Of muse and artist

Aditi Rao Hydari

Lead by a visionary designer and pioneer of handcrafted garments, Ritu Kumar, the brand has been seamlessly fusing tradition with modernity. With a palette of fresh colours and a contemporary vibe, its new collection documents a journey from Bengal to Maharashtra. It is aptly named Beautiful Hands. But, there is a twist in the tale. Aditi Rao Hydari has played the muse. We chatted with the actor and Amrish Kumar, CEO at Ritu Kumar to get a peek into the design story. 

How did the collaboration come about?

Aditi: Very organically actually. I have spent a lot of time at Ritu Kumar’s house, who I call maasi, while growing up. To a young me, her home was nothing short of a beautiful museum. In my opinion, Ritu maasi has a revival instinct much before it became cool for our generation.

Amrish:The label is evolving and so is a Ritu Kumarwoman. She possesses an innate sense of self, is strong, resilient while also being sophisticated, refined and stylish. She is earthy and has an effortless, understated grace about her. Aditi embodies the Ritu Kumarwoman very naturally. She is a personification of all these qualities.

As Aditi said that she practically grew up at your place. How did the friendship between the two of you grow?

Amrish: I have known Aditi for a long time. She’s still a bit of a child with her young, vivacious personality. I don’t think she is anything other than the girl I have known since college. Our friendship hasn’t changed over the years.

Aditi:I would spend hours chatting with Amrish, his brother, all their cousins and family members. For them I am not Aditi, the actor, but the teenaged Aditi who would come back from Bharatnatyam practice with her hair in two braids. To me, they are friends like family.

What’s the new collection all about?

Aditi: There is certain softness to the collection and free flowing silhouettes. The colours of autumn such as ochre, deep blue and cream have been used.

Amrish: For autumn/winter 2018, we take the patrons on a journey from the eastern villages of Bengal to the beaches of Maharashtra, capturing the essence of the artisans’ beautiful work. The collection features a range of boho-chic kurta dresses, tunics and jacket style kurtas with unique prints such as patola and ikat with easy-to-wear silhouettes. The dominant colours in this story are deep reds, mustard yellows, ecrus, and other earthy hues found in nature.

And this says that the collection is closer to your ethos?

Amrish:The collection is relaxed and free spirited. Brand new ideas and the hands that translate them to beautiful pieces allow the viewer to enjoy age-old traditions in a fresh light. The story of this collection is told through generations of skilled craftsmen and encapsulates the history of textile design and embellishments at Ritu Kumar. From screen-printing to colour mixing, Beautiful Handspays tribute to the traditions that exist and are created with each collection. It also embraces innovations happening in traditional Indian craftsmanship fueled by digital technology as well as pure human creativity.

Aditi, tell us about your favourite piece from the collection.

My favourite look is the midnight velvet set that can be mixed and matched or worn as separates. I also love the sanganeri ajrakh print maxi dress that I plan to wear wither with a belt or team with pants. 

The campaign for this collection was shot on the beach. What was that process like?

To match the clothes, we wanted the campaign to be light, out of the studio. We chose sandy shores and pockets of forest in Alibaug creating the right mix of carefree and meditative moods.

Describe the collection in one word?

Rooted aesthetics… two words, sorry!

Chitman Kanwar Ahuja

Chitman Kanwar Ahuja is a feature writer at L'Officiel India. She is a silver jewellery hoarder and an aesthete of all arts. You can find her unraveling new stories day in and day out.