Anamika’s 25 year journey has been one of revelation and grandeur, this year too, she brings alive the magic of zardosi and pearls her two constant companions, expressions of love, with some unadulterated charm added by the lithe Athiya Shetty.
By Asmita Aggarwal
Feeling of love came alive for Anamika, especially when she took her son Viraj’s paintings and converted them into clothing after they were finely embroidered! Each piece thus was emotional. To make the evening and her showing even more special, Viraj flew down from Chicago where he is studying in art school to cheer for his mother at the dimly lit elegant runway of the ICW 2023.
What is it about Anamika Khanna that wins her a legion of fan following—whether it is Athiya Shetty choosing an old rose for her big day or Sonam Kapoor in ink blue for her sister’s wedding? Is it the attention to detail, exquisite but intricate embroideries, or is it an honest relationship with every aspect of designing that she has followed meticulously? Maybe it is the latter, if her sales figures are any proof. Despite recession and her lying low, she sells and she sells well. Also her candour, the way she swiftly sweeps into your heart—it has also a lot to do with the city that you reside in, in her case Kolkata that kind of grounds you, unlike a more flamboyant Delhi, which often likes to live large!
When you quiz her about couture, and the soaring prices of lehengas sometimes caressing Rs 10 lakh and above, Anamika born in a Marwari business family has a convincing reply. She has 2,000 people working, salaries, maintaining the infrastructure, above all the preserving of art, not letting these techniques perish. Talking about art, her son Viraj is studying art in Chicago, a three-year course, a decision he made after last year he got admission in Tufts University Massachusetts, but chose to wait.
The other twin Vishesh, who is helping his mom, wants to also take flight and his interest is in fashion design, hoping to find his distinct language.
Luxury is about good design, which awards it longevity, trash will see trouble soon, and of course, customers today spend with discretion. “Indian weddings did need a lehenga despite covid, so we decided to be sensitive to the situation and altered our ideologies,” she explains. Last year, ICW was about ‘letting go’, and when you indulge in this, you embrace newness, this was represented through “shredded couture”— symbolism of being torn, but yet beautiful. This ICW 2023, she has evolved into a new space, it is the expression of love through various forms—mother, son, father, sister, man-woman, them-they, et al.
The definition of love changes—it is also about how you treat others, love can be hurtful, painful and sometimes blissful, deep for some and angry for others, the collection captures the various nuances of togetherness.
Every couturier has favourites, in Anamika’s case it remains pearls, and she admits, “I’m obsessed with them”, they add unmeasured delicateness. Another constant love is tribal influences and the fineness she gives zardosi, each thread is supple and radiant. “The technique of making everything antiquated, giving it a vintage feel is what I have been romancing with,” says Anamika. We can’t forget her rejigged versions of the cape and dhoti, omnipresent every year, with a heady reinvention. “Ceremonial clothing is not just about sari and lehenga you need multiple options and what makes them so popular is their versatility and ease,” she adds.
There are always lessons to learn in your journey to stardom—the most important one has been to go with your instinct and what your heart says. Nothing is trend-based, and above all only constant perseverance, passion and willingness to give, will lead to great design, she advocates. “It all starts with the manifestation of an idea and then you live that feeling,” she adds.
With menswear growing exponentially, Anamika admits it is her son Vishesh’s “baby” and it is a dynamic segment. Having said that, she doesn’t agree, the women’s wear market is saturated. This year the menswear presentation is old world, quiet, focussing on craft, it is “elegant, simple and romantic,” she affirms.
With a global influx of Indian talent, the couturier believes she started 20 years ago selling internationally with Ana-Mika, but then the market wasn’t as developed and exposed to Indian heritage, though she has a devoted clientele overseas. Now that the twins are settled, she would like to pursue global ambitions, but with restrained enthusiasm. “Luxury and simplicity are synonymous— two kinds of customers exist, one who loves the glam and the other who prefers to fly under the radar. And therein lies its strength and your mettle as a designer, how you can straddle both worlds effortlessly,” she concludes.