Rina Dhaka has been a part and parcel of the Indian fashion scene for the past fifteen years. Early in her career, one of her designs for the Miss India events caught the eye of Rohit Khosla, the only fashion designer back then known for his innovativeness. Rina is best known for her theme collections – sheer trousers, crochet, stretch jersey, woolens and spider web motifs and her forte remains western wear and she prides on the fact that her pieces can be worn as ‘separates’. Rina Dhaka speaks to SANDEEP HATTANGADI about her experiences as an haute-couture diva.
Was it a long term plan to be in the fashion industry?
I have been a dreamer ever since my childhood. For me, visuals are always more important than words. After completing my graduation, I did a training project with Inter-craft and also trained under Evan Grandhal. I had opened up a salwar kameez boutique for one of my friends. It was also around this time that Mutiny and Ensemble were coming up as fashion houses. I started designing for these fashion houses and my designs were well received by the people and thus it paved my way into fashion forum.
How different is the fashion scene in Delhi from Mumbai?
Delhi is mainly known for its manufacturing units and there are several dress designing outfits in Delhi whereas Mumbai, which is the man hub of the fashion scene has the advertising world, the fashion shows, the Hindi film industry, the ramp shows and many fashion weeks like Lakme Fashion weeks and other avenues for fashion designers.
What do you feel is the reason for the fashion boom in India?
Right from the 90’s the fashion scene has been increasing in India with more and more designers starting their stores in India and there is a lot of awareness of fashion in India which was not there previously and it has grown substantially over the years. Being in the industry for quite some time, I feel globalization has opened up avenues for young and dynamic women and the options of women designers as well with it. To be in sync with demand for comfortable, yet stylish outfits for offices, designers are trying out all possibilities of being creative. I emphasize silhouette and am willing to take risks. In one collection, I mixed fur and boots with her Indian outfits, to create a unique look. Every time, I try to give four to five looks to in my collection.
What are your major achievements?
It was very early in my career that I got accolades for one of my designs for the Miss India event from Rohit Khosla, the only ingenious designer of that time. The encouragement acted as a booster for me, and I was all the more excited to bring out the best in me. My first show in Singapore “The Best of Indian Haute Couture” met with a thumping success.
You have also won the Yuva Rattan award!
Yes. I have also won a Yuva Rattan award in my nascent career, which is spread over almost three decades now. I am best known for my theme collections – sheer trousers, crochet, stretch jersey, woolens and spider web motifs. Western wear still remains a prime area of dominance, though I also design ethnic and conventional attires. I pride on the fact that my pieces can be worn as separates. Attaining a lot of success nationally, I have also achieved credits internationally and my works have been featured in magazines, such as Vogue and Elle.
Who are your major clients?
I have my collections, under the label ‘Rina Dhaka’, in stores like Carma-Delhi, Design Studio-Mumbai, Kimaya-Mumbai, Selfridges-London, Coin-Italy and Lord and Taylor-New York. I have also opened a studio in Hauz Khaz village for Lycra in Delhi. My clientele list includes eminent personalities such as Naomi Campbell, Uma Thurman, Susan Fales Hill, Molly Simns, Tara Palmen Tomkison, Lara Dutta, and Diana Hayden. My work has been featured in publications such as Marie Claire Paris, Madame Figaro Paris, Vogue London, New York Post, Vanity Fair etc.
Who according to you are the most popular models today?
They keep changing but Noyonika Chatterjee, Laxmi Rana etc come to my mind instantly.
What should a fashion aspirant have in him or her to become a successful designer like you?
Firstly he or she should know how to design and have a thorrough knowhow of a good dress and he or she should also be persistent, persevere, focus and be ready for hard work and a little bit of rejection too.
What do you feel is the reason for the rise of fashion schools in India?
On the contrary, I am of the opinion that there are not more than 30 fashion schools in India and that’s not too many.
What kind of wear is your favorite one?
I am not much into gowns or trousseau or bridal wear but I design more western clothes.