United in Aesthetics and Sensibilities - Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla

On 15 August 1986, destiny brought two people together who instantly connected and decided to work together, and today this duo is among the finest and most celebrated designers in the country. 

It’s none other than Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla. “We met by accident at a mutual friend’s home. The decision to team up was a leap of faith – instinct and trust,” they say, further adding: “We had nothing in terms of either infrastructure or training. What we did possess was a steely determination to succeed. And by success, we mean to bring to life our vision. Our wonderful parents gave us 50,000 rupees each, their entire savings at the time. Their belief in us was extraordinary. It was priceless.” 

The rapport that this iconic duo shares truly reflects in their work. “We are poles apart as humans but united in our aesthetics and sensibilities. And together magic or alchemy of sorts transpires. One plus one equals way more than two,” they add.  

Defining the Abu Sandeep style as original, now and forever, trendsetting, rule-breaking and path-breaking, the designers explain that the secret is to create whatever pleases you. “An artist does not cater to an audience or a market. We design for ourselves. We are incapable of doing it any other way. There is no cutting corners or compromise when it comes to expression. It rules us. One makes the art and those who appreciate it become one’s audience and clientele. We feel immensely blessed that our creativity has always found an appreciative and loyal audience.” 

You are one of those designers who believe in timeless couture; what inspires you to create such pieces one after another? 
Everything is an inspiration to the inspired. Design is a calling, a compulsion, our reason for being. Our aesthetics and sensibilities have always led us towards setting new trends – trends that become standards of style. We don’t believe in gimmicks or a flash in the pan success. It’s about reinvention and a reverence for craftsmanship at its highest. And that has ensured that we never lose our fire and passion for creating anew. Bigger and better every single time! Things of quality have no fear of time; beauty never loses its relevance. And those who continue to dream anew and give life to that vision through artistic expression never grow old.

Bhumi Pednekar at ASAL by Abu Sandeep - The Bridal Collection at The Wedding Junction Show

In day to day life, how would you say Indian aesthetics could be adapted globally?
We are unabashedly proud of India. She is our eternal muse and informs our expression. We don’t believe India needs to adapt. We believe India is universal. It’s about making ‘Made in India’ a global standard of excellence. Every international label already looks to India; whether it is our artisans and embroideries or even silhouettes. From churidars, sarees to sherwanis and bandhgalas, each one has been ‘lifted’ by global designers without any recognition or acknowledgement. This has to change. High time India was given its rightful due on the world fashion map. 

What led to the launch of Gulabo by Abu Sandeep?
We believe that beauty and style should be available across age, geographies and price points. Gulabo is for every woman. It is our first foray into the concept of separates. The label takes staples like shirt, tunic, kurta, saree, pants, shararas and ghararas and reinvents these silhouettes in a quintessentially Abu Sandeep style. Ruffles, gota detailing, and fabric appliqué are the techniques used to add a solid dash of fabulous to every silhouette. We are delighted to see women using Gulabo to build their wardrobes, combining them with their own clothes and mixing Gulabo separates.

Gulabo proves that nothing is boring about the basic, women can wear their clothes again and again in a hundred different ways. Dress it up, dress it down. Have fun with your style.

Deepika Padukone Showstopper at Abu Jani Sandeep Khosla 33years celebration at Signature Island by Sunteck Realty

Your shows are usually stand-alone and you’re rarely seen in the fashion circuit; any particular reason?
For us, fashion shows are about an entirely custom experience. We don’t do cookie-cutter collections and neither do we compromise on presentation. This means that every show has unique sets, original choreography and a music score to showcase an entirely signature collection.

We have, of course, participated in fashion weeks and enjoyed the experience thoroughly. But it isn’t something we do as a rule. We are natural-born rule breakers, and so is our approach to fashion shows. Unless we can give it our absolute all, we won’t do it. 

From Devdas to Veere Di Wedding, we have seen actors shine on screen in Abu Sandeep couture; in all these years what are the positive and negative changes you’ve seen in fashion scenarios, specifically in movies? 
We are blessed to have worked with Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Rhea and Sonam Kapoor. Cinema has a huge impact on shaping popular culture, and this includes fashion. Actors are seen as role models and this includes their style on and off the screen. What they wear becomes a trend. It’s wonderful to see the styling, attention to accessories and grooming contemporary actors, both male and female now devote to their ‘look’. What we do miss terribly is the individuality and uniqueness of actors in the past. Each one had a distinctive look and style. Something which is alas, missing in today’s era.         --- as told to Srivalli