American designer Kenneth Cole, who was in India for the debut amfAR gala and for his store opening in the capital, believes the country attracts him with its mix of social culture and progressive thinking. Also, if given a chance, he would love to style Bollywood's Bachchan family.
"I think you have a very social culture. You are very progressive in your thinking, you have the traditional mindset, which is western and progressive as well. It's such a wonderful culture and the Indian storytelling is very different," Cole told IANS.
The amfAR (The Foundation for AIDS Research) gala was held here Nov 17 in the presence of names like actors Sharon Stone and Hilary Swank and singer Kesha. It was co-hosted by Abhishek Bachchan and his wife Aishwarya Rai.
Before the fundraiser, Cole had launched his store in Delhi.
In a tete-a-tete with IANS here, Cole spoke about his association with the Foundation for AIDS Research, of which he is chairman. He also opened up about his business plans here and how he balances his worlds as a designer and social worker.
Excerpts from the interview:
Q. As amfAR chairman, what does it mean to bring the fundraising gala to India for the first time?
A. It's a big deal for us to be here...we are here to make an impact and many of our friends have helped us to be here and navigate an event here.
Q. What are the reasons that make India (or Mumbai) conducive for an event like the amfAR gala?
A. India is a perfect place because we can have an impact on a community which has lived through a very difficult time, has seen many of the citizens lose their loved ones. So, I do believe we can somehow engage and can make an even bigger difference.
Q. What are the business plans of the brand, Kenneth Cole Productions, in India?
A. In the next three years, another 15 or more stores should open here. That's the plan. I am so excited about the business opportunity.
Q. What makes India an attractive location for your designer wear?
A. I think you have a very social culture. You are very progressive in your thinking, you have the traditional mindset, which is western and progressive as well. It's such a wonderful culture and the Indian storytelling is very different. The music here is infectious; it's such a wonderful energy.
Q. Any Indians that you'd like to style?
A. I would love to style the Bachchans. It would be a privilege if I even get an opportunity to design for Aishwarya.
Q. India has a burgeoning number of actors and designers. Beyond their talent, what power do you think celebrities possess to bring about a change in society and to give a fillip to social causes?
A. It makes a big difference because people are inspired by them. Their coming together will certainly make a difference.
Q. How do you balance your world as a fashion designer and a social activist?
A. As a designer, I have always believed that I needed to talk to people, and not just developing of what they are aware of, and somewhere I try to connect with them in a more emotional level. In 1985, I started to do AIDS campaign and by now, my business has also changed and it's a big part of what I have done in 30 years. It's amazingly gratifying, which is why I am here too. This is a big part of who I am.
(Uma Ramasubramanian can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)