Raghavendra Singh Rathore, or “King of Bandhgala” as he is popularly known, is an Indian lifestyle designer who has exclusive patent rights to Bandhgala Jackets and Jodhpuris. One of the leading luxury fashion designers of India, Rathore also designs jewellery, accessories, interiors, and, and other products.
Raghavendra Singh Rathore was born on Saturday, 7 October 1967 (age 54 years; as of 2021) in Jodhpur, Rajasthan with the zodiac sign Libra. Jodhpur-based Rathore completed his schooling at the Mayo College boarding school of Ajmer from 1976-1986 after his local school in his hometown was destroyed in the Indo-Pak war of 1971 when he was four or five years old. Raghavendra holds a Bachelor’s degree in Arts and Philosophy from the Marlboro College of Vermont, USA (1987-1989). He then went on to do his graduation in Electronics and Robotics from Hampshire College, Amherst in Massachusetts. Raghavendra completed his education by pursuing B.F.A. in Design Parsons School of Design – The New School, New York in 1989-1992.
Height (approx.): 5′ 10″
Hair Colour: Black
Eye Colour: Black
Raghavendra Rathore belongs to the lineage of Jodhpur’s royal family. His great-grandfather, Sri Sardar Singh, the most well-dressed monarch of his time, remained the Maharaja of Jodhpur from 1895 to 1911, and he was known to popularise the Jodhpur style Safa (headgear) and Achkan.
Major General Maharajadhiraj Sir Ajit Singh, Raghavendra’s grandfather, was famous for his Ajit Bhawan Palace that was built in 1927. His grandmother, Sajjan Kanwar, the queen of Jodhpur, was the sister of the Maharaja of Jaipur, Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II. Raghavendra’s cousin is His Highness Sri Gaj Singh II, the Maharaja of Jodhpur.
Parents & Siblings
His father, late Maharaja Swaroop Singh, who died in 2003, was an MLA from the rural area of Luni in Jodhpur. Raghavendra’s mother, Rani Usha Singh Rathore, belongs to the royal lineage of Alelal-Bijapur.
He has a brother, Suryaveer Singh Rathore, who is a collector and a renowned hotelier, well-known for creating the Khaas Bagh.
Wife & Children
Raghavendra married Kavita Rathore in February 2001. Kavita is the daughter of Thakur Uday Bahn Singh of Nana. While talking about his marriage in an interview, Rathore said,
I find myself far more focussed, far more harmonious after I got married. Kavita finetunes me terrifically. Now one feels good coming back to a nest.”
The couple has a son Amar, and a daughter Devyani.
Rathore was, allegedly, in a relationship with Arjun Rampal’s ex-wife and former Miss India Mehr Jesia. She is an Indian supermodel and a choreographer.
Soon after Raghavendra graduated from the Parsons School of Design, he started interning under Donna Karan of DKNY in Manhattan in 1992. While working there, he had a chance encounter with the famous Dominican designer Oscar de la Renta in an elevator. According to Rathore, his interaction with la Renta eventually landed him a job as a senior assistant at the global fashion house; however, Raghavendra got his big break only after the renowned designer hired him to design the house of Pierre Balmain. Raghu worked with la Renta for two years before returning to his hometown Jodhpur. After living in the U.S. for over a decade, Raghavendra returned home to Jodhpur in 1994 where he was asked by his royal cousin HH Gaj Singh II, the Maharaja of Jodhpur, to put up a fashion show in the city. Rathore accepted the invitation and organised a fashion show in just months with the help of some well-known Indian designers such as Tarun Tahiliani, Rohit Bal, and others.
In the same year Raghavendra returned home, he launched his bespoke multifaceted designer brand ‘Raghavendra Rathore Jodhpur (RR),’ with a small store in New Delhi. Called ‘Inde Pret’ internationally, the luxury fashion brand initially focused on men’s wear but gradually expanded to women’s wear, kid’s wear, jewellery designing, interior designing, and consulting. In 2012, his RR brand became the first Indian fashion brand to have exclusive patent rights on Jodhpuris and Bandhgala Jackets. Talking about his brand in an interview, the royal designer said,
When I took up the bandhgala it was very primitive. It looked boxy and had huge armhole. We started fixing it and contemporising it. And once we were satisfied, we got the Jodhpur Bandhgala pattern copyrighted.”
