Top Fashion Designers in India

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Manashjyoti Hazarika
Manager Content
Updated on Jul 18, 2022 15:22 IST

The fashion trends in the country are more or less shaped by top fashion designers in the country. Check out the who is who of the fashion industry here!

The fashion industry is easily one of the most, if not the most, glamorous industries in the country. It shapes the fashion trends in the country and is a mirror of the society we live in. It is therefore no surprise that the youth is glued to every step taken by the country’s top fashion designers. Designers like Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Tarun Tahiliani, Ritu Beri, and Rohit Bal are today well-known and well-respected names. And don’t forget Wendell Rodricks, who was awarded the Padma Shri in the Arts discipline in 2014. This shows that fashion today is considered an art form!

The new-found love, and especially respect, for the fashion industry from the intelligentsia and the government, augurs well for the aspiring designer. Read on to learn about some of the top fashion designers in the country, their careers, how they became famous and much more.

Top fashion designers in the country

The fashion designers mentioned below are not given in any particular order. But each one of them has made some stellar contributions to take their craft to the next level, that is to the level of art!

Manish Malhotra

One of the most recognizable names in the fashion industry, Manish Malhotra started his career as a model. But as fate would have it, he soon found himself working as a costume designer. His passion and love for movies is a reason cited by the designer for his choosing to become a costume designer. And, it was not long before he was making costumes for film stars in popular Bollywood movies.

Celebrity wear is an area where Manish Malhotra thrives and the leading ladies of Bollywood can’t get enough of it! He is the man behind those stunning bridal wears worn by Bollywood divas like Kareena Kapoor, Preity Zinta, Urmila Matondkar, and Gauahar Khan. 

So it is no surprise that after a career spanning more than three decades, Manish Malhotra is today considered the de-facto luxury designer of the industry. He also has his own eponymous label, which boasts contemporary, luxury costumes, bridal wear, and couture collection. 

Ritu Kumar

An art history graduate from the Lady Irwin College, Ritu Kumar was one of the early trailblazers in the fashion industry. Her inspiration to become a fashion designer germinated in the 1960s when she visited Serampore and by chance came in contact with hand block printers that were out of work. The still young Ritu saw the hidden potential of the designs and enlisted the printers to weave the design on sarees; the end result - beautifully crafted hand-block printed sarees that caught the imagination of the common people and aesthetically minded equally.

After her first brush with popularity and success, it didn’t take Ritu Kumar long to establish herself as one of the leading designers in the country, with her work being showcased in Paris and New York fashion houses. 

Some of the famous national and international celebrities adorning Ritu Kumar's wardrobe include Princess Diana, Priyanka Chopra, Lara Dutta, Deepika Padukone, and Madhuri Dixit Nene.

At the height of her popularity, her company has the distinction of being of having the highest turnover among Indian designers. Young women out there who aspire to become designers, please take note!

Rohit Bal

If you have the money to splurge and create memorable weddings and celebrations, look no further than the mercurial genius that is Rohit Bal. Be it bridal lehengas or bridesmaid lehangas, no one makes them more regal and eye-catching than Rohit Bal. Outfits by the designer stand out for their intricate detailing, tasteful design, use of high-quality fabric, color combination, and contrast. To top it off, the outfits don’t compromise on comfort, which is why they invariably turn out to be top picks pick among women. 

Rohit Bal is dishing out designer couture for the men folk too, especially traditional Indian attires like sherwanis, shirts, bandhgala, accessories, and kurta. These outfits are designed with the intent to give the wearer an Indian, but also a suave and smart look, that will make the womenfolk go weak on their knees!

Belonging to a Kashmiri Pandit family, Rohit Bal was born in Kashmir Valley on May 8, 1961. He is an alumnus of the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), Delhi.

Tarun Tahiliani

Tarun Tahiliani has been one of the mainstays and easily recognizable names in the Indian fashion industry. A common theme in designs made by Tarun Tahiliani is its strong connection to Indian craftsmanship. While fusing traditional wear with aesthetics has been his core, he has also dabbled in bridal wear.  

An alumnus of the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, Tarun Taniliani opened his first fashion store, Ensemble, a multi-design boutique. He also has his own eponymous label. 

Designs by Tarun Tahiliani are worn by the who-is-who of the film industry, including Alia Bhatt, Kareena Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Sonam Kapoor, etc.

Recently, the designer has also taken up interior designing projects. Some of his important work in this field includes designing the interiors of The Sofala, Goa, the Aish at the Park, Hyderabad, and other prominent properties. 

Neeta Lulla

The costume designs of Devdas, the Hindi film that came out in 2002, were a big reason why the movie became such a runaway hit. And the person who did the costume designs for the film was none other than Neeta Lulla. Then there are films like Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Manikarnika, etc. where the designer could be seen in her full glory.

An alumnus of SNDT University, Juhu, Neeta Lulla is married to a family of doctors. Neeta was not a fashion enthusiast in her early days, but her in-laws inspired her to pursue a career that will keep her engaged, which drove Neeta toward fashion.

After completing her studies, Neeta worked as a fashion choreographer and by chance got a chance to work in a Bollywood film, Tamasha. It brought her instant recognition and recommendations from many leading actresses of that time, including Sridevi and Juhi Chawla.  

Neeta has not looked back after that and has managed to carve a niche for herself in the cut-throat fashion industry. She is the winner of the National Film Award for Best Costume Design, which is presented by the Directorate of Film Festivals, a record 4 times.

