Gauahar Khan Image Credit: Supplied

Actress and reality show Bigg Boss season seven winner Gauahar Khan seems to have taken a page from the feel-good Bollywood romance Sui Dhaaga, an endearing tale about a couple and their trials, to establish her own fashion start-up.

While Khan’s jump from an actor to a fashion designer with her own online portal wasn’t as dramatic as the Varun Dhawan-starrer, the transition wasn’t always smooth.

As Khan, 35, prepares to showcase her ready-to-wear designs at the Modista fashion exhibit in Dubai on October 6 at the Roda Al Murooj, Gulf News tabloid! spoke to her exclusively about this new chapter in her eventful life.

Khan, who made her acting debut in Rocket Singh: Salesman Of The Year, has constantly reinvented by discovering new facets to her personality. From acting in a new web series called Side Hero to sourcing her own fabrics to being a hater of fashion trends, Khan has a take on everything. We speak about her fashion debut, her notes on Tanushree Dutta’s sexual misconduct claims on actor Nana Patekar and making it in the entertainment industry on her own terms. Excerpts from our exclusive interview with the self-made talent…

 “Believing in what you create is important and making sure that you are doing it with all honesty reflects on your end result.”

 - Gauahar Khan

What should we know about your fashion line Gauahargeous?

My clothes, which are affordable and are of good quality, are for women who aren’t scared to speak their minds. When I was inside the Bigg Boss house, they used to call me Gauahargeous which was a combination of Gauahar and courageous. And when I came out, everyone who loved me continued to call me that. This label is my way of paying it forward to all my fans. Clothes are your strongest expression and what you wear says a lot about your personality. I don’t want my clothes to be unaffordable or over-the-top [her clothes range from Dh50 and above]. I don’t want fashion that is understood only by a few. I never use the word ‘trendy’ because trends is not something that I follow at Gauahargeous. Our clothes don’t have heavy embroidery either as I don’t want anyone to pay a hefty price for my brand. It’s a regular person brand.

How involved are you in the creative process behind your designs?

This is my baby and I conceptualised it and designed it. I am involved in every aspect including creating designs, to sourcing what fabrics to use to production to designing to execution. My sister Nigaar is the spine of my brand. It has just been six months since we launched our online portal and she’s an integral part of running and functioning it. We are not outsourcing our stuff and claiming it’s our brand. We are not buying our clothes any other foreign market and claiming it is ours.

There’s now a glut of online fashion stores. Were you worried about keeping up with the fierce competition?

Online purchases can be tricky. You order something based on the pictures you seen on that site and something else comes to you which looks different. We try and make sure that we don’t do that. For me, it’s about building relationships. I have been in this entertainment business for over 15 years and let me tell you that it all boils down to word of mouth. It’s all about relationships and maintaining quality.

What prompted you to become a fashion designer and what do you have to say to people who think it’s just a celebrity whim?

I am not a fashion designer. I am just an instinctive person who has a keen sense of fashion of her own. I was often compelled by my fans to start my own clothing label. Personally, I love fashion and I love dressing up. So I am not doing something that is foreign or unfamiliar to me. Fashion interests me. I have an overall sense of what I want and who I cater to. Plus, my designer who assists me is a fashion graduate and a topper from her college. I may lack in technical know-how, but experience in this entertainment world has taught me a lot. I have worked with the best of fashion designers and I know the nitty-gritty by observing. I can wear a sari in 30 seconds.

How many who wear a sari everyday can boast of that? Experience is my teacher.

Actress Anushka Sharma was recently accused of copying designs under her Nush label. Does that episode make you cautious?

I don’t think she was accused of copying, I thought she picked up the stuff from a foreign market … I don’t want to comment on that episode. But it’s like saying that somebody else is doing the acting while you are claiming credit for it. It cannot happen like that. I want to do things my way. I don’t follow trends blindly and I don’t design keeping in mind what will pass off as a great piece this season. I have used fleece in summer too.

What’s your biggest fear?

I don’t enter into anything with fear. I just want people to love my designs.

What kind of fabrics and cuts do you gravitate towards?

I love cotton and linen. It doesn’t have to be pure cotton, but there are such interesting blends these days. Remember, we are a home-grown brand who don’t follow trends. Believing in what you create is important and making sure that you are doing it with all honesty reflects on your end result. There’s no surety to success. It’s all trial and error. But I follow my heart and the toughest thing is to believe that all is going to be fine.

What’s your biggest fashion pet-peeve?

I don’t like cap-sleeves. We avoid it at all costs.

Apart from your fashion debut, you also made your entry into the world of web-series with Kunal Roy Kapoor’s Side Hero?

It’s a relatable story, directed by Rohan Sippy, about an actor who is struggling to make it big in the entertainment industry. I play Kunal Roy’s ex-wife. She’s a fun character who’s realistic in the way she deals with him. She stands by him and she’s equally irritated by him. It’s a great time to be actors today. You are not put in any bracket. I have made unconventional choices when it comes acting.

Were you disappointed that your Begum Jaan starring Vidya Balan didn’t work out at the box office?

I don’t get disappointed by box office numbers. I would get disappointed if anyone dislikes my work. If they remember my character, that mean I have done a good job. At the end of the day, nobody can guarantee whether a film works or not.

Bollywood experienced a watershed moment last week when Tanushree Dutta revived her charges of sexual misconduct by actor Nana Patekar. Your thoughts?

I made a comment immediately saying ‘Stay Strong’. I just wanted her to stay strong and my best wishes go to her. There’s so much being said and interpreted though. There’s evidence to corroborate her story and it’s great that she is finding the courage to speak up. Instead of mocking or pulling that person down, let’s give her the due importance… I am glad she found her voice and I hope it gives her the peace she is looking for.

Have you experience any such unsavoury episodes as an actress, who has no connections?

I have never experienced anything like that in my life… I can’t comment on the general scenario though. These are individual experiences. Women are strong now and we have found a voice. Let’s encourage that voice and not misuse it. I don’t know what Tanushree is expecting out of this [revival of charges], but whatever that could bring her peace and make her feel justice has been served should be given to her.

Don’t miss it!

What: Modista
When: October 6
Where: Roda Al Murooj
Designer: Gauahar Khan, Balance By Rohit Bal, Mahima Mahajan, Anushree Reddy, Arpita Mehta and Padmasita
Time: 10am to 8pm