ELLE at 20

See designer Malini Ramani's complete fashion journey

...from playing muse to debuting a party-ready line

In Ramani’s first outing with ELLE in December 1998, she wasn’t playing designer, but muse to Manish Arora. “I was wearing a gold tinsel dress by him. It was fully kitsch and fully fun,” she says.

It wasn’t long after that she made her debut as a designer in 2000, creating pieces that were an extension of her: vivacious, bold and always party-ready. Her collections carry forward her own personal style, which finds regular mention in best-dressed lists. The one for which ELLE photographed her wearing a cowboy hat in front of a cactus garden is a particular favourite.

Her approach to design, she adds, “has changed dramatically over time. I guess it’s matured with me.” What hasn’t changed is the sense of freedom that’s packaged into each collection, borne out by names like ‘Summer Soul’ and ‘Gypsy Holiday’. Her silhouettes are always undemanding — think kaftans, maxi dresses and easy drapes that don’t confuse femininity with a size-zero figure. It appeals to the well-travelled woman, who can tell apart Maori prints from Aztec motifs.

Free soul that she is, her transition to designing a line of yoga and lounge wear, Yogalini, seems natural. It’s a launch she’s awaiting with an infectious enthusiasm. But then, Ramani has never had to try too hard to get us excited.