It was a busy afternoon when one of my closest friends rang up. I received the call only to hear something I was not prepared for. “You are coming, right?” She asked. She had sent over her wedding invitation at my house as I sat completely unaware, to be precise, 1,340 miles away. I knew where this conversation was heading to and I answered, “Of course.”
It was three years back when I had bought my first ever pair of juttis, my Needledust juttis for my friend’s wedding. It was also the first time when, from the bottom of my heart, I had wanted to invest in a designer lehenga choli for her wedding, Abu Jani Sandeep Khosla couture being closest (my savings did not allow that though.)
I also remember the first time when I stepped into a Needledust boutique in Delhi. It was nothing short of a candy shop to me, luring me to every piece on the shelves and actually buying everything. What stopped me was the fear of my mother screaming at the top of her voice!
Three years later, she was finally getting married. While researching for my wardrobe, I got another good news. Designer duo Abu Jani & Sandeep Khosla were collaborating with Shirin Mann of Needledust. I couldn’t contain my excitement. Not for the fact that it was an interesting collaboration but because I knew what I was picking next for my shoe wardrobe. But, before that I needed to do something that involved getting in touch with these designers for an interview to know how this collaboration came about.
How important footwear really are, I asked? “Footwear is a powerful style accessory. Juttis, in particular, are beyond beautiful. Whether one wears them with saris, lehenga or as a boom accessory with jeans. Shirin Mann has taken juttis a notch higher. It was an instinctive decision to join forces and create this collection,” Abu and Sandeep tell us talking about their collaboration.
Over the years, label AJSK has created signature looks for celebrities such as Jennifer Lopez, Sophie Turner, Aishwarya Rai Bachhan with the latest being industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s daughter Isha Ambani for her wedding. Needledust, too, paved its way through every star’s heart. I wanted to know more.
I asked Shirin about the collaboration, about the idea of coming together with the designer duo. “I felt we had a lot in common in terms of aesthetics, the fun and quirky aspect of fashion too,” she says. Their synergies matched in just a few meetings. They envisioned brides-to-be and their families, and what they would love to wear. When they got down to the drawing board, the ideas came through effortlessly.
Their first collection took inspiration from AJSK’s bridal trousseau, an ode to the label’s design history. The juttis are decorated with iconic motifs using traditional embroidery techniques. “This collection is all about bringing drama on the floor, standing out, even while matching steps with every type of garments. This line is different from what we have done before,” Shirin says.
The embroidery techniques and patterns are a visual treat. Everything such as fine zardozi, kaleidoscopic mirrors, geometric patterns, dabka work and colourful resham and beads add boho-chicness to the classics. For their first collection, the designers chose a soothing colour palette with hints of vibrancy. Much like our favourite glazed donuts sprinkled with rainbow pops.
Designed for a modern woman, who is exciting and dramatic as well as calm and composed, these juttis are not timeless. They capture the Indian heritage brightly and are crafted in a way that they can be worn the entire day, all through the night. It has mission ‘Born of India’ etched everywhere as Shirin puts it.
“As designers, we believe in unfettered creativity that spans across the colour spectrum. Our personal favourites are cream, off-whites and beiges. However there is room for every hue in our imagination,” the designer duo says. For the jutti collection, though, they widened the horizons to incorporate colours such as yellow, cobalt blue, fuchsia pink, ivory and silver.
As both the brands have their strong individualities, we asked what was the one thing that they might have picked up from each other? While Shirin loved their “infectious creative energy”, the designer duo loved Shirin’s “can-do spirit and the desire to achieve anything
Needledust is one of the first brands to give juttis its rightful spot on the fashion map. “We are proud of what we have built over the years and the niche that Needledust has created. It was a delight to design juttis for Deepika Padukone’s mehendi gifts. Also, for Priyanka Chopra’s wedding, we had an exclusive pop up shop in Jodhpur. I was thrilled to see friends of Nick Jonas, loving traditional Indian footwear from Needledust. I feel more motivated each day to achieve greater heights,” Shirin says.
With the first collection already in place, there is more to come from these three creative minds this year.