MATTERS OF HEART
L'Officiel India|February - March 2020
MATTERS OF HEART
One of the radical figures of design, Anita Dongre is advocating change in the context of luxury fashion by preserving the rich craft heritage of India and empowering rural artisans, especially women.
SHIVPRIYA BAJPAI
With a philosophy of creating indigenous designs that leave an indelible impression transcending geographical boundaries, designer Anita Dongre is the force we require today to drive the true ethos of fashion. Her women empowerment initiative, The Anita Dongre Foundation, provides equal livelihood opportunities to several rural women through skill training. A true environmentalist and revivalist of local craft, Anita envisions creating a beautiful future for the planet and its people. In a thought evoking conversation, she shares her journey, beliefs and passion with us. Edited excerpts follow...

An incredible journey spanning over two decades; how has the experience been so far? If you had to highlight three turning points, what would those be?

Bringing things to life and watching them grow—whether children, ideas, plants or brands, is always an exciting experience. This journey started over two decades ago, when my sister Meena and I were setting up two sewing machines in our balcony to embark on a dream. Over two decades, I have collaborated with many incredible people. The first was probably the time that I wanted a store in Crossroads mall and was refused because I was a young woman. Of course, I figured out a way to get what I wanted, and a year later it turned out to be the highest grossing store. It was a quick lesson in ignoring patriarchy, misogyny and other forms of toxicity, and focus on my own dreams. The second would have to be meeting Gauri Ben and being introduced to SEWA (Self-Employed Women’s Association). The meeting encouraged me to set up Grassroot, a dream I’ve held for decades—to work with Indian craftspeople and bring their work to the 21st century.

The third is launching a store in New York that would turn the global fashion spotlight on Indian craftsmanship. The support from my family, my team, the artisans I work with, and the men and women who have supported the House of Anita Dongre over the last 20 years, have brought us to 2020.

Your signature style highlights your affinity for indigenous craft traditions mixed with modern aesthetics. Where do you seek inspiration from?

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February - March 2020