If Raghavendra Rathore wasn’t a designer, he could have easily passed for a 1950’s Hollywood movie star. The shy royal’s impeccable diction and easy baritone deviate from the flamboyant, footloose designers we’re used to. And now, that regal meets contemporary flavour will enhance the designer’s latest venture.. a jewellery line.
In his first ever collaboration with Zoya, the high-end jewellery brand, Rathore has created 35 unique pieces that mimic the tones and colours of the desert.
The collection choses to move away from the usual flowers, leaves and baroque, instead opting for black onyx balanced with white and black diamonds.. definitely not something you’d see in your local jeweller’s store.
“In India, the systems of seasons doesn’t exist in ornaments,” Rathore observes. “The challenge for me was to synchronise it with the fashion industry. That’s why we’ve opted for black and white as the predominant colours because that will allow women to match the pieces with their summer wear.”
Given his reputation for being a perfectionist, Rathore admits he spent almost a year and a half researching the collection. “I’ve looked at how Cartier and other international designer came to India as early as the 1920’s and managed to crack the code for the Indian elite. They married their western sensibilities to traditional design. It was the earliest form of customisation.”
Asked whether the pressure of lineage ever comes as a burden and he smiles, “I’ve learnt to make the most of it.. though I used to be very uncomfortable with the mention of my background.” He adds, “I don’t believe in creating pieces for three lakhs.. that’s not being realistic. If you have a big diamond, you can break it up into four pieces. Also, if the collection doesn’t move, we should be able to recycle the pieces.”
Surely even the most polished man must have a streak of madness. “Going to a party and drinking and hugging everybody.. that’s just not me.. even though I’ve had my days of freedom in Manhattan. Now I realise that as the face of my brand, I have to be careful.” He explains, weighing his words.
And what would be the most satisfying outcome of this venture? “I think the emotion is missing in most Indian jewellery, which is why a customer won’t necessarily pick one piece over the other. The minute a customer says, ‘I want my daughter to wear that on her wedding day,’ that’s when you’ve seduced them.”
Did we hear him say seduce? “Designing is all about light flirtation..” he teases.