Fashion Meets Compassion in Star-Studded Evening Honoring Ranjana Khan

For world-renowned jewelry designer Ranjana Khan, the decision to participate in Fashion for Compassion: An Evening of Runway and Heart took a mere five seconds.

Ranjana Khan with sons and guest

The event, held during Mercedes Benz Fashion Week and co-hosted by South Asian Young Women Entrepreneurs (SAY WE) with SAAVN.com in collaboration with Divanee, was a night of fashion with a cause — proceeds were donated to the Wishwas Foundation, an organization that helps empower underprivileged South Asian women through entrepreneurship in New York City. Over 250 attended the star-studded evening, and an additional 100 tuned in to its live webcast.

In addition to honoring Ranjana Khan, the event featured runway presentations by Atelier AZZA, Pakistani label Rani Emaan, and headliner Pria Kataria Puri. For Ranjana, the highlight of the evening was realizing the fruits of her hard work before the eyes of her two sons: “I was here with my boys, and for them to see their mom being honored at a cause she believes in — I could have been a South Asian woman stuck in a bad relationship of abuse without a means to get out.”

Azeeza Desai Khan, the designer behind Atelier AZZA, wearing one of her own pieces. Photo: AA Film Studios

Ranjana attributed her presence to a cold call from Azeeza Desai Khan, an up-and-coming designer who debuted her collection Atelier AZZA during the runway show. Watching models glide down the runway in her ensembles was observing the realization of a dream Azeeza has held since she was a little girl: “It’s pretty surreal given that for the past four years I’ve been attending Mercedes Benz Fashion Week pretty consecutively as a guest, watching the work of some fabulous designers.”

Azeeza describes the Atelier AZZA woman as a blend of glamor and urban chic — clothes that can be worn out to dinner or even to work. “When I design, I think of gaps in my own personal wardrobe, especially in retail, what I would want to wear but can’t buy.”

Actress Archie Punjabi of "The Good Wife". Photo: Saniya Tabani/Divanee.com

A number of celebrities came out to support Ranjana on her big night, including Emmy-winning actress Archie Punjabi. “I’m a huge fan of Ranjana’s collection,” said Punjabi. “I’m most excited to see her collection and maybe take something to match my dress at the Emmys.” Punjabi is nominated for her role on “The Good Wife” for a second consecutive year, after taking home the trophy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series in 2010.

Actress Janina Gavankar of "True Blood". Photo: AA Film Studios

Actress and musician Janina Gavankar was also in attendance. With her show “True Blood” up for four Emmys this Sunday, Gavankar said she was keeping an eye out for pieces to wear to upcoming festivities. But most importantly, Gavankar said she was drawn to the event due to a cause she described as close to her heart: “Growing up I worked a little with an organization just like Wishwas in Chicago, so to hear it has something to do with battered women and women of domestic violence is something that’s very close to me.” The actress wore a pale pink BCBG dress which she paired with a cropped black jacket.

Actor Abhay Deol. Photo: AA Film Studios

It wouldn’t be an evening celebrating South Asians without a dose of Bollywood. Actor Abhay Deol was present with his model girlfriend, former Miss Great Britain Preeti Desai. The dimpled star looked dapper in a Ted Baker suit and joked about possibly taking up residence in the Big Apple (it was a mere couple of weeks ago when Deol graced New York with his presence to launch Mela, a South Asian digital entertainment platform).

Actress Shenaz Treasurywala in Pria Kataria Puri. Photo: AA Film Studios

Also repping Bollywood was VJ-turned-actress Shenaz Treasurywala, who recently moved to New York for a supporting role on daytime soap opera “One Life to Live”. Treasurywala said she was most excited about walking the ramp for designer and friend Pria Kataria Puri (whose gown she also wore on the red carpet). Treasurywala was also Puri’s showstopper and visibly excited to be given the opportunity: “You know it’s not often that I get to do this anymore, especially because of my height. But Pria is a friend and I’m a big fan of her work, so I’m really excited to walk down the ramp after a very long time.”

For more photos and an archive of the event webcast, visit Divanee’s Facebook page.

South Asian Young Women’s Entrepreneurs (SAY WE), is a Type A not for profit trade organization which aims to cultivate and foster strong relationships among South Asian women who have entrepreneurial interests.

Event Chairs: Reema Rasool and Rohini Singh
Event Vice Chairs: Azeeza Desai, Zeenat Desai, Sarah Khan, Prina Patel, Miral Sattar

Sabrina Siddiqui is the editor-in-chief of Divanee.com.

@sabrinasiddiqui