“Everything is AK-OK isn’t just a fashion philosophy, it’s a lifestyle,” a statement that particularly stood out during my conversation with Anamika Khanna after her opening show at Lakmé Fashion Week in partnership with FDCI. AK-OK, an extension to her eponymous label, is known for its unique design language that constantly challenges the idea of perfection in fashion. Deeply rooted in individuality, AK-OK represents Indian streetwear with an elevated Anamika Khanna aesthetic.
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Watching Anamika groove with the models on the runway after a successful show, one would hardly believe that she co-piloted the show from bed while combatting a 103° fever until D-day. “I was nervous before the show, as I was unwell and couldn’t even attend the fittings—just that nagging feeling that you haven’t done enough?” Fortunately for the designer, she helms the responsibility of this label with her 2 sons, Viraj and Vishesh Khanna who shouldered the on-ground duties for her.
Working with family can be tricky, especially if your mother (and partner) is a fashion doyenne. How does the creative mother-sons trio charter this unusual territory without conflicts? “My number 1 objective in life is to listen to them. When Vishesh comes up to me and says mom this isn’t young enough or asks to me add an element to appeal to the Gen-Z, I instantly take it into account. I don’t operate from a place of ‘I know more,’ the key is to be open to ideas. Their opinion matters a lot and luckily for me, our aesthetics are pretty aligned. They just add a bit of freshness and a newer perspective to mine. We’re also very critical of each other—for instance if we don’t like something the other has worked on, we don’t sugarcoat it and are very honest with our judgment,” shared Anamika about forming a synergy with her sons.
Against the colorful and kaleidoscopic dancing Fountain of Joy, the show with which Anamika introduced her menswear line to the AK-OK universe was nothing short of a visual spectacle. Relaxed monochromatic sets with a tinge of colour, strategically crafted for styling versatility—the AK-OK menswear is easy-chic, a breezy departure from strong structures and sharp tailoring menswear is often associated with. “The boys are the reason we started menswear, I often hesitated before because I lacked the technical knowledge to do the same. Vishesh studied menswear and understands the patterns and the cuts, I come in for the creative input and together we’ve finally managed to introduce it within AK-OK as well as Anamika Khanna.”
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Strands of Mogra (Arabian Jasmine) layered under a baseball cap, tethered denim skirt with a monogrammed cropped top, print-on-print sets, oversized kaftans/dresses paired with dhotis, jackets, bombers, joggers and ripped palazzos—the vibe of the show was east-meets-west, but without making a mockery of either. “The collection came from the need of going back to your authentic self. I wanted to be myself, hence I created a collection of pieces where I would want to wear every single one of them. I’ve realised that every time I do that, I manage to touch hearts, because it comes from an honest place. I wanted to capture the free-spiritedness and ease of life that we’ve almost forgotten. I designed this line without caring about any judgment, the focus was on enjoying the process.”
From spray painting the boots which were reused from her previous collections and ornamenting bags with veils of flowers to making the models a part of the show as audience after they’ve walked the ramp—Anamika’s presentation was a raging riot of fun and a start of a cultural shift in an industry that definitely needed a reset.
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