Fashion / Style

Designer With Dresses Fit for a Princess (and Beyonce Too) Sets Her Sights on Texas

Kate Middleton and Sophie Turner Love Anita Dongre — and This Household Name in India's Influence is Only Growing

BY // 09.12.19

Veteran designer Anita Dongre is a household name in India, known for multiple lines, including her namesake bridal collection. Dongre’s influence extends to her flagship store in New York, but after receiving a royal push from a certain duchess, Dongre’s designs are reaching new audiences.

“I’ve never seen anything like that before. It was crazy. She has phenomenal influence,” Dongre tells PaperCity.

The “She” is of course, the Duchess of Cambridge, aka. Kate Middleton. Middleton wore a Jaipur-inspired tunic dress from the Summer 2016, Love Notes Collection during a tour of India and Bhutan, launching Dongre into the fashion atmosphere, keeping that dress on the must-have list three years later.

“I still get requests for that dress. A customer tore her dress and begged us to make another for her,” Dongre says.

Middleton isn’t the only famous face to wear Dongre’s designs though. Beyonce, Priyanka Chopra and Sophie Turner have all donned her clothing and jewelry, embracing the color and craftsmanship of each piece.

Designer Anita Dongre
Designer Anita Dongre.

Her customer base is more than red carpet celebrities. With her fan base outside of New York growing, Dongre decided to bring her current collections to Houston and Dallas, two cities with thriving Indian communities. She will be at the Post Oak Hotel, September 14 before heading to Dallas September 15 for an appearance at Hotel Zaza.

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Although it’s Dongre’s second trip to Houston, it might as well be the first.

“It’s always so crazy when you travel. There’s so much to do. I went from the airport to the hotel for the fashion show and back to the airport. This time I am hoping to see more of the city,” Dongre says.

She certainly isn’t concerned by Houston’s late summer swelter. It’s something she’s used to having grown up in Mumbai, and something she considers when choosing the fabrics for her Grassroot line.

Established in 2017, Grassroot is a sustainable luxury brand that includes ready-to-wear dresses, both maxi and midi lengths, pants, tunics, jumpsuits and skirts. The collection is a breath of fresh air on a searing day, full of sherbet hues, flowing florals and colorful prints.

Made with eco-friendly fabrics by the hands of women in remote Indian villages, Dongre has merged the past with the present in a refreshing way. She doesn’t work with leather or fur, and she teams up with non-governmental organizations, employing women, giving them opportunities beyond their agriculture work.

“This relationship started five years ago and with the NGOs, we have gone into so many rural pockets. It can be a slow process, but there is a need for this kind of artisan work,” Dongre says. “I believe if you can use fashion to create employment, you should.”

It takes time to hand-block print fabrics, hand-embroider and weave by hand, but it’s a small drawback for the greater purpose. 

Dongre’s signature wedding couture, traditional Indian wear and kurta sets draw inspiration from Jaipur in Rajasthan. The city has an energy and style that sparks Dongre’s creativity year after year.

“It’s the most colorful, rich in textiles, with a craft legacy that’s just jaw-dropping,” Dongre says. “It’s in the architecture too. I just keep coming back.”

Dongre studied fashion design at SNDT Women’s University and sold her designs to boutiques throughout the country before launching House of Anita Dongre in 1995. For her Texas trip, she is bringing a little bit of everything from India, with some special pieces for holiday and other celebrations.

She’s also bringing her own fashion philosophy.

“Clothing should be attractive and resonate with your sense of style,” Dongre says.

The Anita Dongre Houston personal appearance is, Saturday, Sept 14 at the The Post Oak Hotel, Live Oaks Room, from 1 pm to 6 pm. Dongre will be at Hotel ZaZa Dallas, The Art House Sunday, September 15  from 1 p.m to 7 pm.

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