Five stylish families and their go-to couturiers
by ELLE Team
One master couturier, many generations — these much-loved designers are part of every memorable family portrait
THE SODHIS FOR JJ VALAYA
“I’ve known Nafisa since the time she was a swimming champion,” say JJ Valaya of his long-time muse and friend, Nafisa Ali Sodhi. The Sodhi family is packed with beauty and talent — actors (Nafisa and soon-to- be-launched Ajit) and an Arjuna awardee (Colonel RS Sodhi) — but for Valaya, it’s all about a “holistic connection”. He says, “It makes me feel proud to see that my clothes can cross generations — it is the biggest achievement for a designer. My relationship with this family is special and will continue forever.
“I started wearing his clothes when I was 13, and I got married in a JJ Valaya. From being my mom’s friend, he is now my friend”
— Armana Sodhi Akoi
“I have been friends with [JJ Valaya] since I was 22 and we used to buy crystals for his garments together!
He gives keen attention to the finest details and his designs are royal, traditional and timeless”
— Nafisa Ali Sodhi
“Model? Me? Never! But for JJ I can pose, because I can never say no to him”
— Colonel Ravinder Singh Sodhi
MUSHARAFF BEGUM AND PERNIA QURESHI FOR ANAMIKA KHANNA
With designer Anamika Khanna and actor/ entrepreneur Pernia Qureshi, the admiration is mutual. If Anamika Khanna were to list the qualities of her ideal customer, Pernia Qureshi would tick all the right boxes. “Not only is she gorgeous, but she also has a mind of her own. She is intelligent and doesn’t shy away from experimenting,” says Khanna. When Qureshi (pictured here with her grandmother) was starting Perniaspopupshop.com, Khanna was the first designer she stocked. “It’s a great pleasure to see Pernia and her family wearing my clothes.”
“For me, Anamika’s aesthetic reflects easy luxury. Her pieces are extremely beautiful and at the same time she strikes a balance between high fashion and comfort”
— Pernia Qureshi
THE SINGHS FOR RITU KUMAR
For super-blogger and socialite twin sister duo, Zina and Zoya Singh, wearing a Ritu Kumar piece feels like stepping into a comfort zone. “We bought our first Indian outfit from her! We are tomboyish girls, we could never imagine wearing salwar kameezes but Ritu Kumar changed that perception,” says Zina. And, they love that Kumar’s style also resonates with their designer mother, Simrita Arora.
“I have childhood memories associated with Ritu Kumar. I appreciate the craftsmanship and effort she puts into each garment”
— Zoya Singh
RHEA AND RITU KHANEJA FOR SUNEET VARMA
“My first Suneet Varma was my wedding outfit,” says Rhea Khaneja Madaan (daughter of business honcho Latika Khaneja), adding, “I think I made the right choice.” From helping her with make-up decisions and making jewellery choices, she credits Varma for being much more than just the designer of her bridal lehenga; he became a trusted friend. For her aunt, Ritu Khaneja, it was Varma’s closeness and careful consideration of his clients’ feelings that won her over.
“His clothes make me look like a star.”
— Ritu Khaneja
ALEAH AND NAINA BALSAVER AHMED FOR RIMPLE & HARPREET NARULA
Former Miss India turned actor turned jewellery designer, Naina Balsaver Ahmed has always been the epitome of grace and beauty for Rimple and Harpreet Narula. “Our families go back a long way; it’s always a pleasure to design for them. And Aleah is her mother’s reflection; I have seen her bloom into a gorgeous young lady,” says Rimple. Plus, their sensibilities are completely in sync — “Naina’s jewellery line has an old-world Nawabi charm which we love as it matches perfectly with our clothes,” she says.
“How royal their garments make us look — they are fit for queens”
— Naina Balsaver Ahmed
Photographs: Hormis Antony Tharakan. Styling: Gauri Verma. Make-Up And Hair: Umang Vanshika