Anjali Khanna

Contemporary Indian fashion that's been given the royal seal of approval...

Posted: 16.10.13

I knew that at the end of the day, I wouldn’t become a lawyer…
I studied International Relations and Law. At the same time, I was always doing something artistic, like drawing or designing. At some level I always knew I wouldn’t become a lawyer, I wanted to do something creative. After studying law, and working for a while, I applied to the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts. I wasn’t planning to go into fashion, but I wanted to immerse myself in an arty atmosphere. 

‘Mum, I want to be a mehndi artist!’
I always wanted to become an artist, although it did change over time what kind of artist I wanted to be, I wanted to become a mehndi artist at some point! I’ve always loved traditional textiles and fabrics. I used to enjoy seeing my mother and my grandmother getting ready, and they have a big collection of very traditional saris, so as a kid I would love looking at those, and copying the patterns.

I don’t consider myself part of the ‘fashion industry’
Today fashion has a‘throw away’ culture; buying and chucking. Wearing something once and then chucking it away. I believe in moving away from that. It’s better to know what suits you. I value Indian heritage - we have such a massive amount of amazing talent in India. Just looking at different periods of history in India, the dress forms and the level of craftsmanship is amazing.

Take me to an Indian market and I’ll be happy
I have this habit of buying chappals, I really like them. Kolapuri chappals from markets in India, I have around 10 pairs. I always carry a shawl with me and I’m also quite obsessed with the herringbone pattern. I have a bit of a grandpa taste.

There’s no bling, only elegance.
My recent exhibition was very much focused around using and interpreting traditional patterns, and traditional arts, there’s a lot of hand-work as opposed to machine work. I focus a lot on quality, I’ve used a lot of intricate patterns but I’ve also tried to understate it. The kinds of things that you’ll buy, wear, and hopefully keep in your cupboard for your whole life.

It’s true Prince Charles is a fan!
He came to our exhibition – he actually founded the college and he likes to support the students. There was one jacket I made from zardosi embroidery, a mixture of hand and a machine work that he particularly liked, commenting he thought Camilla would love!

The world is my favourite designer
I take in ideas all the time, every day. A few specific inspirations that I really like are the Mughal period and the British influence in clothing. I like elements from different designers, I don’t really have a favourite designer. There are various initiatives in India that I quite respect, for example shops like Fab India, and Anokhi.

Interview by Saloni Saraf 

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