We recently had the chance to ask Mr Raghavendra Rathore, who runs his own luxury suiting label, about everything from what to do if we went to India to mysterious blond saviours and what the brand which bears his name. It's well worth checking out if you don't already know about it - it has a wonderful sense of mixing east and west that is typified in the Jodhpuri Bandgala jacket. He also has an equestrian/polo line of clothing and has even designed a lifestyle app. An entrepreneurial gentleman to say the least.
1. What kind of craftsmen do you and your team work with?
Highly skilled and those who have an understanding of textile, technique and most importantly aesthetics in their DNA.
2. What inspired your choice to come to the UK?
Appreciation for bespoke clothing and products.
3. You seem like a remarkable individual with really cool style - what one piece of style advice would you give?
To keep one’s personal style comfortable and within your character. The confidence will come with originality, not with aping what is “in”
4. If you could make something bespoke for anyone who would it be?
Her Majesty’s most well know MI6 agent, James Bond – from a discrete gadget, to his entire wardrobe, accessories included.
5. If I were to go to India to see something off the beaten track where should I go to and what should I see?
Narlai, a small ancient village at the base of a 300 foot monolith, in the heart of Rajasthan. Every evening at dusk, chimes, drums and hums from over one hundred temples are carried by the winds across the characteristic volcanic hills of this region. In one such mysterious temple it is said that a sacred flame has been burning for over a century, giving out saffron instead of black soot. Narlai exists, but in a different era, where the pace of life slows down and compels one to effortlessly… relax. A quiescent yet energized place, for those who want to adventure and explore, there are several activities that can be tailor made and subscribed to, enriching one's journey through village life in India.
Learning happens naturally, by just being there and soaking in the surroundings. Thus, I have made it mandatory for my children to visit this water hole of life, as often as possible, just as my father had done with me.
My father first took me to Narlai when I was about seven. I distinctly remember playing with the local village boys, climbing each and every hill, finding water bodies and walking through pockets of the jungle, and exploring what I imagined to be the deepest cave ever, which served as a home to monkeys, bats and birds. Interestingly enough, in the darkest part of the cave, is a hidden Shiva temple, through which a never-ending trickle of water flows, regardless of drought or the scorching summer sun. It is probably one of the most peaceful places I have been to that is not inhabited by caretakers like most temples. It is said that wishes made here come true without a doubt.
For the past few decades my life has been about juggling between the fast pace of fashion and this sublime abode, that beckons when the storms in my mind reach a frenzy and before stress catches up. To keep a balance between reality and a place that exists in a storybook, becomes a hard tussle, as the mind focuses all its energies to switch off. Acting as a catalyst in this process, The Rawla Narlai, a quaint boutique hotel was created, in hope to allow others to experience the magic of this gem.
Nestled in the heart of the village, this 32 room dwelling offers an escape steeped in heritage and subtle luxury. Services offered by the boutique hotel can no doubt spoil you. The chefs seek your advice to challenge themselves, providing flavours that will linger for years, the masseuse in the spa wishes you with an inviting smile, while the naturalist introduces you to the natural surroundings like nowhere else. Ideal for family getaways, soul nurturing 'me time' for the individual traveller, or a place where friends come to renew bonds, Narlai serves as a place where time stands still, serving all individual needs.
6. You previously worked for Donna Karan and Oscar de la Renta, what did you learn from those experiences?
Oscar de la Renta is my role model and not because he is one of the most renowned fashion designers but because of the knowledge he imparted with me. His learning and philosophy of fashion is what I will cherish the most.
7. Was it challenging to translate traditional Indian dress to the UK market?
Ideas from the East, have recently found a larger share of space, on mood boards, at the helm of top international fashion ateliers, across the globe. Becoming part of a new understanding which is a blend of the East and the West, creating a mysterious appetite, for all kinds of objects of desire. We mostly see this in traditional arts and crafts, whether it is the enhancing techniques like embroideries, even certain drapes or silhouettes, that are reminiscent of eastern sensibilities. Trends from India or the Middle East now get processed by brilliant designers who have the power and understanding of repackaging luxury products that have a sense of eastern familiarity at the same time high equation of European sophistication.
8. You seem to have a large collection of hobbies - what have you been doing outside of work recently?
My education and career though completely different have both complemented each other. Electronics and robotics teaches you logic whereas the arts accentuate the idea of creativity, collectively they emphasize the complete use of the right and left side of the brain. Creative ideas that come into my head are given direction and analyzed logically giving a strong commercial viability to my creativity.
9. Can you tell us the story about being rescued from jail by a mysterious Blonde?
A generous moment in my life and perhaps a case of mistaken identity J
10. What's going to come next for the brand in the UK?
Custom designed shirt each made by hand and paired with gold cufflinks.