June 29, 2015
Look from Naeem Khan’s Resort collection
Look from Naeem Khan’s Resort collection
An embroidered linen shift dress from Naeem Khan’s Resort collection
A necklace from Ranjana Khan’s Resort collection
Naeem and Ranjana Khan in the bedroom of their Ten Museum Park apartment
Given a choice between the Hamptons and upstate New York, Naeem and Ranjana Khan opted for Miami.
“We were looking for a second home, and he wanted the Hamptons,” Ranjana says. “I said no because it’s such a short season, and it’s so social I knew I would never see him.”
“In my world of being a designer, we have so many clients who go to the Hamptons,” explains Naeem, whose VIP list lately boasts everyone from Lady Gaga to Michelle Obama (the First Lady has worn five of his designs since her husband took office). “Ranjana said, ‘Let’s go upstate, it’s so quiet there,’ and I said, ‘No way, I don’t want to be a country bumpkin.’”
|A cuff from Ranjana Khan’s Resort collection|
A quick trip to visit friends in Miami changed everything. “We fell in love with it,” Ranjana says. “It’s so like Mumbai in a way, all the hustle and bustle and all the different languages.”
Married for 30 years, the Khans seem destined to be a couple: They grew up just blocks away from each other in Mumbai and even attended the same school, although they never met until each had arrived in New York—Naeem to pursue a career in fashion design, while Ranjana happened to be on vacation. “We can be very nostalgic for India sometimes,” Naeem says. “Mumbai is the Riviera of India, and Miami Beach is of course the Riviera of America. I love the heat, the sun, the ocean, the culture, everything about it.”
Once the decision was made, the choice of apartment was astoundingly easy, Naeem says, thanks to a little Web surfing and a lot of ego massage: The designer had just emerged from a fashion show in Dallas, where the audience had showered him with cheers and a standing ovation. “I was feeling so confident, like a million dollars,” he says. “I don’t know if that’s the best time to look at apartments; it might be like being hungry and going to the grocery store.” Newly determined to find that second home, Naeem went online, discovered an apartment at Ten Museum Park, and called the broker. “Before you knew it, I was buying an apartment over the Internet,” he says with a laugh.
It’s a decision the couple has regretted not for one second. They have filled their vacation home with the books they love, as well as some Indian art, but Naeem reveals their intent for the apartment when it comes to art is “a place with no color, perhaps just black-and-white photographs.” He then points to a stunning oversize photograph of Elizabeth Taylor by Firooz Zahedi, which the couple keeps in the guest bedroom, as an example. “Ranjana and I love collecting contemporary art, and we’re thinking this is what will dominate the space, perhaps all photographs either in gelatin or silver foil or black and white,” Naeem says.
These days, the Khans’ escape from New York living is filled with dinners at Soho Beach House, yoga at The Standard Spa for Ranjana, and polo lessons at Palm City Polo in Boca Raton for Naeem. “He’s out of the apartment at 8 am every day for lessons; he’s loving every second of it,” Ranjana says. “I was invited to play with Prince Harry in India, so I’m determined to learn, and to have my own team someday,” Naeem adds.
Of course, it’s noteworthy that work likewise is reaping the benefits, starting with Naeem’s Resort collection, which just arrived in stores (locally at Neiman Marcus Bal Harbour). “Miami played a very important role for me in that collection,” he says. “When you hang out in Miami, you’re going to parties, you’re going to clubs, and the Latin influence is also so amazing. So my first thought for Resort was, How can I take the tropics and make them modern and cool?” Indeed, linen shift dresses lushly embellished with floral embroidery seem tailor-made for a sojourn in the Design District, while a brilliant red caftan (a piece at which Khan quite simply excels) would surely be a showstopper at any South Beach pool. The Latin flavor, meanwhile, can be found in flirty peasant blouses likewise embroidered in florals of deep red and pink. “My customers are in Florida quite a bit; in Palm Beach, all my ladies wear these clothes,” Naeem notes.
Ranjana’s latest jewelry collection (also at Neiman Marcus) boasts similarly tropical influences, from the seashells woven into wide cuffs to the Miami-friendly tones of coral and turquoise seen throughout. “The inspiration was the rainforest, with a bit of a ’70s twist,” she explains. “They’re always a mélange of unusual materials; you’ll find shell and plexiglass and tiger’s-eye in the same piece.”
|Books and the couple’s collection of Indian art currently accent their Miami home.|
This month, you’re sure to see the Khans at Art Basel Miami Beach events—“It’s an overdose of friends and food and culture for three or four days, which I love,” says Naeem— though perhaps they’ll be making the rounds for reasons beyond collecting. Ranjana is embarking on an art project, a series of embroidered canvasses. “The inspiration came from the ceremonial dress you see on elephants in India, such as handbeaten domes of brass and copper,” she says. “I love how beautifully they’re adorned, and it’s taking my life with embroidery to another level. So I’m excited for Basel this year, because next year I’ll be ready with my work.”
While a few years ago Naeem and Ranjana Khan couldn’t agree on the ideal locale for an idyllic retreat, they’re now quick to concur that Miami was among the best decisions they’ve ever made. “It’s not really Friday to Sunday; it’s become five to 10 days at a time, so it always feels like a mini-vacation,” Ranjana says. “And as soon as we get in the car [in New York] to go to the airport, we switch our minds over to Miami mode. If it’s a negative thought, we just don’t go there.”
Adds Naeem, “In my work, I think Miami will be influencing me for a very long time; but more than that, it’s become a very special place for us. We feel very much at home.”