It’s been a while since I did a fashion related post, but this one is quite exceptional and special in its own way. Yes, there’s news regarding the upcoming Lakme Fashion Week. This just in, I am absolutely ecstatic about learning that Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla will be opening Lakmé Fashion Week Winter/Festive 2015 on the 25th of August.
Known as the masters of ‘revival and reinvention’, Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla are India’s most celebrated designer duo. Contemporary elegance with traditional motifs and forms of embellishments has become their signature style and one can easily spot an AJSK masterpiece even in a crowd full of couture.
They continue to lead the industry with an exhibition of their finest work with rich fabrics, delicate hand-embroidery & embellishments coupled with flawless finesse. The duo, best known for their regal and extravagant bridal wear will showcase a fresh & youthful take on fashion at LFW W/F 2015. As an ode to the modern day divas and their free spirit, the designers will present a special collection, reinventing traditional styles.
Designer duo, Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla shared, “We are absolutely thrilled to be back at Lakmé Fashion Week to open the upcoming celebratory season. This platform brings back many cherished memories for the both of us. Expect a befitting opening act this season, as we reinvent the traditional to present an exciting, fresh take on fashion, deemed fit for the youthful, modern day diva celebrating her harmonious, republican spirit.”
It is time to go back to my very own memory, one that I shared with the designer duo, which I would like to refer to as an experience of a lifetime…
I was in the 8th grade when I knew my destiny was NIFT. With that sort of clarity at such a young age, most people were impressed with the conviction I had in myself. Once I got done with my 12th board exams, it was also personally a tough year to get over. I decided to take a year’s break to prepare for the entrance exams. Having been warned about how competitive and tough it is to get through, I gave it my all. Phase 1 tested my aptitude for subjects like Mathematics and English. Phase 2 involved testing my creative abilities. Qualifying at every level only got me closer to getting admitted into one of the most prestigious fashion institutes the country has to offer!
It is during the wait period between Phase 1 and Phase 2 (May-July 2008) when life changed for me in the most exhilarating way, with an opportunity one could only dream of. Having followed their work and been an ardent fan for as long as I could remember, I was keen on meeting the designer duo – the amazing Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla. Luckily for me, Abu Sir’s sister is my father’s very dear friend. She managed to set up a quick meeting with them at their design studio in Andheri. I was brimming with excitement packed with some nervousness when I got there and waited for them to make that much exciting grand entry.
There they were, looking as regal as their thoughts, creations and designs. I couldn’t stop smiling and it took me some time to imbibe this moment. Here I was, sitting in a studio that spelt grandeur everywhere with ornate chairs, mirror-laden ceiling and rich velvet sofas – along with the men who make it all happen. A lovely conversation with them about my aspirations, my educational background and more, along with some tea, was the ideal and momentous afternoon I never thought I’d get to be a part of.
One topic led to another and before I knew it, the magical words came out of Sandeep Sir:
“Would you like to work with us? Like, maybe an internship?”
My jaw dropped. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. My immediate reaction was…
“But I know nothing… I’m not qualified… How do I do this?”
Honestly, I loved the idea of taking up a challenge, but this was HUGE!
“You will have to work hard and give it your best, leave the rest to us. For us, qualifications don’t matter and never will. Are you ready to give it your all and learn on the job?” said Sandeep Sir.
Practicality took a back-seat and I decided to take the plunge. I immediately agreed and took up the irresistible offer. This meeting was on a Wednesday afternoon and the new month was to begin on the following Monday. That was it. I was to start work in 4 days and I did.
There were 2 distinctive departments – Design & Production. Although I got a chance to witness and learn how the design department functions, I was put in the Production department only because I was too new to contribute at the design phase.
The 2 months that followed were a huge learning experience. Starting off with handling shop pieces, I slowly and patiently graduated to client pieces… and when I say client, I mean celebrities who swear by AJSK (From the Bachchan family to the Ambanis). Production began with the process of maintaining spec sheets (specification sheets) which includes all the possible information one would need about the client, his/her order preferences, measurements and materials used… that sheet may not have looked important but meant everything.
My very first mentor in the professional space was Jafer and what a task master he could be! Yet, he was and continues to be one of the nicest people I’ve ever come across. From haughty showdowns to celebrating wins and special professional moments of achievement, he made these 2 months nothing less than a scary yet joyous roller-coaster ride. Working with people like Afshaa ma’am, Juhi ma’am and a couple of other wonderfully talented and efficient bunch of professionals who are now friends, this was my first and most cherished work experience – one I got even before I knew I was going to be a NIFTian.
Managing units with multiple tailors and a hard to please master ji, I learnt the art of handling difficult people. I understood the various subtle ways of making things happen, meeting the craziest of deadlines without causing too much havoc or damage. Slowly I got involved with every department to get an overall experience of how a piece is conceptualised, designed, tailored, embellished and finished.
Two months into this creative madness, I couldn’t believe how much I had learnt. From stressful late nights to emotional breakdowns (yes, I was just 17 and it took me a while to take it in my stride), I truly believe it has left an impact strong enough to have moulded me into the person I am, today.
Once I got my results for Phase 1, it was time to leave as I had to prepare for Phase 2. Words that felt magical were spoken on my last day, by the designer duo when they said…
“You’ve proved your potential and we couldn’t be more happy and proud. Come back whenever you are done with your course and would like to work with us.”
A heartfelt goodbye, overwhelmed and teary-eyed, I left to start my new journey… towards my dream of studying at NIFT. I survived 4 years of a demanding design school and graduated in 2012 – Bachelor of Design, Fashion Communication. Oh what a feeling that was!
A big thank you to each and every person who has been a part of this eccentric but awesome experience. Also, to all those who have encouraged me and felt pride in my humble achievements.
So when I was informed about Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla being the show openers at the upcoming Lakmé Fashion Week, my mind performed a rewind, leaving me overwhelmed once again. With immense pride, love in my heart and an eternally grateful feeling, I look forward to this show like none other!
Until next time…
The Potpourri Girl