How Ruchika Sachdeva won the West

How Ruchika Sachdeva won the West

She has become the third Indian fashion designer to win the prestigious International Woolmark Prize

By Sujata Assomull

Published: Thu 18 Jan 2018, 11:00 PM

Last updated: Tue 30 Jan 2018, 10:58 AM

Indian fashion is rejoicing, and for some very good reasons. Last week in Florence, all eyes were on Ruchika Sachdeva as she became the third Indian fashion designer to win the coveted International Woolmark Prize. With Rahul Mishra and Suket Dhir winning the award in the menswear category in 2014 and 2015 respectively, India seems to have become International Woolmark Prize's country of choice.
Ruchika's seven-year-old label Bodice has created quite a niche for itself back home in India, winning Vogue India's Fashion Fund four years ago. Her recent win only confirms that India's being seen as an important fashion destination globally. As a country to source the finest textiles from, if not the end product. In fact, Ruchika herself emphasised this as she won her award - "India is not known for fashion. It's known for its textiles, handicraft and tradition, but not fashion."
Bodice, as a label, has become synonymous with sustainable, locally sourced fabrics. Though she works closely with local craftsmen, embellishment is not exactly the forte of her designs. Be it clothes that are reversible or ones that do not require ironing, Ruchika's take on fashion is rather practical. Despite the attention to detailing, there's a fuss-free feel to her clothes. This explains why her collections for women often have silhouettes that would otherwise be associated with menswear. Your wardrobe, she believes, should have staples that can be mixed and matched. It is a refreshing take on slow fashion - a movement that encourages relatively slower production schedules since the emphasis is on creating long-lasting, environment-friendly products.
In the world of fashion, the International Woolmark Prize is known to be a door opener. Both Yves Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld have been recipients of this prestigious award. The Australia-based Woolmark Company has been promoting the use of merino wool, a natural yarn known for its fineness and softness, for over 60 years. In fact, the prize was instituted to promote what's termed as "cool wool" in the industry.
Given its legacy, perhaps Ruchika is exactly what the panel of judges - comprising designer Phillip Lim, model Amber Valletta, Vogue Italia's editor-in-chief Emanuele Farneti and Eco Age founder and creative director Livia Firth - were looking for. Upcycled buttons using coconut and sea shells, natural dyes on Australian merino wool and a restrained colour palette, her collection was effortlessly stylish.
Traditional pleating and kantha embroidery are techniques Bodice has come to be known for, but it is used with such subtlety that the craft seamlessly blends with the design of the outfit.
After winning International Woolmark Prize, Ruchika stated that she travelled to 22 states with the collection she showcased at the international platform. Combining aspects of slow fashion with the utility of high street gave Bodice the much-needed edge. And the fact that it came from India only shows it is a country that has the best of crafts as well as a desire to innovate. Bodice's thoughtful approach to design is where fashion might be heading.

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