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Bina Ramanis Collection


Bina Ramani’s designs, unconventional and glamorous created from ancient brocades, tissues and silks, have appealed to both the Indian and the foreign woman. Rich in colour and texture her clothes are regal in look and comfortable to wear.

Once upon a time there lived a little girl in London who dreamed of becoming a designer. An Indian by birth, she wanted to come back to India and start a boutique. Fond of drafting, cutting and stitching her own garments, she started dressing with an aim to look different. She experienced with material and ruined several garments – but some of her outfits won her many compliments. In fact many of her creations were a result of trial and error. She belonged to an orthodox sikh family intent on making an ideal housewife of her – teaching her to cook and clean. But she nourished her own personal dream so close to her heart. The young girl was called Bina Lalvani.

The transition from the protected girl to an independent career woman; from an amateur designer to a dedicated couturier; the change from Bina Lalvani to Bina Ramani has been a roller coaster ride for Bina teaching her something constructive at every step and enriching her in experience and emotions.

Bina always had a love for old things. Objects d’arts, laces, rich brocades and traditional beads. She was totally captivated by the mystery behind the old fabrics. The era, the period they represented excited her immensely. She craved to give these period fabrics a new life. She began drafting international and modern designs on these traditional fabrics given them a blend of the ancient and modern cuts.

Her first collection reached the display window of Bloomingdales. She saw herself taking a step towards the realization of her childhood dreams. But she knew that she had to grow, develop and establish herself in India. She had a burning desire to share all she had learnt in London and New York (where she went after her marriage) with the people in India. She loved ancient fabrics and India was a treasure house. So the inevitable happened. She landed in Delhi with a suitcase full of creative ideas and her heart full of enthusiasm to establish herself as a designer in the country she loved most.

Once in Inda, Bina combed the entire country in search of old fabrics. She always wanted her garments to have a theme so she began her designing with the rich and colourful brocades form Benaras. She then discovered the old patola patterns in Gujarat and ikats in bright colours form Orissa and Hyderabad.

Credited with an astounding capacity to work hard, Bina personally went to shops big and small in the cities ransacking every pole of old sarees in search of something exclusive. She went by the theme, texture, pattern and the colour of the saree. She personally fancied the ‘jewel colours’ like emerald, magenta and purple. In Benaras and Gujarat she approached families in search of the rich traditional handloom. Word spread about ‘the tall woman from Delhi’ who comes looking for fabrics and Bina started her collections.

She started designing jackets, long skirts, trousers in shape of the salwar in sixteen patterns, peasant tops and sophisticated long robes out of brocade, silk and tissue material. Since her entire concept about designing and her feel for her base fabric was so novel, her house was flooded with friends and clients. There came a serious need for a separate outlet from where she could market these dresses. The result was ‘Once Upon a Time’ a shop which soon gained the reputation of stocking some of the richest and most exotic designs. The clothes appealed to both the Indians and foreigners touring Delhi. It soon became a matter of prestige to own a dress from a Bina Ramani collection. The shop had a distinct identity because of its unusual location, it was neither in a shopping area nor located in a posh locality of Delhi. In fact Bina has always believed in doing things in her own style and her creative spirit has always come up with unique ideas. So she chose the most unconventional site for her very first outlet. It was a part of the old ruins near the world famous ‘Qutub Minar’ in Mehrauli, Delhi. In fact the section of ruins which she chose to construct the haute couture shop was a part of the ‘Aish Khana’ (Pleasure House) of the kings which had now been converted into a home for destitute women. She employed women with practically no professional background and trained them into a supportive and expert team.

Bina has always considered her height as her source of inspiration Many of her new creations were draped on her own frame in the experimental stages to judge their fall. She has always had a personal liking for loose and flowing garments rather than figure hugging ones. In fact she is a firm believer in the theory that a good designer is like an artist who can create clothes that hide the faults and enhance the good features of a body. Moreover she has always desired to create garments which are a blend of regal looks and comfort. Soon she realized that the saree though an appropriate dress for the figure of an Indian woman limited the movements of the wearer. She again wanted to be unconventional and change the normal way of draping a saree. So the restriction of six yards was broken and the saree gave rise to more comfortable garments with more scope for free movement. Bina has always worked towards creating a surprise element in her garments – in the pattern of the embroidery or the buttons or the non-matching dupatta which still looked good with the ensemble.

Bina Ramani the designer had arrived. Her dream had come true but the horizons kept widening. Her true business sense complemented by her creative mind showed her the direction for further development. She sensed the need for an outlet for her garments abroad. She had already witnessed the popularity of her designs with foreigners. So what could be better than an extension of ‘Once Upon a Time’ in New York? She has always had the visuals of her outlets clear in her mind. She didn’t want a money-churning outlet but an establishment that also spoke of the rich culture and tradition of her country. Hence ‘Once Upon a Time’ in New York wore the ’Raja Look.’ The whole boutique has been tastefully styled with an Indian touch, a min-India in New York.

With the growing outlets Bina wanted space for her workshop of garment production. It was in search of this space that she came across her biggest discovery the Hauz Khas Village. This is the largest and brightest feather in Bina’s cap. Hauz Khas Village was small sleepy village in the heart of Delhi near a 13th century monument overlooking a reservoir. Bina found her real roots in this village. She became a part of the village and the families soon started coming to her with their problems. Totally bewitched by the beauty of the place and the warmth of the people Bina toyed with yet another idea.

What if this village with its typical Indian ambience was converted into one of Delhi’s designer centres. She started communicating with all the other designers in Delhi to get together and open the outlets in this original untouched area. So successful was her project that today every designer who was a name in Delhi wants to be a part of the Hauz Khas Village. The place has developed into an excellent shopping centre where one can buy anything from designer clothes to furniture to plants. It soon emerged as a centre for the fashion-conscious Delhiites. It also became a place to visit on the itineraries of visitors to the city.

But for Bina there is always more to do. Her latest development is the enchanting ‘Room With a View’ a gallery in the Hauz Khas Village where she has displayed not only her own creations but also the men’s wear designed by Dilshad Khan and Nandita Suri. She used the mughal theme created by Neelam Soni from Nagpur, jewellery, by Meera Nair and summer collection by Karuna Khaitan.

To promote young talent and new designers Bina has thrown open the doors of her ‘Room With a View’ for them. She has decided to choose two or three students from the National Institute of Fashion Technology every year and invite them to have their first exhibition in her gallery. This way they can benefit from an already flowing traffic of the right clientele and therefore get a fabulous exposure.