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22 the art of fashion

08 the idea 10 ensemble

by Shoba Narayan 10 MOOD OF THE MOMENT New avatars of the Indian tikka 12 MAGIC CARPET See. Smell. Shop. Support. Stay. Sense. 14 MUSINGS Priya Paul and Ranvir Shah 18 CSL INTERVIEW Ramesh Nair

28 cover story

The Real Housewife of Paris Salma Hayek is married to the world’s best wardrobe— but that doesn’t mean she won’t cook dinner by Gaby Wood

22 URBAN RENEWAL Little Shilpa recycles everyday materials into headpieces that are both alien and familiar by Himali Singh Soin 24 ENCHANTED THREADS How Julie Skarland transforms clothes into works of art by Samantha de Bendern

38 the story behind style

THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN COAT A treasured work of contemporary haute couture is traced back to the erstwhile royal family of Jodhpur by Pragya Tiwari

managing editor Anant Nath | deputy editor Vinod K Jose | senior editor Jonathan Shainin | issue editor Samantha de Bendern associate editors Jyothi Natarajan and Kajal Basu | assistant editor Snigdha Poonam staff writer Rahul Bhatia | design fn | editorial manager Leena Reghunath | editorial assistant Furquan A Siddiqui

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Complimentary with The Caravan May 2012 Not for individual sale

edited, printed & published by – Paresh Nath on behalf of Delhi Press Patra Prakashan Pvt. Ltd. E-3 Jhandewala Estate, New Delhi - 110055 and printed at Delhi Press Samachar Patra Pvt. Ltd. A- 36 Sahibabad, Ghaziabad & Delhi Press E-3, Jhandewala Estate, New Delhi-110055 and published at Delhi Press Patra Prakashan Pvt. Ltd. E-3 Jhandewala Estate New Delhi- 110055

66 80 travel

JEAN LARIVIÈRE The photographer who travelled the world to shoot Louis Vuitton’s legendary ‘Spirit of Travel’ campaigns by Samantha de Bendern


80 44 photo essay

FIVE STAR DELHI Into the enigmatic world of high society in the capital by Lynsey Addario/VII

56 feature

STYLISH DESTINATIONS 86 Arles: A Festival of Light by Pragya Tiwari 87 Hong Kong: Shop till you drop by Bettina Wassener 88 Madagascar: “It’s Good for the Morale” by Himali Singh Soin 89 Te Aroha: A Riot of Colour in the Mountain of Love by Samantha de Bendern

90 q&a

TOP DESIGNERS reveal their visions for style: 90 Rahul Khanna & Rohit Gandhi 92 Tarun Tahiliani

STYLE AND THE STAR The rise and fall of fashion in Bollywood by Rahul Bhatia

66 behind the scene

editorial, advertisement & publication office E-3, Jhandewala Estate, Rani Jhansi Marg, New Delhi - 110 055 phone: 41398888, 23529557 email: classified advertisement department M-12, Connaught Circus, New Delhi - 110 001 phone: 23416313 Other Offices ahmedabad: 503, Narayan Chambers, Ashram Road, Ahmedabad - 380009 phone: 26577845 bangalore: G-3, HVS Court, 21, Cunningham Road, Bangalore - 560052 phone: 22267233 mumbai: A 4, Shriram Industrial Estate, Wadala, Mumbai - 400031 phone: 65766302, 65766303 kolkata: Poddar Point, 3rd Floor, 113, Park Street, Kolkata - 700016 phone: 22298981 kochi: G-7, Pioneer Towers, 1, Marine Drive, Kochi - 682031 phone: 2371537 lucknow: B-G/3, 4, Sapru Marg, Lucknow 226001 phone: 2618856 chennai: 14, First Floor, Cison’s Complex, Montieth Road, Chennai - 600008 phone: 28554448 patna: 111, Ashiana Towers, Exhibition Road, Patna - 800001 phone: 2685286 secunderabad: 122, Chenoy Trade Centre, 116, Park Lane, Secunderabad - 500003 phone: 27841596 jaipur: Geetanjali Tower, Shop No 114 Opp. Vyas Hospital, Ajmer Road, Jaipur-302006 phone: 3296580 bhopal: B-31, Vardhaman Green Park Colony, 80 Fit Road, Bhopal - 462023 phone 2573057 Title The Caravan is registered with Govt. of India as trade mark. ISSN 0971-0639 copyright notice © Delhi Press Patra Prakashan Pte Ltd., New Delhi-110055. INDIA. No article, story, photo or any other matter can be reproduced from this magazine without written permission. This copy is sold on the condition that the jurisdiction for all disputes concerning sale, subscription and published matter will be settled in courts/forums/ tribunals at Delhi.

