The Story of Abu Jani Sandeep Khosla – Wedamor

The designer duo Abu Jani Sandeep Khosla recently completed 33 successful years together in 2019. They have been Bollywood’s favorite designer duo. From designing their costumes to designing for their wedding, this designer duo has been doing it for the last three decades.

Their story so far has been no less than a roller coaster ride. They recently gave a glimpse of their story when they gave an interview to Humans of Bombay. Let’s have a look at their story in detail.

The Beginning

It all began thirty-three years ago! On 15th August 1986, Abu Jani met Sandeep Khosla and since then, the two have embarked on an extravagant creative journey together. Even though they come from dissimilar backgrounds, Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla were united by a shared commitment to impossibly fine craftsmanship, a reverence for heritage textiles and embroideries and a passion to do what hasn’t been done before. Since then, they have set trends, created their own set of rules, and crafted the utterly original from the staggering depth of their collective imagination.

In 1986, Abu Jani was freelancing and also doing costumes for Alyque Padamsee’s musical adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ‘Evita’. Around this time Sandeep Khosla found himself in Bombay on pure impulse. The day was 15th August and Abu met Sandeep at the studio of Xerxes Bathena. Xerxes got Abu to the workshop to introduce him to the newest addition who had come to work for him from Delhi.

They bonded in a taxi ride over their shared yearning to dedicate their art to a kind of opulent originality that exudes a dreamy ode to the good life. As time progressed, an opportunity from Gopi Mangnani to set up a boutique in Juhu led Abu and Sandeep to their debut venture as Abu Jani Sandeep Khosla. They agreed to name their collection “Mata Hari” and it went on to become the first of many freelancing projects.

Initial Trendsetters

In 1987, they went ahead interpreting the Dhoti Pant with pure fabrics and Zardozi embroidered panels. Little did they know it would be recreated on a mass level by the shops at fashion street. Back in the day, this only meant one thing – a new trend had arrived.

In 1988, the duo met Sunita Pitamber. who introduced Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla to global artists, connoisseurs, and high society including Shakira Caine, and also offered her Juhu residence to them to use as a studio. Her arrival into their lives was like gold dust on a wave of spectacular energy.

In 1989, Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla introduced the art contained in Couture. They found the magic in the mystical in this heavenly ode to Indian miniature paintings. The featured embroidered and appliqued images were covered with a small glass frame held onto the fabric with delightfully delicate beadwork. The effect was so enchanting, it created the appearance of a dazzling, bejeweled body. The 1989 collection was recreated and worn by Sonam Kapoor in her 2018 film, Veere de Wedding.

1990 was when the iconic Jamawar Shawl from Kashmir was reborn as Couture! Never content to merely restore a craft technique, Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla have always fashioned fresh beauty at its finest. This was their first use of fringe in the form of beaded tassels.

From Coutures To Weddings

In 1991, they designed Tina Munim’s bridal lehenga. This utterly sumptuous outfit is based on a maroon, pure silk georgette velvet fabric sourced from Paris. Crafted with the most extravagant Persian motifs comprising leaves and flowers in Resham and Zardozi, it is lined with a rich serving of fluorescent brocade. Anil Ambani had asked Abu Sandeep to go wild with their ideas and the ensemble was proof that they had.

With 1992, the duo brought Chikankari in their designs. They turned out to be highly refined and impossibly elegant. Its pristine beauty was unparalleled.

1993 was a year that took Abu Sandeep beyond couture. It was the beginning of their vision finding expression in the world of Interior Design. They displayed their first-ever Interior Collection at Bajaj Art Gallery in Mumbai and since then, they have created palatial heavens inside homes.

Entry In Hollywood

It was 1997 when Hollywood was introduced to their designs. Eileen Coyne’s London boutique named ‘Also’ is where Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla introduced the excellence of Indian craftsmanship to the western world. Dame Judi Dench, Dame Maggie Smith, Princess Michael of Kent visited the boutique and became aficionados of Abu Jani Sandeep Khosla. The store was instrumental in introducing London to the duo’s world and work.

The designer duo has been very close to the Bachchan family. They even designed the clothes for Shweta Bachchan and Abhishek Bachchan’s weddings respectively.

In the year 2000, Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla created a ‘Fashion Theatre’ experience called “A Celebration of Style” to establish a fund for women and children affected by HIV and AIDS. The show was named in honor of Abu Sandeep’s debut book launch of the same title. “We wanted to talk about our work over the years and that’s how the idea of the book came along. We had collected hundreds of photographs of our designs and spent our initial efforts recreating some of our lost work. Publishing was unaffordable at the time, but we are always ones to take big risks. Despite not having a sponsor, we booked Famous Studios in Mumbai and got Bijon Dasgupta to design a set.

Costume Designing for Movies

The year 2002 brought Devdas, the first movie for which this designer duo designed costumes. Abu Jani Sandeep Khosla took their dazzling workmanship to the silver screen by dressing Shah Rukh Khan, Madhuri Dixit Nene, and Jackie Shroff in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Devdas.

The AbhiAsh Wedding

As mentioned previously, the designer duo designed clothes for the AbhiAsh wedding that took place in 2007. Abhishek Bachchan was royalty personified on the day of his wedding with Aishwarya Rai. His Sherwani was a work of art realized in a fabulous geometric Vasli pattern. The inner kurta had self-tailoring and gota details with intricately embroidered Zardozi borders. Mothers often come to Abu Sandeep with a picture of this ensemble, wanting their sons to wear an identical Sherwani for their big day.

In 2010, they were pretty much in the news when they made Brett Lee end their show at Delhi Couture Week. Brett Lee was accompanied by Shweta Bachchan. Shweta dazzled in their iconic Lotus motif ensemble that created the impression of the flower blooming on flesh, and Brett Lee made a dapper sight in a beige dhoti paired with a sublime, white kurta worn under an embroidered coat.

Over the years, the received a lot of recognition both in Hollywood and Bollywood. Even the Ambanis appreciated their work and organized an event in 2012 commemorating their work.

Their Relation With Kapoor Sisters

After having Bollywood divas like Dimple Kapadia as their muse, AJSK found their new muse in Sonam Kapoor. Sonam, too, did justice to their designs and carried them sheer grace.

Sonam’s sister Rhea Kapoor has been a huge fan of Abu Sandeep’s work and decided to use their designs for her production, Veere Di Wedding. All the outfits worn by the four leading ladies have been designed by AJSK.

The year 2018 was the year for love as it saw the weddings of Sonam Kapoor, Deepika Padukone, Priyanka Chopra, and Isha Ambani. Each one of them stole a million hearts dressed in Abu Jani Sandeep Khosla couture at their weddings. Each one, a vision of impeccable grace and immortal romance in exquisitely detailed, custom ensembles that paid perfect homage to their formidable beauty, personalities, and spirit.

Even after giving 33 years of sheer perfection, the designer duo claims that ‘the best is yet to come’. Over the years, we have been swooning looking at their designs and I am sure that will continue to do so!