Old world meets MODERN

Ace menswear de­signer Raghaven­dra Rathore, in town with his fu­sion col­lec­tion, de­con­structs male fash­ion.

Friday - - HEALTH NEWS - By Indu Sak­sena Bedi

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word ‘re­gal’ in re­la­tion to menswear? We bet you think of out­fits with overly or­nate gold em­broi­deries and bold em­bel­lish­ments. But pre­pare to be pleas­antly sur­prised with the re­gal cre­ations of ace In­dian menswear cou­turier Raghaven­dra Rathore, who’s been dress­ing up In­dian style icons for years. His de­signs show a sig­na­ture re­straint for or­nate em­bel­lish­ments and in­stead fo­cuses on an air of aris­to­cratic so­phis­ti­ca­tion.

Well-known for dress­ing up mem­bers of the In­dian no­bil­ity, top film­stars and crick­eters – all of whom want his sig­na­ture un­der­stated and ‘re­strained’ re­gal touch in their wardrobe, Rathore’s cre­ations have a char­ac­ter­is­tic sim­plic­ity and quiet el­e­gance.

His band­hgala suits have been seen on crick­eter Vi­rat Kohli for his wed­ding re­cep­tion, and on ac­tors such as Saif Ali Khan and Anil Kapoor, among oth­ers.

Rathore whose be­spoke Indo-West­ern fu­sion menswear de­signs are not just pop­u­lar in In­dia but over­seas as well, is vis­it­ing Dubai to­day to over­see a pop-up ex­hibit of his de­signs at the Robin­sons, Dubai Fes­ti­val City. The ex­hibit, Ate­lier In­dia, be­gan yes­ter­day and his clothes will be on sale for 20 days.

‘The pop-up show­cases a mix of clas­sic, con­tem­po­rary and tran­si­tional out­fits,’ says Rathore. Although Dubai has been Rathore’s fave stopover on per­sonal trips for years, fash­ion-wise, this is the first time he has en­tered into a col­lab­o­ra­tion to show­case his cre­ations.

Fondly known as the king of the band­hgala, Rathore is cred­ited for re­viv­ing the tra­di­tional In­dian out­fit by cre­at­ing modern avatars of these band-col­lar suits. Seen as the In­dian take on for­mal west­ern suits, band­hgalas have al­ways drawn con­sid­er­able at­ten­tion glob­ally and even Ital­ian re­tail fash­ion giants like Ermenegildo Zegna and Canali have cre­ated ver­sions of it.

A scion of Jodh­pur’s royal fam­ily, Rathore comes from a 1,200 years-old royal lin­eage of Ra­jasthan. His great grand­fa­ther, the Ma­haraja of Jodh­pur, was known to have been the most fash­ion­able monarch of his times. How­ever, west­ern fash­ion sen­si­bil­i­ties might be an off­shoot from Rathore’s early years hav­ing grad­u­ated from New York’s Par­sons School of De­sign, be­fore work­ing with Donna Karen (DKNY) and Os­car De La Renta dur­ing the early years of his de­sign ca­reer.

Part­ner­ship with Ital­ian fash­ion gi­ant

Ear­lier this year, Rathore made head­lines when Ermenegildo Zegna in­vested in his epony­mous brand by way of a three-way al­liance that also in­cluded In­dian con­glom­er­ate Re­liance. An In­dian de­signer be­ing backed by an in­ter­na­tional la­bel is rare and so this news gen­er­ated am­ple buzz among the fash­ion fra­ter­nity.

Says Rathore: ‘This al­liance cel­e­brates the sym­bolic ac­cep­tance of In­dian de­sign’s global foot­print for the first time. Through our unique col­lab­o­ra­tion, the ever-evolv­ing con­sumer would get ac­cess to a fine blend of re­gal her­itage dove­tailed in modern bold­ness.’ Fur­ther, the three-way as­so­ci­a­tion gives the part­ners in­cred­i­ble ac­cess to shar­ing re­sources, which ul­ti­mately will trans­late into value for the cus­tomer while boost­ing the bot­tom line.

Au­tumn/Win­ter trend in menswear

For the up­com­ing Au­tumn/Win­ter sea­son, Rathore rec­om­mends stick­ing to clas­sic pieces that fit into your ev­ery­day wardrobe for an in­stant style up­grade. ‘It is in­ter­est­ing how vel­vet can be in­cor­po­rated into a bandgala as a fab­ric of choice for this sea­son,’ he says. ‘The key to band­hgalas is to be subtly so­phis­ti­cated with the choice of fab­ric and to ac­cen­tu­ate it.’

Fac­ing fu­sion

While In­dian wom­enswear de­sign­ers are cre­at­ing In­doWestern fu­sion styles, there are not many menswear de­sign­ers cater­ing to this niche. Per­haps recog­nis­ing this, Rathore has stepped in. His de­sign USP lies in his har­mo­nious, yet sim­ple fu­sion of In­dian and West­ern styles. ‘Cur­rently, there’s a shift to­wards fu­sion of styles in menswear – In­dian wear that is func­tional and ver­sa­tile. A band­hgala when worn but­toned up is an In­dian out­fit; when worn with a shirt with but­tons open, it be­comes a to­tally west­ern jacket out­fit.

