Gauri Khan launches her own signature line in Dubai

Gauri Khan launches her own signature line in Dubai

With the launch of her signature line in Dubai, Gauri Khan expands her designer dreams to international shores

By Ambica Sachin

Published: Sat 31 May 2014, 11:29 AM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 8:16 PM

If style were a commodifiable attribute, Gauri Khan would surely be a billionaire by now.

Not forgetting the fact that husband Shah Rukh Khan has just been adjudged the second richest actor in the world, (as reported by Wealth-X, the world’s leading ultra-high net worth (UHNW) intelligence firm), the launch of Gauri’s signature line of designs in Dubai last week, we hear, has come about mainly due to her “innate style sense”. As Prateek Chaudhry, Founder of Dubai-based design house First Ferry, with which Gauri has aligned herself, told us when quizzed as to what Gauri would be bringing to his company; “Her sense of style, her taste. She’s got a face, a style, a perspective and outlook and what we are looking at is capturing that.”

Family portrait: Shah Rukh and Gauri with daughter Suhana, son Aryan and Khan’s sister Shehnaz

Brand new identity

The association is not so surprising, considering Gauri Khan has built up an image as a sophisticated, style-savvy, star-wife-turned designer. Over the years, Gauri has tried her hands at various ventures. From costume design to production to her own interior store, The Design Cell, that she set up in early 2014 in Mumbai, India, Gauri has moved away from the tag of being just another Bollywood star-wife – even if the star in question is one of India’s reigning superstars with an estimated personal wealth of £350m (if reports are to be believed). To begin with, she was the quintessential star-wife, content to remain in the background even as her husband walked the red carpets of the world. A quiet glamorous presence by his side on a select few occasions, Gauri, despite her professional identity as the co-founder of SRK’s production house Red Chillies Entertainment, has kept a low profile so far. But all that seems to be changing of late with her reinvention as an interior designer. When we met up with her in March while she was in Dubai to talk up the high-end real-estate project, Naira, alongside Sussanne Roshan, Gauri was subdued, letting her more vocal partner take charge. But this time the rules are different. She is still laid-back, but more in charge as she explained her design ethos to us. “I want to grow as a designer. I’m passionate about the work I’m doing and want to take it forward and I think Dubai is a place that’s growing in numbers.”Gauri, who had jetted into Dubai for a couple of hours last Wednesday to announce her newly inked association with The First Ferry at The Oberoi, makes it clear that the firm’s international reach (with presence in London, Singapore and New York) is what appealed to her, coupled with her eagerness to learn on the job. “I feel it will be a learning experience for me to be associated with an international brand - you get to learn much more and expand your thoughts, your experiences, designs,” she explained. “I think it is a win-win situation for despite being established and having been in this line for a while, I’m growing as well.”

A surprisingly humble sentiment but one, which probably reflects her own ‘learning-on-the-job’ ethos considering she has had no formal training in the field.

“You have to grow constantly. If you feel you know it all, you are never going to grow.”

‘Just the beginning’

To an outsider, it might look as if Gauri has her plate full what with three kids, a superstar husband and the various design projects she is involved in. And now an international branding “across spaces and countries.” But nothing can faze her as is clear from her laid-back demeanor. “You have to love what you are doing and you have to love the project and the thought behind it. These are really strange things, which may not sound very professional, but what’s most important for me when I take on work is; what will I learn from it? It is about ‘me’ before everyone else. Will I learn? Will it be good for me? Will I be able to travel and reach that space and will it be convenient?”

Gauri with Sussanne during the launch of Naira in Dubai on March 22

As for any comparisons with Naira, the luxury villa project in Goa she fronts along with friend Sussanne Roshan, she is quick to refute it. “Naira is a project that ends when the 12 villas are sold. Whereas through my association with The First Ferry I will be doing various things – it will branch out into various fields of design. It could be a hotel, a spa, a gym or a private space,” she goes on to add.

“This is just the beginning,” she avers, not ruling out the possibility of her signature line extending to jewellery, shoes and bags in the future. “I don’t want to put it all down in pen and paper. Right now we are just talking about the association, we don’t want to get into details of what we are doing in the future. For that we’ll have another press meet!”

And what about the self-diagnosed ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) she claimed to be suffering from during our previous interview? She laughs: “For some questions, answers are said just for the sake of it – that was one of them! Some levity has to come into the interview otherwise it is too dull and boring! We have to add a little bit to every story so every time you give an interview it is not dull.” No doubt a trick learnt from her more media-savvy husband.

Gauri on her:

Favourite space at home: My pool

Most indulgent buy: My Kitchen

Most prized possession: My vault – where I keep all my money!

Most luxurious stay: My house at The Palm (Since I’m in Dubai you can say that!)

Favourite SRK movie: Happy New Year. I’m promoting it since it’s coming out in October…

Subtle is me: Gauri Khan

It’s her Zen-like demeanor that strikes one first. There is a calm, laid-back vibe that flows from her – be it through her measured tones or her relaxed body language. And true to form her design ethos also seems to reflect this.

“Subtle is me. I like things subtle, yet there has to be an element that stands out. It could be just one object rather than having the ceiling gold and floor silver and the walls yellow…that would hurt my eye! I’d rather mix and have a hotchpotch of things.

“When I walk into a room it should all be very peaceful. And when I say peace it means everything has to be in sync with each other… Each piece of furniture should be speaking to the other one. It should not be screaming at each other, you know? I personally feel all hotels are very jarring, they scream out.”

“So my design ethos would be everything in sync, subtle and low key - yet you can have a few elements that scream out at you saying – ‘look at me’.”

And is that what is reflected in her houses in Mumbai, Dubai and London? “I would not like to discuss my homes,” she immediately avers. “That should be left alone. It’s too controversial! Many things come up when you discuss Dubai and then people are like (laughing), ‘Have you paid your taxes’; ‘Where are those taxes’; ‘Who gives it…. (Breaks out into peels of laughter)

What’s Gauri’s signature style?

It was reportedly while doing up her Mumbai house Mannat that Gauri fell in love with interior designing. In an earlier interview with City Times the star wife had mentioned how in school she used to love to sketch, which later found anchor in her furniture line. So when she opened her own concept store The Design Cell in Mumbai in early 2014 it did not come a surprise to many. Gauri who told us she has plans to open a branch of her interior store in Dubai as well, is however coy while speaking about her signature style.

It is left to Prateek Chaudhry to clarify: “We wanted to capture Gauri’s spirit. She’s not going to be involved in every project we do and therefore every project she does will be a signature line.

“She’s going to chose a project, spaces, people, countries. She might say – ‘I’ll just do two in London, two in Dubai or one in Russia…” As for First Ferry CEO Heinz Klier, what Gauri Khan brings to the firm is “her beauty, style and passion to work.”

Gauri elaborates: “It could be designing a dining table or two chairs, so even if I’m doing maybe a hotel lobby, we could do personalised furniture just for that lounge. It would be customised for that space – you just can’t go and buy it anywhere.

“It could be a sculpture as well or it could just be a piece of art, a six foot chair for example or even a rug. Or it could be that every piece in that room will be designed by me. It’s not just a stamp I’m putting on saying this is my signature. It could be a coffee table, it could be as specific as that.”

A designer fit for high-end luxury clients with deep pockets.

Prateek Chaudhry, Founder and Heinz Klier, Group CEO of The First Ferry at the formal announcement of the design house’s association with Gauri Khan at The Oberoi in Dubai on Wednesday evening

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