Calcutta- taking the Rungolee label right back to its roots.
Growing up in India’s cultural capital did not go without having an everlasting impact on long time St. Louis resident and founder of fashion label Rungolee, Anjali Kamra. At school, needlework was a part of the curriculum; art shows, book fairs and architectural appreciation wove seamlessly into the everyday lives of Kamra’s family in the grand and elegant city of Calcutta.
Kamra’s mother encouraged her little girl to dream big with her fashion experiments, sent her to various private art classes, and shared her own enthusiasm of embroidery and handcrafts with her daughter.
Kamra’s father who worked in international shipping, brought back art books from exotic places: Russian folk-art books still sit on the shelves in the family home. It was a youth spent absorbing the color and vibrancy of the wider artistic community, searching for unusual textiles in out of the way markets to use in her own creations. To this day, Kamra is an avid textile collector; her collection making up part of her inspiration process when designing her own ranges of sustainable style.
The faded patina of old Calcutta is like stepping into another time- a gracious, laid back insouciance which Kamra brings to her clothing design: comfort and freedom of movement in elegant shapes and varied palettes, a reflection and response to some of the glory days of this city’s crumbling marble mansions, artistic sensibility, and effortless style.
Famously known for its weaving traditions and skilled textile artisans, Kamra found that in her Bombay atelier, she was employing people who hailed from her own city who had migrated to the business capital in search of work.
The idea to diversify her business, to harness the age-old traditions and skill back home in Calcutta began to take hold.
Recently setting up a manufacturing and production arm in Calcutta has meant giving back to her own community, a dream that Kamra has now realized through careful planning and hand picking the best skilled weavers and artists to make her Bohemian style collections come to life.
Production of Rungolee’s new range of 100% cotton dresses, silk blouses, signature print dresses are already in the works in Calcutta, so keep a look out for yet more beautiful hand worked pieces and small batch style in forthcoming collections.
Tina Gomes Brand
Contributing Editor, Sydney, Australia