Rakhee Thakorlal – The Designer

In 1979 I was born into a family steeped in the traditions of designing and manufacturing children's clothing. Having being aptly named Rakhee, which simply means "sacred thread", I developed a precocious awareness of the clothing industry in India through my father's family business. It was also hardly surprising that I would develop a fascination with fabrics, colours, textures and forms in due course. In 1997 I joined the Sophia Polytechnic, a well known institute for design in Mumbai, India, to study for my diploma in Apparel Manufacture and Design, it was my first step in fulfilling what I was born to do, 'fashion design'.

After completing my studies in 2000 I began working with well known fashion designers in Mumbai, these included Priyadarshini Rao, Krishna Mehta and Pankaj Arora. I began my career working for ANS Sanghvi, a manufacturing and export oriented firm for whom I designed and put together home furnishings and textile collections, which were showcased at various international exhibitions.

After a short stint with Pankaj Arora my true learning curve emerged with my experience from 2002 onwards when I first landed the role of assistant designer at the respected fashion house of Krishna Mehta, a menswear designer. I assisted in designing and developing men's ethnic wear, semi-formals and Prêt collections, which gave me the opportunity to grasp as well as embrace the rich textile and embroidery heritage of India. It was also with Krishna that I was first exposed to the Lakme Fashion Show.

In 2004 I joined Priyadarshini Rao, a Prêt designer, who was developing a style of Indo–West fusion wear. During this period I was able to hone my skills in conceptualising and creating apparel from flat sketches, sourcing fabrics, designing styles and developing embroideries for Prêt collections. I was also given the responsibility of working on handling production for various niche customers, which entailed managing the smooth running of the whole process from initial concept to final product. This provided me with the exposure as well as the opportunity of liaising with both suppliers and clients on a one to one basis. Under Priyadarshini? tutelage I was finding my true forte and I was proud to have worked with her in designing and developing the autumn – winter and spring – summer collections which were showcased at the 2006 and 2007 Lakme Fashion Week respectively.

In January 2007 I got married and relocated to London where my husband was based. In London I worked in the Per Una department for Marks & Spencer. Working in the retail sector gave me a unique insight into the western and European fashion trends. Since 2002 I have been designing my own clothes and I had always dreamt of having my own fashion label. The inception of the ZRII fashion label came about in early 2008 when I started to design and produce couture fashion pieces for friends and family in London. Then in 2009 with the support of my husband and family I was able to commercially launch the ZRII label and website. I now dedicate my time to designing couture fashion for clients in the UK and Worldwide.