Malini Ramani is best known as one of India’s leading fashion designers. And more recently, as a Kundalini yoga teacher. She tells SEEMA that she hopes to spread her brand of love to help people live their dreams.
You are the daughter of Bina Ramani, India’s first internationally acclaimed designer and one of the most iconic women. How did your mother influence your fashion journey?
My mother has influenced me in so many ways. We grew up watching her fearlessly follow her dreams and pave new paths wherever she went. As far as fashion was concerned…, it was a part of our life. We used to hang around my mother’s stores in New York and Delhi, and grew up seeing beautiful, glamorous people waft into her shops, leaving us awestruck! My mom’s life seemed like a wondrous fairy tale. I wanted to be in the fairy tale, too!
What’s unique and special about the Malini Ramani brand?
I have used fashion to express my essence and share it with others. My only secret is that I design clothes that I want to wear myself. So even though it keeps stylistically changing, it still has my vibe and a little bit of “me” in it always.
Who is your audience? Which is your best market outside India?
I have wonderful, loyal clients in many corners of the world. A lot of the people who wear my clothes get addicted to it because of the comfort, cut and design. After the pandemic, I closed my stores, and now I do everything online through my website.
And social media, mainly Instagram?
Long live Instagram. Of course It has its pros and cons but it’s worked for me brilliantly. Without Instagram, I wouldn’t be able to run my business effectively right now. I just post and people instantly see it and order right away, mostly on the same day.
Your landmark store in Goa is one of the must visit places of the beach town . Why is everyone talking about it even today?
I opened the store in 2002, and I just put so much love into it. I went to Goa 10 times a year to visit my store. My secret rule was to add a little magic to it every time I visited. Whether I developed a new scented oil to welcome my clients as they walked in, or put new art on the wall, exotic plants or a new playlist of music that I put together for the season…, I was very involved in it all. Every time you entered the store there was something new. So whoever walked into the store didn’t know what to expect. Year after year, I tried to improve the experience. And over those 20 years, many clients just kept coming back over and over again. It’s something I truly loved and nurtured. I miss it so much!
When did you become a yoga teacher?
My spiritual journey really began when I was about 30 years old. It’s been a process. This is a lifelong path and one cannot rush it! My attraction to yoga started through gymnastics. Ashtanga was the obvious choice because I was so flexible. Eventually, it moved into different aspects because I slowly discovered that yoga is not purely exercise – which a lot of people think it is. The asanas, of course, are very good for your body but it’s a lot more than that. I started my deep yoga practice when I discovered Kundalini yoga about 15 years ago. It’s not repetitive and includes mantras, breath work, mudras, meditation, sound baths and more to just uplift you and help you live life to its highest potential.
The pandemic must have affected your fashion career. Is that one reason you got immersed in yoga?
Actually, the opposite. I did close my stores. And I was only teaching Kundalini yoga up until then, then I happened to get stuck in Rishikesh. I lived there for a year. It was like a dream. I felt as though all my good karmic deeds led me to this moment. There was love and happiness and harmony and the air was clean. The Ganga was clear and crystal. [It was] like a spiritual Disneyland. During my time there I learned about many other forms of yoga and went for regular satsangs , kirtans and met a lot of highly evolved, wise yogis, teachers and swamis. As a result, now I don’t only teach Kundalini yoga but have combined new techniques, postures, music, affirmations and other elements to my teachings. I’ve almost become an ambassador for Rishikesh.
You are passionate about both fashion and yoga. How do you merge these two?
I have a brand called Yogalini, which has beautiful whites [that] create the right vibrations. But the way I’m really merging the two together is that I’m doing retreats. I love every aspect of putting it all together – the food, the meditations, prayers at the Ganga, river rafting and designing clothes. It was my dream come true.Malini Ramani
So over time you will continue with the Malini Ramani brand and add it to the Yogalini brand?
Yes. I was selling the Yogalini brand before the pandemic and it was mainly whites, because I was focused on Kundalini. Now I’m moving to other colors and other forms of yoga. So I will have a much wider audience and many more design choices. I have my original clients who want specific things like my well known zip-up saris. It’s just one zip and it’s done, no ironing required and light as a feather, even though it’s fully sequenced. On the other hand, I’ve started dressing differently. So, I’m wearing things I’m designing now, which is [based on] my new spiritual look. When people see me wearing that [when] I post on Instagram, they want to know how, when and where can they get these clothes. That’s basically the way it’s changed – because I’ve changed.
Many years ago, you had worked on a brilliant fragrance called Supernova. What’s happened to it?
I made this fragrance in a lab in Singapore. I know the ingredients because I’m the one who mixed them. I’m planning to revive the fragrance as too many people are asking about it.
You are in the right space to start a wellness space that will combine all your current talents.
That’s one of my dreams among others. I think you just read my mind.
What will the iconic Bina Ramani think when she reads this interview with the iconic Malini Ramani?
Nostalgia for sure. And happiness and all the memories. And just looking back on our career paths and how long we’ve been together and the happiness seeing us both still together and enjoying ourselves. She will be thrilled to read what you have written about me in SEEMA.
Jaswant Lalwani, is a global real estate advisor and lifestyle consultant in New York City and the Greater Miami Area, is also an avid writer and globetrotter.