Rahul Mishra is a name that has made waves in the Indian Fashion Industry within a short span of time. He became the first Indian Fashion Designer to win the International Woolmark Prize at Milan Fashion Week in 2014. The winning collection was sold in stores around the world. In 2008, he was awarded the MTV Youth Icon of the Year by MTV India.
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Early Years And Education:
Rahul Mishra started his journey from a small village called Malhausi, close to the Auraiya district. He grew up along with his parents and his two sisters. Life was all not roses and thorns for him, he spent a frugal childhood where he had to finish homework under the kerosene lamp because of frequent power cuts. The school he was attending charged a monthly fee of Rs 7 and children sat on durries unlike the benches now at school. At the young age of 10, he was sent to a boarding school in Lucknow called Maharishi Vidya Mandir. Then, he went ahead and completed his graduation in Physics from Kanpur University. His father was always inclined towards making him a doctor or engineer. While he wanted not to spend his life-solving equations.
He thought the only way of getting out was to enroll himself in a creative course. He lived with his sister where he appeared for the exam for NID. Next, he opted for post-graduation in apparel design from the National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad. And, got enrolled in the apparel design and merchandising course in 2003. In the early years, he tried his hands in filmmaking, furniture, and animation. He even acted in a college film called Sawan ki Ghata. Now on YouTube. In 2005, he won the Best Student Designer. Mishra met his wife Divya at NID. It was while ragging that he fell in love with the arrogant first-year girl from Kumaon. His wife Divya, also a NID graduate in apparel design, works with him. They married in 2008. In the span of the next two years ago, Divya would model for his creations as they could not afford any models and photographers. His wife is still his biggest critic.
Rahul Mishra has exhibited his work at London, Dubai, Indian and Australia Fashion Weeks. He is known for incorporating conventional Indian textiles and handmade artisanship to his work.
In 2006, he made his debut at the Lakme Fashion Week displaying a collection using Kerala cotton handloom textiles in off-white fabric with a golden border. Apart from all this, he became the first non-European designer to win a scholarship at Istituto Marangoni in 2009. In 2009, he carved out a reversible dress that displayed Kerala mundu on one side and the Banarasi fabric on the other side. Lucky and capable enough to feature on the online rental boutique, Rent the Runway.
In 2014, he won the Woolmark Prize at the Milan Fashion Week. The award carries an award of AUS $100,000 prize. The award has been won by designers like Karl Lagerfeld and Giorgio Armani earlier. Mishra created an entirely new fabric that contained 85 percent merino wool and 15 percent silk. The combination resulted in making a feathery and pellucid cloth that slides easily through the hands. The designer made knee-length dresses and pants in shades of yellow and off-white embellished with lotus motifs, tree motifs, and hexagonal shapes. This was a fresher breeze than the usual Indian shades of peacock blue, neon pink, tangy orange, etc…
The list does not end here, his work was also featured at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum from 2015 to 2016. Mishra is a rare breed of designers who earn acclaim and money without a PR. He hates making noise about his collection and calling fashion journalists to gift them. He ensures that no celebrities walk his runaway so that the focus remains on the clothes.
Most of the time you can find him dressed simply, in black and white. He says.“It’s all about comfort. So I wear chappals and shorts, and even shirts bought for Rs 200 or so. I am color blind when it comes to my own fashion sense.”
“Design is the only place where science and art come together and that’s what I love the most,” he says. The designer now works mainly with craft communities in the villages of Gujarat, West Bengal, and Madhya Pradesh. More than 1,000 craftsmen are employed by Mishra at present.
Many communities are habitual to make a single fabric at a time. The designer encourages and trains them to innovate. He believes in a simple rule of never returning rejects to the craftsmen and doesn’t deduct money if a fabric doesn’t work out the way he wanted it to. So that they are encouraged and happy to work with us. This is a usual approach that makes him a star.