Fashion’s Classic

Indo-American designer Naeem Khan on keeping things simple and why the First Lady of America is his best advertisement.

How does one sustain the longevity of a brand in the constant flutter of changing seasons and trends? "By simplifying," says Indian-American designer Naeem Khan. It's not exactly the adjective one would associate with Khan, whose eponymous label is flaunted by divas and celebrities on red carpets around the world, but as someone with over three decades of experience, he seems to have a point there. "I believe that design should be something sustainable over seasons. I can't do kitsch or bohemia because that doesn't reflect who I am as a person. I have always felt the need to make my clothes timeless. One should be able to pull them out of the closet at any time and still find them contemporary," says the 54-year-old.

The result of this philosophy is delicate gowns with rich Oriental embroidery, diaphanous cocktail dresses and a clientele that spans Hollywood stars, actors, royalty and first ladies. Khan's patrons include Michelle Obama, America's first lady, actors Penelope Cruz, Carrie Underwood, Alicia Keys, Beyonce Knowles, Princess Yasmin Aga Khan and Queen Noor of Jordan. Among home-grown celebs, Sonam Kapoor and Deepika Padukone are fierce admirers of Khan's designs. In the decade since he launched the Naeem Khan label, the buzz around him is equally loud at the over-200 stores he retails from across the US, Europe, Middle East, Russia,Ukraine and other former Soviet states from stores such as Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue and Harrods. In India, for his debut show at the Lakme Fashion Week, Khan will present today a selection of his designs from his autumn-winter, resort and spring collections. "I have brought representative pieces to give people here an idea of what I do. India's a young growing market and we are waiting to see the reaction to the show. I am not immediately looking at expanding in the region, but wouldn't mind handpicking a couple of boutiques for retail options," he says. He's keener on finding possible retail partners for his cosmetics and accessories line that can be introduced in the next couple of years.

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