Ahead of the India Runway Week scheduled from September 16-18, internationally acclaimed fashion designer Bibi Russell said, “I am glad to share the stage with young designers who are also showcasing their textile collection such as Daniel Syiem’s from Meghalaya, Kanchankuntala Das from Kolkata, Manika Sureka from New Delhi, Shilpa Chaurasia from Gujarat, Stuti Shah and Deepika Reddy are few designers under this category”. Excerpts from an interview: Also Read – Add new books to your shelfHow did you get introduced to the world of fashion?The world of fashion is introduced to us all moments after we are born. And fashion remains one of the most integral parts of our lives throughout. I was always fascinated by the gamcha or the poor man’s towel which I continue to work with a lot, and was generally unsatisfied with clothes that would be given to me. So I started making my own! I then attended college at London School of Fashion for professional training in Fashion Design. Also Read – Over 2 hours screen time daily will make your kids impulsiveWho has been your inspiration?My absolute fashion icon and inspiration is Tagore. He was so multi-dimensional- be it writing, art, theatre, music, he did it all- it is hard to not be inspired! To add to that, he had such great style to set him apart. What I also admire about him is how he respected all cultures and accepted them as his own when he was in their respective lands! Also each and every handicrafts-person, with the magic in their fingers and the expertise in their technique, they are my constant inspiration. Please tell us about your design collection to be presented at the India Runway Week.At the India Runway Week, I will be presenting a 100% Khadi collection from the wonderful weavers of Rajasthan. I want to explore the diversity of the fabric and contextualize it in today’s world. Although anyone can wear these clothes, my idea is to get the younger generation to appreciate their countryman’s produce. The craftspeople I work with in Rajasthan are very close to my heart and their wonderful works inspire me.You hail from the land of ‘Muslin’. Would you like to share some of your thoughts in that regard? Oh Muslin is such a beautiful material to work with and the weavers of this fabric are supremely talented. While weavers of plain cotton in other parts of India fear the world of fine cotton, the Muslin weavers are fearless- always willing to experiment and improve! That’s what makes it the pride of Bangladesh. Similarily, there is the Woolen Khadi and Kota Doriya of Rajasthan… just stunning!What challenges did you face to pursue a career in fashion and how did you cope up with them?There are challenges in every career, but I think I had my mind set on what I wanted to do from the beginning- assist in the revival of the dreams of the craftspeople. I have stuck by that and focused on just that, challenges come and go!Please tell us about your hobbies. When I’m not working with the craftspeople or designing new collections for shows or my shop in Bangladesh, I would be travelling from one of these places to another. Yes, in-flight I enjoy watching films, but my work is my hobby! What are your future plans?Oh, who can say what the future holds? I recently worked in Uzbekistan on their traditional textiles with their beautiful artisans and the next big program in India will be Rajasthan Heritage Week in December, so I’m really excited for that!Who is your favorite fashion designer?Issey Miyake, without a doubt!What is that one thing you can never compromise with when it comes to fashion?The quality of the fabric! The fabric must be natural so that it soothes the skin instead of irritating it, which happens with Nylon and other such inorganic materials. What element of fashion do you think is a must have for every individual?A personal style. There are lots of clothes and designers in this world, but till you develop your own style, you won’t be able to utilize any of it suitably!What would be your message to aspiring fashion designers?Remain rooted, know where you come from… really know the land and its people, that is what will help you build your identity! Also, don’t be in a rush, take time to learn things, ask questions and have fun with what you do.