Creative and romantic with a modern globally relevant sensibility, deep respect for tradition and sustainable ethics… these are all elements that describe fashion designer Rohit Bal, who Time magazine in its Special Report on India profiled as ‘India’s Master of fabric and fantasy.’
To design modern globally relevant collections steeped in ancient handcrafted textile tradition and sustainable ethics.
Hailing from Kashmir and settled in New Delhi, India, Rohit Bal completed formal education before stoking his passion. On graduating from St. Stephen’s Delhi with a degree in history, he learnt the craft at NIFT. Beginning his professional life at his brother’s export house, he launched his label in ’90 which encapsulated couture, ready to wear, accessories, fragrance and, most recently, a denim line. Theatricality is the name of Bal’s game. His most iconic showing was preceded with a dramatic presentation by a dance troupe whose leader dressed as Lord Krishna. The electrifying experience tapped into a sense of feeling the land, of imbibing tradition… and charged the show as models walked the runway in his collection. In another season, his guests were awestruck by the haunting beauty of the creative presentation—it’s not every day the a luxury hotel witnesses supermodels taking a bow with the designer, inside the swimming pool! The experience was inclusive of the craftsmanship, the element of fantasy, the energy of youth. And, who can forget male models on his catwalk with sindoor in their maang as a tribute to the secure alpha man?! Whoa!
Although he makes his mastery of the craft appear effortless, integral to Bal’s aesthetic is juxtaposition between traditional textile craft, Kashmir hand embroideries and modern design sensibility, working in collaboration with rural weavers. Last year, Bal joined hands with seeing machine brand Usha Silai to design a collection stitched by craftswomen from Kashmir and all profits from the sales of this collection were given to the underprivileged craftswomen. While each of them got mentored by Bal and the opportunity to understand craft techniques, silhouettes and fit, their life-transforming takeaway was financial empowerment. Per Hindu, he said, ”The emotional strength of this collection is where its uniqueness lies. The fact that Kashmiri women artisans are living in the middle of a war zone, yet they’ve made such exquisite pieces within a stipulated period, that too in freezing weather, speaks for their skills and hard work.”
He is not just a creative powerhouse. Bal revealed his business acumen with diversification and collaborations, to strengthen his brand equity. The designer launched restaurant chain ‘Veda’ and fine dining ‘Cibo’. He further diversified into Rohit Bal Luxury Weddings and forged alliances with conglomerates and brands including Omega, Aditya Birla Group, Chivas Regal, Mitsubishi, Hidesign, Reid and Taylor, Titan, Oriflame, Mitsubishi Outlander, Windproof Zippo Lighter and several others. On the global fashion landscape, he inked a creative collaboration with Christian Louboutin and Lancôme and is an ambassador for Omega. “These collaborations are not limited to me being a public face of the brand. It involves utilising my ideas to create a certain look for the product,” he says.
Rohit Bal has held fashion shows in London, Paris, New York, Singapore, Moscow, Jakarta, Colombo, Sao Paulo, Munich, Geneva and India… and is brimming with creative ideas for his next collection post-pandemic. So, is it a wonder then that his clientele include india’s A-list set, Uma Thurman, Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell?