Some designers simply evoke a sense of walking into sparkles.
Naeem Khan, committed to dressing up some of the most fashionable women in the world in their dazzling, literally starry runway and red carpet gowns, is one such person. Having graced the sheer variety of celebrities and socialites like of Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, Penelope Cruz, Sarah Jessica Parker, the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton the Queen Noor of Jordan and First Lady Michelle Obama, his gowns are always ornate and intricately detailed, with embellishments and appliques aplenty.
As a consequence, I too arrived at New York Fashion Week (NYFW) in an ornate Nehru Jacket from Delhi Fashion Week, accompanied by comrades who were the most radiant of their respective lines in fashion. With a common heritage of being Indian, we recalled that Naeem Khan was born in Bareilly, India, with a family business of textiles adorned by royal families, which was a clear path for him to build his legacy on.
Having worked for Roy Halston in the 70s, he brought an unexpected clean cuts and simplicity to his collection, which thankfully retained its signature charm of whimsy – all in the name of embellishments, sequins, fringes and bold colors. The show thus opened to a more Halston and Yves Saint Laurent line of clothes, a retro (yes another retro) homage of chic disco Americano wear, with geometric designs that clung to the silhouettes, high cut slits, and one in a cape, all sans any frills.
Thankfully, the simplicity was short-lived as his signature embroidery, sequins, appliques and bursts of color exploded on the runway right after, starting with an Indian looking embroidered salwar kameez, and slick silk gowns with oversized sequined florets.
The oversized floral theme evidently plunged all other subtlety into oblivion, for the perfectly matched hues (pink on red, white and red on indigo, black and white on lace) made every dress a statement. A particular scene stealer was in my favorite color red, elaborated into a signature ball gown with a heavily embroidered bustier, and intertwined with crochet for a frock. The same combination was mind blowing in a pale yellow lace-on-mesh embroidered dress, where the craftsmanship was visible even from afar.
The elaborate signature floral or sequined gowns were often accompanied by a sheer quantity of trains and matching capes. One with a printed floral pattern was a peachy delight for daywear, while another that was dripping with sequins with a shorter dress (offset by the longer gown in the same fabric with a train) were fit for goddesses. As a nod to India and Pakistan, one model even wore a headscarf with classic sequins sprinkled all over her gown.
The floral motifs continued with oversized embroidery and appliques on other outfits, like a floral peasant blouse, on a knee length skirt, silk capries with Japanese cherry blossoms on a matching shirt, and ethereal yellow daisy dresses, with the texture of the actual florets! With an inherited love for plant biology and nomenclature, I secretly thanked my mother for the garden filled upbringing.
The show culminated with a series of fringe dresses – often seen only as short dresses and prevalent in yellow and red, but with one stunning piece in maxi length. The models literally bounced in synchrony with the eyes of the gapers, who enjoyed the whimsical bounce of the concept.
After the spectacular show, my friends and I got a sneak peak at the collections up close in the backstage, where the sheer quality of fabrics, three dimensional embroidery and dense thickets of sequins all showcased that the true star of the show was the high quality workmanship. Truly, couture at its finest!