Some have single-handedly transformed labels into brands, some have championed the cause of younger designers by giving them platforms to showcase their creations, while others have excelled by creating an e-commerce revolution. Today, as we celebrate Women’s Day, we profile seven entrepreneurs who have ensured that their creativity is not just limited to the runway but extends to the boardroom as well.
The name doesn’t need an introduction. Besides being one of the most commercially successful fashion designers today, Dongre is also considered to be a Bollywood’s numero uno. From Kareena Kapoor Khan to Kangana Ranaut to Alia Bhat, all swear by her impeccable designs. Though she launched her label in 1995, Dongre gained international fame when she designed a dress for The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, and became one of the most googled designers in 2016. Apart from her eponymous label, she helms her westernwear label, AND, and boho-chic Global Desi.
Her bridal couture gowns are often considered works of art, and she has recently forayed into the world of fine jewellery with her label Pink City. She is also the only Indian designer to open two flagship stores in New York City. . Be it collaborating with local NGOs, ensuring sustained livelihood opportunities for women with Anita Dongre Foundation’s women empowerment initiative or working closely with Bassi Wildlife Sanctuary, Chittorgarh, on unique consumer engagement campaign, Dongre is at the forefront of sustainable fashion. For past few seasons, she has been using sustainable fibres like Tencel, made of renewable raw material, and has completely veered away from using leather and cashmere.
Polymath in a true sense, Qureshi brought an e-commerce revolution to India with her fashion website Perniaspopupshop.com when she launched it in 2012, at a time when there weren’t many players in the segment. Besides retailing some of the most exclusive Indian labels such as JJ Valaya, Rahul Mishra, and Tarun Tahiliani, she has also introduced a number of fresh fashion entrants, like Shaheen Abbas, Mishru and Dhruv Vaish, to the global business. Qureshi, who is always on a lookout to explore more in fashion, opened her first flagship store in Mumbai last year and hosts annual pop-ups all across the country.
Tina Tahiliani Parikh
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A graduate of Stanford University, Tahiliani is best known as the executive director of Ensemble. Launched in 1989 by her brother and couturier, Tarun Tahiliani along with his wife Sal, Ensemble was one of India’s first fashion stores, which introduced the idea of multi-brand retailling in a fledgling fashion industry. It has been a go-to destination for discerning fashion lovers for nearly 30 years now. Now with their outlets in Mumbai and Delhi, the space houses both veterans like Rajesh Pratap Singh, Suneet Varma, and Abu Jani & Sandeep Khosla, younger names like Pero, Amit Aggarwal, Payal Pratap and more.
Designer Kavita Bhartia is a name synonymous with the changing wave in Indian fashion, and her store Ogaan is nothing less than a fixture on India’s fashion landscape. Launched in 1989, it has been a platform for younger designers with a strong narrative.
It was in the 80s that Bhartia sensed a number of younger designers making their foray into mainstream fashion, so she created Ogaan as an answer to where their talents could be showcased. With its careful edit of brands today, Ogaan is the go-to store to find the trailblazing names in fashion. There are flagships in Mumbai, Delhi, and Hyderabad.
Cecilia Morelli Parikh
Parikh, a former Bergdorf Goodman buyer who’s worked with luxury behemoths such as Balenciaga and Prada, co-founded Le Mill with Julie Leymarie in 2011. What sets Le Mill apart is that it is a gateway to international luxury labels like Chloé, Céline, Dries Van Noten, and Balmain among others. Adding an Indian touch to the edit are contemporary Indian labels such as Bodice, Eka, and Péro. “Our culture and aesthetics are different to Europe. So our selection is made keeping that in mind. We like to say, Le Mill has its eyes on Paris but its heart firmly in Bombay,” says Parikh, giving an insight into her curatorial process. Now, housed in a heritage property in Colaba, Mumbai, it seeks inspiration from the cultural contradictions of the city.
Poddar can be credited for revamping the iconic multi-designer store Carma, in Delhi. Launched in 1991 by Malvika’s mother-law Lekha, it was in the early 2000s that Malvika took over and turned it into a space where fashion, art, and architecture converged. With a keen eye on younger designers, she looped in some of the coolest labels like Aiman, Ekru, and Poochki. Needless to say, in a market space dominated with a number of designer stores, due to Malvika’s keen eye, Carma stands strong as a platform catering some of the best names in fashion.
At a time when a number of multi-designer stores are mushrooming, Ahluwalia’s store Bungalow Eight lives up to its title of being a concept store. Stocking some of the coolest labels which don’t necessarily fit in the run-of-the-mill trend cycle, Ahluwalia has been curating pathbreaking fashion edits for her state of art store Bungalow 8. Raised in an aesthetically inclined household – her grandmother Chandu Morarji launched country’s first boutique Dagina – in the 60s, many Indian designers such as Anavila, Lovebirds, and Injiri, among others, were introduced at Bungalow 8 before they gained prominence. She has also collaborated with fashion veterans such as Abraham and Thakore & Sonam Dubal to create original capsules for the store.