A different lifestyle merchant

Updated: Sep 19 2003, 05:30am hrs
Thirty-five year old Raghavendra Rathore is like the fried ice cream preparation, Baked Alaska: hes different. This successful designer who believes he could well have turned out a recluse artist is unlike most fellow couturiers. Having worked with Donna Karan, Bill Blass and Oscar de la Renta, his personal wardrobe has no space for them and others of their ilk; only leftovers from his clothing line, Inde Pret, and Vivek Narangs kurtas! Hes not into the social swirl but goes out only when I must. Enquire about his celebrity clientele and in all seriousness he exclaims, but thats dropping names! And its only after much prodding that he spills out names such as Jyotiraditya Scindia, Amitabh Bachchan and the internationally renowned painter, Francesco Clemente.

Raghavendra Rathore
Even as Mr Rathore lives and works among a high-strung, volatile, and intensely competitive set of people, he counts among his closest buddies, four-five members of the same tribe. Though he politely refuses to divulge names, he adds helpfully, I think it helps that Im an outsider. My personal code of conduct also has something to do with it. A strong believer in karma, I respect all which surrounds me, in words and action.

Unlike many artists, Mr Rathore admits to being comfortable with the commercialisation of design. Words like business models and revenue-generation flow freely, hes turning less risk-averse in his business ventures and feels that marketing is not a problem though I do need help with day-to-day systems, he quips. Yet, when sometimes a deeper and more meaningful perspective is needed to look beyond the box, the guidance of his spiritual guru is a blessing. Maintaining a balance in this materialistic world I am a part of, is important, he explains. It also explains why the fashion guru disappears ever so often to his little village home with a little garden for that much needed time out.

This member of the Jodhpur royal family also stands out from his blue-blood/Rajput fraternitycompleting his American education through a self-sufficient support system, designing for polo players rather than striking the mallet himself, and being almost totally a veggie. But thats not to say he takes his food lightly though he does like it light, minus the grease! For him, offering food to someone is a statement of sorts, and he takes great pains over getting the meal right, ie, a combination of taste, culture and aesthetics at his dining table. And while Mr Rathore loves cooking at home and claims to rustle up a mean pasta and snacky things like falafel, humous and dips, he enjoys as much Mashrabyas brilliant starters, the Hyatts sun-dried tomatoes pizza and Diva for its personalised service.

For sure, its a blend of intellect and creativity which makes him Mr multi-dimensional. Before turning to the arts, Mr Rathore studied electronics and robotics (thats creative too, he explains), tried and dismissed modern American fiction (too bland) and enjoyed studying child psychology and Greek mythology. And when hes not designing clothes & interiors and promoting his chocolates, he enjoys writing (mostly for myself), sketching and painting. An artist at heart, he enjoys talking about his art which, hes quick to add, arent abstract. I like capturing faces, hands & expressions. In fact, these Raghu Rathores could soon be headed to the US if talks with an American collaborator work out.

Music-wise, hes definitely an unconventional arias-jazz-blues-ambient fusion man, with Marianne Faithfull, John McLaughlin, and If Six Was Nine featuring among his all-time favourites. And nothing would give this artist greater pleasure than studying the works of Bernini, a painter-sculptor who he terms immensely gifted and versatile. For Mr Rathore bliss is the gracefulness of a flowing chiffon or that split-second just before you hit the bed after a hard days work. Perhaps, this gentleman whose sexy lady is the animated creature Jessica Rabbit, from the movie Who Framed Rodger Rabbit - has inspired the woman of today by, in fact, himself being inspired by todays woman.