Fashion designer Anjali Kamra shares the inspiration behind her global-chic line Rungolee.
Anjali Kamra, founder and designer of Rungolee, has built a mini-empire around her chic ready-to-wear line. She has traveled the country with it twice by way of trunk shows, setting up shop in homes, country clubs and boutiques, and the ecommerce site she launched this spring has extended the brand’s reach even farther. We caught up with Kamra as she prepares the collection for a private presentation at Saint Louis Fashion Week to get some insight into her journey as a designer.
ALIVE: What inspired you to begin designing?
Anjali Kamra: As a little girl, I loved sifting through the beautiful pieces of scrap fabric that my mum had discarded and creating outfits for my dolls to wear! As a teenager, I dreamt of going to design school, but the best schools were in far-flung cities and I was not allowed to leave home to study there. Living in NYC several decades later with my husband and kids, I decided to take an evening class in screen printing at FIT. I loved every minute of it, and, encouraged by my professors, I decided to enroll in the full-time fashion design program at FIT. Juggling two little kids and the program was very intense, but I felt so lucky to finally fulfill my dream!
ALIVE: Your family has a rich history in fashion design and production. How have they influenced your development as an artist and designer?
AK: Living in West Bengal, the cultural capital of India, I was surrounded by art, music and amazing craft all around me. My family always encouraged me to take art courses and go to exhibits, and that love of good design has stayed with me. My aunt Swaran, who had a very successful fashion house, was instrumental in helping me make my dream of starting my own line a reality.
ALIVE: What motivated you to initially market your line through trunk shows and ecommerce?
AK: This collection is made in small quantities with a lot of attention to the little details, and I wanted to market it in an intimate, elegant and relaxed way. What better setting than a beautiful home or country club, good friends and a fun, relaxed atmosphere in which to see the collection? Meeting people and working with them one-on-one was infinitely valuable in shaping the line to become the global chic collection that it is today.
ALIVE: How do you manage to find harmony among your roles as a designer, mother and wife?
AK: I think there is a commonality that runs through each of these roles for me—and that is passion. I love my work and infuse it with the same passion with which I embrace my role as a mother and a wife. I feel lucky to have two amazing children and a husband who are so supportive and truly appreciate and enjoy the work that I do. When a new design comes in, my daughter is the first to come up to the studio and give me her critique, and often everyone comes in to lean in with their opinion!
ALIVE: You have traveled rather extensively—do you feel this has had a strong influence on your collections?
AK: I am passionate about exploring cultures across the globe and infusing these into my design aesthetic to create pieces that are both chic and have a one-of-a-kind, couture feel. From Chicago to West Palm Beach to Beverly Hills, I want Rungolee to set a new standard for accessible global chic couture.
ALIVE: Your designs have a strong connection to your heritage, yet your pieces still manage to feel modern and youthful. Have you found it challenging at times to maintain that balance?
AK: Not really. Juxtaposing the old and new, taking ideas from different cultures and eras and combing them with simple, modern shapes is so intrinsic to my design aesthetic. The counterbalance of the two aesthetics is a fine line, but if you get it right, it is magical.
ALIVE: What can we look forward to seeing from Rungolee in the next year?
AK: I am convinced that now is the time to take Rungolee global, and the new website, introducing convenient online shopping, is the first step in doing so. We plan to continuously expand our online offerings, and begin a limited launch into high-end boutiques, while continuing to build our trunk shows across the country. “Rungolee Mini,” a line of little girls’ clothing is in the pipeline as well.
ALIVE: What three words best describe your line?
AK: Refined Global Chic
Shop the collection online at rungolee.com.