CHENNAI: People ask me if I’m in an abusive relationship,” says fashion designer Sanjana Jon. We’re seated at her suite in the Hyatt Regency for tête-a-tête, ahead of her showing at the recent Kingfisher Premium Chennai International Fashion Week. And yes, that line is a bit of a shocker. But let’s rewind to five minutes before...
The conversation is about dogs. Apparently this New York-based designer who is widely known as the sister of controversial and incarcerated designer Anand Jon, is so fond of her “12 babies” back in Delhi, that she flies down to visit them every couple of months! “And because they barely get to see me, look at this,” she points to the scratches on her arms and legs. “People ask me if I’m in an abusive relationship,” she finishes with a laugh. And if you were picturing well pruned poodles with their noses in the air, as would befit a designer’s image — it turns out most of her rescues are just happy go-lucky mongrels off the street. In fact, as part of her canine goodwill mission, Sanjana has even organised a couple of boys on two-wheelers to distribute rotis to about a hundred dogs in the neighbourhood.
And then there’s her fight against female infanticide, which she dedicated her fashion week collection to, by calling not one but 18 celebrity showstoppers to walk the ramp in order to spread the message. This included actors Partheban, Iniya, Bindu Madhavi and Khushbu who even brought her daughter along to strengthen the statement. As Sanjana put it, “This isn’t a fashion show, it’s a show of humanity. And I every show I do,” she insists, “I do with a cause”.
And her latest project in the works, an ‘Ashram manufacturing’ set-up sounds just as novel as it is intriguing. “I want to work on an all natural unit where we only use plant dyes and fabrics with no chemicals,” she elaborates. “The ashram space will probably be in Himachal Pradesh or Uttarakhand, but although India-based it will be a collection for the US market. I think they will appreciate it more,” she tells us candidly. So when will the space be ready? “Godwilling by 2015,” Sanjana responds.
We’ve saved the most difficult question for the end. Seven years after her brother Anand Jon was imprisoned for sexually assaulting aspiring models, how is she coping? “Seven-and-a-half,” she corrects us, clearly counting the days as they go by. “But I’m thankful to God that he’s still alive,” Sanjana summons the courage to say. “As long as I believe that the truth will prevail eventually, I know that it will be okay.”