FASHION GREATS Chanel’s Karl Lagerfeld and Gucci’s Frida Giannini by Christopher Morris/VII


May 2012 '70




n the recent style issue of The New Yorker, fashion writer Judith Thurman, while writing on the comparative styles of Miuccia Prada and Elsa Schiaparelli, two of the previous century’s most influential fashion designers, made an interesting observation: that one of the reasons why Prada continues to be such an influential designer is because “her enigmatic code is so hard to copy: she changes the password every season”. To me, whose interest in fashion is at best dilettanteish, Thurman’s insight brought an embarrassing sort of déjà vu, the kind I get whenever I walk past any of the stores in the DLF Emporio mall at Vasant Kunj, or inside the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Dilettante or no, I can’t deny that fashion is a form of art, and, like modern art, it can at times be stunningly confounding for the eye less trained to comprehend and appreciate its value—or to justify that big, fat price tag with what always looks like a gratuitous extra zero or two. This feeling can arise especially when the object of contemplation is a Hermes belt, a Gucci shoe or a Prada bag, even though the Devil chooses to wear one. There are enough fashion designers in the world perceptive enough to decode the ‘enigmatic’ design genome behind Prada bags; there are some among them, however, who use their talents in the exercise of unoriginality, to develop re-engineered imitations of the real thing. There is an even greater number of self-proclaimed aficionados, who are hardly better than the confused amateurs, but relentlessly promote the impression that they have it all pretty much figured out. As with much of art, all this is to be expected, of course: haute couture is an extravagance that demands as much feigned indulgence as it needs genuine admiration to propel its burgeoning economy. For the earnest fashionista, it can hardly be of much comfort that there is sparingly little good writing on style, fashion and design. Most fashion and style magazines are rather

'70 May 2012

conventionally predisposed towards the showcasing of the latest trends without necessarily exploring their nuances. As in politics and the sciences, there are interesting stories nestling in the world of style and living. Stories such as that of the Steins, an upper middle class American family who moved to Paris in early 20th century, and who used their relatively modest means to build up in their small apartment one of the most astonishing collections ever of avant-garde art —aided only by the serendipity of being the first patrons of one Henri Matisse and one Pablo Picasso. Or the fascinating story of the style of Louis Comfort Tiffany, the stained-glass artist son of the founder of Tiffany & Co, an inveterate collector of decorative art from around the world and who, between the 1870s and the 1920s, designed lavish interiors for rich clients such as Mark Twain and Cornelius Vanderbilt—but, most notably, for his own grand, $2 million estate in Long Island, New York, which then burnt to the ground in 1957. Of course, these are stories from a bygone era that have been meticulously chronicled in their own milieux. There is no dearth of contemporary stories from India, and even abroad—but they are less well known. Caravan Style & Living is an endeavour toward this end: to narrate these whispered stories. We intend to extend the art of storytelling, which is the hallmark of The Caravan, to fashion, style, travel and design. These stories will have personal and engaging voices, and will be complemented with cuttingedge design and layout, and a striking visual showcasing of style. Presented to you every few months, each issue will be a smorgasbord of finely nuanced stories on style and fashion, and the many styles of living.

Anant Nath Managing Editor, The Caravan



nagesh ohal / india today group / getty images

by Shoba Narayan

pascal le segretain / getty images

mood of the

moment Chanel’s tikka jewellery: a model walks the runway at the Chanel ParisBombay Show on 6 December 2011 in Paris.

Eina Ahluwalia’s sun-tikka from her jewellery line ‘Breathing Space’.

AT CHANEL’S PARIS-BOMBAY SHOW, in December 2011, Karl Lagerfeld complemented his exquisite take on Indian outfits with Indian head-ornaments, specifically the tikka, which seems to be the flavour of the season. The traditional maang tikka is a bridal ornament, but its new avatar has been seen worn on the red carpet by celebrities such as Alicia Keys. Some say that the significance of the tikka is that it falls on the Ajna chakra that is at the centre of the forehead. Traditional dancers often wear it as part of their costumes. Indiabased jewellers such as Eina Ahluwalia use it to make a cultural statement.

Singer Satinder Sartaaj uses head ornaments on his turban, with his hair tied loose underneath. Listen to his new album, Sartaaj Live: Lafza da haan da. courtesy

Alicia Keys sports a tikka at the Chanel Fall/Winter 20122013 ready-to-wear collection show.

Farah Khan Ali’s tikka worn by Deepika Padukone at the finale of India International Jewellery Week 2010.

str / afp photo

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alexander klein / afp photo


magic carpet Silk Route and Jodhpur jewellery collections by Alice Cicolini, showcased in Sotheby’s exhibition in London.

See. Smell. Shop. Support. Stay. Sense.

courtesy alice cicolini

SEE Sotheby’s ‘Inspired by India’ exhibit and sale in London from 8-15 May. Curated by Janice Blackburn, the show features designers working with the craft and artisanal traditions of India. Gunjan j Gupta’s wrap chairs; Sabyasachi Mukherjee’s saris; Delhi-based potter Rahul Kumar’s ceramic works; photographer Gita Pandit’s playful take on India; Mumbai-based Indian Hippy’s Bollywood posters; and Alice Cicolini’s beautiful b jewellery, enamelled in Jaipur by one of the last remaining master craftsmen are among the others in the exhibit.

courtesy indian hippy

above ‘Tranquil flame (Alternate Angel)’ from Rahul courtesy rahul kumar Kumar’s ceramic collection. below A poster of Jalte Badan, a 1973 film from Indian Hippy’s vintage collection of Bollywood Posters.

