It wasn’t until the 1950s that India’s first Prime Minister (Jawaharlal Nehru) popularised the bandhgala with his inimitable style and interpretation, although its origin story can be traced back to early 1600s. Reclaiming its incredibly sharp silhouette, the Maharaja of Jodhpur, Sri Sardar Singh (in the late 19th century and early 20th century) took the long angarkha and created the knee-length achkan jacket allowing the slow metamorphosis of the versatile garment. Taking the legacy forward into a new millennium, Jodhpur-based designer Raghavendra Rathore has become synonymous with popularising the Bandhgala around the world.
Recently in the news for designing the uniforms for Mahila Praharis, (the BSF’s Women Contingent at the Republic Day Parade this year) featuring his iconic Bandhgala, Rathore’s latest collaboration with notable creatives promises inherent versatility Raghavendra Rathore Jodhpur has exemplified over the years. Celebrating the evolving nature of the garment, the muse for his latest outing—Mozez Singh—director, writer, fashion enthusiast and creative, remains at the heart of the capsule collection.
In a freewheeling conversation with Mozez Singh and Raghavendra Rathore, we spoke about their coming together and the designer’s incredible journey so far.
HB: How did your collaboration come about? Do take us back to the time when you first met each other.
Raghuvendra Rathore: We have known each other for a fairly long time and I have admired Mozez‘s eye for good taste and his sense of style. It is wonderful to have people in our lives who inspire us and bring forth a new perspective for us in our journey.
Mozez Singh: I wrote and produced a luxury coffee table book last year, Jaipur Splendor, for Assouline. The Maharaja of Jaipur hosted the launch party for the book and the theme of the party was Hot Pink, the colour of Jaipur. I wanted to wear something very contemporary but rooted in classicism with an immaculate cut and fit. And of course it had to be Hot Pink. I could think of no one else but Raghu to do it. Raghu initially was a bit flummoxed that I had requested him to do this brazen hot pink outfit as this is not a colour he usually uses in his men’s collections, but then he and his team really dived into it and created something that was so extraordinary. This outfit is one of the coolest things I have in my wardrobe. And of course, it’s associated with the memory of the book launch, which was a night to remember.
HB: What is it that resonated with you as far as creative commonality went in this partnership?
RR: We at Raghavendra Rathore Jodhpur encourage an interaction with all our clients, design sensibilities eventually find a way to be embedded in the designs. The end result is more personalised and reflective of the client’s individual style. That is exactly how this initiative was seeded.
MS: I just love the fact that Raghu ‘s cut, finish and fit are always perfect. And that the ethos of his work is rooted in classicism. Because these are the foundations of anything that will stand the test of time. And then of course I come into the picture with outlandish ideas and suggestions and the best part is that Raghu never says no. I do feel he gets thrown off by my suggestions but he’s never closed to them and is ready to take these fantastical leaps. That’s the best part about working with him. The collaborations are always joyous and smooth and easy and fun and I’ve only had the best time working with him.
HB: What can we expect from the collection? If you were to define it in one word what would it be?
RR: It is an amalgamation of the creative vision of two individuals that results in a trendsetting capsule collection.
MS: I think you will see a side to Raghavendra Rathore Jodhpur that you will never see before. It’s a real departure in one way. And the only word that comes to mind when I think of this collection is–FIERCE.
Speaking of fierce collection and re-imagining of the old for a constantly changing world, here’s more from the designer…
HB: You launched Raghavendra Rathore Jodhpur in 2004, a decade after you launched your women's wear label… Did you feel there was a gap in the market or the outlook of men towards clothes had changed as we entered a new millennium?
RR: After launching the label, we decided to set a new version for the brand, anticipating a revolution in men’s dressing and styling where we have tried to build a heritage menswear brand out of RRJ. Today the brand is synonymous with classic and signature clothing like the Jodhpuri Bandhgala and the Breeches.
HB: Steeped in heritage and history, you are credited for infusing life into the Bandhgala jacket… Are there any cherished relics of the past you feel are in deep need of revival?
RR: The respect that we should give our own culture needs to be discussed more. Museums and places where artifacts from the past are housed can be great sources of learning and showcasing traditional clothing with a modern twist. Relics like the Bandhgala have managed to capture the attention of the global community, and have found a place in a
modern man’s wardrobe.
HB: Is there a particular style of craftsmanship you infused into the line? What were you thinking of while you put together this collection?
RR: Heritage and Indian textiles with a flood of colors, textures, traditional craftsmanship and overtures of the Bandhgala remain central to the collection. Fabrics are enhanced with enriched techniques from all parts of India to give it an in-depth and detailed texture but the silhouettes are kept slick and modern. From feathers to rich surface treatments the wardrobe collection designed for Mr Mozez Singh is a flag bearer of the future of fashion where traditions meet modern, trendy clothes. To blend the old with the new and to bring a unique timeless aesthetic of the Indian history into the project, an ideal location like the Samode Palace, Jaipur has lent their textures to capture the essence of the past into the frames.
HB: What other creatives/artists are you keen on partnering with? A muse which compels you to keep creating and going back to the drawing board?
RR: The true essence of a bespoke brand is its ability to design customised bespoke collections and wardrobes for people who can inspire a whole collection for the season. Raghavendra Rathore Jodhpur brand has embarked on creating personality-based wardrobes for select people. The aim, during the interactions with these unique personalities who are ahead of the trend curve by many months, is always to learn and to adapt these ideas in larger collections.
All Images: Raghavendra Rathore Jodhpur