Anita Dongre is one of the most sought after designers in the Indian fashion industry. With multiple brands that she pilots like AND, Global Desi and her eco fashion project – Grassroots, she is possibly the biggest name in contemporary fashion. Bollywood celebrities like Karisma Kapoor, Raveena Tandon, Aditi Rao Hydari, Sonakshi Sinha, Prachi Desai, Esha Gupta and others have been oft spotted donning her outfits exuding panache. She was also ranked in Fortune India’s list of 50 Most Powerful Women in Business 2013.
Aparna Mudi of Zee Media Bureau speaks to her about her inspirations and more...
Why did you decide to become a fashion designer?
Ever since I was a child I wanted to become a designer. My childhood years spent at my grandmother’s home in Rajasthan, which led to a divine connect that I started sharing with that place, the people, the culture; the rich heritage inspired me and still continues to do so. I think it came naturally to me, so I always knew that my love for design and fashion would someday make me what I am today
What is your favourite part about being a fashion designer? What inspires you when you are creating your designs?
My favourite part is the process of designing. I find inspiration in almost everything - travelling, music, books, but one of my strongest sources of inspiration is Rajasthan. My early memories of Rajasthan are that of my summer holidays that were spent at my grandmother’s palatial house in Jaipur, and since then the place has occupied a very special space in my mind and heart, I’ve always been fascinated with the detailing of the architectural splendour of the state and still try to incorporate some of its elements in my creations.
What was your inspiration behind ‘AND’?
When AND was launched, back in 1998 there was a trend for women to get their outfits tailored. I wanted to give them a ready to wear brand where they could visit and pick up trendy, fashionable yet affordable pieces right off the shelves. I wanted to make AND their go to fashion brand - a brand for real women like us, which would be an expression of each woman’s personality and not just a fashion trend. My vision was to make AND a part of every woman’s wardrobe
What was the thought behind ‘Global Desi’?
Global Desi is in a way a reflection of me in my 20s when I used to dress in boho chic dresses, colourful skirts and bangles. So in a way the brand recaptures the bohemian-gypsy in me in my 20s and is symbolic of the new age woman who wants clothes that articulate her individuality. It’s for a girl for all seasons - it’s fun, vibrant, and adventurous and is a colourful expression of the wearer’s personality!
Who are the celebrities you would love to dress up and why?
I don’t really design with any specific celebrity in mind but it’s always a good feeling to see a celeb don your creation for some occasion or the other. Though I feel actresses like Priyanka Chopra, Deepika Padukone represent the modern Indian woman- they are global Indians embodying an Indian essence with an international appeal – much like my bridal muse, who is a modern urban girl who whilst challenging convention loves all things traditional, speaks her mind, is free spirited and adventurous!
What advice do you have for aspiring fashion designers?
There is a lot of scope and opportunities for aspiring designers today. You have to be passionate, driven and always remember that there is no shortcut to success. Creativity is a work in progress, so continue to enhance it and never confine it
A fashion tip you would like to give?
Don’t over accessorize and do select colours that suit your skin tone. A simple elegant look is forever classy.
You are a pioneer in Eco Fashion. Tell us something about the GRASSROOT project?
My label – GRASSROOT encourages the use of textiles that are eco friendly. India’s heritage is extremely rich and our craftsmen are tremendously skilled and I strongly believe that machines cannot substitute this skill. It is my endeavour to revive handcrafts and the skills of our worthy craftsman through GRASSROOT along with being environment friendly. GRASSROOT only uses natural and vegetable dyes and these dyes do not cause any industrial effluence. The waste products are also re-used in the form of manure.
What are your plans for the future?
My plan is to take all my brands global - AND, Global Desi and Anita Dongre. This endeavour too is taking shape since we have opened the first Global Desi store in Mauritius in August in 2013.