The travels to offbeat destinations find a way into Neelanjan and Kanika’s collection replete with motifs that leave a lasting memory in their label Jajaabor.
By Asmita Aggarwal
The most interesting aspect of fashion is the diverse section of people who are its inhabitants, that’s why it is not surprising that Neelajan Ghosh, an aeronautical engineer decided to join NIFT, Delhi and pursue his passion for design.
The inspiration as a child was The Adventures of Tintin travelling all over the world, belonging to a middle-class academic family, Neel, used to often hum Bhupen Hazarika’s memorable song “Jajaabor” or nomad in Assamese. This seemed perfect when he launched his brand five years ago, by the same name.
Neel is not a man in a hurry, he took his time, joined Puja Naayar in Delhi, where he learnt the subtle art of fine finishing, making khakhas, in the three years that he worked with her. This experience and his innate love for experimentation led him to win the Diesel and ID award as well as stints working with the inimitable John Galliano. In 2006 and 2007, he did shows in Italy, Germany and Belgium, he came back to India and decided to become a designer only to be hugely disappointed and failing in his first attempt in 2008.
In 2012, he gave up and joined Anju Modi and met his wife Kanika, and then honed his skills further with Tarun Tahiliani. But the desire to launch his own product was overpowering, thus in 2017 he embarked yet again, but this time fully prepared on strategy and revenue generation. “This was our way to narrate our travel stories, and our love for offbeat undiscovered places,” explains Neel.
LFWXFDCI line is an homage to the sights and culture of Indonesia, even though they decided to skip the touristy Bali for Flores Island, close to Papua New Guinea. Here they lived in villages, savouring fresh food, on a boat, discovered how art is political, and the way in which the region respects Hindu culture. The street names are based on characters of Ramayana and Mahabharata, and Ganesha is on the currency notes. “The walking on Mount Bromo, a rumbling volcano in East Java, we came across a Ganpati shrine established for protection where they light a diya. There is a unity in diversity,” he explains.
The marine biosphere was another aspect that will find a representation in their line replete with snorkeling and scuba diving motifs, which they indulged in to view the raw untouched surface of the ocean. The clownfish, Batiks, shadow puppet show, Indonesian version of Hindu religious texts, the landscape have been somewhere reflected in their collection.
This was best described using natural fabrics, chanderis to silk organzas, in Indian shapes of Anarkalis, angrakhas to kurtas. “Indian women are comfortable in certain silhouettes, which have a global resonance so we decided to keep them as it is, giving the option to buyers to style it individualistically,” he concludes.