‘I be­lieve you don’t have to be [com­pletely] eth­nic. You can do it in a way that all the world can re­spond to your prod­uct,’ says Rathore. ‘My de­signs are not so fo­cused on ever-chang­ing trends, so we have to care­fully con­sider the celebri­ties we tie up with be­cause their per­son­al­ity has to match the clas­sic per­son­al­ity of our clothes.’

Are men averse to mak­ing changes in their wardrobe eas­ily?

‘Over the last 2-3 years, the con­cept of min­i­mal­ist liv­ing has seen an ex­po­nen­tial rise. This move­ment is all about sim­pli­fied aes­thet­ics, time­less­ness and, more im­por­tantly, an em­pha­sis on qual­ity,’ says Rathore. Ac­cord­ing to the de­signer, there is a mis­taken per­cep­tion that men are less flex­i­ble about their wardrobe. That is not so, he says. While it may ap­pear so, the real rea­son is that there’s a con­scious shift among men to­wards clas­sics. ‘I’m find­ing a to­tal shift among men to­wards sim­plic­ity in aes­thet­ics and so­phis­ti­ca­tion, so the male clients who come to us want un­der­stated el­e­gance or clas­sics,’ says Rathore.

Re­defin­ing style terms

Band­hgala and Jodh­puri: The bandgala is a band col­lar jacket struc­tured and de­signed to work as an ideal ex­am­ple of for­mal dress­ing. The jodh­puri jacket is an­other term used by the brand RR – as the roots of the brand’s story lie in the city of Jodh­pur. Bandi: An­other name for a band col­lar waist­coat.

Achkan and sher­wani: The achkan is cut straighter (con­trolled flare) and shorter (barely cov­er­ing the knees) com­pared to the sher­wani. The cut is care­fully de­signed with­out be­ing too cum­ber­some in terms of the vol­ume of fab­ric to fa­cil­i­tate get­ting on and off the horse eas­ily. A sher­wani is more Mughal in ap­peal and is much longer and very flared.

‘There is this con­scious stay­ing away from tran­sient trends. That’s where the ex­clu­siv­ity of be­spoke cre­ations comes in. We are mak­ing sure that no one piece is like any other so there’s never a chance that you walk into a room and find an­other gentle­man wear­ing the same clothes as you.’

The ideal West­ern suit al­ter­na­tive

Talk­ing of his all-time favourite band­hgalas which have now be­come syn­ony­mous with his brand, Rathore says, ‘If there is one out­fit that works won­ders for men’s wardrobe, it is the band­hgala. Global, in­clu­sive and yet com­fort­able, this sil­hou­ette has found a voice in­ter­na­tion­ally. This kind of suit or coat is a highly ver­sa­tile piece of In­dian cloth­ing and can be com­bined with a pair of jeans or con­trast­ing cot­ton or silk trousers to work as a com­bi­na­tion

suit – the per­fect am­bas­sador of In­dian her­itage and yet an al­ter­na­tive to the West­ern for­mal suit. The ge­nius of the gar­ment lies in the fact that it can be worn dif­fer­ently, in dif­fer­ent parts of the world —with breeches or with den­ims.’

How­ever, while ex­per­i­ment­ing with the band­hgala, make sure you ex­plore the var­i­ous fab­rics, tex­tiles and sil­hou­ette op­tions avail­able.

A band­hgala of­fers a lot of op­tions as it works very well as a cot­ton or linen de­con­structed day­wear piece or even a semi­for­mal gar­ment worn to an evening party when com­bined with denim. It can also be de­signed as fully em­bel­lished or for­mal piece of cloth­ing for fes­tive or black tie events.

Won­der­ing about the right trouser to team with the band­hgala? Breeches won’t get you wrong. ‘Breeches are a clas­sic gar­ment that have been worn for cen­turies in the Jodh­pur land­scape,’ says Rathore. ‘A clas­sic style state­ment right from the royal era, these can be worn with a band­hgala, waist­coat or even a sim­ple white shirt. De­pend­ing on the whole look, Monk straps or clas­sic lace up shoes work well with breeches,’ he sug­gests.

‘As for fab­rics, I have re­placed linen with Ital­ian cot­ton for suit fab­ric,’ says Rathore. If you’re look­ing for a ver­sa­tile, year-round suit fab­ric, then cot­ton is the an­swer. It’s great for Dubai.

The pocket square dilemma…

‘Men should not ac­ces­sorise them­selves from head to toe – that can be an ac­tual fash­ion faux­pas,’ he cau­tions. ‘Just use one key ac­ces­sory like the pocket square – that can make all the dif­fer­ence. A pocket square, like most ac­ces­sories, is mostly about re­flect­ing ones per­son­al­ity,’ says Rathore.

‘Get­ting cus­tomised pocket squares is a great idea. While keep­ing it in the clas­sic space, one can have so much fun with it be­cause of the way it can be made into dif­fer­ent styles, colours and prints.’

The ‘Ate­lier In­dia’ pop-up ex­hibit be­gan yes­ter­day at the Robin­sons Depart­ment Store, Dubai Fes­ti­val City, and is on un­til Oc­to­ber 20.

‘As for fab­rics, if you’re look­ing for a ver­sa­tile, year-round suit fab­ric, then cot­ton is the an­swer. It’s great for Dubai.’

Pocket squares can re­flect the user’s per­son­al­ity, says Rathore

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