courtesy taj vivanta bekal

courtesy sotheby’s


above A photo, ‘Indian Girls’, from Gita Pandit’s collection about India exhibited at Sotheby’s. left Deconstructed Dining Throne and Navratna Side Table by Gunjan Gupta for Wrap. courtesy gunjan gupta / wrap

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STAY at the Vivanta by Taj in Bekal. Twenty-six acres, 108 rooms, a 2.5-acre Jiva Spa, architecture inspired by Kerala’s kettuvallam boats, all at Kasargod, one of Kerala’s undiscovered beaches. From `7,000 per night.


by Shoba Narayan

SUPPORT India-born,

eela vermeire esy n ur t co

courtesy ioweyou

Madrid-based fashion designer Kavita Parmar’s IOU Project, which links weavers in India with artisans in Europe and sells unique handmade clothes on the Internet and through trunk shows across the world. Fairly priced, fashionable, sustainable and promoting Indian weaves. What more could you ask for?

SMELL three new fragrances by Neela Vermeire Créations: Trayee, Mohur and Bombay Bling. India-born and Paris-based Neela Vermeire quit practicing law to start a niche perfume company with “supernose” Bertrand Duchaufour. Trayee (the Sanskrit word for triad) contains natural ingredients often used in Vedic rituals: Madagascar blue ginger, Mysore sandalwood oil, jasmine, patchouli and others. Mohur is an ode to Noor Jehan and includes a complex mix of oudh and rose. Bombay Bling is joyful and extroverted with citrus and floral notes of tuberose, frangipani and gardenia. A 10 ml mix of all three fragrances is available for ¤85 from the website:

STAY at the brand new ITC Grand Chola in Chennai. Eight acres, 600 rooms, a sprawling Kaya Kalp spa, private helipad, and the local favourite Peshawri restaurant, all at an introductory price of `9,000 plus taxes.

SHOP Christian Dior’s new Patchouli Impérial from Dior’s private collection. Perfumier Francois Demachy keeps it simple with a top note of bergamot and the rounded softness of patchouli, coriander and sandalwood. Patchouli Impérial might soon join Dior’s cult fragrances, Eau Savage and J’Adore. May 2012 '70



by Shoba Narayan


hemant j khendilwal


NAME: PRIYA PAUL Scion of the Apeejay Surrendra Group and chairperson of The Park Hotels, Priya Paul was the recent recipient of the Government of India’s Padma Shri award. After graduating from Wellesley College, she transformed her family-owned Park Hotels into one of the top boutique chains in the world. Parent, wife, sister and daughter, Paul travels the world to speak at design and leadership forums. She shares here about her passion for art, her love of design and the best street food in India.

A favourite thing in your closet? My super-soft, well lived-in, ancient Gap T-shirt and sweat pants. Something you bought recently and love? My iPhone. I have divorced my Blackberry. My iPhone has Siri but it doesn’t understand my accent. Artist(s) you love? Bharti Kher. I live with her painting above my bed. I also love J Swaminathan. What you collect? Advertising calendars and works on paper—ephemera from the 1850s onwards. What you are currently reading? Devdutt Pattanaik’s books. And cookbooks. Unusual music recommendations? I just downloaded William Orbit. I listen to everything from meditative chants, rock, house & trance, ambient house, Jalebee Cartel. Your style influences? Terence Conran, design and style from the 1950s through the 1970s. Looking at exhibitions. I like clean white spaces with quirky things mixed in them; juxtaposing old and new. My style inspiration comes from the mood that I am trying to create. The trick is to stay open to influences. Look at what’s happening around you. Be a risk taker. Your aesthetic? It comes from collecting—old things, modern furniture, modern paintings, antiquities, and combining it all. My learning was incremental and by osmosis. '70 May 2012

Where you shop—globally and locally? Evoluzione and Azure in Chennai. AKFD in Jaipur, where I buy things for the house. Globally, everything from Joseph and Gap to Armani and Nike. Where you eat—globally and locally? Locally—The Chinese in Delhi. I eat everywhere, including food on the streets. To make a list is very difficult. Yeti in Delhi serves Nepalese and mountain food. Of course, my own hotels serve very good food. I love the street food in Old Delhi. Globally, Nobu, L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon in London. Where you relax or vacation? We have a vacation home in Goa. We relax on the beach with our seven-year-old son. I read. We eat at Thalassa and Bomra’s in Goa. How you dress? Your style signifier? I wear saris, at work and in the evening. I buy them at Sundari Silks in Chennai. I like Abha Dalmia’s saris. As for perfume, I wear Tom Ford’s Black Orchid. It’s an amazing perfume. I have a poor sense of smell so I need something that I can smell. Brands you love? Lately I’ve been seeing good work by Atsu Sekhose. Abraham & Thakore are always classic, and do good work. I own several Anamika Khanna outfits too. Something quirky that you are pondering? Camping in the mountains. I trek and would love to do a trip this year. My friends are going to Everest Base Camp and I’m tempted to go.

