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RANI ARCHANA KUMARI OF BADNORE

— JASMEEN DUGAL

Born into the culture-rich state of Pratapgarh in Awadh and married into the family of Badnore in Rajasthan, Rani Archana Kumari showcases the living heritage of her state through her brand, House of Badnore. Backed by rich experience as President of luxury brand 'Frazer and Haws' and Editor of 'Gems And Jewelry', she has curated a collection of accessories for men, women and home that ranges from buttons embellished with precious gemstones to silver frames, hand-painted cuff links and chiffon saris with handcrafted vintage borders. It's not just about the region's crafts; preserving cultural heritage maintains cultural diversity in the face of globalisation and keeps it alive by passing it down generations. In conversation with Rani Archana Kumari.

 

In this fast-paced era, few people are committed to service with such enthusiasm, steadfast resolve, clarity of purpose and dedication to their people. Do share your story with us.

I belong from a privileged titled background and am married into one but this has never held me back from pursuing a career of my choice. Growing up in a protected environment where we were taught to hold back reactions and focus on observations, I learnt to pick up on nuances which get lost in endless chatter. This helped me greatly when I started out as a writer. From freelance I went on to edit a niche jewellery magazine, the first of its kind in India. As children, we were exposed to refined jewellery, apparel and other accoutrements and learning about them became an exciting journey. After years with the magazine, I joined the British silver brand, Frazer and Haws, as President. Here I identified with the metal and its beauty but of course the buck stopped there as I had to learn all about design, production, retail, sales and marketing the products. Creating was easy but everything else was a challenge!! After fifteen years I branched out on my own with my eponymous label House of Badnore which is a brand of accessories for men, women and home. What drives me is the passion for exploring new avenues, the challenges that come with each choice we make, and the fact that whatever is hurled my way is part of a larger divine plan. I must accept and allow for more to unfold.

How has House of Badnore evolved in terms of the vision- magnitude- and awareness?

House of Badnore is just three years old and we have gone from baby steps to full gallop now! The merchandise we presented has been well received and we are building on it. We now plan to add couture to the accessories brand and have already introduced sarees this year. Elegance is the brand leitmotif and we hope to keep it that way. The vision is also to find its way overseas. As yet, in India we are present in a few stores under the shop- in- shop structure and perhaps by next year we would have a retail home for our merchandise.

Today's generation values experiential luxury. How have you strategized to tap into this?

At House of Badnore we generously borrow inspiration from the past. Almost every motif we use is recreated from memory and presented in a modern context so it fits in the global scenario. In our Rose collection, we have recreated the rose motif in a modern adaptation. The motif has then been used on traditional products like the puja set or candle stand and even on sarees and shawls. As someone rightly said, 'The past is a point of reference, not a point of residence.' This resonates well with what we do and how we do, at House of Badnore.

How important is it for youngsters to develop consciousness of their role as heritage guardians?

The world belongs to the Gen Next, always! That's how there is continuity in anything, particularly heritage and its traditions. For centuries the next generation becomes the custodian of all that needs to be preserved. Creativity also hinges on the same. We create only so the next generation can nurture and take it forward. Much like what I did, I picked the name of our ancestral home for my brand simply to connect back to the roots of our belonging. A lot is riding on the next generation and if they are not attuned to the cultural essence of heritage, much would be lost.

Inter-generational relationships are vital to ensure intangible cultural heritage stays alive. How do we get young people- in the time of social media- to engage with cultural heritage? How are you working towards this in Badnore?

It is all about what you imbibe and pass on. Ours has been the transitional generation. We grew up in more traditional surroundings and were then sent out to a world we knew little about. The strength of cultural tutoring stayed with us, enabling us to adapt to a fast-paced modern life. Our children have experienced a faster pace of life. The litmus test for us is to ensure that they keep the rhythm of balance. And use new age tools and gadgets to their strength and advantage, and not just a frivolous activity. Social media is as much a boon as a bane. It is always about balance and perspectives.
 

RANI ARCHANA KUMARI OF BADNORE
Rani Archana Kumari
 
21-NOVEMBER-2020
 
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