Ruchika Sachdeva's Bodice floors the global fashion fraternity to win the International Woolmark Prize
During the finale of the Woolmark International Prize held recently at Florence American designer, Phillip Lim called Bodice ‘romantic, modern and relevant’. Ruchika Sachdeva, the winning owner of the womenswear label, stood humbled and elated.
Relevant. And effortlessly so. Perhaps that is the nerve the Indian designers have been able to tune into in the global arena. To translate their sartorial aesthetics steeped in the rich crafts, embroideries and weaves of the country into a vocabulary that is not restricted to demography, geography or seasons. Easy, effortless chic is what is winning over the offshore buyer in fashion boutiques. It’s India selling on the racks in a universal avatar.
|Ruchika Sachdeva, the winner|
Says Ruchika, who graduated from the London College of Fashion, “A Bodice customer is someone who appreciates good design. Women who lead busy lives, juggle multiple roles. They want effortlessly stylish clothes that can segue from work meetings to cocktail evenings. She is present in all countries. She loves elevated classics with design details that stand out but don’t shout for attention.”
Sounding excited about how far she has come, Ruchika says she was the first woman in her extended family who went out of India to study. “Actually, that was also the first time I travelled outside of India,” I hear a giggle. The young designer started working with Indian textiles and craft by integrating tradition and modern technology to create something that is not limited to the place it comes from. “I don’t adapt my design aesthetic for different demographics. Bodice creates globally relevant clothes, with Indian roots,” elaborates Ruchika, who has worked in the studios of Vivienne Westwood and Giles Deacon, both of which, she agrees, gave her incredible insights into the creative process and how a successful business happens in the world of fashion. “Westwood really inspired me with her consistency of belief in clothes that have a social message. I decided to return to India because I wanted to use my design education to work with what India has to offer, in terms of textiles and craft.”
For her winning collection at Woolmark, that emphasised on sustainable innovation, she made sharp winter coats, high neck tops, bomber jackets and dresses combining Merino wool and ancient kantha embroidery. “I love working with wool. It’s a very beautiful, sculptural and versatile textile to work with. I relished the challenge of working with wool in new ways. Many still are not aware that merino wool is thermo regulating. Being a 100 per cent natural, breathable fibre, it reacts to changes in your body temperature, keeping you warm when it’s cold, but when the weather is hot and humid it will keep you cool. It’s also UV resistant. After all, it has to protect sheep who are grazing in fields in the hot Australian sun! For this reason, many athletes wear a light wool t-shirt.”
Ruchika wanted to retain the Bodice signature of sharp, clean silhouettes whilst incorporating traditional Indian craft and weaving techniques in thoughtful new ways. “The Woolmark competition gave me the scope to experiment and push my own design process forward. The craft of Kantha is used by women in India to recycle their old saris into quilts for new-born babies. This traditional practice of re-cycling revolves around love and protection of the child. I used Kantha stitches to create sculptural detailing on bomber jackets and dresses. We used yarn made from post-consumer waste at a cutting-edge recycling facility for the Kantha embroidery,” informs the young genius, adding, “It’s the goal of good design to communicate stories of community and culture through clothes and make them relevant to the present. The judges were surprised by how the garments were seamlessly rooted in India but felt entirely pertinent to international markets.”
Now that the year has commenced on a high note for Bodice, we cannot wait to see what’s ticking in Ruchika’s brilliant mind for the coming fashion season…