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Wedding Designer Feature: Naeem Khan

Photo of designer Naeem Khan

For nearly 100 years, the Khan men have been creating beautiful, intricate clothes for a number of high-profile people around the world. Naeem Khan is no exception—his designs, both bridal and ready-to-wear, are absolutely stunning and definitely show-stopping. Here’s a look at how Khan is continuing his family’s legacy.

How It All Began

Naeem Khan was born May 21, 1958, in Mumbai, India. Khan says his early passion for design was built into his DNA. He studied his father and grandfather, both of whom were fine clothing designers, and then cultivated his own skills. The designer wanted to further his craft so he made his way to the United States at the young age of 19.

Once Khan made it to Manhattan, he was taken under American originator Halston’s wing. Khan learned more about the art of cutting and draping fabric to create timeless and elegant silhouettes alongside other celebrities of the 70s: Truman Capote, Elizabeth Taylor, Liza Minnelli and Andy Warhol.

Minnelli showed him how to design outfits for theatre while Warhol taught him more about conceptualizing thoughts and unique ideas. Warhol also taught Khan how to draw his famous signature poppies (which Khan would later use as inspiration for a dress design).

Naeem Khan with his wife Ranjana

Courtesy: timesofindia.indiatimes.com

After his apprenticeship with Halston, Khan made his way to L.A. and launched his own company called Riazee, named after his mother. That was the year Halston made his first million dollars at just 20-years-old.

Just a few years later, Khan fell in love with more than just fashion design. In 1981, Khan married jewelry designer and model Ranjana Kapadia. He was ready to settle down and had two children with Kapadia.

Khan continued working with a number of designers over the next few decades and launched his first eponymous label in 2003. His collection immediately earned a spot in high-profile stores like Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue and by 2005 his line, renamed Naeem Khan, made an appearance on the Olympus Fashion Week runways.

In October of 2009, HSN launched a line called TIMELESS by Naeem Khan. The launch was so successful that the collection sold out within minutes. This led to a large line of cocktail dresses, sold only by HSN, and an expansion of the collection was released in 2011 and included hats, vests, coats and scarves.

Getting into the Bridal Industry

Naeem Khan's first bridal collection in 2013

Courtesy: chicvintagebrides.com

Khan’s ready-to-wear collections were gaining steam and a number of celebrities were wearing his designs, so the natural next step was to launch a bridal collection. His first collection dropped in 2013 and featured 25 white and ivory gowns full of intricate stitches, lace and beading detail and other hand-finished touches.

You can always expect Khan’s gowns to be the spotlight of the day or night. The designer’s non-bridal collections consist of glamorous cocktail and evening dresses that boost shimmering sequins, angular silhouettes and bold colors. Each gown is created with the finest fabrics and materials and all of the embroidery and beading is done entirely by hand. Talk about being committed to the dress!

Naeem Khan fulfills cancer patient's dream to walk the runway

Courtesy: yahoo.com

Not only is Khan committed to his work, but also his fans. In 2015, Khan fulfilled 11-year-old Trinity Faith Moran’s dream of being a model. Moran suffers from rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare and aggressive cancer of the soft tissue.

Thanks to Make-a-Wish Foundation and Glam4Good, Moran worked with Khan to design her very own dream gown and walked the runway during the 2016 Fall fashion show. Khan whipped together the ensemble, complete with a gold crown, in less than 24 hours.

The Empire Today

Today, Khan’s bridal and ready-to-wear lines are sold at more than 220 retailers around the world and the company has a strong online presence. His bridal gowns start at $4,000 and although he’s dressed a number of high-profile women, Khan says 95% of his clients are normal, everyday people.

New for 2020, Khan just launched his first book titled “Embellished”. The designer unveils his world of chic opulence and modern glamour in this illustrated book. Of course, the pages are nothing short of stunning red-carpet dresses, his fabulous bridal gowns and more.

Naeem Khan with a group of models

Courtesy: miamiherald.com

On the horizon, Khan plans to revitalize the Miami-Dade fashion industry. His entire base of operations is moving to Miami and he’s sketching out plans for a new fashion school—an extension of Design and Architecture Senior High. His hope is to have the kids interact with his company and give them firsthand experience in the creative and business process.

So why Miami of all places? Khan said in an interview that Miami reminds him of India’s warm climate and says the people are equally warm and friendly. He hopes to not only produce his collections but also provide employment in South Florida. He says he’s very excited about this new growth opportunity and can’t wait to move to the new headquarters.

Our Fave Naeem Khan Looks

Riviera gown from Naeem Khan's Fall 2021 Bridal Collection Sanibel gown from Naeem Khan's Fall 2021 Bridal Collection
Maui gown from Naeem Khan's Fall 2021 Bridal Collection Marina gown from Naeem Khan's Fall 2021 Bridal Collection

Courtesy: naeemkhan.com

Can you say dreamy? That’s exactly what we think of Khan’s Fall 2021 bridal collection—inspired by Alice in Wonderland. The whole collection was shot in Khan’s very own garden courtyard. We love how whimsical and unique each piece feels!