below A painting by J Swaminathan from the Priya Paul Collection of Indian Popular Art. bottom A Tasveer Ghar calender ‘The Age of Calenders’ showcasing artwork from Priya Paul’s ephemeral collection. courtesy priya paul


courtesy ranvir shah


Where you travel? Rome, Italy—food, frescos, fashion and fabulously dressed people. I want to visit the early Christian sites in Ethiopia next. Where you shop? Cinnamon in Bangalore—They always have something I want to possess. Where you eat? Indigo in Mumbai; Amethyst in Chennai; Hakkasan in New Delhi; Zuma in London. How you dress? Every outfit has a story or narrative that I make up, for others who see me, to decipher and excavate. An Uzbeki coat paired with jeans to match and pointy shoes reminiscent of silk routes. Something quirky that you are pondering? Having my DNA tested to discover my bloodline. Wouldn’t it be fun for this Gujarati Jain to say, “I have a bit of Pashtun in me!”

NAME: RANVIR SHAH Ranvir Shah is a Chennai-based aesthete, entrepreneur and founder of the Prakriti Foundation, a non-profit that sheds light on cultural heritage and the arts. Under Prakriti’s auspices, Shah runs a number of music, theatre, poetry and literature festivals in and around Chennai. An art patron and textile connoisseur, Shah speaks here about his style icons and design muses.

A favourite thing in your closet? There’s nothing in my closet that is not out! Seriously, my grandfather’s cufflinks. Also, Rohit Bal jodhpurs paired with a brocade vest. Something you bought recently and love? Parvathi Nayar’s family of bronze heads. An artist you love? Manjula Padmanabhan. I have collected her work for 25 years. I intend to own the largest body of her work. What you collect? Burmese golden black lacquerware for the past 15 years. Your favourite book? Anatomy of a Disappearance by Hisham Matar. It is written simply, but is deeply evocative. The book is about the disappearance of a father and coming to terms with it. It made me cry. Unusual music recommendations? ASIMA, an all-male vocal and percussion group from Kerala. Yodhakaa, a Chennai group, whose music is in Sanskrit, but is cool. Your style guru? Shanta Guhan is my aesthetic mentor and empress of good taste. My grandfather taught me to wear a polo shirt: sleeves rolled up twice above the cuff so the biceps show just right. Your aesthetic? Indian Classic meets Global Chic. As designed by Rohit Bal, Rajesh Pratap Singh, Abraham & Thakore, and Vivek Narang—also my wife who embodies it. '70 May 2012

above Recently purchased Parvathi Nayar bronze head collection. below Ranvir’s Burmese golden black courtesy ranvir shah lacquerware collection of 15 years.


by Shoba Narayan

interview: ramesh nair Having worked in design for many of the top french houses, Ramesh Nair is currently creative director of Moynat, a brand with a long history as a luxury trunk-maker. Nair was among the first graduates of the National Institute of Fashion Technology, Delhi. The Paris-based designer speaks here on global and indian fashion and design.

prabuddha dasgupta


What’s the most challenging part of your job? And the most easy or fun part? It’s not fun if it’s not challenging. The creative part is always fun for me. The challenge comes in ensuring that the collection produced is in step with my vision, without any compromises. Who are your style inspirations? A mix of different inspirations—right from Caravaggio to Mies van der Rohe and Josef Albers. Or it could be details from vintage pieces, a closure or a seam—anything that triggers a line of thought. Do you still keep in touch with Indian fashion? Where do you think it is at? I have good friends in the Indian fashion scene, some very talented designers. Indian fashion is evolving, even though it still has a long way to go. Why hasn’t Indian fashion “made it” in the global world? India is a cauldron of inspiration and we have some seriously good talent. We are, however, yet to mature in the expression of this talent. A lot also has to do with exposure and interpretation of world cultures. The very fact that a lot of western designers use Indian influences—Dries Van Noten, Jean Paul Gaultier—and use it to their advantage, should be a lesson to Indian designers. What is India’s fashion strength? Strength lies in India’s amazing textiles, the endless variety of arts and crafts, all tied to the cultural heritage. In design terms, we have to learn to play to our strengths and to le'70 May 2012

verage our innate appreciation of forms, materials and how they are used, all of which evolved over centuries of craftsmanship. Design has to be carried right through the DNA of each object created. This is not a superficial exercise, applied on as surface decoration. It is part of the engineering of an object, the materials, the shapes, right through to the packaging and presentation. This understanding of design is something you can find in the traditional crafts of India, but that we seem to have forgotten in recent times. What is India’s fashion weakness? As I have mentioned above, we tend to get dazzled by the glamour quotient rather than focusing on technique and realising that ultimately fashion is serious business. We also tend to rely heavily on Western influences and interpretations instead of looking within ourselves. Any stylish Indians you respect (and not only because they own your products)? I find someone like Martand Singh, who has a signature style, extremely elegant. The secret lies in his total comfort with what he wears and the utter simplicity of his clothes. Who are your fashion icons? Why are they your fashion icons? I have no personal style icons. I believe each person is unique and should create his or her own style. Who are some designers you admire and why? Martin Margiela, because he is not only an inspired and inspirational designer, but a wonderful person as well. Which country in your estimation holds the future of fashion and why? The country of the World Wide Web. Fashion is getting more democratic and every capital in the world has its own fashion week. Each country plays an important role in its own way. For example, the Brazil fashion week has become important as well as popular and draws a lot of attention both from the media and buyers. Of course, Paris and Milan will always hold a special place because they are the birthplaces of fashion, and to show in these cities is the ultimate litmus test. What are your passions and hobbies? Music. Concerts. Travel. How do you relax? Listening to music. Watcing films. Tell me a little bit about yourself. Where did you grow up? Are you married? Any kids? I was born in Kerala, in a little village called Melattur. My parents still live in Manjeri, close to Calicut. As a child, I travelled all over India, since my father was in the Army. I am married, with one cat. Style is...? What you are and what you believe in. Shoba Narayan contributes to many local and global publications and writes a weekly column for Mint Lounge.



