"It started with a dot," Naeem Khan said backstage after his opulent show
(which boasted the week's best celeb, Matt Damon, in the front row). By "a
dot" Khan meant a bindi—the decorative mark or jewel worn by Indian women
to ward off evil or signify marriage—which he co-opted as the jumping-off
point for an exploration of Indian body art.
Using evening coats and gowns in a palette of taupe, sand, and black as stand-ins for actual skin, Khan beaded, threaded, and appliquéd the collection's pieces with geometric prints and classic Indian paisleys. The embellishments followed the garments' seams or played elegantly off the body's lines and curves. They created allover prints that looked beautifully organic. Where there wasn't pattern, there was texture. A black pouf of ostrich feathers made for a buoyant skirt on a cocktail dress with a top made of black, ivory, and silver beads. Another—a breezy, dropped-waist dress in silk faille—was decorated with both abstract felt appliqués and small mirrored discs.
Sounds busy, but it was far from fussy. Despite all their adornment, the dresses were enticingly sinuous: A slightly relaxed silhouette, courtesy of plunging necklines and low backs, kept the surface treatments from feeling heavy. As the Academy Awards approach and stylists start their bidding wars, Khan's collection should be at the top of their wish lists. A long-sleeve, open-back gown covered in dense gold paillettes actually looked like a walking Oscar statuette, and it was one of many that would dazzle on the red carpet.