‘We Are Born To Create’: Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla
The doyens of design will be in Dubai for the Design One exhibition this weekend. Masala! gets a whiff of the magic Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla weave with their ensembles…
Abu Jani. Sandeep Khosla. Two names that are enough to evoke awe and inspiration. Over a magnificent 30-year journey, ‘The Duo’ has set unmatched benchmarks taking Indian fashion to a whole new level. Indeed, everything about them – their friendship, their creativity and their charisma – spell a certain sense of mystique and opulence. This weekend, Dubai shoppers will get an opportunity to drape themselves in their mesmerising fabrics at the Design One exhibition and we couldn’t be more excited! 2016, in fact, is a watershed year for Abu and Sandeep as they complete three decades in the business, marking a unique partnership that celebrates the very essence of Indian design. As they prepare to wow and woo Dubai fashionistas, Masala! indulged them in a heart-warming chat about their life, design philosophy and the purity of their art.
How excited are you about Design One Dubai?
It’s wonderful to bring our label to a new geography. We love the idea of introducing new people to our world, our clothes, our creativity. It’s about creating and seeing that creativity bring joy to others. Coming to Dubai is an opportunity to do just that.
How has design empowered you?
Design is who we are. It isn’t a profession or even a career choice but rather an inner calling or compulsion. We are born to create. It is as fundamental as breathing. To spend one’s life doing what drives you, is a privilege and a gift. It is quite simply the most empowering thing there is. To be who you are. To live as you are. What could be more beautiful than that?
How would you describe your design philosophy?
We are drawn towards the finest. Nitpickers by nature, it is about detail. We do not believe in trendy or transient fashion but are worshippers of eternal style. Classical is forever. Passionate about embroideries, sumptuous fabrics and fabulous finishes, the clothes must feel even better than they look. India is our muse. Our mission is to reinvent, reimagine India at her most magical. To incorporate tradition, technique, craft and art, and rework them to ever more meticulous and never-before-seen expression is the constant endeavor. Our design is original. The original is always unique by definition.
Tell us one aspect of your process that your fans and customers don’t know.
We are as alike as chalk and cheese and have no set or defined process. One plus one equals three. How that alchemy occurs, why it works is a mystery to even us. But that wonderful magic happens when we combine our madness and is something we have felt, known and seen from the start. We are sometimes poles apart when it comes to each other’s vision and it takes much sparring to come to an agreement but it’s always well worth it in the end. It comes from a deep level of comfort and security in both the self and in each other and above all, an even deeper respect for what we both bring to the table. That is the method to the madness. It is impossible to put into words. The expression, hopefully speaks for itself.
Your book India Fantastique, documenting your journey was much-discussed. How did it come about?
Commemorating a milestone can be done in several ways. We wanted to celebrate our three-decade journey in a more substantial way rather than an event or a fashion show. A book is forever. It possesses both gravitas and the ability to reach multiple audiences across the globe. India Fantastique is a labour of love that took two years of our lives, mind, body and soul. We literally gave it our all.
How challenging was it to capture a remarkable journey of nearly three decades in one book?
Extremely challenging! To first shoot 30 years’ worth of creativity and to do it not in a studio in one’s home city but in multiple locations both indoor as well as outdoor across the globe, was a logistical nightmare. To then sit and decide what ought to be in the book and what we should leave out was gargantuan. The project possessed us and it was worth every minute of it. To know that the book has been read by so many people, from Indophiles to lovers of fashion; that it is stocked in every leading art book store in international capitals and at libraries at leading fashion and design schools is hugely gratifying.
You are one of the few designers who have still maintained the purity of art in your creations, especially at a time when a lot of designers are seen to sacrifice creativity at the altar of commercialism. What is the secret behind marrying art and mart successfully?
The secret is to create that which pleases you. Full Stop. An artist does not cater to an audience or a market. We design for ourselves. We are incapable of doing it any other way. There is no cutting corners or compromise when it comes to Expression. One makes the art and those who appreciate it become one’s audience and clientele. We feel immensely blessed that our creativity has always found an appreciative and loyal audience.
With the sudden thrust in Indian textiles, especially in view of the proclaimed initiatives of the government, do you think our textile industry is headed in the right direction?
We need to move beyond the superficial and walk the talk. The government must ensure that the textile industry receives the support it requires in real ways - infrastructure, incentives, policy that promotes excellence and markets it too. At the heart of the issue is the status of the artisan. Crafts die out when it no longer becomes financially and creatively sound to continue them. We must empower and enthuse the artisan. We must create beauty and make that beauty the very standard of style. This requires investment. We need to put our money where our mouths are.
What are the top five things that inspire you forever in your designs?
Everything is inspiration to the inspired.