As a child, designer Raghavendra Rathore spent a lot of time observing people around him, the way they dressed and carried themselves. And his royal lineage (he belongs to the royal family of Jodhpur) simply added to his early inquisitiveness. “I owe a lot to my father, who has been my biggest inspiration. The origin of my aesthetic articulation stems from the enormous impact of my father’s styling and his wardrobe,” says Rathore.
The designer is known for his take on the classic bandhgala and reviving this age-old, traditional outfit for men. Today, an Indian wedding is incomplete without the groom donning one. Even Bollywood actors like Saif Ali Khan, Anil Kapoor, Sushant Singh Rajput, and more recently, cricketer Virat Kohli are often spotted in his creations. Not only did he add a touch of sophistication to the bandhgala, he also turned it into a representation of how an Indian man dresses up, formally. “The bandhgala is an epitome of Indo-Western tailored suits (for men).”
So, does he see this timeless classic evolve into something more? Yes, says Rathore. “This piece of menswear has gradually transformed into an entire collection of women’s bandhgalas for all occasions, something that we are working towards in women’s fashion,” he adds. Apart from this, he sees the outfit take various forms with minimalistic embroidery and embellishments, adding to its sophistication. According to Rathore, the fit of the bandhgala can make or break the outfit. One needs to be careful about getting the right cut and fit; it should be cut high on the armhole and the jacket should fit like a glove around the chest, it should fit like second skin.
The royal touch
Though Rathore grew up in a royal family, it was his time at the boarding school (Mayo in Ajmer) and at Parsons School of Design in NY (during graduation) that made him fall in love with the bandhgala. At the boarding school, every student was expected to wear one. While the classic way of wearing the bandhgala is with all the buttons closed, Rathore styled it by wearing a shirt inside and leaving the top two buttons undone. This new way of reliving the regal times took off. Today, Rathore’s signature bandhgala is a common fixture on runways, both in India and abroad. He’s also been credited as someone who has been instrumental in promoting Indian heritage and crafts.
And with the launch of his institute, Gurukul School of Design in Jaipur, Rathore plans to inculcate these values in the future fashion designers. “The school is set up with the idea of entrenching the love for history and heritage via design among the youth,” he says. His vision is to empower the future design masters with the right knowledge so that they can make their country proud. “Design is my way of giving back to society by spreading my passion for heritage and design among aspiring designers and entrepreneurs,” he adds.