The Cabaret Closet

The Cabaret Closet

Karishma Shahani-Khan’s collection for Lakme Fashion Week Autumn-Winter 2013 is inspired by the cabaret dancers of Bollywood

Drop-dead-gorgeous Helen sizzled on screen as she did the cabaret toYeh mera dil (Don). Though she played the role of the villain’s arm candy girlfriend,she sacrificed her life to save the hero. The vamp’s glamour and different shades of her character in the 1978 film fascinated city-based designer Karishma Shahani-Khan. As she sat down to brainstorm for her latest collection,the brilliant showmanship of the cabaret dancers of Bollywood movies in the ’60s and ’70s inspired her. Khan will be participating in the upcoming Lakme Fashion Week in the Emerging Designers category with her latest collection,titled “Maya”,from her label Ka Shaa.

“When I started researching about the beautiful women who danced in the movies during the ’60s and ’70s,I realised that their characters had many shades. There was more to them than the bold cabaret they performed with flamboyance. The collection is my personal interpretation of these characters and the cinema during that era,” she says.

Khan’s focus is on layering her garments to lend her customers a personalised style so that they can experiment with different permutations and combinations of the layers. She explains that the different layers represents one’s personality. “You can’t judge a book by its cover,just like you don’t expect the villain’s girlfriend to give up her life for the hero. It fascinates me to think about the multiple shades there is to every character,every person,” says Khan.

Though her silhouettes are quite feminine,she adds some detailing to give it a masculine dimension. For instance,she has added a collar to a petite-looking dress. She has also designed a range of jackets,trousers and skirts with geometric patterns to bring out an element of illusion,the undercurrent that runs throughout the collection.


Khan says she uses monochromatic tones to impart a 3D look to some of her garments. Surprisingly,though the collection is women-oriented,she consciously avoids pink. Instead,she sticks to the primary colours — red,blue and yellow — and branches out into secondary colours such as orange,purple and green. “During that time,people used to wear bold shades of the primary colours,” says Khan,who has used one fabric throughout her collection.

Her love for Indian fabrics is a result of the comfort it provides to the wearer in every season. For “Maya”,she has experimented with cotton fabrics of different weights. “Again the idea of using one fabric in different ways stems from the theme. We wanted to take a natural fabric — cotton — and make it as glamourous as it could be,with the added benefit of being luxuriously comfortable,” says Khan,who also used motifs of birds to express the idea of freedom,symmetry,opulence and mystery.