There is no stopping Ragini Ahuja. The Delhi-based designer who debuted her label Ikai at the Lakmé Fashion Week Summer/Resort 2013 Gen-Next show has gone from being a newbie to fashion frat darling in no time at all. The testimonies to this are many, but consider this: she was the first runner up at the recently concluded Vogue Fashion Fund 2014, a prestigious win for the young designer indeed.
Not your basic designer, Ahuja’s creations feature a touch of edge, an inherent uniqueness that sets them apart. Think unexpected mixing of textures, leather detailing, hand woven fabrics and prints that strike a balance between look-at-me and subtle. Her latest collection ‘Metal’ focuses on sheep nappa and brass strips ingeniously appliquéd in flora and fauna shapes while using feminine fabrics, sheer chanderi and cotton marbled in corrosive colours with a hint of oxblood and gold.
Luxemi: Tell us about your foray into fashion designing. Is this something you always wanted to do?
Ragini Ahuja: I was more inclined towards illustrating and graphic art than fashion initially. But I ended up pursing my Bachelors in Fashion Design at the National Institute of Fashion Technology, New Delhi, which is how I got here. Though I do make boxy silhouettes that work as a canvas for my edgy illustrations and animated graphic details.
Who is the quintessential Ikai woman? Tell us more about the label.
The Ikai woman is real, curvaceous, fearless and confident. The label aims at creating highly wearable clothing by reinterpreting the traditional Indian aesthetic in a non-traditional way. So think boxy anti-fits are adorned with edgy artwork and animated details. The label has carved a niche with its unconventional use of leather and use of age-old techniques in the offbeat ways.
Your creations always feature an offbeat element, with a lot of texture play. Is this a conscious move? What are some of the label’s signature styles?
Our design process starts with artworks, textures and mixing new with the old, traditional with the modern. The surfaces are then translated onto fabrics. The shibori box maxi (seen on actress Esha Gupta) with beautiful shibori stripes, appliqué leather belt details and leather roll up detailing at the hem is one of our hot sellers. It is big boxy, easy-to-wear and cinched beautifully at the waist.
What are the coolest/chicest ways to wear a sari according to you?
What are the key traditional wear trends this year? What should be avoided at all costs?
Neon and anything that doesn’t flatter your body type should be completely avoided. As for Indians, wear classic saris, anarkalis and lehengas, as they never go out of style. For those who don’t mind experimenting, give our edgy leather floral applique and chanderi double layer reverse appliqué tunics and kurtas a go.
Who are some of your favourite designers and why?
I love Alexander Wang and Abraham & Thakore.
A style advice that never fails?
Find what looks good on you and stop following trends blindly!
Which are your favorite pieces from Luxemi’s latest collection?
Praachi Raniwala for Luxemi