Runa Ray is an epitome of calm confidence, bundled with curiosity that often feeds into her creations. The Bengaluru-based fashion and concept designer took her prêt-a-porter line to the New York Fashion Week (NYFW) last month where she dazzled, piquing the interest of the West.
Back and beaming from her debut at what she calls the ‘Mecca of Fashion’, Runa talks to us about her fashionable taste, her collection that thrilled the world and the lessons she picked up in the process.
Presenting her Fall/Winter 2016 collection at NYFW alongside Prabal Gurung, Ryan Lobo, Bibhu Mohapatra and Naeem Khan, Runa’s line was inspired by the subtle process of making origami — folding and unfolding a piece of paper till it becomes something immense, magical even.
“We are born blank canvases onto which we decide to write the chapters of our life. We continue to fold and unfold till we either complete ourselves or remain a mystery. The similar principle lies in the art of making clothes,” she explains, about her beautifully architectured pieces in silk jute, raw cotton, unprocessed silk and handlooms that were held in place by not seams but just folds!
To think that the world of fashion could have narrowly missed this risky and creative powerhouse! “My mother was the one who got me to accept National Institute of Fashion Technology as I was at the crossroads — to become a doctor or to pursue fashion,” she smiles.
But as fate would have it, art was always on the cards. “My earliest memories of design was a painting I made that won me my first award at age five in a United Nations painting competition.”
Thanks to her parents’ nurturance and support, Runa studied fashion and moved to Paris for her master’s degree in garment engineering under the Paris Chamber of Commerce at the Ecole Superieure des Industries du Vetements. Working with designers across Amsterdam and France, John Galliano and the House of Dior also feature on her list of mentors.
Now, Runa is her own boss at MOJO Design Studios which calls Bengaluru home, and is a favourite across Southeast Asia with a plush head office in Singapore and in London for Europe.
She does find time for horse riding and sojourns away from her workshops. “My turning point has been when I had to leave my cushy corporate job and get out into the big wide world. Being broke teaches one a lot of lessons,” confesses Runa. But she exudes strength as she looks forward to 2016 — a year that literally has her beginning with her best foot forward.