Raja Kumari has been a fashion icon for people of different age groups. She has a distinctive style which people love and have started to associate her with. While singers and rappers are known to have their own style statement, that trend isn’t that popular in India yet. However, Raja Kumari was one of the first ones to bring that trend to Indian shores. She is one of the very few singer-rappers who has always been looked up to for her sartorial choices. Her varied looks, especially the big bindi style, have become so popular that people have started referring to those styles by her name.
Talking to Prateek Sur, Raja Kumari opens up about how it is to be a fashion icon, should singer-rappers have their distinctive style statement, her own choices when it comes to style and the iconic bindi. Excerpts from the candid chat:
As you’re considered a fashion icon, I’ve to ask you. Do singers need to have a specific style statement to help them stand out from the crowd of singers?
I think that question is like a crowd of singers. I believe it really depends on what your goals are. In India, we have playback singers, and I don't think that your fashion sense should actually play a role in that because playback singers are really valued for the quality of their voice. So, I feel like it's not important for everyone to delve into it. However, I think that fashion itself is an essential part of expression. Using fashion to convey who you are and to facilitate personal evolution is admirable. It's a great idea. I just don't think that if you're a rapper or a pop singer, you need to dress a certain way. You don't have to adopt a specific style to stand out from the crowd of singers. What you need is an incredible voice and dedication to your artistry. If fashion is part of your expression, then yes, it can be important. But if you're a musician focused on the music, then honestly, it doesn't matter.
How do you define your personal style statement?
I feel like I'm undergoing a rebrand right now. I believe I'm stepping into my role as a label head, as the CEO of my own company, and as the person who controls my own destiny. Consequently, I find myself more drawn to chic and clean lines, leaving behind the extravagant and over-the-top (OTT) styles, except when they're necessary. Moreover, I sense that I'm evolving towards new silhouettes and having a lot of fun with it. I'm enjoying the process of transforming my style. The bindi, for me, appears to be a part of my identity.
The Bindi seems to be a part of your identity. Is there a story behind that? As in how it started, did you get inspired by someone for it or anything else?
I believe every Indian woman shares a connection with the bindi. Personally, it was through my mom that I developed this relationship. When we lived in America, she left behind her entire culture, having moved to the US when she was in her early twenties, to raise us. I recall that around the 90s, my mom began transitioning from wearing a sari every day to opting for pants, pantsuits, and the like. However, she consistently retained the bindi, which was something I always associated with her. It was her way of staying closely connected to our culture. As I delved deeper into the artistry of my music, my dad would always ask me where my bindi was when I wore my American clothes. As I grew older, I realized that the bindi became a symbol, just as my mom was, of how to preserve my culture. Hence, the bindi has played a significant role in my career. It's something I've encouraged others to wear and discussed as their spiritual third eye, with no limitations. I'm delighted to witness the bindi gaining a much more positive reception. I vividly remember 2016 when I appeared in Vogue magazine. Flipping through the entire magazine, I noticed only two people wearing bindis – one was me, and the other was in a wedding jewellery ad. This was quite surprising because I had expected to see more people wearing it. However, it's heartening to see how firmly the bindi has made its way back into fashion, not that it ever truly faded away.