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The ORIGINAL DIVA.

MOST women at her age are happy to just retire to a farmhouse, with the occasional visit from grandchildren to keep busier than usual. But Ritu Kumar is not ' most women'. After over four decades in the high fashion business, Kumar, 68, has no intention of calling it a day. " It has been a long journey but I have enjoyed every bit of it," says the couturier. An alumna of DU's Lady Irwin College and New York's Brirarcliff College, Kumar is widely recognised as one of the most influential names in the fashion world.

Her command over textile and Indian craft is unmistakable and her repertoire from prE[logical not]t to couture, fusion to western to Indian makes her relevant to every wardrobe.

" I have always maintained that there is nothing like Indian handwork," says Kumar. " And I have spent 40 years proving that this legacy is priceless." Kumar is said to have brought the boutique culture to India with her label Ritu, which had very humble beginnings at a Kolkata suburb in 1969, with four hand block printers and just two tables. By 1988, she was recognised as the ' original diva' of the industry, having been given the lifetime achievement award by the prestigious National Institute of Fashion Technology.

But this veteran designer, who has made a lasting contribution in the form of the visually opulent book, Textiles and Costumes of Royal India , has also been smart enough to repackage her legacy every now and then. Her recent prE[logical not]t collections have been witness to younger designs and silhouettes such as tees, skirts and dhoti pants using the same design sensibility and keeping intact the brand's vision. Spain's Flamenco dancers are her new inspiration. Kumar's creative agility continues to be the envy of successive generations of fashion designers.

WAY FORWARD

Not content to rest despite her stature, stores from Jalandhar to Kochi, and series of celebrated collections, Ritu Kumar has opened yet another store at Mumbai's Raghuvanshi Mills.

She also announced a creative shift by moving from paisley and prints to lines inf luenced by the f luidity of Flamenco dancers.

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:Jul 31, 2012
Words:371
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