Ritu Kumar on 6 books that inspire her work and life


6 books that inspire Ritu Kumar’s work and life

Her recommendations are filled with nostalgia

By Gargi Agrawal  October 6th, 2020

Intricate detailing, rich craftsmanship and classic, earthy hues are just a few elements that define the work of veteran fashion designer Ritu Kumar. A name to reckon within the fashion industry, every season the designer showcases collections that define modern elegance. Whether it’s an easy-breezy kaftan, a stunning suit or a block-print maxi, her iconic label amalgamates Indian traditions and ethnicity with contemporary sensibilities.

We reached out to Ritu Kumar for the books that have impacted her work and personal life through the years. Here’s what she had to say:

Ritu Kumar

“I stumbled upon a book called Muslin—Our Story which I read from cover to cover. Written by Saiful Islam, it is the story of Bengal before partition and its amazing fabric, the Daccai muslin,” said Kumar.

Ritu Kumar

“The other book which is a light read from the same area is The Saratchandra Omnibus (both volume 1 and 2), which brings about a deep understanding of films such as Devdas, Parineeta and the dress codes of the time. It’s a nostalgic reading of the time gone by,” she shared.

Ritu Kumar

“Recently, I read Return Of A King By William Dalrymple. He always brings a great sense of history to our cultural understanding of our Indian past. All his books are great reads,” said Kumar.

When off-duty, here’s what Ritu Kumar suggests for a good read: "Circe by Madeline Miller is a must-read — the author makes the woman villain of the Odyssey into a heroine. It's fun and light.”

“For a serious understanding of our religion, read the banned book, The Hindus By Wendy Doniger. It's a brilliant take on our beliefs,” she shared.

If cultural and religious books are heavy for you, then the designer recommends Hilary Mantels' Wolf Hall which according to her rightly deserves the Booker Prize. "You need a chart of characters to keep abreast with the storyline," she added.

“All of the above books are costume studies too, from Bengal, Northwest frontier province, the Greek and the English courts,” she adds further.

Which book made it to your reading list?