Veteran fashion designer Ritu Kumar, who has been named for the Padma Shri award, takes pride in the fact that the Indian fashion industry can still boast of having an indigenous identity.
"I am deeply appreciative of the fact that the government has recognised my efforts in the field of fashion, textile and craftsmanship. India remains (to be among) very few countries which have an indigeneous and a very strong fashion handwriting, not dictated by Paris or New York, but is evolving with the designers of the country," Kumar said in a statement Saturday.
Active in the fashion industry since 40 years, Ritu Kumar began her work with four block printers and two tables in a small village near Calcutta, and was the first woman to introduce the 'boutique' culture in India under the brand name 'Ritu'.
Since then, she has grown to be one of the most formidable names in the country's fashion scene, and has also helped make its local textiles global.
"I am grateful for the support I have received from the crafts people of this country," added Kumar, who now has her outlets in 14 cities in the country.
The 68-year-old's designs reflect rich Indian cultural heritage and her forte lies in traditional Indian designs.
Kumar was recently in the news for designing costumes for a wedding sequence in Deepa Mehta's forthcoming "Midnight's Children", based on Salman Rushdie's Booker Prize winnng novel of the same name. Earlier, she designed for films like "Love Breakups Zindagi" and styled Freida Pinto for a few of her scenes in "Slumdog Millionaire".
Her clientele includes Jemima Khan, Sushmita Sen, Aishwarya Rai and almost all the winners of the Miss India titles. She had even designed for late Princess Diana.
Her fascination for tie and dye pattern appealed to former Spice Girls singer Mel B so much that she asked Kumar to design the band's clothes for one of their shows.