rafiq maqbool / ap photo

by Himali Singh Soin

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sean gallup / getty images

courtesy little shilpa

Amoebic, militaristic, alien, uncanny, luminous, eerie, innocent, hysterical, paranoid, cold, battling, buoyant, noisy, silent, punctuated, fantastical, sculptural, tiny, enormous: This array of words, stacked as one, are the eccentricities that might aspire to describe Shilpa Chavan’s creations. Her art utilises the human being as a frame—bones and flesh—but her styling is far from familiar. So much so that one would think these designs were created with otherworldly creatures in mind. But this is not to say that the accessories by Little Shilpa—which, coincidentally, in Sanskrit translates to ‘working with stone’ or ‘skill’—are impossible to wear. They are a choice and a statement. Lady Gaga has worn some of her outrageous headpieces: most recently for the cover of Flare magazine, where she is seen wearing a helmet-hat, studded with Swarovski crystals, that shows off over her pink bob wig. Based in Mumbai, Little Shilpa creates from everyday objects and moulds them into adornments, referring to her process as “romantic science, melancholy decadence”. Her hats extend up to four feet—a Mohawk of little GI Joes; a voluminous bubble of paper; an architectural piling of black bras. Each is a oneoff, no design recreated, iterating her philosophy of lateral thinking, of transforming traditional mindsets of what an object is meant to be and how it can be utilised. Moreover, in employing plastic bottles, paper kites, children’s toys, old military badges and glass bangles, among other ingredients ordinary and bizarre, she makes an ecological and social statement on the importance of small-scale production and local goods. True to her spirit of immediacy and unique clothing, her next project is to open a pop-up shop in London. “All I know is that I don’t want to be a brand,” says Shilpa Chavan. The intrinsic consistency in her myriad raw materials is the thing that inspires wonder: her fashion is art (a show at Gallery Nature Morte in Delhi in 2010 and her Mil-

courtesy little shilpa


linery Lookbook at the London Fashion Week 2010); her models are still-lifes, her accessories kinetic (she has shot fashion films to complement her collection and show Fashion in Motion); they are local to India and universal; dark and grave and full of light and happy; they are giant and they are detailed; unique and commercial; off the street and magical; brimming with found stories and defying narrative; futuristic and nostalgic; free-form and architectural. In the symbiosis of all these contradictions is an idiosyncratic unity that is Chavan, and herein lies her sculpture. “You are given a name that you mould till it becomes you,” she says.   s Himali Singh Soin has written for ArtForum, CNNGo, Bomb, ArtIndia and TAKE on Art amongst others.

One would think these designs were created with otherworldly creatures in mind. clockwise from top From Little Shilpa’s Hedonism collection 2009; Shilpa Chavan poses with models wearing her designs at Fashion Week 2010 in Berlin; from her Rainbow Totem collection 2010. opposite page top A piece from the Hedonism collection showcased in London Fashion Week in 2009. courtesy little shilpa

opposite page bottom Models display creations from the Mickey and Minnie-inspired collection by Little Shilpa and Nitin Bal Chauhan.

May 2012 '70


Julie Skarland reminds me of the Snow White of my childhood imagination: black hair, translucent skin, and eyes the colour of bluebells. We meet in her Delhi apartment, which is a magic kingdom of satin ribbons and golden beads neatly stacked in plastic boxes on open shelves. I half expect her to clap her hands and command her treasures to take on a life of their own and become a dress fit for a princess, just like they do in fairytales. Her clothes, for both men and women, are simply cut, combining many materials and textures. The outcome is a fusion of the rustic and the cosmopolitan, resulting in clothes that are both unusual and wearable. Born in northern Norway, in Trondheim, one of the northernmost cities of the globe, she moved to Paris in 1987, where she studied fashion design and dressmaking and worked for 18 years, creating a prêt à porter collection. At one time she was presenting six collections a year, which sold all over Europe and as far away as Japan. In 2005 Julie won an artist’s grant from the Norwegian Arts Council, in recognition of the fact that her work is not simply fashion, but art. That same year she left Paris for Delhi, and decided to concentrate on the unique dresses that are her trademark today. Here, she finds inspiration in the vibrant colours and exotic wildlife of her new home, although the Nordic influence can still be seen in the way knits with snowflakes and tradi-

