Farah Ali Khan

16 Oct

“The Farah Khan brand essence of jewellery celebrates today’s woman who is feminine yet strong, graceful yet determined.” — Farah Khan Ali

Farah Khan Ali is recognised in India and around the world as one of the leading jewellery designers in India and in the Indian Film Industry. She belongs to the family of actor-director Sanjay Khan, is sister to well-known actor, Zayed Khan, married to popular DJ, Aqeel and sister-in-law to Bollywood heart-throb Hrithik Roshan. Despite hailing from reputed Bollywood family, Farah has independently made a name for herself and her brand, Farah Khan Fine Jewellery, endorsed by her sister, Sussanne Khan Roshan. Her designs and creations are often found on the ramp and attract a lot of media attention. She believed that jewellery is an important accessory for both men and women and has thus, created a lot of hype for her male fans, too. Read on to see what she tells Roshni Magazine about her life, her work and her future ambitions as a jewelery designer.

Tell us something about your childhood and growing up?
Many may not believe this now, but I was more of a tomboy growing up than a girl playing with dolls et al. I was more fascinated by toy guns and cars, and jewelery as such held no interest to me as I could not even tell a ruby from an emerald.

What first inspired you to pursue a career in jewelery design?
My foray into jewelery was by purely by chance as I think destiny had plans for me. A friend of mine was going to LA to study at GIA (Gemological Institute of America) to do a course in Gemology. Not having much to do in Bombay and having completed my college graduation I decided to tag along as the thought of living in LA all by myself excited me. My father was not too convinced initially and made me promise I would top my class and so I promised, not realizing the consequences of that promise. The first day of class was an absolute horror as I realized that Gemology was a serious science and was the study of 99 minerals and their gemstone varieties. My party plans went kaput and I ended up studying everyday of my life thus topping my class with a 97%. After that, I decided to put all the education I had received to use, so signed up for the jewelery designing class as I always had a penchant to draw and sketch. The rest is history.

You seem to have taken a lot of inspiration from many sources, such as nature or even a ballerina. Tell us about how.
I am inspired through the process of life and my experiences of it.  If I were not a jewellery designer I would have been a photographer as I am captivated by the beauty and art in the world around us. I am visually stimulated and just about anything in any form can inspire me to create. When I see something visually appealing, my senses are stimulated and I at once imagine that as a piece of jewelery. It’s as simple as that.

Along with women’s jewelery, you have created a variety of designs for the men too. How important or popular do you think it is for men to wear jewelery and why?
In ancient times, men always wore jewelery and today it has once again been propagated by the hip hop culture. If a man has the personality and confidence to carry jewelery, I see no reason why he should not. However, on a man I do prefer lesser jewelery and when worn, the design should be more like an accessory and not an ornament.

You have also used a range of different gems and jewels in all of your designs. Which is your personal favorite and why?
My personal favorite is the Emerald as I believe that it is a calming gemstone that brings the wearer fame and health and wealth. The emerald is beautiful to look at, especially the Columbian variety which I am most partial to as the green is very fiery and full of luster in a good quality gemstone. Being so precious, the emerald is also a soft stone in comparison to its counterparts and should be well looked after as it could be damaged if the wearer is rough with it.

We have seen your sister, Sussanne, model a lot of your designs. Is there a particular reason for this?
My sister, Sussanne Khan Roshan is the face of my brand Farah Khan Fine Jewelery and has even shot ad and print campaigns for me last year. The Farah Khan brand essence of jewelery celebrates today’s woman who is feminine yet strong, graceful yet determined. It is about a real woman, one that is sensual in her being and confident in her existence, a woman who is beautiful inside out and Sussanne fits the bill perfectly as she epitomizes all that and more. A true “Farah Khan” woman is one who can carry a piece of jewelery with understated flamboyance and make an everlasting style statement.

You recently had a show for HDIL India Couture Week. Tell us something about the designs on the ramp and what your inspirations were for those designs.
“Cascades” my new jewelery collection for the Couture Week 2009 explores the natural flow and forms created by cascading fabric across a woman’s body, capturing this graceful, ethereal elegance into handcrafted jeweled ornaments.  The Cascades Collection unveiled new necklines in jewelery and was an ode to the varied moods of femininity from innocence to sexy. Rich tones of precious colored gemstones such as Emerald Greens, Rubelite Pinks, Tanzanite Blues and Yellow Diamonds formed the vibrant color palette.   For the first time, I beautifully merged the old with the new using the traditional Indian “Jadau” techniques in jewelery along with Diamonds set in 18 carat Gold.

How do you keep your designs beautiful, yet contemporary?
My jewelery designs are a reflection of my personality and what I would like to wear. I always believe that less is more and jewelery should be worn to enhance ones personality and not be overshadowed by it.  When I design, I design keeping in mind that this piece of art is going to be passed down generations, yet it should appeal to the youth for what is the point of jewelery if it cannot be worn more often, so each of my pieces have a fun element to it no matter how precious the piece may be.

Do you usually have a concept or a theme based on which you create your designs?
Yes. It is essential to have a theme or a concept before creating designs as it gives your thought a particular direction to explore. My recent collection for HDIL Couture week was inspired by “Cascades” and my collection prior to that was inspired by “nature” and its wonders so all my pieces had a certain similarity in story and design. As a designer, one must have a story to tell and it should be apparent in your collection so that it can give one an insight into your mind and what spurred you to create that. Just saying you are inspired by jewelery and women in general is not good enough.

You have had a lot of celebrities walk the ramp for you to promote your designs. Who would you say carry them off best?
I think each one of them have carried out my jewelery with great élan. So it is hard to say which one carried it off better. At the IIFAs (Indian International Film Awards) in Macao, I had ten actresses walk the green carpet wearing my jewelery. That was a feat I was proud of as it was a first of its kind. There, I felt each one looked fabulous as I styled them with jewelery that was best suited to their looks. Even today, I have actresses call me up before attending an event asking me to send them jewelery to wear, and I am flattered that they trust my judgment and appreciate my work so much that they eventually end up wearing the pieces I send them, even if I just send them one without a choice based on the discussion we have had on what outfit they would be wearing.

What are your future plans?
Well, the plan right now is to open my own flag ship store shortly in Bandra in Mumbai, and then to expand my franchise stores internationally as well, as I have constant demands from international clientele who love my work and eagerly wait for my new collections. Eventually I want everyone to own at least one piece of Farah Khan Fine Jewelery.

Any advice to those looking to pursue a career in jewelery design?
When I started off, I did not know I would achieve so much and more, but I guess that is because I am passionate about what I do and love what I do. My job is a serious profession to me and one that I put my all into. The one advice I would like to give someone starting off in this line is “think out of the box”. Only then you will succeed. The road less traveled is more exciting as you may discover more things on the way. Be diligent and passionate about what you do. Do not get disheartened by failure and push harder to reach your goal.

~ Dimple Motwani
(October 2009)

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