Embellished Kaftans is a brand conceived and created by Karen Chandwani. Born and bred in the colorful Bollywood city of Mumbai, India, her upbringing was infused with inspiration from a very early age. Her father was a well known designer and manufacturer and taught her to sketch styles, source fabrics, cut patterns and sew garments. By the time she was 16 years old she had already joined the family business. After completing her formal education in Psychology her arranged marriage to a businessman took her from Mumbai to the world renowned island of Palma De Mallorca in Spain – known for its style and up market boutiques.
Karen was inspired by the European designs and cuts but always missed the colorful clothing she wore back home. Deciding to bring the flavor of her country into Spain, she opened a beach wear clothing store, “Gut and Gun-stick” in Cala Millor, a small village of Palma De Mallorca. In addition to her stock of swimwear, she began to include Indian made embellished kaftans and Pareous at her store which were a big hit with the locals as well as the tourists from around the world.
After successfully running her business in Spain, a family decision to move to Australia landed her on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland. Karen tried to adapt to the simple yet sophisticated style of Australia which was so different from Spain or India. However she couldn’t suppress her desire to express herself with color so decided to design a few kaftans which she had grown up wearing back home in India for herself, to guage the reaction of the locals. She wore a kaftan to almost every soccer match of her son and received an overwhelming response. Perfect strangers walked up to her at restaurants asking her where had she purchased that dress and friends started getting curious.
“Many asked questions. But where can I wear them? They are too colorful don’t you think? Do you think I can wear them to the supermarket? Are they casual or formal wear? Why should I wear a kaftan if I can wear a top?” said Karen.
These questions gave Karen enough feedback to create a unique Australian brand “Embellished Kaftans,” which is made for Australian women to suit their lifestyle. She has used her years of industry experience to source the most skin friendly and luxurious viscose silk fabric which is a blend of wood pulp and silk to suit the warm Australian climate. Each digital print is inspired by exotic destinations from around Australia. The rainforest and Barrier Reef of Queensland or the truly divine 12 Apostles of Victoria. Every print reminds you of the Australian nature. All Embellished Kaftans are intricately embellished with high quality swarovski crystals using the Indian traditional hand work called “Kundan Work” to express the spirit of lavish opulence for those special occasions on a cruise or a party. The cuts and sizes make them very versatile so they can easily be teamed up with a pair of jeans or tights for those casual occasions like coffee with the girls or a trip to the supermarket.
“A kaftan is a single most unique piece of garment that will add a different level of style and sophistication to your wardrobe. Some say they are almost addictive,” said Karen.