The living legends of couture

While many believe in the Mayan apocalypse myth and fear Friday will be the end of it all, 2012 has been a landmark year when it comes to Indian design. There's no doom, only festivity in the fashion world as four of India's leading designers are celebrating personal milestones.

In the larger landscape of India’s style saga, their personal achievements in turn honour and stand proof of the diverse sensibilities and tastes, distinct textiles and indigenous crafts of traditional fashion.

The big four included Suneet Varma- pioneer of Indian glamour; JJ Valaya- the king of haute couture; traditional textile expert Ritu Kumar and Ravi Bajaj, master of menswear.

Today Ravi Bajaj is known as the "Armani of Indian fashion," but back in the day this young Sikh lad embraced his fashion calling despite all the odds were stacked against him. Bajaj can be singlehandedly credited with changing the face of Indian menswear. The designer created chic and trendy attire and formal wear that did away with the age-old practice of men flaunting ill-fitted clothes they called "suits." Understated, fuss free and minimalistic, Ravi Bajaj follows the less is more principle. The designer recently celebrated his silver jubilee with an evening of fashion, music and glamour co hosted by Chivas Spotlight with a retro gallery." Season after season, I try to push the envelope, bit by bit.
A model in designer Ravi Bajaj's creation

Nothing too radical, as I don't want to scare my clients away... Having said that, a few things don't change at all, quality being one of them- the eternal hallmark of a Ravi Bajaj product." Bold, sexy, audacious, playful and feminine that's a Suneet Varma creation for you. There is nothing ordinary about him or his designs.

Varma brought knowledge, sartorial research and meticulous craftsmanship to the Indian fashion scene. Brand Varma stands for fantasy, sophistication and pure femininity. The designer also celebrated his 25th anniversary milestone this year, hosting a couture show and a fashionable soiree.
The inimitable Ritu Kumar, pictured when she first started designing

Starting out as early as 1986 this YSL prodigy put the sexy back in Indian fashion. The connoisseur of women's fashion- his sultry saris, dramatic ensembles and sexy gowns have found their way to the international red carpet and are a must have for any fashionista.

Marrying western silhouettes with Indian sensibility, Suneet Varma's creations are tailor- made for the contemporary woman who is comfortable in her own skin.
A chic JJ Valaya production

If Ravi Bajaj stands for Western sensibility and Suneet Varma for feminine and sultry, then designer JJ Valaya equals opulence and grandeur for Indian fashion. 2012 marks 20 years for the Valaya brand which stands for everything India is known for- heritage, grandeur and majesty. His rich designs represent the magnificence of ethnic Indian embroidery along with the craftsmanship and the splendor India's tradition and history making Valaya the maharaja of haute couture.

Last and certainly not the least is veteran designer Ritu Kumar- the founder of India's fashion story, with 2012 marking forty glorious years in the business for Kumar. Her creations reflect the ancient traditions of Indian craftsmanship in a contemporary vocabulary.
A sultry design from Suneet Varma's 2013 show

From four hand-block printers and two tables in a small village near Calcutta she is the person who introduced the 'boutique' culture in India. The designer's range of ensembles boasts of western and Indian apparel. Her body of work stand’s for India's diverse textiles and craftsmanship and her brand reflects the legacy and wealth of Indian fashion.

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