Anamika Khanna

Kolkata-based designer Anamika Khanna has had a rollercoaster journey toward the pinnacle of the fashion industry. Her first brush with fashion started in 1995 when she got an opportunity to design garments for Damania Fashion by dint of winning a competition; her sketches were selected over others.

Since Anamika had no formal training of any kind, the initial phase was riddled with difficulties. It didn’t help her cause Kolkota at that point in time was not much of a fashion capital, as it is today. So it was mostly self-learning through the trial and error method. 

Her hard work and unwavering determination paid off, as she gradually climbed the ladder of success. Today her stellar resume includes the celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, Simi Garewal, Deepika Padukone, and Sonam K Ahuja. Meanwhile, some of the popular movies for which Anamika Khanna has done costume designing include Mausam, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, and Fashion. 

Interesting anecdote: Anamika Khanna designed a pearl, gold, and silver studded 10 kg velvet lahenga for the Simi Garewal talk show: India’s Most Desirable. The lehenga was gifted to Lady Gaga.

Ritu Beri

An alumnus of the National Institute of Fashion Technology, New Delhi, Ritu Beri has been a pioneer in the Indian fashion industry. She also honed her craft under the tutelage of François Lesage, the world-renowned Embroiderer from French. 

Beri launched her fashion brand in India in 1990 and made her foray into the international scene in 1992 after successful stints with Liberty, Regent Street, London. In 1998, she became the first Indian designer to present her collection at the Paris Fashion Week. In another first, Ritu Beri became the first Asian to helm the French fashion brand, Scherrer.

For her immense contribution in the field of design, she was awarded the prestigious French Award ‘Chevaliere des Arts et des lettres’ in 2010. 

Recently, in 2019, she was appointed the Culture and Tourism Ambassador of Uzbekistan in India by the Ministry of Tourism of Uzbekistan. 

Wendell Rodricks

The next designer on our list, Wendell Rodricks, wore many hats. In addition to being an ace designer, he was a social activist, author, environmentalist, and gay-rights activist. Rodricks was awarded the Padma Shri, the fourth-highest civilian award, in 2014. 

The designs by Wendell Rodricks stood out for their simplicity yet fine and fluid texture. You are not going to find heavy embellishments in his designs. Rather a common motif in designs by Rodricks is the presence of pristine white.  

Interestingly, the minimalist designs by the designer didn’t have many takers when Rodricks first entered the industry, which at that time was dominated by opulence and grandeur. It took around two more years for people and the industry to finally wake up and embrace the designer. Rodricks feels that rejection makes one stronger and more determined to achieve their goals.

The designer also played a major role in popularizing resort wear and eco-friendly fashion. Another facet of his design was its strong connection to Goan roots; so it can be safely said that he single-handedly managed to put Goa firmly in the global fashion map! 

At the still young age of 59, Rodricks breathed his last on February 12, 2020. The cause of death was reported to be heart failure.

Sabyasachi Mukherjee

If Rodricks was the minimalist icon, then Sabyasachi Mukherjee is the king of bling!

An alumnus of NIFT Kolkata, Sabyasachi Mukherjee tasted success fairly early in his career. His career really took off after he showcased his creations at the Lakmé Fashion Week. His creation struck such a chord that overnight he was catapulted into stardom. 

But attaining stardom and keeping it is an altogether different kettle of fish. To manage the heavy weight of expectations, Sabyasachi decided to intern with the best in the business - the V&A, Azzedine Alaïa, and Jean Paul Gaultier; he managed to secure scholarships for this purpose. The intent behind the internship was to learn the inner workings and dynamics of couture and the fine arts.

After returning from the internships, Sabyasachi participated in an exhibition, where his creations sold out like hot cakes. But this kind of acceptance also created self-doubts in the mind of the young designer, who thought that his popularity was a fluke that can dissipate at any moment.

It took some time and lots of hard work on the part of the designer to accept his newfound fame. One way the designer has managed to keep his mental sanity in all the craziness around him is by immersing himself in his work while staying away from the media circus. It is precisely why you get to hear so much after designs crafted by the designer, but not the designer himself.

So, for the time being, Sabyasachi fans would have to content themselves with his designs! 

Admission process to top design institutes in the country

It is possible that after reading about the top designers in the country, many students would get inspired to become fashion designers. The most common way to become a designer is of course to get enrolled in a design institute. Check out the admission process to some of the top design colleges in the country.

NIFT admission process

Candidates seeking admission to the National Institute of Fashion Technologies (NIFTs) need to appear in the NIFT entrance exam, which is conducted annually. There are currently 17 participating NIFTs, with a combined intake of 5, 023 seats.

NID admission process

There are currently five participating National Institute of Designs (NIDs). Admission to these premier colleges is conducted on the basis of NID DAT scores

The NID DAT exam comprises two test components - DAT Prelims and DAT Mains. Candidates need to first appear in DAT Prelims. Based on DAT Prelims scores, candidates are shortlisted for DAT Mains.

Admission to IITs 

While the IITs are rightfully known as the preeminent places to study engineering, a few of these institutes are also fast emerging as the top destinations to study design courses. Today, top IITs like IIT Delhi, IIT Bombay, and IIT Guwahati offer design courses.

Admission to the undergraduate design courses in the IITs is conducted through the UCEED entrance exam. Postgraduate candidates need to appear in the CEED exam.

Currently, the seat intake for the undergraduate programs stands at 199.

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About the Author
Manashjyoti Hazarika
Manager Content

Creating student-centric content for the higher education sector is my forte. Be it news, well-researched articles, or simple write-ups that update you on an exam date or help you fill a form, I serve it in the most... Read Full Bio


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