On the outside, it seems that Farah Khan: A Bejewelled Life is about jewelry, and it is, but it is so much more. It is really the story of Khan’s life, how she lives her life and how her life has evolved shown through the creative lens of her photography and jewelry. The 304-page slipcovered tome, authored by Paola de Luca and published by Rizzoli, started with a tête-à-tête between Khan and de Luca, who are close friends, in a taxi on the way to the airport in Goa, India. Khan, who is based in Mumbai, described the book as “an open conversation between photographers and artists” during a discussion with de Luca at the Rizzoli bookstore in New York City.
The book is divided into five chapters, all abundantly sprinkled with photography by Khan and handwritten poems and quotes that are insights on life from her. There are also other inspirational sayings from well-known writers, including William Shakespeare, J.M. Barrie and Maya Angelou.
“Photography is a very personal expression because it captures what the eye does not see,” says Khan, who exudes elegance and grace. “If I was not a jewelry designer, I would be a photographer. My pictures capture the moments of my life, but also my art. The photographs I took tell my story. The book lets me express myself visually.” The lush imagery in the book highlights the resplendent jewels created by Khan. It reveals the play of color, proportions, lavish gemstones and intricate designs that go into each piece by showing the jewels juxtaposed with images of architectural detail or art that mirrors the jewelry.
According to de Luca, jewelry, design and architecture are all ways of communicating visually that are linked together in this book to convey the story of Khan’s life. The jewelry tells the story of a new, modern India, but one that is supported by the rich history of the country’s traditions. It is the story of Khan’s business, yet it is deeply connected to her family.
Each of the five chapters represents an aspect of Khan’s life; each is its own world, yet all of them interconnect and are part of the essence of who she is. The first chapter, “Fluidity,” is about water and how it represents change and Khan’s challenge to flow with the water. Khan had a very glamorous life growing up and it is the inspiration for the second chapter of the book, “Royal Flair.” Her father was a Bollywood movie director and he filmed a lot of movies in palaces and forts in Jaipur, where Khan also became lifelong friends with some of the city’s royal family. Nature was Khan’s playground as a child and the third chapter, “Natrualia,” is devoted to birds, bees, butterflies and snakes, all of which play prominent roles in her jewelry designs. The fourth chapter, “Rose,” is a reflection on this beautiful flower and its symbolism of love and poetry. The final chapter of the book, “Surreal Vision,” focuses on art, architecture and color, for which Khan has a great passion.
“I want people to see me as someone who wants to connect the dots. I speak a universal design language, I understand local and global design influences in our lives,” explains Khan, who uses traditional Indian forms and Western colors to create jewelry that bridges cultures. Khan draws upon her life experiences to inform her work and concludes, “I see myself as an alchemist who captures the moments in my life and transforms them into beautiful objects of art.”