At the Summer/Resort 2015 show in Lakme Fashion Week (LFW), Raghavendra launched his new ready-to-wear, men-centric designer label called the Imperial India Company (IIC). Apparently, IIC is a humanitarian initiative by Rathore to promote rural handicrafts in collaboration with his bespoke clothing menswear label. According to Rathore, IIC uses handloom and fabrics through the Raghavendra Rathore Foundation that helps provide ample working opportunities to weavers and NGOs.
The prince also founded an NGO called “The Raghavendra Rathore Foundation,” which according to Raghu, works towards making the underprivileged workers and artisans self-reliant by using local resources, arts, and crafts. In 2018, Raghavendra built The Gurukul School of Design in Jaipur, Rajasthan, which is a first-of-its-kind design school in India. Set up in partnership with Amrapali Jewels, the institute offers a four year Bachelor’s degree programme in design. Raghavendra Rathore Jodhpur label also collaborated with the luxury Italian fashion house Ermenegildo Zegna label and Reliance Industries Group in 2018. According to the deal, each of the two partners bought a 12.5 per cent stake in Mr Rathore’s Future 101 Design, the parent company of his label. Through this first-of-its-kind partnership between a European luxury group and an Indian men’s wear brand, Raghavendra’s fashion label reached the international markets.
Virat Kohli’s Reception Outfit
In 2017, both Raghavendra and another Indian designer Sabyasachi claimed to have designed the bandhgala of Virat Kohli’s reception function. Sabyasachi posted the same on his Instagram; however, soon realised the mistake after Rathore pointed it out, and he immediately took down the post before apologising in a new Instagram post.
Awards, Honours, Achievements
- In 2011, the then Chief Minister of Rajasthan, Ashok Gehlot, honoured Rathore and granted him government recognition, a first of its kind in the state’s history, for Rathore’s contribution to promoting the rich heritage of Rajasthan and its culture.
- Rathore won the Designer of the year award at the GQ Men of the year awards in 2014.
- Raghavendra won the ‘Exquisite Art and Fashion Award’ at the 21st Century UK’s Icon Awards in 2020.
- Colour(s): Black, white, grey, beige, navy blue, and burgundy
- Role Model: Oscar de la Renta
- Destination: Narlai, a small village between Jodhpur and Udaipur
- The royal designer is also referred to as “Prince Raghu” or “Raghu.”
- Raghavendra likes to paint in his spare time.
- The Jodhpuri designer is politically inclined towards the Bharatiya Janata Party.
- While studying in Vermont, US, Raghavendra did minimal jobs like scraping the paint off old buildings, and side projects like fixing and restoring vintage cars after he had completed a year of college. His royal parents had asked him to fund his own education, forcing Rathore to live a ‘normal’ life.
- According to the royal designer, his journey as a lifestyle designer began after he was inspired by the fashion sense of his grandfather’s elder brother, the late Maharaja of Jodhpur, Umaid Singh.
- Rathore has styled some high-profile personalities from across the world including His Highness of Qatar – Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Duchess of York – Sarah Ferguson, King of Jaipur – Maharaja Padmanabh Singh, Maharaja of Tehri Garhwal – HH Maharaja Manujendra Shah, Hollywood celebrity Matthew McConaughey, Pakistani actor Fawad Khan, Virat Kohli, Mukesh Ambani, and many Bollywood celebrities like Shah Rukh Khan, Anil Kapoor, Sonam Kapoor, Ranveer Singh, Amitabh Bachchan, among others.
- The Indian designer has also worked for Hindi movies like Eklavya and Khoobsurat, where he was responsible for designing the costumes of the actors. Raghavendra has also styled Amitabh Bachchan’s look in the first season of Kaun Banega Crorepati. He is also credited with designing the reception area of one of India’s finest luxury hotels, Suryagarh, in Jaisalmer.
- The designer owns over 30 retail stores across India and abroad in regions like Goa, New Delhi, Mumbai, Greece, and Hong Kong.
- In 2019, the fashion label “Raghavendra Rathore Jodhpur” completed its 25 years of a successful business.