Michelle Obama, Beyonce Knowles, Eva Longoria and Lady Gaga. With a client list as formidable as that, it’s little wonder that New York-based Indian designer Naeem Khan says that he loves crafting glamorous clothes for powerful women.
‘Designing glamorous clothes is second nature to me. I’m fortunate that my collection is worn by royalty, important social figures, movie and rock stars across the world. It’s very thrilling to see your clothes on people in the limelight,’ Naeem told IANS in an email interview from New York.
‘My biggest and most exciting moment was when Michelle Obama wore my dress for the first state dinner for our prime minister. I love designing for powerful women,’ added the 53-year-old.
Describing fashion as a serious business, he said: ‘There is a lot of thought process required when you design for celebrities, specially for heads of state.’
‘Clothes make a statement; they send a message. You have to keep many factors in mind – age, body, event, weather, colour, comfort and how much power to put into the dress as you don’t want to overpower the personality with the dress,’ said Khan who launched his collection Naeem Khan in 2003.
Associating with A-listers is a common practice amongst designers and Khan says such collaborations help in making a name for the brand.
Recently, Khan dressed pop icon Lady Gaga and says he loved it.
‘She is a superstar and has a galaxy of a fans. The media loves her. I am ever so grateful she acknowledged me. Celebrities and designers are a great recipe for success,’ said the designer who calls Gaga an ultimate fashion icon.
‘I love Lady Gaga.fashion should be fun and Lady Gaga is doing just that. She thinks out of the norm and we must respect that. Today she has several hundred million fans, it’s because of her talent and style. She is a fashion Icon. Bizarre as many call it but, yes, she knows how to make a statement and live by it fabulously,’ Khan told IANS.
Gaga made her first formal public appearance in India in Khan’s dress, a one-shoulder gown teamed with neckpiece and earrings.
‘My dress was a great move…it was totally unexpected by the world. It made her look so regal, sophisticated and certainly got the attention of the fashion world,’ he said.
Khan, who moved to New York in the 1970s, feels Indian designers are super-talented but require support from the government.
‘The Indian government needs to pay attention to the power of fashion on the world stage. Designers need to be helped and built to compete in the world.
‘The Indian fashion industry (designer) is very well set in India itself as the consumer base is huge. It would be great to see more designers holding world stage as the Italian or the French do,’ he said.
He says his father, a fabric designer in India, influenced him and then it was his role as an assistant to Roy Halston Frowick that helped him in understanding the fashion world in America.
‘It’s been not easy…the world of fashion is tough and unforgiving. To create a world brand takes patience, money and your blood… Fashion never stops.’
He doesn’t get time to visit India but dreams of becoming part of the Indian fashion industry.
‘I am so wanting to come and show in India but my NY (New York) shows keep me tied down. The good things is in plan for the near future and I will be showing in India very soon. I love India. My dream is to show and retail in India. One day soon,’ he said.
Of course, he is interested in styling Bollywood celebrities.
‘I love Freida Pinto and I am grateful she has been wearing my clothes. I would love to dress more Bollywood stars but it becomes difficult being in NY,’ he said.
Tips for upcoming designers’
‘Hard work, whatever it takes, patients and passion….have a vision and live by it…
People who start at the top can easily fall. It is the most rewarding world but needs everything you have. It’s an industry which needs constant creation and you are only as good as your last collection,’ he concluded.
(Nivedita Sharma can be contacted at email@example.com)