Shehla Khan is a well-known name in Indian fashion. Having a solid background in fashion and a grounding which has enabled her to work with famous names in Bollywood. She has dressed so many actresses and has wowed with nearly every piece. Her fashion sense is hugely inspired by her father’s strength in the embroidery business, which has meant that she has been able to work with and be influenced around the world by different internationally renowned designers before she embarked on the career herself.
Khan was in London for the weekend’s Aashni + Co Wedding Show – with showcases from very well-known Indian fashion designers all under one roof – which took place at The Dorchester on 25th January and BizAsia caught up with her prior to the event to talk all things fashion.
You’ve come to London for the Aashni + Co Wedding Show, how does it feel?
It’s really exciting but I’m a bit nervous because it’s the first time I’m showcasing here.
Tell us about the collection you will be showcasing.
It’s more trousseau and bridal. It’s quite a wide range actually. It’s a mix of my particular aesthetic which is quite feminine and Indian wear influenced by the whole haute couture embroidery – like lehengas and sarees. Since it’s the first time I’m showcasing here, I’ve also introduced some very ethnic Indian clothes which are ethnic in embroidery and stronger, brighter colours and more Indian in silhouette.
Can you share any specific colours?
Well, what I usually do and my aesthetic is pastel colours but I’ve used stronger colours in this ethnic range. It’s a mix of everything.
Have you had to tailor your collection specifically or are the trends in India also working here in London?
I’ve tried to make a wide range of garments as it’s my first time. It ranges from my delicate embroidery and pastel colours to the Indian commercial feel with the brighter colours. It’s like that for bridal and trousseau, for people attending weddings as well, they can get the stuff.
You’ve worked with some very well-known names but is there anyone you would say is your personal favourite?
Not really. I love dressing everyone and all the actresses I dress are beautiful in their own way. I would always make sure if I make something for them then it’s customised and that it suits them. All the actresses right now are all fashion-forward. It’s really a pleasure to dress all of them. However, Sonam Kapoor is a close friend of mine, I love the fact that she is so versatile in her carriage. She practically owns everything she wears. She can carry off anything from the edgiest outfit to a super feminine Indian outfit to a vintage gown. Karisma Kapoor is another dear friend and is very classic and ethereal and her sense of style is something I comply with. It’s very particular, it’s understated yet very stylish. I think that’s amazing and that she’s beautiful. Another friend is Jacqueline Fernandez. She has the most amazing figure. She can don anything from a sexy Indian saree to a lehenga to the tiniest dress. It’s a pleasure to dress them all – Kareena, Katrina, Deepika.
How do you remain inspired to design by all the weird and wonderful bridal – and otherwise – requests that might come your way?
Well, the girls that I’ve mentioned are friends of mine. Like, Jacqueline and Sonam are friends so they trust whatever I do. They tell me they need an outfit for an event and I do whatever I feel will look good on them. Sonam is very easy to dress so she can carry off anything. With Jacqueline, I make sure I do as much justice to her fabulous figure as possible. Karisma is very understated so I always stick to my more delicate and lighter garments for her. It does depend from person to person but when they come to me I think they expect the whole feminine aspect in mind so it works well.
Is there any one instance you can recall where you’ve dressed an actress and received universal praise and thought that you really did get it right?
Well, I’m not really partial to anyone because I love dressing all the actresses. However, because I have such a strong aspiration to come out internationally and be recognised, for me, when I dressed Sonam for Cannes, that’s probably the best thing I’ve done in my career. That was a platform for me to showcase my outfit internationally on the red carpet.
Where in the world is your favourite place for fashion?
Paris. That’s where it all starts from. I have travelled there a lot because I love it and because my father is into exports with embroidery so we work with a lot of designers over there. I travel for his work and I’ve had the privilege to attend a couple of shows like Valentino, Elie Saab. Hopefully one day I will go there for my own brand. (Laughs)
How would you describe your own personal style when you are dressing yourself?
In terms of western clothing, I’m all about black and white and maybe a little bit of pink. I am very understated; I am feminine but I make sure that I dress according to my body type. In terms of Indian clothes, I’d stick to anything pastel and I think black is a great way to wear Indian clothes. It’s different. You don’t find black very often as far as Indian wear goes.
What’s next after this London event for you?
I think possibly Fashion Week. Hopefully if something else comes along then I’ll grab the opportunity. I am open to doing films but more creatively stimulating ones and more towards an art film. There’s nothing as of now that I can say that I’m doing.
BizAsia thanks Shehla Khan for talking to us exclusively. Keep an eye out for out Aashni + Co Wedding Show feature coming soon.