A person from a renowned, rich family is often misconstrued to have had it easy all along their life, but little do they know that life does not see titles and legacies. That’s how it has been for Farah Khan Ali - actor Sanjay Khan’s protegee and a designer
By: Nikita Vivek Pawar
Posted on: April 29, 2019
Daughter of a well-known actor, the oldest of her siblings, a friend, a wife, a mother. But along with all these roles, Farah Khan Ali, 49, is also a designer, a traveller, and an artist. A true connoisseur of nature and beauty, Ms. Khan has never restricted herself to the expectations of others, the trends or the industry. “If not a jewellery designer, I would be a photographer,” said the picture archiver of the Khan family, having had an innate desire to be behind the lens at every chance she gets. Enrapturing the essence of the moment is what Ms. Khan truly enjoys. Her coffee table book, ‘Farah Khan – A Bejewelled Life’, is a yet another example of her creative perspective to the world.
The co-incidental jewellery designer said designing gemmed accessories was never a goal or an aspiration. Her creative side though found its way to surface. “I have been a tomboy all my life and couldn't tell a ruby from an emerald up until the age of 21. I was artistic by nature but the last thing I wanted was to become a jewellery designer. However, fate had other plans for me when I decided to tag along with a friend to Los Angeles to party and ended up getting a degree in Gemology and Jewellery Design instead. It was a course I excelled at and so suddenly my future was clear. In that sense, I would say that my career chose me, and there's been no stopping me from that point.”
The 304-page tome, curated and edited by Paola de Luca and published by Rizzoli, is a lavish illustration of Ms. Khan’s perspective, her journey and life. What begins from a tête-à-tête between Ms. Khan and Ms. de Luca on their way to the airport in Goa is a consummating journey of art and direction.
‘Farah Khan – A Bejewelled Life’ is divided into five chapters, each denoting a world of aesthetic. The first is ‘Fluidity’, describing the designer’s spirituality, her metamorphosis, and the way she has been reinventing herself. “I have learned to become the flow, rather than go with the flow. Today, I move effortlessly between many different roles. Evolution is not a passive process: it requires your active presence and passionate commitment,” the designer said.
Ms. Khan has spent a lot of her childhood in the courtyards of Jaipur’s palaces when she accompanied her father, actor-director-producer Sanjay Khan, on his shoots. She also made friends with Diya Kumari, the princess of Jaipur, and shares a lovely bond with her. The designer was mesmerised by the grandeur and artisanship of the palaces and thus the second chapter – ‘A Royal Affair’. There are some portraits of Ms. Khan herself in the Palaces, imbibing the magnum opus of an architecture and heritage.
Farah Khan Ali is known for her depiction of nature, flora and fauna in her jewellery designs. Her inspiration are her travels, the cultures, and people that she sees and meets. The third chapter is therefore ‘Naturalia’, which enraptures the moments of her constant source of inspiration and creativity. The fourth chapter, ‘Rose’, is an ode to poetry, love and all things romance. The designer traces her memories back to Kashmir where she spent many of her holidays. The final chapter of the book is ‘Surreal Vision’, the art of tracing beauty in chaos, art in contradictions and inspiration from landscapes. In this chapter, the designer admits taking aid from the contradictions of cities, textures, and colours for her graphic jewel designs.
The book includes numerous moments of her handcrafted 18-karat gold jewels and renderings with awe-inspiring landscape, architecture, and animal images from the designer’s lens, some even from her phone. But everything is beautifully tied with short write-ups from her, some quotes and some poetry by Rumi. The pictography in the book also include works of artists Chie Yoshii, Farah Mulla, Manjunath Kamath – all of whom inspire her work to a holistic form.
The launch event
The India launch of the highly picturesque publication was held on April 16 at Mehboob Studios in Mumbai. The studio was transformed with a beautiful setup, much like the book itself, with five sections catering to each world of aesthetic. The sections exemplified her vision and portrayed the meaning and message. With every section accompanied a custom collection of jewellery. The Naturalia collection was my personal favourite with necklaces and rings depicting peacocks and leaves with painstaking intricacies.
The book launch was preceded by her near and dear ones talking about Farah Khan Ali, sharing anecdotes and incidents so personal and heartfelt that it instantly touched my heart. The designer’s brother and Bollywood actor Zayed Khan hosted the show beginning with a beautiful poem. Ms. Khan talked about how and why she chose the five elements and shed light on the process of her drafting this book. One-by-one, her entire family, including her parents, siblings, husband and children, shared a few words, congratulating her on her new journey. One of her oldest friends and Bollywood actor, Pooja Bedi, mentioned, “She takes it on the chin and takes it with a grin,” while sharing a rather adventurous escapade the duo took during a holiday and the designer’s attitude in life. The launch of Ms. Khan’s book also marked her parents’ wedding anniversary. It was indeed a family celebration.
Farah Khan Ali is the first Indian jewellery designer to get an international book release and has received rave reviews from Forbes and The New York Times.
All that glitters is gold
Farah Khan Fine Jewellery has been a brand to reckon with for the last 15 years. Celebrities like Serena Williams, Beyoncé, Kareena Kapoor Khan and Sania Mirza are just a few who have worn her designs. “More than being just a personal treasure, jewellery has evolved to be recognised as an art. Women today want statement pieces that are more fun to wear, but also have the ability to be heirloom pieces,” said Ms. Khan.
With increasing consumer awareness, the designer feels the jewellery industry is changing for good. Consumers are now open to exclusive and personalised designs instead of run of the mill collections and safe motifs. The consumer, majority of millennials, are now looking to personify their personality through fine jewellery as a way of self-expression. And that is what worked for Ms. Khan: “Personalised design has been constant for me and I have been professing it ever since I got into the business.”
Its been over 25 glorious years of Farah Khan Ali’s journey as a jewellery designer and gemologist. The designer has been in the industry for long enough to understand and react to the currents flowing. Talking about where the jewellery industry is lacking, she said, “The current luxury jewellery market in India needs to employ more intelligent strategies that could span across the dynamic demographic makeup of India and its consumer tendencies.” To maintain your position in a cut-throat competitive and dynamic market environment, a distinctive identity is a necessity. “My brand is an extension of me and personifies my personality. I express myself through my design and my creations align with the brand's philosophy of craftsmanship and indulgence, inspiring every woman to experience bejewelled pleasure and unravel their playful side,” Ms. Khan elaborated.
Ms. Khan has been keeping us on our toes as the brand belts out new designs one after the other. After Ms. Khan’s debut collection of lifestyle products last year, called Cruise Lifestyle, an assortment of scarves, candles, hand-painted wall plates along with personalised stationery, we peeked inside her 2019 plans. “There are a lot of expansion plans in the pipeline and I am also planning to take the brand into a more holistic designing space, and not just sticking to my first love - Jewellery designing.”