Experimentation has been the word on her lips the last few times we have met Anamika Khanna. And that has perhaps culminated in the collection she is set to unveil at her upcoming show — the grand finale of FDCI India Couture Week in association with Lotus Make-up, at Taj Palace, New Delhi, on Sunday night. “Stemming from an extreme need for change and pushing boundaries, this collection is an open field for experimentation. An awareness of the spectacular Indian silhouettes, textiles and sentiments, we move to amalgamate something old, something new. Treating precious something that always was, with reverence, notwithstanding that they may have aged, at the same time an approach of nonchalance to luxury,” says a pre-show note that the designer shared with us. We dialled Anamika to dig a wee bit deeper into the collection and here’s what transpired…
You are doing a Couture Week show, or for that matter any fashion week show, in a full physical format after a long time... the last one — the opening show of FDCI x Lakme Fashion Week last year — was a digital showcase…
Yes, then we had done the AK-OK show (at Lakme Fashion Week in October last year)... that was in the pandemic because I remember each and everyone we had got tested, numbers were limited, that whole drama had happened.…
So how does it feel now to mount this physical show at this level, for the India Couture Week finale?
So now suddenly it feels we are doing much more work (laughs)... you know, it’s very exciting also, after a very long time you are putting yourself back in the fire... it’s quite exciting I have to say.
So how have things changed in putting together a big physical show in the post-pandemic world?
Nothing really.… If I may say so, things have come back to normal quite quickly. So we might say that things have changed but I feel more than anything, mindsets are different. You know, everyone went through a lot of stuff... so everyone’s mindsets have changed, the way they have been about clothes, the way they have been thinking about life itself. And that I think is influencing a lot of things. That’s what’s happened to us also, we have gone through a complete shift of mindset.
So this shift of mindset that you are talking about, has it influenced the collection you will be showing?
Yeah yeah, hundred per cent. So I’ll explain how... you know, there is a realisation of one very simple thing — that it’s okay to do your own thing, it’s okay to make your own statement, it’s okay not to have to follow rules, it’s also okay if you do your own thing and someone says no it’s not right, but that’s fine.…
So this whole collection, it is sort of undefining... it’s going on its own route, you cannot call it Indian, you cannot call it western, you cannot call it anything. It’s found its own space in the sense that it’s okay to do it.
That was a very important shift and the second thing that I also realised is the fact that you know, we should be able to value a lot of things that have existed for a certain reason... accept them as they are and be okay with that too. So yeah that is the basic emotion that I have gone through in this collection.
Snatches of Anamika Khanna's new couture collection
Last time I had spoken to you, you had told me how AK-OK has become a part of your lifestyle and how it’s influencing other areas of your work too. So are there influences in this collection too?
Not necessarily... you know, the spirit of freedom is there, but nothing else. This whole collection has gone in its own tangent and taken experimentation to a different level.
Please give us a peek into the collection…
Like I said, it’s a very very experimental collection, not just in the development but also in the shapes that we have done. We are being very very fluid in the shapes, but there’s very strong referencing to Indian silhouettes, whereby we have referenced, let’s say, the Indian Goddesses, the apsaras… how they dress, but we have taken that to another level. It’s almost like you can do your own thing with it, you can dress it up, you can dress it with anything that you like. But I am unable to say that since it was inspired by the apsaras it’s an Indian collection, because it’s not.
Plus, also giving brides a different perspective. It’s not a bridal show but it’s still giving a different perspective on how much it is okay to experiment. Nobody sets those rules anymore and that’s why it’s very hard for even me to define my own shapes.
You say it’s not a bridal show, but couture in India is synonymous with bridal...
Not really, I am going hundred per cent in the opposite direction...
So then who is this collection for?
It is for all of us… our mindsets have changed and people are doing their own things... everyone is living life in their own way. So it is for all of us.
There is a realisation of one very simple thing — that it’s okay to do your own thing, it’s okay to make your own statement, it’s okay not to have to follow rules.... That was a very important shift and the second thing that I also realised is the fact that you know, we should be able to value a lot of things that have existed for a certain reason... accept them as they are and be okay with that too — Anamika
You just had two fabulous shows (one in Kolkata and one in Delhi) and now you’re doing this one... so how are you managing doing back-to-back shows?
(Laughs) I am having fun! No complaints. You know, sometimes you have to be motivated and push yourself.…
Lastly, are you working on the costumes for the second season of The Fame Game (the Netflix show starring Madhuri Dixit that released earlier this year)?
A lot of the work is already done because it’s (the story) a continuation and whatever else is needed when it’s coming to us we are going through it and doing it.
Pictures courtesy: Anamika Khanna