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NO DOUBLE ROLE Ritu Beri: `When designers start working as exporters, they cease to be designers'
NO DOUBLE ROLE Ritu Beri: `When designers start working as exporters, they cease to be designers'

Designer Ritu Beri is all set for Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week

She has been the face of India in the world of fashion. Come July 5 and Ritu Beri is going to attest her reputation by participating in the Paris Haute Couture Week. Giving final touches to her 40 pieces to be displayed at the Week, Ritu says she is taking along the "spirit of India". Blending the East with the West has been the fashion mantra in the subcontinent for long, but Ritu holds it is easier said than done. "I am presenting a global collection which is influenced by the Egyptian, Moroccan and Indian traditions. The highlight will be an interpretation of bandhini, my strength, on the Western silhouette." Ritu says she has used featherweight fabrics like organza, tulle, lace and crochet to bring out "simple elegance" to her "technically complex" silhouettes.As for the mood, Ritu maintains the West is falling in love with the Indian pomp and show and the riot of colours that India has to offer. "Indian designers should make use of the trend." Accentuating the mood at Lido-de-Paris will be live elephants, lotus fountains with Konark temple providing the backdrop. An expensive affair, Ritu has found support from Air India and Audemars Piguet, the Swiss watch company, which has named her its "Woman of the World". But that's not all this summer. Before the Paris Week, Ritu has been invited by French Polo Club to showcase her collection on the occasion of the Paris Open Cup. "I like to do things big," she says. Ironically, when she was with Scherrer, the Paris-based fashion house, she headed their ready-to-wear department. "Yes, but even at that time I kept my couture sensibilities alive by doing individual shows," she counters.Somebody who stayed away from the Week-business where the focus is on ready-to-wear all along, isn't it time to feel vindicated when both FDCI and Lakme are coming up with their couture weeks? "It is for the industry experts to decide. I only presented a finale collection at one of the weeks. (She never put up a stall). Weeks are meant for those who are not a brand in the market. I was always one so I didn't need it." As for corporate support, Ritu says the industry is going through the horse-and-cart confusion. "Nobody knows which one to put first. When designers start working as exporters, they cease to be designers."Her critics, this largely includes big names from the fashion world, have all along accused her of using her face, her connections and PR battery to rise up the fashion ladder. Ritu says it no longer irks her. "It is the reality of life that success comes with barbs. You can fool once, not every time. I have performed consistently for the world to take note of me."Admittedly a reclusive person in personal life, Ritu says she needs to take a break. "Even after marriage, I didn't go for a long break." One of the things on her vacation agenda is exploring the countryside all over again. "For some time, my research team is doing it. Now I want to do it myself." Well, once in a way, it is good to be in touch with things small.ANUJ KUMAR

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