michelle Obama
The first time she wore my designs, it was a great feeling. She wore a dress which was available in the stores, and by that I think she was making a point. It was her own way of helping the economy during the recession by buying something which was just off the racks. She didn’t ask for a custom-made dress, thus I had no idea about the whole thing. But, after Michelle wore it, the dress sold really well. I still haven’t got a chance to meet her, but now I work with her team and I have dressed her many times.

Indian fashion flavour gone global
There are things that are very Indian in their style and make but have become global. For example, if you see jersey dresses, their drape is like that of a sari’s. Designers like Vera Wang and Donna Karan do them a lot. At the recent fashion week in New York, I was at the front row of Marchesa, and the label was entirely inspired by the country. In fact, the designers for the brand, Georgina and Keren are both highly influenced by the country. Georgina even named her daughter India! There are also other small things like the hand and body chains that I wear, that are very typically Indian. In the US, people want to be enlightened and they look at India closely because of its cultural richness and spirituality. Whether it be the influence of people like Deepak Chopra or Yoga —they are constantly looking for ways to make their lives better.