This year’s Marymount University Designer of the Year recipient, Naeem Khan, says he did not study fashion, he lived it. Growing up in Mumbai, his family was in the textile business, so he was surrounded by art, culture, color and materials. But it wasn't until he came to the U.S. that he really developed his own style. At age 20, Khan left India and traveled to the U.S. to apprentice for American designer Halston, and that's when India's "chaos" and melting pot culture combined with Halston's clean cut look to formally shape his style.
Khan, who has dressed former first lady Michelle Obama on several occasions, was presented with Marymount's Designer of the Year Award at the fashion department’s annual runway show, Portfolio in Motion. The student-run show focuses on the work of the graduating seniors, and brings in a celebrity designer to evaluate student portfolios. According to Khan, "receiving this honor from Marymount University is the most important honor [he] could receive."
Outside of Michelle Obama, Khan has had the pleasure of dressing many influential figures from Kate Middleton to Beyonce and CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin. Khan, like many of the clients he surrounds himself with, is passionate about advancing the field of education. Currently, he is working in partnership with Miami-Dade County and DASH to build a fashion design high school, slated to open in 2020. Khan feels it is important to an aspiring designer to have the opportunity to begin their art as teenagers.
His advice to an aspiring fashion designer? "Dedicate yourself to your art," says Khan. "And a fashion designer should always be thinking and dreaming fashion." But most importantly, according to Khan, future designers should be thinking of sustainability, and how to make fashion that will not hurt the earth.
Naeem Khan is the type of artist we should all being hoping young professionals aspire to become: talented, thoughtful and someone who gives back on a broader level, through education and sustainability.
You can see images from the 2018 "Portfolio in Motion" show here.