Thursday, October 15th 2015
Just when we were starting to tire of the expected bridal silhouettes, safe designs and concepts that, if we're brutally honest, felt a little uninspired at some of the shows, we walked backstage into Naeem Khan. It was everything we were craving from bridal, and nothing that we expected. Drawing from diverse reference points, the story that unfolded was one of South American muses and bygone American icons, dramatic styling and quietly dramatic dresses.
Arriving in suspense knowing this would definitely be one of the stand out shows, I walked around completely in awe, feeling so privileged to experience and photograph the intricacy and extraordinary craftsmanship behind this collection before the show began. And besides the incredibly breathtaking pieces hanging on racks, something that struck me was just how refreshingly hands on, enthusiastic and completely immersed Naeem himself was in every detail backstage. So much so that had I not been familiar with the designer already, I'd mistake him for any one of his incredibly talented team who were passionately working away, clearly living and breathing the designer's vision. I observed absolutely no hierarchy within this creative team between designer, assistant or model, just pure heart and soul poured into every detail, but with effortless ease. It felt like a celebration, as apposed to the frantic preparation that usually unfolds. There was a knowingness that this collection was truly something special, and it was a magic that you could feel backstage.
Revealing some of the most beautiful casting we saw all week, each model possessed a uniquely quiet confidence and watchful gaze - a little reminiscent of Frida herself. Standing impossibly tall in vertiginous heels, each pair of feet were carefully strapped into metallic platforms or lace pumps, shoes mirroring the decade or silhouette inspiring each gown.
Hair was pulled into sleek side braids framing a face tinted gently with blush and bold brows, black lashes and a red stained lip. In an incredible extension of styling, models sported dramatic oversized earrings in pale tints with pearlescent stones and decadent fringing. Paired with equally oversized floral crowns, the effect was extraordinary - a bold statement of South American femininity and a refreshing departure from anything expectedly ‘bridal’.
When the show began, there was an energy in the room & a reaction that mirrored my own when i first set eyes on the collection. It was beautifully unexpected, luxe, conceptual, creatively inspired… it was a show that shook up everything we know as bridal and pushed creative boundaries. There was an implicit understanding that we were all witnessing something magical and entirely unique, that felt so timely at the end of Bridal Week.
Afterwards, we sat down with Naeem who over a post show tequila discussed the collection with such down to earth honestly, explaining the challenges of juggling ready to wear and bridal. Naeem described the difficult headspace he was in after just having finished his Ready To Wear collection and with only a few weeks before the Bridal collection deadline, flew to India to design the collection in just 3 short weeks! Taking with him his key team, (who he describes more like a large family, such is their intimate understanding of him and his vision) he recalled designing and sketching on the plane, drawing upon his textile, background once on the ground, and a knowledge of how things come together and how fabric behaves, allowing him to work quickly on a collection, that on closer inspection should by all accounts have taken months!
In fashion, art and design, it seems there's nothing more powerful than simply creating innately and instinctually from your heart. And for Naeem this is exactly how he approaches his work. Explaining to us that just a few short seasons ago he took a gamble on a bridal collection that ignored anything that felt commercially safe, these pieces were designed only for himself, drawing directly from what inspires him. This unwavering approach has certainly paid off, with a collection rivalling some of the most established bridal designers, and loved by an audience who were just as refreshed as we were to see something a little more daring, and a beautifully refreshing take on bridal.
See our runway pictures of the Fall 2016 collection on The LANE Style Guide.