Talking fashion with designer Azeeza Desai Khan of Atelier AZZA

At the Fashion for Compassion show that took place during Fashion Week, I was able to catch up backstage with designer Azeeza Desai Khan, who debuted her elegant line Atelier AZZA on the runway that night. We talked details about her line and inspiration as a designer.

Azeeza Desai Khan with a model wearing her design. Photo: Saniya Tabani.

Beauty and the Feast:
So Ranjana Khan told me you had cold-called her assistant to get in touch with her and when she heard about the cause, she called you back within 12 hours — I feel like that’s going to be part of your claim to fame now! What made you decide to do that?
Azeeza Desai Khan: I love Ranjana Khan — her and her husband Naeem Khan are one of the most well-regarded individuals in the fashion industry. On the back end, they provided embroidery to some of the best fashion houses in the world from Alexander McQueen to YSL. In addition to that, they’ve also marked a brand for themselves as a power couple. So when you think of successful South Asian designers in the US, you think of Naeem and Ranjana. From wearing Ranjana’s pieces and just being a true fan of her as a successful South Asian woman, I think it was important that was honored here. As I embark upon this design journey, I thought it was also important to somehow catch her attention.
Azeeza with Ranjana Khan and sister, Zeenat Desai. Photo: Saniya Tabani

What got you get interested in fashion?
ADK: In highschool I took two years of design courses and did a three-month private study, but never really went forward with that more than a just a mere hobby. From a professional career standpoint, I’m in marketing and PR. In the past couple of years, I’ve been taking on more private clients in fashion, just because it’s one of those hobbies I felt like I needed to express in my career. As I moved forward with those clients, I sawmore of the back end in terms of design, ordering, production. After getting a deeper glimpse into it, I thought, “Hey you know what? I can do this.” Not only that, I really thought it was the right moment for me. I brought back that archived design into modern day mixed it with my business fashion industry sense.

What would you say is your inspiration as a designer?
ADK: My inspiration is the embodiment of day-to-day life and beauty. For any woman, you feel their best when you look their best. When you feel 100%, you also act it and the confidence comes. Confidence is the really big key, and dressing the part really gets you that. That’s a huge inspiration. Also giving back. I didn’t get into this right away because it was a very superficial aesthetic business. But now as I embark upon this, I have a give back model: For every piece sold, I’ll give a likewise garment to a poor South Asian woman. Any purchase of AZZA will help support someone in need.

Atelier AZZA

What kind of woman wears your clothes?
AKD: It’s definitely a reflection of myself in terms of my style which I like to say is high fashion meets high street. I like to wear high-end pieces and mix it with maybe something from Zara or an indie designer you’ve never heard of. I think it’s that person who doesn’t want to spend an arm and a leg on clothing but still wants to feel wonderful and look glamorous like they did spend an arm and a leg! Someone who knows fashion, understands it, understands quality fabrics — someone who appreciates style and quality in their clothing will appreciate AZZA.

What’s your earliest fashion memory — your first biggest purchase perhaps?
AKD: I would say my first biggest purchase was in highschool and it was a Coach bag. I will tell you that my husband probably wishes I would still buy Coach bags because I certainly do not! [laughs] It was a big deal then and I still have all of my pieces I’ve bought throughout the years. But I want to stress it’s not about how much the big purchase is. Fashion’s what you make of it, how you carry yourself and how you wear it. It’s not how much you spend, but how you creatively put the art of fashion together.

Well put. Looking forward to seeing what else is to come from AZZA! What do you think about the collection?


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  1. Jess B. wrote:

    I really like the last sentence: “But I want to stress it’s not about how much the big purchase is. Fashion’s what you make of it, how you carry yourself and how you wear it. It’s not how much you spend, but how you creatively put the art of fashion together.”

    Her designs are lovely, where are they available for purchase?

    Posted 9.21.11

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