Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla Celebrate 33 Glorious Years In Fashion
It’s pouring incessantly outside as we make our way into the renowned designer duo, Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla’s factory in Mumbai. Stepping into the nondescript building, you wouldn’t believe that this is where the most intricately designed bridal outfits come to life. That is until we are welcomed into Khosla’s plush and tastefully done office which isn’t bereft of beautiful drapes and artefacts. Even as you take all that in, the eye moves towards his desk which is an organised mess comprising of fabrics, sequins and half-done sketches of designs that are yet to take shape.
Sitting on an ornate chair we patiently wait for the designer to talk to us as he hurriedly runs around from one place to another, making sure that each and everything is going smoothly before he sits down and catches his breath.
Having just celebrated their 33rd anniversary in the fashion industry, Khosla is riding high on the wave of success, while still staying grounded after a stupendous show that had Deepika Padukone walking the ramp in an ivory lehenga. “We are very happy at one level, but don’t quite feel we have reached our peak yet,” says an ambitious Khosla when we ask him about achieving the milestone. So, what is it that drives the dynamic duo to keep creating gorgeous couture and bridal pieces that they are so well known for? Pat comes the answer as he tells us that it all lies embedded in the mutual respect they have for each other.
Creative differences have been part and parcel for the two ever since they met at a common friend’s party 33 years ago, and decided to start their own line. Talking about their successful and ongoing innings, Khosla said, “We don’t agree on anything, to begin with. We both ideate and then meet midway and that is where the magic happens.” This was more than evident at their 33rd-anniversary celebration which saw a line that was replete with pops of neon and vivid silhouettes before transitioning into pastels and muted shades of beige, and their trademark white. “Abu and I used to do a lot with colour until we got caught up in our whites, that’s our favourite shade. So, we decided to revisit those colours and reinvent them,” explains Khosla as he goes on to describe his love for candy colours that just pop.
The idea behind the grand celebration of 33 years was to revisit and reinterpret some of their old classics, bringing them to life, and giving them a millennial-friendly spin. Another nostalgic element of the show was their emphasis on the circular pattern that they worked on in the past, and even differed over from a design point of view.
Laughing, the designer told us about how the ‘dot’ had been a point of debate between the duo ever since they did it ages ago because of a whole list of reasons, starting with the design’s selling point. And even with a collection as vibrant and eclectic as the one they recently showcased, Khosla told us that every single piece has always found its perfect match. For them, the idea has always been to create garments that score high on visual appeal.
Jani and Khosla’s 33rd celebration was a bridge between the new and the old as they brought back a lot of their older design aesthetics and also launched a menswear line to mark the occasion. Titled ‘Mard’, the collection was edgy and designed as an androgynous line. Khosla opened up about how they never really set a demographic for their designs because they want people of all age groups to be able to wear it.
Having been in the industry longer than most, the pair has made certain that they remain relevant regardless of the millennial boom. Right from designing for blockbusters like Devdas to creating evergreen pieces that have found fans in Priyanka Chopra, Sonam Kapoor, Jaya Bachchan and more, Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla have continued being a bride’s go-to label.
They credit the culture of India as their main inspiration, having taken the Lucknow chikan craft industry by storm. Defining it as their signature style, the designers gave the indigenous craft a major boost. “The craftsmen are still alive, the craft is still alive, fortunately in our country. It’s all about redesigning and reinterpreting it for them and introducing a form to it,” he said as we talked about India’s rich heritage and its influence on the global market and their design aesthetics.
As the busy designer sipped his second cup of tea, he confessed how he’s been DMing Ayushman Mitra of Bobo Calcutta to make him kurtas and shirts. It’s apparent that even fashion stalwarts like him can’t ignore the influence Instagram has on our wardrobe choices.