Big dreams, a relentless drive and an urge to think beyond what’s predictable set Ritu Beri ahead of the fashion pack. The designer, who has completed 25 years in the world of style, has brought out two sumptuous monographs, The Designs of a Restless Mind and The Fire of a Restless Mind, in which she shares the inside story of her success. Writing is not new to this recipient of the Chevalier de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres honour by the French Government. She had discussed the invisible threads in the fabric of her creativity with books such as Style File and Firefly: A Fairytale before. Her 101 Ways to Look Your Best was a fantastic primer on style and dressing up. In an e-mail interaction in the run-up to her session at The Hindu Lit For Life on January 16, she talks about her books, love for Paris, building an ‘Indian global brand’, promoting khadi and why the word ‘impossible’ doesn’t exist in her lexicon. Excerpts:
Few Indian designers devote time to documenting their work. What prompted you to bring out two simultaneous publications?
Nothing inspires me more than life. Life is my source of passion, and it has gifted me rewarding experiences. The intensity of my desire to create was spurred by a need to reach out and touch the sky! A photograph is different from real life, but it captures and reflects drama and magic. The pictures in my book The Designs of a Restless Mind tell my story, and with my thoughts in words, I try to breathe life into it. It is sparked by my views of reality and the privilege of a colourful voyage through life. The Fire of a Restless Mind relates periods of unbelievable success, heart-breaking failure, ruthless business drama and encounters with the global high society. It is an exciting portrayal of an Indian designer who aspires to conquer the humongous fashion world of Paris.
I wanted to make India proud by representing it on the international fashion-catwalk. There are first-hand accounts of my various experiences, interspersed with unexpected encounters in my effort to create an Indian global brand.
You pushed the boundaries for yourself and for fashion. Your book talks about embracing the odds and moving ahead. What made you step out of predetermined paths?
My passion and my dreams drove me to become an entrepreneur. As a creative person in business, I follow my own ways of nurturing my ambition. I am a dreamer, and I enjoy impossible situations. I put all my effort into turning challenges to reality. My work is greatly influenced by my personal state of mind. I love to explore new possibilities and work in an inspired mode while mostly designing to satisfy myself.
Picking up the threads of couture from Francois Lesage, showcasing your collection in Paris and being the first Asian designer to head Jean-Louis Scherrer… You were ahead of your time. To whom, or what, would you attribute these career-defining moments?