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'Everything in fashion has a shelf life'

Designer Raghavendra Rathore on the upcoming Wills Fashion Week in New Delhi, interviewed by Nisha Kundnani.

fashion and trends Updated: Aug 22, 2007 15:56 IST

His father once counselled him, "Son, you will never go hungry because you can draw, sketch and earn Rs 20. Not everyone can do that." This came from a maharaja to his crown prince son.

Today Raghavendra Rathore is a prolific designer.. has studied Greek mythology philosophy and American fiction. Once an apprentice to Oscar de la Renta and Donna Karan, Rathore is unusually outspoken.

Excerpts from a conversation:

The Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week in Delhi doesn't have your name on its list. There is some confusion about your participation.
I believe I'm participating. Maybe it's a mistake from the administrative office of the Fashion Design Council of India. But then to err is human.

So what shall we expect from you for Spring Summer 2008?
My accent will be on the menswear line. However, the proportion of womenswear will be equal. It's an attempt to connect the traditional with the western. <b1>

For example, for the first time I will be styling bandgalas in a modern way. Jackets will be round cuts but I'll team them with slouchy linen pants and Kolhapuri sandals.

What about the womenswear line?
The show's not just about fashion, it's for real people. I'm hoping to incorporate real concerns. In the womenswear line, the focus will be on organic fabrics with vegetable dyeing and lesser embroidery .

Environmental fashion is the future.. I'm even making a line of eco-friendly shoes for women.

You're into preserving the heritage crafts of Rajasthan. How come you're not westernised like some designers?
Heritage is the essence of my brand. I've barely scratched the surface.. how can I afford to look the western way? It's always important to reflect the past.

Not many men are into bandgalas nowadays. Is traditional clothing out of favour?
Everything in fashion has a shelf life.. it's like the time wheel. When you get tired of something, fashion gives you the allowance to ‘shelf ' it. What you don't see today, will come back tomorrow.

Also the face that fewer people are wearing the bandgala is a good sign. It should be worn selectively, not everyone can carry it off. The bandgala isn't going anywhere, it's here to stay.

You work with cottons. What is its status in Rajasthan now?
Today, it's as progressive as any other luxury fabric. Sooner or later, the world will be crazy about Indian cotton just as they are about Egyptian cotton.

What's amiss in our fashion industry in terms of textiles?
Mainly that most of us designers are pressed for time. For instance, we can't travel to Varanasi to develop our textiles. <b3>

What was it to like to design costumes for Eklavya?Are there any other film projects in the pipeline?
Films too are like fashion shows. There are some who like your work, some don't. That film was an enriching experience. But right now I'm too pressured with mainstream fashion to take up more cinema work. It's not simple to make actors look like real people.

Since you're from a royal family, was it difficult to move towards fashion?
I truly believe in the democratic India. My background has been beneficial. My parents taught me how to value aesthetics. I'm glad I'm doing something creative with aesthetics.. instead of carrying the baggage of the past.