pablo bartholomew /


‘Vol Du Jour’



by Samantha de Bendern


pablo bartholomew /

tional Scandinavian patterns intertwine with the light gauze of a ballerina’s tulle. In her latest collection, called Alice in Hindustan, her own magical character has walked through the looking glass and found a wonderland in India. Unencumbered by commercial constraints, she can now let her imagination run free. At the beginning of the creative process, Julie explains, she starts with the fabrics, their feel and fold. For days, weeks, sometimes months, she travels the markets of Indian cities, picking up buttons, threads, crochet lace and shiny knick-knacks. She then lays out all her bits and pieces next to the different fabrics, and waits. Sooner or later, clarity emerges and the clothes assemble themselves in her mind, then on the drawing board and, finally, in the workshops of Delhi. Each dress is a canvas on which she threads enchanted gardens with leaves made of satin, sequin swans, and birds embroidered with tiny crystals. As I go over her work I am reminded of another fantasy land, from that old Beatles’ song, and in her dresses I see “tangerine trees and marmalade skies … and flowers that grow so incredibly high …” Some of the creations that are born here will be worn by women as unique as Julie’s dresses. Others are scheduled to be exhibited, as works of art that just happen to be clothes, in Norway in 2014. And when she is not working her magic on fabric, Julie is creating a new kind of magic—with her camera: Her first book of photographs, taken mainly in Delhi, was just published.   s

pablo bartholomew /

‘Princess of Spain’

courtesy julie skarland

Each dress is a canvas on which she threads enchanted gardens with leaves made of satin, sequin swans, and birds embroidered with tiny crystals.

‘Quelqu’n M’a Dit’

‘Until Morning’

May 2012 '70


The Real Housewife of Paris by Gaby Wood

May 2012 '70



loic venance / afp photo


above Salma Hayek arrives for the closing ceremony of the Cannes Film Festival in 2010.

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ince marrying François-Henri Pinault, Chairman, PPR, one of the world’s largest luxury goods holding company, Salma Hayek has found a new life as icon and ambassador for the greatest fashion houses of Paris. Salma Hayek has been getting down to business. She had just arrived at our photo shoot in Paris, makeup-free, hair bundled up into a Rasta-like knitted cap, when she sat next to the photographer on the couch, going through pictures they were using as reference points. The Xeroxed photos were provocatively sexy—Romy Schneider looking pained and delirious, Catherine Deneuve pulling her camisole down for Helmut Newton, a bare-bottomed model leaning over a fur coat on a balcony—but this seemed to bother Hayek not at all. She examined them almost as if she were the producer of the shoot rather than the subject. There was (as is customary) a slight nervousness in the room about what she would turn out to be like to work with, what she would or wouldn’t agree to. First of all, she apologised: most of these images were of women with cigarettes dangling from their lips, but she had a rule about not smoking in pictures. Fine; a lit match was decided upon instead. With all eyes on her, she continued to leaf through until she got to the naked backside. She stopped, and briskly slapped the pile of pictures down on her lap. “OK,” she said, keeping an entirely straight face, “what I can do is put a cigarette in my ass. I don’t think that sets a bad example, do you?” Inevitably, everyone was in stitches, and it was apparent straightaway that this was Hayek’s gift: she’s funny and rude and can win over all manner of people in record time. Sometimes her laughter, which came easily, was low and breathy, like a throwback to girlhood, and yet her speech had a grown-up, rugged quality to it, a combination of warmth and skepticism that draws you in quickly—as if to say, before anything is even in question: You and me, we’re not going to fall for any bull, are we? Hayek has devoted herself with extreme focus to what amounts to several careers: Mexican soap star, Hollywood movie star, producer, Oscar nominee, redcarpet glamazon, outspoken activist. Yet by far the most significant roles in her life are not even on that list: the role of wife to François-Henri Pinault, CEO of the luxury conglomerate PPR, and mother to their three-year-old daughter, Valentina. Two years ago, Hayek and Pinault got married—twice. Once privately, on Valentine’s Day, and then later

stephane cardinale / people avenue / corbis


in Venice, in a lavish, star-studded ceremony for which she wore a Grace Kelly-esque dress designed by Nicolas Ghesquière. The pair met five years ago, in circumstances she preferred to keep to herself, and, she said, he proposed early. “We kept it a secret. Because it was like: how are we gonna do it? The first thing I panicked about was moving. I got scared. I said: ‘I’m not moving to Paris to be a housewife.’ And he said: ‘Fine, we’ll be different.’ It’s sort of exciting to have a different kind of marriage.” Hayek shifted into a gravelly voice. “He knew I was going to end up here, but he said the right thing! Before I knew it I was spending most of my time here, and I love it.” Nevertheless, I suggested, she had hardly just moved to Paris and become a housewife. There was a pause. Hayek turned to me with quiet indignation. “No, you’re wrong,” she said. “I am a housewife. Do you cook every night for your husband? I do. I am most definitely a housewife. And a good one, I must say!” Pinault, she explained, doesn’t like to have a lot of people in the house. “He’s very low key. Our life is great and glamorous in many ways, and in many ways—in the good ways—it’s very homey.” I asked, rather naïvely, if she felt she had left her wild

