Dressing up the groom of the moment Saif Ali Khan to dabbling in Bollywood with Akshay Kumar’s Oh My God to launching a new brand of clothing... Raghavendra Rathore has been a busy man for the past few months. But that doesn’t rattle his laid-back appeal in the least. The king of classic couture was in town for the Seagram’s Blenders Pride Fashion Tour and he did impress with his menswear (and some womenswear too). Before the show, he settled down for a chat with t2.
The buzz is that you’re designing Saif’s wedding wardrobe. Tell us about the look...
I cannot deny that I am doing Saif’s wedding attire… but I can’t really talk about it now. Saif is very emotional about his wedding look and he just wouldn’t like it. Why don’t we just wait for the wedding day to see it? Saif is very clear about what he wants. And with him it is always about classic styling and the fit is hundred and one per cent important.
You have been designing for Saif for quite sometime now… what do you think about his style sensibility?
He is the epitome of the new Indian stylish man who is quintessentially connected to the past. Style-wise, he is completely in the right space. He is also a reflection of his father (late Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi). I must say he understands fashion completely. For instance, even now… he understands that in these times of economic hardship, opulence is not the best thing to do. He understands the value of simplicity, he understands the appropriation of fabric. What also helps is that he is so interactive.
The Club J looks.
Pictures by Rashbehari Das
So where does he connect with you, style-wise?
We both move in the classic space and that’s where we connect. Classic never goes out of fashion because it’s never in fashion… it’s beyond that. For instance, the opulent embroidered zari look might work for somebody as a wedding attire, but if you are a classic, sophisticated man you wouldn’t want to walk into your living room every day for the rest of your life and see that picture and think that that’s how you had looked then. That’s a picture that even your next generation will see… it’s an eternal moment… one has to keep that in mind.
What made you agree to design for Akshay Kumar in Oh My God? One doesn’t connect your brand with Akshay’s style...
OMG was a fantastic experience for me! It was very encouraging. They had a very business approach and they knew exactly what they wanted. Akshay plays God in the movie and the brief for me was to create stylish modern-day looks for him… four-five looks that keep changing. For me, it made sense because I could position my products well. For instance, in one of the looks we gave him stuff from Club J… casual, prêt stuff. Then in another look, there were breeches and achkans… the signature RR stuff. So the film worked for me completely. Also, it was important for my new brand Club J… because with this brand I target the masses, and Akshay is a personality who connects with the masses and the common man identifies with the characters he chooses to play.
Any other Bollywood films you are working on?
Nothing as of now, though I am not averse to working for Bollywood. Once in a while, a good association at a high level in Bollywood is now an essential part of every boutique design house. In fact, it is the best and most economical way of disseminating a brand message.
What’s the idea behind your new lines Club J and Club Jodhpur?
These two are basically built on the same sensibility. Club J is westerns, while Club Jodhpur is ethnics. It’s a menswear prêt brand with price points below the designer price points and above the generic prêt labels. With watered-down design sensibilities from the parent brand Raghavendra Rathore, Club J is sensitive to regions and seasons. It is inspired by the outdoors, sports spirit… particularly polo… so you would see a lot of polo symbols on the clothes. There are lots of denims… in fact there are 140 designs in denims. Then there are shirts, tees, polo shirts, accessories like caps and so on. The price point of this line is between Rs 2,900 and Rs 30,000… the idea is of accessible luxury.
Wasn’t it difficult to do a watered-down version? Weren’t you scared of the critics?
Not really. In fact, once you’ve reached the peak, scaling down is easy. See, this collection will sell from retail stores who stock readymade brands — like we have tied up with 24 retail outlets in Calcutta — so it won’t compete with designer brands because it won’t sell in that segment at all.
You have always been associated with Rajasthan and Jodhpur… how does this regional association work for you?
I think regional will be a big trend in the coming days. There’s a lot of potential. Look at what Anurag Kashyap has done with Gangs of Wasseypur… it’s mind-blowing! It just shows how the regional can be commercialised. People in London, Paris and New York are watching that film. That’s what my brand is all about.
Finally, when is your Calcutta store opening?
Very soon… definitely in the next couple of months. We have decided on the location.