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Updated: August 13, 2010 20:00 IST

Of Gypsy rides and gate-crashers

Shalini Shah
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Designer Rahul Khanna> Photo: Sandeep Saxena
The Hindu
Designer Rahul Khanna> Photo: Sandeep Saxena

Designer Rahul Khanna treads back to his college life at SD College, Chandigarh

Founded in 1997, CUE by Rohit Gandhi and Rahul Khanna has become one of the labels that one can always turn to for that perfect dress or suit. Staying away from the prevailing Indo-Western sensibility, the designers have carved a niche for themselves through their line of immaculate western prêt, where fit and subtle embellishment take precedence.

Rahul Khanna, one half of the designer team, prior to studying Apparel Merchandising at NIFT, Delhi, studied B.Com at Chandigarh's S.D. College — not one obvious choice, one might assume, but a choice with a reason, as Khanna says.

“I was always inclined towards fashion. B.Com was just for my family business. Even then, I was making clothes for friends, for sisters,” he explains.

Home being Amritsar meant that Khanna, along with three other friends rented a place to stay in Chandigarh.

“College days started with a lot of mischief,” he recalls. “College was all about studying, bunking, eating samosas and chaat at the canteen. Going for morning shows on Friday was one of the most memorable parts of college life.”

That, he says, was when there was not a care in the world, and when their whole life lay ahead. “They were the most precious days of your life and they never come back. We were also confused, didn't know what's ahead,” says Khanna.

Weekend getaways are another standout memory. “Some of us pooled in and bought an open Gypsy, which used to be a big thing back then. We would drive down to Kasauli and Shimla; we would drive out on Fridays and be back on Sunday,” he says.

A soft-spoken designer today, Rahul Khanna admits to being “a little shy, restrained” during his college days. “But I had just started opening up, started taking French classes. In school you grow up with the same people, in college you're on your own,” he says.

The most notorious thing he did while in college elicits laughter even now. “We were suddenly bored of the daily food one day. There was a five-star hotel in sector-11 in Chandigarh, Mount View. The guys got dressed in suits and the girls in their finest and we, 15 of us, gate-crashed a wedding. Nobody knew which side we belonged to,” he grins. Most friends are in touch even today, more so due to Facebook. “In fact, three days ago we were discussing the gate-crashing incident.”

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