The strapless mini dress is super flirty, and we seriously love the wrap gown with the matching tie bubble sleeves and tie cummerbund belt. The sheer sweetheart A-line is very fairytale-esque but the tulle overskirt on the long-sleeve sheath dress takes the cake in our storybook. It’s just so extra and we can’t get enough of it.

Orange & gold gowns from Naeem Khan's Resort 2020 Collection Black & white moth wing dresses from Naeem Khan's Resort 2020 Collection

Sequined jumpsuits from Naeem Khan's Resort 2020 Collection

Courtesy: naeemkhan.com

Switching gears, Khan’s Resort 2020 collection is all about carefree, elegant evening wear. We’re digging the sequined jumpsuits, shiny golden accents and the same patterns in different gown lengths.

It’s definitely a different approach from Khan’s typical delicate florals and swoon-worthy embroidering but we’re here for it! If you’re looking for a new go-to event outfit that is sure to turn heads, find this collection in stores now.

Michelle Obama in gold strapless Naaem Khan dress

Kate Middleton wearing a Naeem Khan dress in front of the Taj Mahal

Courtesy: instyle.com, fashionista.com

Remember that Warhol-inspired gown we mentioned earlier? It was all for First Lady Michelle Obama, who stunned in this strapless golden gown for the 46th annual Phoenix Awards Dinner in 2016.

Khan said this dress was his tribute to Warhol’s creative genius—it combines his famous poppies with traditional Indian work on a class American shape. The eye-catching pattern is simply gorgeous on top of a black tulle dress.

Another memorable dress was worn by Kate Middleton during her 2015 trip to the Taj Mahal with husband Prince William. This photo was taken on the same bench Princess Diana sat on back in 1992. Diana posed on the bench, now dubbed “Lady Di’s chair”, completely alone, signaling her impending split from Charles four years later.

Khan agrees the photo represented a historical moment, for Diana’s son to be sitting on the same bench with his own bride. As for the dress design itself, the pattern was actually meant to represent more of a Mexican geometric feel, but it totally works in this setting as well.

CNN Journalist Brooke Baldwin’s wedding dress Christina McLarty in her wedding dress by Naeem Khan

Haniya Riaz in custom Naeem Khan wedding dress

Courtesy: brides.com, instyle.com, uk.finance.yahoo.com

Khan’s designs have also grabbed the attention of celebrity brides. For her 230-person L.A. wedding to David Arquette, Christina McLarty wore a beautiful strapless lace gown. McLarty said she liked that it wasn’t very traditional and a bit sexy. The couple was engaged for 10 months but planned the festivities in just ONE MONTH.

CNN news anchor Brooke Baldwin chose a body-hugging beaded gown for her 2018 nuptials. She also liked that the gown wasn’t super bride-like and said she felt like herself. Baldwin got to meet Khan shortly after finding her dress and he offered to custom-make her gown and threw in the gorgeous long veil.

For their son’s own big day, Khan and his wife Ranjana played very big roles in putting together bride Haniya Riaz’s wedding-day look. Zaheen and Haniya had a number of mutual friends in the fashion industry (he’s the director of sales for his dad!) but actually met through a dating app.

Khan designed his future daughter-in-law’s wedding dress. The paisley-inspired embroidery pattern led down to three-dimensional flowers on the skirt and train. Ranjana used her creative gifts as well and had custom-made diamond and pearl earrings designed for Haniya. The bride said she felt extra-special knowing her new family helped create her bridal ensemble.

Actresses from the 2006 movie Dreamgirls

Samantha's gold sequined dress in Sexy & The City 2 Back of Samantha's gold sequined dress in Sexy & The City 2

Taylor Swift in her “Blank Space” music video

Courtesy: instyle.com, youtube.com, coztume.com, youtube.com 

Taking it to the big screen! Costume designer Sharen Davis was nominated for an Oscar for her work in the 2006 film Dreamgirls, but she recruited one of her favorite designers to help create a key look.

Khan was asked to create the titanium chain-mail dresses the trio wears in the closing number of the movie. Each dress weighed about twelve pounds and would retail for more than $10,000. Another highly-anticipated film was Sex & The City 2.

During the wedding scene where Charlotte and Carrie’s best guy friends said “I do”, actress Kim Cattrall donned a gold beaded gown from Khan’s Spring 2008 collection. She looks totally amazing and is definitely working that low open-back gown!

Singer Taylor Swift is known for her multiple outfit changes in her music videos, but she may have set a record in 2014. In her “Blank Space” video, Swift changes 20 times—that’s every 12 seconds if you’re counting.

In the scene where she drops her cheating boyfriend’s phone into the fountain, Swift is wearing a sweet matching tube top and skirt set by Khan paired with killer Prada shoes. It’s edgy and fun and we adore it!!

As you can see, Khan’s designs have made an impact around the world. In a recent interview, he was asked that if he was to be remembered for only one thing what would Khan want people to say?

The designer said he wants to be remembered for using his platform of success to change the world: through educating others, helping the planet through sustainability and building the industry into the country rather than sending it out. We definitely agree that he’s on the right path to leave that legacy behind one day.

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