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Ritu Kumar: Bridging Tradition and Modernity

Ritu Kumar embarked on her journey in the 1960s as a student of art history at Lady Irwin College. While studying museology in Calcutta, she stumbled upon Serampore, a quaint village in West Bengal. It was there that she encountered a group of hand-block printers facing unemployment. Taking initiative, she provided them with designs to work on, resulting in exquisite hand-block-printed sarees. Her creations soon gained traction after a few exhibitions in Kolkata, both in India and internationally.

At the heart of Ritu Kumar's "Boutique" was the fusion of Indian aesthetics and materials within the framework of a modern, globally aware India. The key was blending; traditional Indian designs were seamlessly integrated with contemporary silhouettes. Throughout the 1990s, Ritu Kumar played a pivotal role in dressing Miss India winners for international beauty pageants, symbolising India's emergence on the global beauty stage.

In 1991, Ritu Kumar introduced "Tree of Life," India's inaugural fashion show, showcasing innovative interpretations of traditional Indian crafts like Kamalmakri and Chikankari. Her 1999 publication, "Costumes and Textiles of Royal India," celebrated the opulent legacy of Indian royal attire and craftsmanship.

In 2002, Label Ritu Kumar was launched, catering to the young, cosmopolitan woman with a penchant for fashion. The French government recognised her remarkable ability to bridge Indian textiles and French fashion by conferring upon her the prestigious "Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres" award.

In 2013, Ritu Kumar received the Shree Award for her significant contributions to India's art and crafts sectors. Subsequently, private equity firm Everstone Capital invested USD 16.6 million in her venture. Expanding her repertoire in 2019, Ritu Kumar Hom introduced an elaborate collection of home and living products, further diversifying the Ritu Kumar brand.

Ritu Kumar's journey exemplifies the seamless blend of tradition and modernity, showcasing India's rich cultural heritage on the global stage while embracing contemporary sensibilities.


 

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