When imagination meets the brave, you get Rinaa Shah. She’s a player and an equine fashion entrepreneur, establishing Rinaldi Fashions and the Rinaldi Polo Team.
Our very own knight in the shining armor, Rinaa is the only Indian woman player who plays all around India and abroad. And not only that—she is also a fashion designer!
She had her formal training in Fashion Design from New York and an executive course in Business Management from Harvard. After completing her education, she launched her own fashion label in 1997 with the name Rinaldi Designs that catered to premium, high fashion footwear for women and kids.
Pioneer in bridal footwear, the brand had its share of top celebrity clientele, including the likes of Naomi Campbell, Natalie Portman, Goldie Hawn, Rekha, Shilpa Shetty, and Kareena Kapoor, just to name a few.
Her interest in polo started around 2009 when a friend took her to a polo match. She couldn’t set her eyes off the galloping horses and the men having all the pride in riding them their way. That’s when she decided to take up polo seriously.
The transition from fashion to polo player wasn’t easy. Despite most of her friends and family having doubts, she was very determined to succeed.
First, she concentrated on riding, and in 2011, she started polo training at the Mahalakshmi Race Course in Mumbai. A couple of falls and fractures from the horse during her initial training days made her only more determined.
This paid off. After training in Argentina and U.K, she won two beginner polo tournaments in Jodhpur. In the last couple of years, Rinaa has been consistent in the polo circuit, playing back to back tournaments across the country. In 2014, she launched her own polo team under the name Rinaldi Polo that features India’s top names, including Arjuna Award Winner Samir Suhag, Chirag Parekh, Gaurav Sehgal, and herself.
Horse Polo, now an integral part of her life, has started to impact her career and inspire her designs. She played recently for the Umaid Bhavan Polo Cup and won the Hermes Cup in Jodhpur by December 2015.
Rinaa was the first designer in India to launch an equine accessories label. Her ardent love for polo can be clearly depicted in her designs for Rinaldi Couture.
She has beautifully combined the game and glamorized it with her fashion sense in her equestrian-inspired line of clothing, shoes, handbags, belts, ties, and cufflinks for men and women.
From exquisite vintage handbags and equestrian scarves to boots, belts, and t-shirts, the pieces feature enchanting motifs of her favorite animal—the horse.
Rinaldo Polo accessories are also being sold in Mexico, the USA, Germany, and Spain.
She could never have done this without her family and few polo players like Vicky Nihalani, Vishal Singh, and Suresh Tapuriah, who lent her tremendous support to play polo.
She truly wishes to encourage more Indian women to make their way to polo and help them pursue anything they have a passion for. As she puts it, “One can fulfill their passion at any age. You just have to want it badly. Nothing is impossible.”
Another promising endeavor from Rinaldi’s stable was the Rinaldi Polo Club held on September 15 to 20 2015 at Rambagh Polo Grounds, Jaipur. It was a 2-4 handicap tournament that had 12 teams participating and competing for glory.
The key motive of organizing the cup is to support and nurture the under 25 young talents from across the country. The cup would also entail three key awards including Upcoming All-rounder, Highest Goal Player, and Most Valuable Player to encourage competitiveness and sportsmanship.
With players of stature like Maharaj Narendra Singh of Jaipur, Vicki Nihalani, and Vishal Singh playing for and supporting the cause, the initiative, indeed, is one of the most sorted for young polo guns in the country.
The tournament was also combined with an art show that showed amazing charcoal paintings by artist Gautam Patole and curated by Jalpa from Cosmic Heart Gallery in Mumbai.
The finals of the Rinaldi Polo Cup were scheduled on September 20, with Princess Diya Kumari of Jaipur as the chief guest. To grant a creative edge to the event, Rinaldi showcased a unique fashion show at the Grandstand after every chukker of the finals. The day has also marked the launch of Rinaldi’s official website, visit it here.
The Rinaldi Polo Team plans to play in the coming year in Bangkok, the USA, and Europe.