Sachin and Babi Ahluwalia are the designing power couple behind contemporary womenswear label Sachin + Babi. The FIT alumni also head ANK Embroideries, where they create couture textiles and embroideries used by fashion houses such as Giorgio Armani, Yves Saint Laurent and Oscar de la Renta. The Ahluwalia’s luxury home furnishings brand, Ankasa, further showcases their textile expertise through furniture, bedding and accessories.
You have such an amazing background in textile design and hand-embroidery. What inspired you to branch out and launch a home lifestyle brand?
Babi: We have always loved working with fabrics and textiles; it is part of who we are. So launching a home line came very naturally to us. We were filling a void of personal taste in some ways. We both grew up in a world surrounded by elaborate embroideries and textures, so it made sense to us to translate that tradition into something with a modern sensibility.
Sachin: We believe in the beauty of contrast and frequently used elegant and understated linen fabrics to showcase extraordinary techniques.
What are some of your favorite hand-embroidered pieces from your Ankasa collection?
Sachin: I love all the classics, especially the iconic collection we did with Beacon Hill.
Babi: Two of my favorites are the Sedona and the Le Jardin Collections.
How do you think your ready-to-wear collection translates into the Ankasa lifestyle brand?
Babi: They both have the same design energy behind them. We have created this world in both home and RTW for the contemporary woman, but at the same time have kept them separate. You probably won’t see, for example, the same print on a dress as a pillow. But there are similar motifs and inspirations that drive both brands.
Where are the limits in using tapestry for clothing design? How do you avoid creating clothes that simply look like drapes?
Sachin: It all depends on the techniques and the types of fabrics you use. The density of fabrics is what can make them look like drapes.
Is Babi still a muse for the line?
Babi: I would like to say so!
Sachin: Yes, very much so.
Do you carry the RTW collection at the home store?
Sachin: No, we separated the two a few years ago.
How do you differentiate your uptown Ankasa store from downtown? How do uptown customers differ from downtown customers?
Babi: Well, we have always thought of the uptown girl as very safe and more reserved, but we’ve noticed there are many hipsters moving to the Upper East Side. So, things are always changing, but our downtown girl still has her signature boho-chic aesthetic.
What is the optimal style home for your line?
What other aspects of a lifestyle brand do you hope to add to the mix? Will there be kids clothes? Accessories?
Sachin: Well, at the moment we are already developing more accessories and we are very excited for our next edition with Robert Allen, which is launching next year. We have designed new clutches and pouches for Spring ’13 that we are really excited about.
Babi: And, this holiday season we launched our first-ever collection of holiday stockings. They were fun to design; we named them after reindeer and other festive things. There are no children’s clothes at the moment, but my girlfriends ask me the same question all the time!
You’ve designed for people such as Oscar de la Renta, Carolina Herrera and Nina Ricci…any plans to work together on a home collection?
No, not at the moment. We work with designers on daily basis and love doing cross collaborations with them, but there is nothing in works as far as a home line. We have found our signature, but you never know… we are always open to new ideas.
Have any of your experiences or work relationships provided inspiration for your brand?
Absolutely! Working with such creative people has elevated our inspirations and design sensibility. From younger designers to seasoned artists, it is always refreshing to see things from another point of view.
Where do you see the company in five years?
Sky’s the limit!