Fashion Tales – Pria Kataaria, Amrita Singh, Atelier Azza, Rani Emaan
With all the fashionistas in New York, this was bound to happen. Against the grand canvas of New York Fashion Week, a group of young South Asian women entrepreneurs created their own hurrah, a showcase of the sparkling talent of desi designers from the US and the Indian-subcontinent.
At the Fashion for Compassion event at the Ritz Carlton, organized by SAYWE, there was a happening buzz with lots of star power on the red carpet : Abhay Deol, Preeti Desai, Archie Punjabi, Samrat Chakrabarti, Janina Gavankar, Anusha Dandekar, Pooja kumar, and Shenaz Treasurywala.
Saywe’s Smashin’ Fashion
Guests mingled over cocktails which preceded the runway show by designers Pria Kataaria Puri, Amrita Singh, Azeeza Desai Khan of Atelier Azza and Farzeen and Deeba Haider of Rani Emaan – a fast moving, color-drenched evening where each designer re-interpreted fabric with her own vocabulary of styles, embellishments and silhouettes. It was a celebration of South Asia’s bejeweled crafts, colors and opulent materials, but with a sleek modern perspective. Farzeen and Deeba of Rani Emaan’s showed an elegant line of richly embroidered outfits which underscored these points.
Pria Kaataria Puri showed a sexy and glamorous resort line with free flowing forms, inspired by Marrakesh. She acknowledged that it had nothing Indian about it but being an Asian-Indian designer, there is always a subconscious influence of India. The tilla and mirror-work are common to both Morocco and India. For the designer who lives in Mumbai, Dubai and Kuwait, native influences blend and merge. She says, “I think women are the same all over the world, and shows tend to be the same all over the world because beautiful women want beautiful clothes.”
For Azeeza Desai, it was the debut of her collection Monarch under the label Atelier Azza, and her line was a striking melange of east and west. Born in Chicago, Desai has often gone back to her roots in Ahmedabad, and her clientele is diverse. She’ll be showing in the Chicago Fashion Week, and has created a socially conscious give back model – for every piece sold, she gives back clothing to South Asian children in need.
While showcasing the talents of these South Asian designers, Saywe also helped create awareness for Wishwas, a non-profit which works at providing vocational training to underprivileged South Asian women in New York.
Ranjana Khan – Success Unlimited
Ranjana Khan, the noted jewelry and accessories designer, (and wife of designer Naeem Khan) was there with her two handsome sons, Shariq and Zaheen. She was honored with the Fashion for Compassion award for being a great inspiration to young South Asian women entrepreneurs. Her jewelry pieces are in major stores from Neiman Marcus to Bergdorf Goodman Direct.
Khan spoke movingly about her reasons for getting involved. As she described it, in India there’s great joy when a son is born, and there’s much less enthusiasm for the birth of a girl.
“Most women go from being their father’s daughters to their husband’s wife without having any independence and if there’s any neglect and abuse, the girl is lost and she just doesn’t know where to turn,” she said. “That’s why this cause is so important and I want to be a mentor to these women.”
Khan, who started her own career at the age of 42 and showed her first collection at 53, said, “It’s never too late. When you’re passionate about something and you have in your memory what your grandmothers, mothers and aunts have given you in inspiration – go with it, follow your passion!”
She added, “There is in all the girls who are underprivileged and who are struggling – there is something in their minds, there is a passion – find it. I want to find it – let’s all find it in them and just give back. I’m here for that. This is going to be my pet cause.”
Saywe hopes to raise funding for the women of Wishwas to buy sewing machines and jewelry kits, and with Ranjana Khan agreeing to be on its board, the future looks promising for both these nascent groups.
All photographs: AA Film Studios