days behind, and I got one of her The most significant signature raised eyebrows by way of reply. roles in her life are “Define ‘wild’,” she said. not even on that A bit of background: their New Year in 2010 had been spent in St Barths, list: the role of wife finally accepting an oft-repeated to François-Henri invitation from their good friend the venture capitalist Vivi Nevo to Pinault, CEO of the come and stay. The three of them went, spent the evening with Valluxury conglomerate entina, then hit the parties: Roman PPR, and mother Abramovich’s, Paul Allen’s. They hung out with her good friends to their threeDemi Moore and Ashton Kutcher. “It was crazy,” she says. “So many year-old daughter, people, so many parties. I’m so glad Valentina. we did it, but I like to relax. Next holiday it’s back to the private beach.” Possibly as part of her new, self-imposed marital duties, Hayek has begun to appear above Salma Hayek, with husband François-Henri in the front row of shows whose designers work for Pinault, at the French PPR: she wears Stella McCartney at Stella McCart- Open in Paris in 2011. ney, YSL at YSL, Balenciaga at Balenciaga, and so on. This apparent ambassadorship has been much remarked upon, but Hayek said she doesn’t feel she has to be the group’s spokeswoman at all. She May 2012 '70

eric ryan / getty images

eric ryan / getty images


simply hates to shop, and knowing the designers makes life a whole lot easier. “Let’s be honest, they’re great clothes,” she said. “And for events, if you have McQueen, Balenciaga, Stella McCartney, YSL, Bottega Veneta—and you have relationships with the designers, of course I do it. But if I didn’t like the clothes, you would not catch me dead in them.” Essentially, Hayek has married the world’s best wardrobe. It’s safe to say that it’s been some time since she woke up and thought, I have nothing to wear. Still, dressing for the man who owns that wardrobe has presented some problems: “I want to come down the stairs and have him go, ‘Wow,’ and not, ‘Oh yeah, I saw that in the office.’ Or: ‘It looked better on the model.’” So she mixes things up. She likes Lanvin and Giambattista Valli; she thinks Roland Mouret is great for curvy women, and she adores Alaïa, “who, by the way, spoils me to death—François sometimes gets jealous, except that he loves me in his clothes too!” Once upon a time, Salma Hayek was flat-chested. I suppose that’s true of everyone, but she claimed to have been a late developer. A few years ago, she told David Letterman that as a preteen she had gone into a church with her mother, dipped her hands in holy water, crossed them over her chest and prayed for breasts. “And,” she concluded innocently, “he gave them to me.” She hasn’t tended to hide those assets since, yet they’re not typical of the runways. It’s the reason why she likes designers like Alaïa, who “understand a woman’s body”. Stella McCartney, who first dressed Hayek long before she and Pinault became an item, clearly recalled the initial encounter in Hayek’s hotel. “We had a bit of a challenge, as Salma needs quite a bit of structure in her clothes,” she told me, “and she knows exactly what she wants and needs, which is a delight and quite rare. The first thing that struck me was her personality—she had such strength, she seemed like such a contained lady physically, yet so expressive and full of energy!” Nicolas Ghesquière characterised her as “an imaginative partner”, and remembered that when he was designing her wedding dress, Hayek came “with her own ideas, but at the same time dared to receive new ideas”. '70 May 2012

left Salma Hayek and François-Henri Pinault attend the Yves Saint Laurent show during the Paris Fashion Week in October 2010. far left Hayek and Pinault with their daughter, Valentina, at the Frimousses de Createurs auction in Paris in December 2007.

Hayek has taken on the project of imShe recently unveiled pressing Pinault, a man who she said has a “magnificent eye”, as her own beauty line, fixedly as she has dedicated herself Nuance. It had been to other pursuits. “Having someone who appreciates fashion makes a secret project for you excited about getting dressed,” six or seven years, she said. “I think that if I was with someone else I wouldn’t enjoy it as and, she said, this much. It’s a challenge.” She smiled mischievously. “You have to be good. was the first time And I don’t like to have a stylist. Beshe had spoken cause if he likes it, I want him to be proud of me and not think, the stylabout it. ist did a good job. That’s not sexy!” Toward the end of the shoot, Valentina was dropped off by her nanny. All day, Hayek had been telling stories about how her daughter had a mind of her own, giving the impression that she had bred a miniature iconoclast, and it seemed only fitting that she should have. Despite the disorienting atmosphere of large-scale lighting equipment and miscellaneous strangers, Valentina—who speaks Spanish, French and English (because English is the language her parents speak to each other in)—settled into a chair opposite her mother and pulled each of Hayek’s toes. “It popped!” she cried gleefully when one of them clicked. Hayek changed into her last outfit of the day—a black McQueen pantsuit with a short skirt attached and a lace body. “I’m so glad you came,” she told Valentina in Spanish as she put on the clothes. “I was beginning to miss you. I’ve been thinking of you all day. Have you been thinking of me?” Valentina considered this. “No,” she said amiably. “But I did think of you when I was falling asleep.” A few days later we met for coffee in the Café de Flore on Boulevard Saint-Germain. Hayek entered discreetly—her 5-foot-2 frame must occasionally come in handy—in a bottle green Balenciaga sweater, black jeans and black boots. Her hair was combed back in a loose braid and she wore gold earrings that hooped round in an interrupted swirl. Although she keeps a house in Los Angeles, she barely goes there anymore. She spends at least six months


