Posts Tagged: Naeem Khan
Sunday, October 8th 2017
There’s a tipping point, always. Where a trajectory moving forward organically and effortlessly, can be sabotaged by the allure of excess. The seduction of more. There a fine line between a pure, inimitable beauty that stems from a love of creating, and blandness that spills from work consumed by commercialism. A line Naeem Khan walks with grace.
Backstage, engulfed by racks of ornate beading and artful silhouettes, Naeem candidly shares what separates his work. How, in a sea of sameness that can often be NY Bridal Week, he keeps evolving. Elevating. Bending what we know as bridal, every single season.
And the answer - it’s passion. Choosing life and creativity first, business second. Putting art before advertising. Making sure the reason you started in the first place, remains at the heart of what you do, never dulled by the stresses that come with taking on more than we need to. But when it comes to business and career, it’s something we don’t check in with often. We almost blindly follow those logical next steps. We reach for growth because we can, without considering where on that scale brings us greatest personal happiness. That magic space that is the very alchemy for beautiful creative work - our own personal imprint.
And at that tipping point of success, it takes boldness to follow the other path - the illogical, messier, and sometimes less profitable one, that makes sense to nobody but you. To recognize that our individual pillars of success differ from person to person, and they’re not always the ones society celebrates and encourages. But for Naeem, it’s crystal clear. Success for him is about personal happiness that flows from creativity. A pillar he’s built his entire career around, making sure nothing interferes with his love of making art, for arts sake.
Money isn’t a motivator. He couldn’t care less about industry trends. He’s never bothered with market research. He’s kept his team at a small size and free from hierarchy (we’ve seen him backstage each season getting his hands dirty, working tirelessly like every other seamstress fussing over last minute details). For Naeem it’s about teamwork, slow living, and pursuing passions outside of work (one of which he says is cooking, finding creativity in preparting a meal for his team of 14 every day… boss of the century!).
Not allured by the temptation of ‘more’ just because it’s right there in front of him, acutely aware of how much is just enough, Naeem’s created a beautiful, comfortable life, rich in diversity. And the happiness that spills from that balance is the tonic for his work - designs that bowl you over with their beauty. Pieces that flicker with an unpredictable magic. The kind that spark something inside you. And remind you why you started.
See our coverage of the Naeem Khan Fall 2018 runway show on The LANE Style Guide.
Tuesday, October 11th 2016
Stepping backstage at Naeem Khan always feels like access into a world we’re not normally privy to, spilling with decadent gowns so intricately beaded, rolls of divine fabric, mood boards pinned to walls, seamstresses meticulously trimming threads and finessing every tiny detail.
It’s an absolutely fascinating world to slip into, one of the most beautifully diverse collections to photograph, and such a privilege to share the exquisite craftsmanship that goes into creating each piece. You can’t help but panic a little, wanting to cover every tiny detail, every inch of embellishment before models are dressed, and do justice to the divine collection that can only be described as a work of art
We say it every year, but Backstage at Naeem Khan is such a refreshingly non-hierarchical experience that gives us a new respect for the designer every time we walk into this space. There’s no separation between designer and seamstress, makeup artist or media, Naeem Khan is one of the warmest, most collected, calming creatives we’ve come across at this level of talent.
He doesn’t hesitate to get his hands dirty and work away on the little jobs often reserved for assistants, he chats engagingly with models who have become his close friends, and media with unguarded excitement about his inspirations and credits the many hands who have helped bring the collection to life. He runs his business and manages his team in a way that beautifully resembles family. The passion, excitement and investment you can feel watching the team bring Naeem’s creative vision to life is wildly inspiring. And this year, like every year, the collection completely blew our minds; a true embodiment of the bohemian spirit, infused with worldly details.
See our runway coverage and show review on The LANE Style Guide.
Friday, May 20th 2016
Always a highlight on our bridal week calendar, Naeem Khan is one of those designers with whom we bond over a mutual distrust of the conventional ‘bridal industry’, a fellow creative who resisted joining it for a very long time. Disarmingly honest, unexpectedly hilarious and impossibly down to earth, we sat with the talented designer post-show to talk inspiration, embroidery and the creative process behind the incredible collection we’d just witnessed. Read on (the parts we could publish, anyway!) for an insight into the luminary behind these gowns.
