As she, like the rest of the Indian Americans residing in Manhattan braces up for a sombre Diwali, Mrinalini Kumari, couture creator, Co-Chair Indian Voices for Trump and a hugely successful fashion entrepreneur relives last year’s glittering Diwali spent with the who’s who of New York. A close friend and associate of Trump Junior and his girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle, she insists that the Trumps love their Diwali.
“The Trump family’s love for India is no hidden secret. Amongst all the people immigrating to America, Indians are the one to bring in the brainpower and a great sense of enterprise. And the Trumps respect us for that. Besides being engaged with our festivals, our culture and our traditions,” she shares.
Mrinalini Kumari, Co-Chair of the campaign group: Indian Voices for Trump is a couture producer, design professional, politically evolved voice and above all a fiercely proud Indian. Mrinalini runs a transcontinental design enterprise and has in the past decade dressed iconic music stars and also crafted designs for most haute couture brands, both American and European.
Having lived here for over two decades, Mrinalini and her sister Rushmi love their roots. “Indians in America are an accomplished lot. They blend in, make friends from all races but never forget their roots.” Talking for herself, she admits that, “Of all the festivals I enjoy Diwali the most. The dressing up, the mithai and the tradition of lighting up the home with a million candles. It is my favourite.”
It also time to party and Mrinalini shares the special Diwali she celebrated at home with the veritable who’s who of New York last year. “Suhel Seth, a great friend, was over and I decided to invite a few of my favourite people in the city.” Donald Trump Junior and Kimberly being one of them. “We decorated the house in shades of red, brought out all our embroidered, gold tapestry, graced the Ganeshas with garlands and invited people who we knew will enjoy this festival.” The highlight of the evening being,” Suhel reading out a prayer for all of us. That was quite magical.”
From a cultured family, Mrinalini grew up in New Delhi, though she went to school in Welhams and graduated at St Stephen’s College. An extremely attractive and intelligent woman, Mrinalini settled in the US, post her college and got drawn towards design instinctively. A social soul and a proud Indian she got into the world of fashion first as a protagonist of noble causes, hosting a high nosed fundraiser with Indian designers like Suneet Varma and Muzaffar Ali. She shares, “I hosted an event for the 50 years of India’s independence at The Metropolitan club with designers including Mary McFadden and Suneet Varma, Vera Wang and BadgleyMishka.” Then there was the fundraiser at the legendary USS Intrepid where she added the design of celebrated filmmaker, nawab and couturier Muzaffar Ali to the lineup.
Seeing the magic of Indian design and the sheer cadence of creativity Indian artisans are capable of, Mrinalini decided to read on that path herself. I started Mrinalini Inc. after bumping into Mr Ralph Lauren and as they say in fairy tales, “There was no looking back. I also started my own label called Renzo and Kai in 2011, which was sold in Saks, Bloomingdales, and Bergdorf etc. However, I closed it in 2014 to look after my son.” She has created clothes for over 275 American designers. Add to that Italian and French couture houses, and you will easily round it off at 300. “Today, Mrinalini employs over 6000 craftspeople in India and also has a complete sampling unit in Manhattan.
Mrinalini’s designs can be found both on the rack and in the archives of celebrated couture houses like Fendi, Oscar De La Renta, Giorgio Armani, Valentino, Etro amongst others. For her, the business is proof that, “Indian artisans are the backbone of global couture. We are the ones to make it happen. I feel so proud when I see half of the runaway at couture shows coming quietly from India.”
Owning one factory solely in Mumbai and representing 11 other factories around India, we are proud to supply fashion houses and designers worldwide. Among the many worldwide clients, we are privileged to work with are “Giorgio Armani, Etro, Valentino, Ralph Lauren, Marchesa, Oscar De La Renta, Prabal Gurung, J. Mendel, Creatures of the Wind, Monique Lhuillier, Reem, Anna Sui, Adam Selman, Jonathan Simkhai, Jill Stuart.
Besides couture Mrinalini is also known to have dressed many music legends. Her designs for Micheal Jackson’s ill-fated Thriller tour which never happened is now archived at the Smithsonian.” She also dressed Beyonce after yet another chance meeting with her mother who asked if she could rev up Beyonce’s stage drama. Mrinalini understands the sheer gravitas of stage presence and has costumed for many shows on Broadway. Besides dressing global icons like Michelle Obama. She insists, “The world would be poorer in fashion if India was never on the craft map. In that sense, we are the real Maharajas of global couture. Except that our humility allows us to remain the unsung heroes.” – Anshu Khanna