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She has designed for Hollywood stars and for America's first lady, Michelle Obama. Indian-American designer Rachel Roy on finding her sense of style in a trend-driven industry.

A one-shouldered jumpsuit came with an interesting print of birds and animal skulls. Another ivory silk trouser had purple and brown dandelions on them. Bursts of cheery neon, summery coral and dramatic amethyst broke through the monotony of paler shades and eclectic prints married interesting silhouettes in high-waisted pants, billowing trousers and hippie peasant dresses in Rachel Roy's resort 2013 collection that she showcased at the New York Fashion Week last month.

It's a look that is part exotic and part businesslike, exactly the way the 38-year-old Indian-American designer intended it to be; quite the way she is as a person. "My inspirations have always been real-life women, those who work and bring up a family and still find the time to look good. I don't do avant-garde because that's not who I am catering to and I can't do sexy unless it's backed by confidence," she says. Roy's clients — US's first lady Michelle Obama, Hollywood actors Gwyneth Paltrow, Penelope Cruz, Halle Berry and Kate Hudson, model Iman to name a few — seem to lap up this timeless quality of her designs, which can make them feel equally at home at a presidential visit to a foreign nation and a business meeting with a director.

Sitting in the open-air cafe of a central Delhi hotel, Roy, statuesque at 5'11", seems rather a misfit as the NRI who delights in "doing the desi" on her annual visit to the country, despite the tattoo in Devanagari ("prem") on her wrist and the gold kada she wears around her ankles. "This is my second visit to India (for a promotional event for Forevermark diamonds) and I remember precious little from my first visit, which was years ago when I was a child," she says.

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