The Lane: After days of back to back bridal week shows we can't help but feel that while there are beautfiul pieces, a lot of the collections start to feel the same. A split second here backstage and we're completely transported and inspired. What you create is art, not bridal and it's this refreshing take on weddings that we feel so closely connected to as well...
Naeem Khan: Thank you. You know what I do, I never look at anybody else’s work…
TL: We are the same when it comes to bridal publications, I couldn't tell you the last time I read a bridal magazine. I think it's important to have a fresh perspective.
NK: Yes, if I look, it’s going to taint my mind. We don’t look at anything, we dream things…and we do it because we love it.
TL: It absolutely shows. It’s coming from a pure place.
NK: Yeah, I mean it’s an obsession
TL: And I’m a big believer that if you do things from that pure place, and you put your heart and soul into your work, naturally success and sales will follow.
NK: When I left India, my mother's last words were (because I come from a family and history of artists) ‘never follow money, always follow your heart. Dream and obsess and make your art, and one day you will be rich. It might take you many years but one day you will be. Don’t worry about money’. And I follow that advice here, and I just keep making beautiful things and I think if you are classy and amazing and fabulous then you buy my dresses, otherwise you can buy those things that are stuck on...
TL: And I have to say, for our particular reader, which is a very niche audience, what you're creating is exactly what they’re asking for, and it's a spin on bridal very rarely offered...
NK: I mean you think of it, a global woman…she’s wearing a kaftan, she’s wearing a jumpsuit…I mean to me, I want to see those kinds of women, you know cool, modern women making a statement and it’s available these days, it’s not like you have to go to Paris to get Couture…you can get it in a store in America
TL: Your collection is so incredibly worldly, inspired by so many cultures and so many eras, there’s Edwardian, there’s a little Gatsby in there, there was a little modern…
NK: Yes I mean the way I designed this collection was I’ve got women across the world, you go to The Middle East, you go to Japan…I’ve got all these different women looking for different things, but I’m not just thinking of them and saying ‘design me something like this’ what I’m saying is, each dress has a story…and how can you not find something for yourself in this! That’s the idea, make it beautiful and make each one a story…
TL: Yet there's a thread of commonality throughout the collection. A gypset inspired vibe...
NK: But it ties in…even the colours, you look at all the pinks and the lilacs, they’re so beautiful and they all tie in together, and then I kept overlapping a lot of those things with tulle, white and ivory together, so it really comes out like somebody washed you with watercolours.
TL: So tell me one of the highlights, or a favourite memory you have of creating this collection?
NK: Oh my god, I mean there’s a few…it’s just not one! This first dress, with the thread work, that technique of making those things are from one of my mother's saris, and to me, when I was making it, to me family is so important and that is part of the history for me and so we took that idea, we continued to play with colours. Then the kaftan as an example of how do you make a bride look cool…and so the kaftan was crazy important and that sleeve, I just felt that you know it tells a story, it’s English and Edwardian, something cool, but if you look at the embroidery on it, it’s all Indian. The gypsies come from India you know...
TL: The most challenging thing?
NK: No challenges…I mean I’ve been doing this for so many years, it comes as second nature to me. I mean there have been times when I’ve put collections together in one week….
TL: Yeah I think it was the last one, wasn’t it…when you flew your team over to India last minute?
NK: Yes, but you know having the challenge is actually finding the right people to be around you, because if you have negative energy or energies that can grate on you then it becomes a nightmare, that’s why all the people around me are totally hand chosen, so I keep a great atmosphere in my office…
TL: It feels like that backstage too, it feels really relaxed compared to so many of the other designers. And what I love is there seems to be no heirarchy between yourself or any of your team...
NK: Yeah we all sit down on the floor and we work together, and we draw together and it’s like when you go to school and you’re doing arts and crafts with your other fellow kids…
TL: That’s so fun!
NK: It’s so fun! And we have lunches together…I’ll cook, I predominantly cook in the office almost every other day, and all of us eat together. I think fashion is you know…you can take it as an industry but because we do it as an art...if you keep it as all of us friends, making beautiful things, it shows in the collection, instead of saying ‘ok we’re making this to sell, and now 30 pieces sold, and 150 of this’….we don’t do any of that, we just make it and we’ll say ‘ok, we have to be intelligent now, we have to make it fabulous’ and we’ll be successful with that…
TL: It’s like that saying ‘over planning kills magic’.