Tue, June 29, 2010 at 12:01PM
Sir Alistair Rai may sound like the name of an Indian nobleman, but it's actually the nom-de-design of the quite multicultural (and female!) Kiran Rai, who was born in England to Indian parents and attended school in Switzerland. Following 10 years in the fashion industry as a buyer, Kiran was ready to strike out on her own, with the goals of wanting to make a statement and change the way people think. Beginning with head-turning t-shirts splashed with “Adopt Me Angelina” and Gandhi portraits, to name but a few, Rai's designs caught the eye of the trendsetting folks at Kitson and the rest, as they say, is history. According to Kiran, Sir Alistair Rai (shop our sale today), "conjures the feeling of far-off Indian sectors," and is beloved by celebs the world over (Jessica Alba, Drew Barrymore, Julia Roberts). The normally-jetsetting designer paused for a minute in her hectic schedule to give us the scoop on her feelings about summer scarves, Halle Berry's preferred Sir Alistair Rai tee, and her must-haves for the season.
What are your design inspirations?
I am inspired by India and my heritage. I travel to India frequently and am always moved by the culture, colors, and ideals of the country. I try to translate as much as I can into my design from what I see in my travels. Beauty, truth, and love are in the fabrics and threads of the collection, and I think people can feel that. I design to inspire and bring a piece of the world to you!
What's the most unusual person/place/item that's inspired you?
When I was just getting started, I was inspired and influenced by pop culture, and created tees with kitschy slogans like "Adopt Me Angelina," as well as political tees for [Barack] Obama, worn by Halle Berry. When they took off, it allowed me to expand the collection into scarves and ready-to-wear. This was an unexpected inspiration, but going with my gut feeling is how I design.
Why is travel so important to your design process?
Travel allows the mind to expand and the senses to be tested by new sights, smells, and experiences. I wanted to allow a way to travel to the far corners of the world just by getting dressed. What’s more intoxicating than having a love affair with the whole world, and all that it has to offer? For me, fashion can be a departure. It can evoke a memory, or longing to go to a place you’ve yet to discover.
What’s your take on the sudden popularity of scarves in the summer?
Scarves in summer is a trend that is fairly new in the States. In Europe however, scarves are worn year-round, and they have it right. It is so simple to throw a scarf on and head to the beach, or wrap up when a chilly breeze hits as the sun goes down. Anyone of any shape or size can wear a scarf, it’s an accessory that pops and defines an outfit.
What's your go-to summer outfit?
An airy maxi dress and a scarf is the perfect summer outfit for me. You can't go wrong with something loose that breathes and a light scarf for accent.
What's your favorite fashion possession, something you can't live without?
My black Chanel messenger bag. Timeless, chic, and functional.
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