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Exclusive: Anita Dongre builds fashion empire, brings sustainability to Bollywood and more

From the way Kareena Kapoor Khan dresses to the Duchess of Cambridge and Kim Kardashian: Anita Dongre has brought fashion in India to the world. The designer has had a vision to infuse an element of comfort into a designer’s outfit, since she was sixteen years old. In a career spanning decades, the vision has shifted beautifully with her brilliant creations. What makes her creations quintessentially elegant is her emphasis on couture comfort. In an industry dominated by glitz and glamor, designers break free from the notion that beauty is pain.

In addition to being a brilliant designer, Anita Dongre is also a pioneer when it comes to sustainability in fashion. She has incorporated consciousness into her business practices and is constantly going the extra mile to reduce the carbon footprint of her brand.

Her conscious practices and cutting-edge designs are what have made her a favored choice among A-listers. She has dressed royally as the Duchess of Cambridge as well as the Duchess. King Mathilde of Belgium. Hollywood celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Beyonce and Sophie Turner among others. When it comes to Bollywood, she has worn suits like Kareena Kapoor Khan, Karisma Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Janhvi Kapoor, Anushka Sharma, Katrina Kaif, Ranveer Singh, Kartik Aaryan and others. Her designs are also Neha Dhupia’s preferred choice on her wedding day.

We chat with Anita Dongre, who discusses fashion, bringing sustainability to Bollywood, and shares her delightful encounter with Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge.

Anita Dongre

You started a fashion empire with your sister with just two sewing machines on your balcony. In your journey from there to becoming a household name, what is one thing you’ve learned along the way?

When I was 16 and I went to design school, my aim was always to create fashion that makes women feel good about themselves. For me, fashion is a very powerful emotion and tool to make people feel good about themselves. And today, that purpose is even greater by getting our tailors to do good. The real purpose of fashion is to make the wearer feel comfortable and make the manufacturer do well because this industry employs thousands of people and is a huge income generator. That I think is my main amazing satisfaction today.

Your creations have been outfitted by the biggest names in Bollywood, from Kareena Kapoor Khan to Alia Bhatt. What do you think separates your brand from the rest?

It feels amazing to me to see all these wonderful, wonderful women wearing our pieces because I respect and admire each and every one of them. I think when I design, as a woman, I bring empathy to the design desk – my style is very comfortable and at the same time very elegant, and I think a lot of the thinking behind it. after what we do. So I would say it is thoughtful, elegant and comfortable. I think women resonate with all the values ​​I try to bring to my designs and wear them beautifully. I think the cherry on the cake is when a woman wears or the design is too beautiful and she owns it when she wears it. I’ve always thought that the woman should own the design and not the other way around and all these women you name are amazing and the way they make clothes work.

Be it Madhuri Dixit, Karisma Kapoor, or Priyanka Chopra Jonas, the actors you dress up in exude genuine personality and sensibility. Who is your favorite celebrity to dress up?

This is a difficult question to answer because to me every woman is special. Whether she is a celebrity or just a customer walking into my store. Whether it’s a woman going for her first job interview, it’s her wedding, an actress wearing an outfit you created at an awards ceremony or at a public gathering, for me , how they feel in that outfit is important. I really think these days the women who wear me are my inspiration.

Anita Dongre

Any fashion tips you’ve shared with any of the main actors? Can you share that advice with us?

I say this to everyone, including my clients – don’t blindly follow trends. I think people should wear what suits them, for their body type. To recognize your own body type and highlight the aspects you want. A smart woman doesn’t follow trends blindly and I have to say, most of the women who wear me are pretty smart.

You’ve dressed Neha Dhupia for her impromptu wedding planned in less than 48 hours. What was the experience like dressing her up for such an important day on such short notice?

I am so grateful to have such a great team. We always arrive on time when we get last minute requests and a bride is always our number one priority as she has a lot to deal with before the wedding. So I just wanted to say thank you to my team and all of us who came together for her – it’s just great teamwork. Just making sure the bride is happy was the most important job for us at that time.

Anita Dongre

You have dressed international celebrities like Hillary Clinton, Duchess of Cambridge, Kim Kardashian, Beyonce, Sophie Turner, etc. How does it feel to be at the top of the Indian fashion scene?

I’ve been saying this for the longest time and now we’re almost done – I really think it’s an era of Indian craftsmanship and Indian design that deserves global recognition. When globally famous women like Kate Middleton wear us, it’s a great day for Indian fashion and design. We need more than that to be recognized now. When we dress Kate, Anita Dongre is the seventh most viewed designer in the world so dressing up celebrities like her brings Indian design to the forefront.

Can you share any interesting encounters with any international A-listers you’ve dressed up with?

Kim Kardashian is an editorial shoot, so I’m not there, nor am I there for Beyonce. But I had the good fortune to meet the Duchess of Cambridge at Buckingham Palace in London and it was a very lovely conversation we had. She shared her love for Rajasthan with me and said that if there is one place that I want to come back and visit it is Rajasthan and Jaipur. She knew me from there and said that’s why she chose my design. So we share our shared love for Rajasthan and a lot of my designs are inspired by that; it was nice to hear that she wanted to visit the place again because she felt she didn’t have enough on her first trip.

Anita Dongre

When it comes to celebrities, we’ve seen year after year that repetitive outfits aren’t a trend. How can we change that?

Celebrities and the media have great power, and they must use this power to influence the rest of society. I really respect Queen Mathilde, queen of Belgium, she wore one of our outfits which she referred to. The Duchess of Cambridge also regularly wears her own outfits. So I think celebrities have to keep repeating outfits to send the message that sustainability is the only path for the fashion industry. It’s a huge responsibility that they have to take very seriously.

How can we make fashion in Bollywood more sustainable?

I really think today’s celebrities should make sure they’re wearing cruelty-free fashion and favor clothes that are woven and hand-made by local artisans. Like I said, they have great power to promote this whole interest because today the world expects what they do. So they have to make sure they are making the right choices themselves, and a lot more will follow. They must support brands that are circular and not cruel; they have to research and support the people who are doing all these things.

Anita Dongre

You are not only a creative genius but also a keen businesswoman with many brands bearing her name. What is one piece of advice you would give to young women who are inspired by you?

I don’t know if I’m a shrewd businesswoman, I feel like no other. All these brands were created because they were my dreams and I basically just came to work every day and fulfilled the dreams I saw. So I thought I would say to all the young people out there believe in your dreams, be persistent with hard work and determination and you can see your dreams come true. I come to work every day and work towards that goal – It all starts with a dream or a vision. And a belief that your vision is possible.

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