Designer Ritu Kumar has just returned from Bhutan, where she designed six garments for the newly-wed Queen Jetsun Pema. “Three outfits were designed with brocade from Benaras and one was a pure white outfit with cutwork,” says Kumar, describing some of the pieces she created for the royal wedding. “Since the Bhutanese are very traditional people, it was interesting to design something that was representative of their culture, while using different unusual fabrics. She (Queen Pema) is an extremely beautiful and stylish woman.”
The royal nod isn’t the only thing that’s keeping Kumar in high spirits. She’s also the only Indian designer to be invited to participate in the inaugural World Fashion Week, a New York-based charitable fashion gala where proceeds go to various organisations such as Sri Sri Ravishankar’s Art of Living Foundation.
The event, launched with a global campaign called ‘Give your light to the world’, aims at promoting entrepreneurship activities, women empowerment and eradication of global poverty.
“I was approached by the UN’s office in New York, who told me that a jury had picked, from various designers across the 46 participating countries, and I was selected to represent India,” she says, insisting that despite her requests, they declined to elaborate on the criteria for the selection.
“I figured they were interested in a designer who has worked with the ethos of their own country,” she guesses, adding that, “They’re interested in our couture line and want me to keep the process as natural as possible. So I’m using metallic hand-embroidery from Bengal crafted onto rustic fabrics for a vintage feel.”
The garment has been created especially for the show and has been in progress for over three months now. It will be placed in an exhibit in New York, before being taken on a world tour, along with the garments sent in by designers from the 46-member eclectic list of countries, including Brazil, China, England, France, Germany, Australia, Cameroon, Kenya and the United States. The final outcome is an auction to be held next year, the proceeds of which will benefit the chosen charities.