For more than a decade now, celebrity fashion designer Ritu Kumar has been a name synonymous with international beauty pageants.
Since 1994, Ritu has dressed up 23 contestants of whom five have emerged winners at the Miss World and Miss Universe contests in the Best National Costume round.
In an interview to HindustanTimes.com, Ritu Kumar talks about the elements that make a winning costume.
What, according to you, makes for a winning costume?
It would be very difficult to say what makes a winning costume as you never know what appeals to the judges and also looks good on the contestant.
However, Indian colours and the exotic Indian-ethnic look has been the hot favourite till now in the global fashion arena, especially at international beauty pageants. I’ve noticed that the national costume for most countries is a plain gown, and it is the exclusivity of the Indian costume that makes it stand apart.
We’ve had many national costume winners in the past like Manpreet Brar, Lara Dutta and Diya Mirza. Each time I’ve emphasised on the Indian exotic look, especially the Rajasthani bridal attire in gold, beige and traditional colours.
Which of the two—sari or lehenga— is more appealing as a national costume and why? What’s your favourite?
Well, my personal choice has always been a sari, as it is the most elegant Indian attire. However, lehenga –choli has a great scope for innovation in terms of the cuts, style and silhouettes. It also adds a lot of volume to your outfit. Also, walking on the ramp has to be a combination of a bit of drama, flamboyance and experimentation and that’s where the lehenga wins over the sari.
You’ve been designing India’s national costume at the Miss Universe contest for more than a decade now. What do you think is the USP?
As I said, the Indian ethnic attire in exotic colours and cuts is what makes for a winning combination at the Miss Universe pageant. And that’s what I feel I is our USP. Besides, I feel that girls are now becoming more aware of the national costume round as it gives them the impetus to do better in the forthcoming rounds and of course the finals.
What have you chosen as the national costume this year?
Well, this year I’ve chosen a Rajasthani lehenga-choli in fuchsia with doti work on it for Miss India-Universe Puja Gupta. Puja is a petite girl and has a good Indian figure. I had to be somewhat careful with the silhouettes, so that the costume helps in accentuating her figure.
Do you feel Puja will bring the crown home again?
I cannot predict the future, but I definitely feel that she would be among the top 10 finalists. Puja is a very confident girl and I think she would do a good job. I really hope that she wins the contest and make us all proud again.