“I love fashion but it’s time for the next chapter,” says designer Malini Ramani

7 months ago 42
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While many designers are defined by the industry, there are some who end up defining the industry instead. Malini Ramani can lay claim to that title. Widely known for her eponymous resort and evening wear label for glamorous bohemians, Ramani’s sensibility has been heavily influenced by her own wanderlust and spiritual quest. So, it’s the end of an era (and also the beginning of another one) when a designer of such acclaim announces her curtain call after two successful decades.

Ramani is busy winding up the factory and creating look books of her clearance stock when we call her. It’s not a surprise that clients (both long-time and newfound) are coveting pieces that are the designer’s final few, at least for the time being. So, what prompted this bittersweet decision, as she said on Instagram, “to say goodbye to something that has been part of my every breath for the last 20 years”? “I’ve had an amazing time doing this. But my interests have been moving in a different direction for some time now,” says Ramani. “I love fashion, but who decided you can’t love something else too? Some things run their course. It’s time for the next chapter.” The COVID-19 pandemic and its overall impact on the fashion industry also prompted Ramani’s decision. “The business is changing, and it felt like the right time to move on,” adding that there isn’t a need for party-ready clothes at the moment, which happens to be the heart of her label.

End of an era

But that’s not to say that patrons won’t continue to enjoy their existing pieces by Ramani for years to come. Former model Indrani Dasgupta often wears her capes and kaftans by the designer, which she feels are truly timeless. She also has fond memories of walking the runway for the designer, who is a close friend too. The ones at Congo, Ramani’s nightclub in Goa, are a particular favourite. “Her shows always had such great energy. Malini invested all of herself into them. I’ve witnessed Malini’s collections evolve as she herself did. Her clothes have been a true reflection of her personality—sexy, cool, edgy, glamorous and always feminine.”

Restaurateur and fashion events curator Priya Nathani, who stocked the brand at her now-closed South Mumbai store The Oak Tree, says, “I’ve known Malini for years. I can identify a Malini Ramani piece from a mile away! My trips to Goa were incomplete without a visit to her shop.” She adds: “Malini has always had such a great eye, and I loved the edgy twist she gave her beach wear. To me, her work is iconic. Remember those oversized beach bags and Kolhapuri wedges she made mainstream back in the day?”

Soul searching

Ramani maintains that her signature bohemian-luxe aesthetic has always sought a balance between inner and outer beauty. And this is in alignment with her next steps as well. The yogi plans to spend some time in Rishikesh (where she also pursued an intensive yoga training course during the early days of the lockdown) to turn inwards and enjoy a well-deserved break. “I’ve been working since I was 17! I’m now looking forward to learning new techniques of healing, meditation and sound baths.”

Her parting advice for aspiring designers? “Be flexible. Understand what people want and design accordingly. I always let myself be guided by what I would wear, not what trends dictated.” In the same breath, she emphasises the importance of being gentle with yourself too. “There is so much pressure today. Don’t let it bring you or your dreams down. Go with the flow and grow at your own pace.”

Ramani also gets candid about her time in the industry—and while she has had a great run, she does admit to feeling that she often did not receive due acknowledgment in the past decade. “I was hurt several times. But I also learnt to stop defining success only in professional terms. Health, love, relationships, spirituality… these are the things that are truly important. We were made to be inherently happy creatures, and let’s not ever lose sight of that,” she signs off.

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