NY Fashion Fast Forward: Anita Dongre

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Anita Dongre - Urban Princess

Anita Dongre - Urban Princess

Anita Dongre takes a Bow in New York

New York fashionitas rejoice! Soon noted Indian designer Anita Dongre will be making her US debut, and in her many labels you are bound to find your vibe. Her style has brought cachet to everything from the airlines to the hospitality industry and her designs can be found in films like ‘My Brother Nikhil’, ‘Bas Ek Pal’ and ‘Sorry Bhai’. Fresh from her dazzling show at Lakme Fashion Week, Anita Dongre shows her latest couture and answers your questions.

12 Questions for Anita Dongre

Bridal collection by Anita Dongre

Anita Dongre showcases the Urban Princess collection

1. Growing up, did you know you were headed toward a career in fashion? Were there dolls which had exclusive Anita Dongre outfits, wedding sarees or resort wear?

At 15, I knew I wanted to be a designer!  My mum  did design cut and sew clothes for us three sisters until I was 12. I loved watching her lovingly make beautiful garments for us.

2. You seem to have your hands in a lot of fashion pies  – Tell us about Timeless, Interpret and Global Desi.

12 years ago, I started And –  I wanted to create a label that offered western stylish garments at affordable prices to the Indian woman. Then, Global Desi came which was born from my trips to Rajasthan and it’s a young label that uses beautiful bright Indian prints. These are two successful brands with a huge fan following. I continue as creative head. I now focus on my signature label, Anita Dongre (Timeless, Grassroot and inter-pret). We recently added AD Man to this collection and are soon to launch a jewelry line as well.

Spring Summer 2012 - Anita Dongre

Spring Summer 2012 - Anita Dongre


3. Do you think you need a different fashion lingo for New York or are you planning to bring the same looks to the US? How different or similar are the sensibilities in Mumbai and Manhattan?

Women all over the world share a commonality which is to discover new trends and style statements so the lingo in New York isn’t necessarily different. We as designers have to constantly be reinventing our designs whether for the consumer in Manhattan or Mumbai. There is a similarity between the two cities as both are fast paced cities and women are always on the go and they want to dress efficiently yet trendy.

4. Tell us about your New York plans for the fall? Will you be participating in the shows? Will the Big Apple be a second home?

This will be my first official visit to New York and thrilled to make our US mark. I’ll be in LA doing a fashion show with Care For The Cause to support Harmony Through Education organization that seeks to fund and establish schools in developing countries for disadvantaged children and young adults. In New York, I plan to explore new and fun opportunities and absolutely create a second home for my brand.

Dia mirza in indigo hand block printed rajasthan gown from Grassroot

Dia Mirza in Rajasthan gown from Grassroot

5. Tell us about Clay Wellness and how important a part of your daily routine it is.

Clay is a wellness centre that has been an oasis of peaceful, healthy and beautiful living for women from all over Mumbai who flock to this quaint, little therapeutic cottage retreat.  The center adopts a 360 degree approach towards creating stress-free lives, with a focus on physical, mental and spiritual well-being. Clay Wellness is important because I believe maintaining a healthy body from the inside out and that’s something one needs to incorporate into daily routine before anything else. In fact, just this morning I had a Zumba class and we danced to belly dancing, salsa, Bollywood and bhangra. Can’t think of a better way to start my mornings!

6. What would be your fail-proof tips to readers for putting together an always happening, always stylish wardrobe?

Always stick to the classics but adapt trends from each season thus achieving a trendy and stylish look.

Preeti Desai at Esha Deol's sangeet in Anita Dongre

Preeti Desai at Esha Deol's sangeet in Anita Dongre

7. Your biggest fashion weakness?

Anything beautifully handcrafted- be it clothes or jewelry and vintage too. What many people don’t know is that handcrafted pieces require detail, patience and several days sometimes months to finish a piece of work! I admire that in handcrafted pieces.

8. Your secret fashion recipe for a quick stylish pick me up?

A great pair of shoes can give a great finishing touch to a look whether they are mary jane heels to stilettos or even strappy sandals. Shoes can set the tone for an entire outfit.

9. The one designer you admire the most in the world?

Ralph Lauren and Giorgio Armani because they are such iconic designers for the past several generations. Ralph Lauren, an American designer and Giorgio Armani, an Italian designer have their own aesthetic when it comes to clothing but both have influenced consumers all over the world with their brand and style.

10. The one celebrity you’d like to dress – and how.

I would love to dress Angelina Jolie in a beautiful Anita Dongre gown woven by weavers in Benaras with handloom silk. It seems like she displays herself as the global ‘it’ woman and her interests in different cultures gives me an appreciation to dress her in an Indian authentic piece.

Sonam Kapoor in black ikat dress from Grassroot

Sonam Kapoor in black ikat dress from Grassroot

11. What do you think is India’s greatest strength in the fashion world?

India’s textiles and adeptness at embroidery and handcrafted techniques are truly a strength for our country. Also, our cultural influences largely plays a part in India’s textiles because the designs go back for centuries and are still popular today.

12. What are the most exciting things happening in your world currently?

I just completed my show at Lakme Fashion Week with our Winter/Festive 2012 “Urban Princess” collection which also included a preview of my new jewelry line to launch in the Fall. Also, I am looking forward to my LA show. So there are lots of new and exciting things to come!

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About Author

Lavina Melwani is a New York-based journalist who writes for several international publications. [email protected] & @lassiwithlavina Sign up for the free newsletter to get your dose of Lassi!

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