Ritu Beri: Beyond the Label

The Recipe to my Success

I always wanted to be a doctor. Complete with stethoscope and a black bag for my medical tools I must honestly admit my doctoral ambitions were somewhat thwarted by the fact that I spent more time musing over how the wardrobe of the medical team should look rather than on the more noble and gory aspects of the trade. Mentally, I was always designing the doctor’s over coat with an interesting pocket detail for his stethoscope. My mind would buzz with designs for dressing up the nurses, designing starched headgear and improvising their aprons, adding frills at the hem.


It didn’t take me long to figure out that this was my calling.

My earliest memories are those of any child brought up in a military home. No chauffeur driven cars or expense toys, only museum holidays abroad. No, I worked hard and I played equally hard at extra-curricular activities Discipline, focus and single-mindedness were the bedrocks on which you were expected to build your life. While I was protected in the army, a part of me sensed that it was only a temporary haven, that there was a tough world out there which had to be tackled and that this was the time to hone my skills to take on future challenges.

When I look back, what caused me pain was the constant change.

 I would become attached to friends, teachers, and neighbours in places that we would live for two years. Just as we adjusted ourselves to our new lives, things changed.

Today, I recognize these forces are responsible for inspiring me to achieve what I have.  Dreaming was the fabric of my existence. I wove them around me, like my companions. I breathed them like air. Without dreams, my life would be empty and on my dreams, well, I became irritatingly focused. My parents encouraged us to dream constantly. It was a race for perfection and we ran it with glee.

Tagore said, "Great human societies are the creations not of profiteers but of dreamers"


Unconsciously, my army background also ensured that clothes were becoming a part of my life. Army parties are very formal, structured and British in their approach to dressing. The environment encourages you to be fastidious about your appearance, and my Dad did so to the hilt. A natty dresser in unusual colours, he is a rebel in his conventional dinner jackets and unconventional in a contemporary way. My mother is beautiful. Ask anyone who knows her- She is stunning. In those days, she lit up the army with not just her looks, but her intrinsic style.

My mother is beautiful. Ask anyone who knows her- She is stunning. In those days, she lit up the army with not just her looks, but her intrinsic style. I love to watch her dress her hair piled up high in a bouffant which she so skilfully wound, and her pastel chiffons that floated around her. Her elegance in pearls and diamonds were her trademark, with such fine examples around me, I had to be influenced- I ended up wanting to dress up everyone to look like they did.

College was not for me. On the contrary, I was intrigued by fashion design. I could not draw, so I hand knitted a eater and wore it for my interview to show how it would look, I was accepted into the first session of India’s Fashion Institute, NIFT- and from there with thanks to the rest of the world.

- Ritu Beri

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