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Jahaanara_ whose name means Ornament of the World in Persian

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					                       Fashion
      Style & Beauty




                                                   “       Jahaanara,
                                                  whose name means
                                                    ‘Ornament of the
                                                                        Geeta Kalwani, the entrepreneur




                                                                        Embellished
                                                    World’ in Persian
                                                   (Zeenat al Alam in
                                                     Arabic), was the
                                                     most fascinating
                                                 Princess of the 16th




                                                                        Luxury
                                                      century Mughal



                                                             ”
                                                      dynasty




                                                                        Named after one of the most remarkable
                                                                        princesses of the Mughal dynasty, Jahaanara
                                                                        is a luxury denim range that has its roots in
                                                                        Oman. Conceptualised and created by Muscat-
                                                                        based Geeta Kalwani, the luxury denim line is
                                                                        all set to be launched this month

                                                                        Crème de la Crème Report



120                              November 2009                                                                          November 2009   121
                                                                                                    “      These designs are an
                                                                                                    outcome of long hours of
                                                                                                   staring into empty space, a
                                                                                                   perennial pen and notepad
                                                                                                      in the bag for sudden
                                                                                                   inspirations and of course,
                                                                                                 plenty of dreams coupled with



                                                                                                                                     ”
                                                                                                     trials and errors




                              G           eeta Kalwani has an educational background in         embroidered garments. I used to wonder why my native
                                          political background. Yet an unexplored passion       art of embellishment or karigari was not present in its
                                          in her led to the world of fashion. This culminated   full glory. With this thought lingering somewhere in the
                              in the creation of Jahaanara, an exclusive luxury denim           recesses of my mind, I left France to go to Singapore to
                              line. Exquisite Indian designs and embellishments on the          continue my double degree Masters programme. When I
                              denim wear is the USP of Geeta’s line. An idea born out           returned to Paris for my graduation ceremony after a year,
                              of Geeta’s desire to see her native karigari (Indian art of       the thought resurfaced.
                              embellishment) on clothes, Jahaanara features denim wear               “I vividly remember the moment; I was running late
                              adorned with intricate embellishments that spell luxury           and was frantically rummaging through my suitcase for my
                              and class.                                                        evening dress. All that my hands repeatedly found was a pair
                                   As it states on the website, the brand reinvents intricate   of jeans. And then I paused, looked and it struck me, almost
                              designs and colourful imagery from the era of the Mughals,        like an epiphany. I could try karigari on jeans! I rushed
                              imperial rulers who flourished in the Indian sub-continent.       back home to Muscat and immersed myself in research. A
                              The designs primarily focus on nature that include delicate       few months and some toil later, Jahaanara was born.”
                              flowers, birds and butterflies, snakes or tigers beautifully           What was the inspiration for such a title?
                              weaved into the patterns.                                              “Jahaanara, whose name means ‘Ornament of the
                                   To recreate the fascinating designs of the 16th century      World’ in Persian (Zeenat al Alam in Arabic), was the most
                              Indo-Persian art on the couture of modern world is Geeta’s        fascinating Princess of the 16th century Mughal dynasty.




 “
                              mission and she has been successful in taking this initiative     She was the eldest and the most favourite daughter of her
                                                                                                father, Emperor Shah Jahaan who built the immortal Taj
         But who              forward.
                                                                                                Mahal. Jahaanara herself was very enterprising and founder
                                   While the creations are luxurious and are made for
 sets the rules?              ladies who have a discerning taste for the finest things          of many cities, palaces and gardens in her Kingdom.
                                                                                                During a time where women led protected and secluded
 I am absolutely              in life, Geeta is keen to give back to society. Much of the
                                                                                                lives in the royal harem, she brought about change and
                              embellishment work on the Jahaanara line is done by
 unapologetic about           disabled artists from India.                                      influenced the thought of her subjects without losing her
                                                                                                graceful femininity. Our company, Jahaanara, is inspired by
 not following the                 We caught up with the well-spoken and smart




  ”
                              entrepreneur, Geeta Kalwani who will be launching her             such a modern day princess: precious and pampered, but
 norm                         collection, which she terms as casual opulence, this month.       powerful.”
                              Excerpts from the interview…                                           Please tell us more about yourself. Have you
                                   How was Jahaanara born?                                      always been interested in fashion?
                                   “I lived in Paris for a couple of years and every time I          “I was born in Liberia, West Africa. In the civil war of
                              sauntered down Avenue Montaigne, I saw the world’s                the ‘90s, my family was displaced and we moved our base
                              most successful fashion houses, often with beautifully            to Muscat. My siblings and I, however, schooled in Mumbai




122           November 2009                                                                                                                                     November 2009   123
                      years were spent in Switzerland, Paris and Singapore for
                      further studies and I came back to Oman last summer.
                      My educational background is in political science; I have a

                      from Sciences-Po Paris and Lee Kuan Yew School.”
                         So how did you veer towards fashion?
                         “Always allowing my heart to steer me, I was led into




                      as I always topped my school in Maths and Science. But
                      who sets the rules? I am absolutely unapologetic about not
                      following the norm.”
                           A luxury denim brand from Oman is a new
                      concept in the region. What are your expectations
                      and how do you intend to reach across to your
                      clients?
                           “Luxury as a model is not as well developed in Oman
                      as it is in the rest of the Gulf. I remember during my early
                      years here, the only luxury store here was a Versace store
                      in Al Araimi Complex. And then that disappeared as well.

                      However, as I see and hear, Muscat is progressing by leaps
                      and bounds.
                          “As for the other Gulf countries, we have been
                      approached by some big multi-brand stores but for the
                      moment, we intend reaching out to the European market as
                      Jahaanara was initially designed keeping the West in mind.

                      from my Omani friends who have seen the product, I have
                      also added bespoke services.
                          “As for expectations, I have none... they are the root of
                      all misery. So I thoroughly enjoy what I do, and I take every
                      day as it comes.”
                          How has the journey been so far –
                      conceptualisation, designing, creating?

                      involved in everything - right from the conception to the




                            “   More than luxury,
                         Jahaanara is a thought. A
                      powerful thought strong enough



                                                            ”
                          to create change



124   November 2009
  “     Our next collection will
have a series of jeans painted by
 disabled mouth and foot artists



                                             ”
  who don’t have hands.

strategy and implementation. I make the Jahaanara jeans
in Italy, and then bring them to the Indian Sub-continent
where they are decorated with intricate gold threadwork
called zardozi, crystal-studded brocades and multihued

staring into empty space, a perennial pen and notepad in the
bag for sudden inspirations and of course, plenty of dreams

to the Mughal era including the website which is but a part,
albeit an important one, of the brand.”
    Will it comprise only denim wear?

we have begun working on expanding our range. However,

rather do a few things but do them well.”
    How are you planning to tackle competition?
    “Denims by nature (due to their thickness and wash

by needlework and to the best of our knowledge, there is
no one else doing exactly what we do. Regardless, I believe
competition is only with oneself and I prefer not to be part
of a rat race. I wish everyone luck but only look at myself,
and all that I am responsible for. If I do my best, and others

   What more can you add to the Jahaanara

   “More than luxury, Jahaanara is a thought. A powerful
thought strong enough to create change. Crystallising
my innate desire for social development, Jahaanara was
founded to be a cause-driven business. For instance, we use

share our proceeds with them.
   “Our next collection will have a series of jeans painted
by disabled mouth and foot artists who don’t have hands.

eventually like to invest in education of the girl child in
developing countries.”
   When will you launch the collection?
   “We will be launching at the Leaders in Luxury

followed by our entry into the European markets.”




                                                                 November 2009   127

				
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