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left Salma Hayek with actor Emily Blunt at the Yves Saint Laurent show during the Paris Fashion Week in October 2011.

eric ryan / getty images

of the year in Paris, and another four accompanying her husband on business trips. She takes Valentina everywhere, and reasoned that home is wherever your family is. The arrangement does mean that although she has been in talks to star in a Hollywood comedy, she mostly looks for work that keeps her close by. And so she has been making more films in Europe. If there are no second acts in American lives, evidently there are at least 10 in the lives of Mexicans who are half-Lebanese. It’s almost dizzying to think back: having studied international relations, Hayek became the eponymous star of a popular Mexican soap opera, then threw in that particular towel in order to start all over again in Hollywood. She became Robert Rodriguez’s semiclad protégée, and the curvaceous half of a celebrity couple when she dated Edward Norton. She then produced and starred in Frida, pulling off a passionate project of hers that many had failed at. She went on to produce the TV series Ugly Betty, and now has a production deal with ABC to make the small screen version of Wicked. Oh, and she has been putting together an animated film of Kahlil Gibran’s global bestseller The Prophet. “It’s exhausting!” she sighed. “It’s exhausting to be a woman in the 21st century.” Well, what advice did she have to offer? “Nothing. I want someone to give me advice. I just take it one day at a time. And some days I say: ‘OK, I’m not that good at any of this and today I’m on strike. Deal with it, guys.’” Hayek did, however, have one womankind-saving trick up her sleeve. She recently unveiled her own beauty line, Nuance. It had been a secret project for six or seven years, and, she said in early 2011, this was the first time she had spoken about it. “I always wanted to do this,” Hayek said, “because my grandmother, who was a beauty, she died at 96 with no wrinkles. And you should see my mother! We have some family secrets.... Have you heard of tepezcohuite?” A brief pause to supply information about your humble reporter. My mother is Mexican too, and I have spent my life laughing every time she suggested one of these remedies, invariably some kind of cactus or tree bark with a complicated Aztec name, or, memorably, using a particular seashell to make freckles evaporate. But of course now even I use tepezcohuite to heal burns—because it really does work—and it’s my children’s turn to laugh at me. So it was somewhat surreal to sit opposite a movie star in the Café de Flore in Paris, listening to her tell me about things that took me back to my Mexican childhood, and even prompting her on what the next ingredient in the battle for healthy hair or wrinkle prevention might be. “You know how if you burn the stone of the mamey fruit and rub it on your eyelashes it makes them grow?” Hayek said. I nodded. Are you using concha nacar? I asked.

“Concha nacar—of course! As a lightening cream— that’s our next step.” She leaned across the table in conspiratorial excitement: “And we’re not even claiming some of the things I know this stuff can do!” The logical leap Hayek had made was that if, for instance, tepezcohuite can regenerate skin so fast that it’s used in hospital burn units, why isn’t it used in moisturizer? All the secrets passed down from her grandmother involved ingredients that were natural, cheap and readily available in Mexico. The whole project said a good deal about her character: First, take zany-sounding, family-heirloom beauty tips. Then put in a lot of research work over several years. And finally, reject any ingredient that raises the price point too high. Hayek could have produced the most exclusive range imaginable—a whole new PPR brand to herself, say—but she wanted the most democratic, so the company she chose to team up with is the American drugstore chain CVS. It was time to pick up Valentina from nursery. Hayek’s driver helped us into her SUV and took us a few blocks away, where we watched Valentina play with her “boyfriend”, a boy called Cruz who had lived in Argentina most of his life. They squealed with excitement as Hayek chatted with Cruz’s mother, Cecile. At a certain moment, the question of whether it’s too late to have more children cropped up. Hayek told Cecile that she’s 44. Cecile was floored. She looked at me. I knew she was 44, I said, but that’s because I’m writing an article about her. It’s true: she had the skin of a 25-year-old. Cecile remained confused. “So you must not drink wine?” she suggested. Hayek gave her an are-you-crazy look. “Chica,” she said, “I didn’t marry a Frenchman for nothing!”   s © The New York Times 2011





hen I went to see Abhijeet Singh in November 2011, I knew just one thing about him—he had worn a coat made of gold to his winter wedding in December 2010. The coat—a feat in couture—was designed by his maternal uncle and one of India’s best-known designers: Raghavendra Rathore. I was there to find out more: How is such a coat—an achkan, to be precise—made? Why would someone want to commission such a coat? In a country with impossible contradictions, what does wearing a golden achkan say about a person, beyond what can be inferred by its cost alone? The answer to the last question lies in how Abhijeet Singh and Raghavendra Rathore’s ancestral past is reflected in their present lives, and how they use it to shape their futures. My quest to understand the meaning of the Golden Achkan took me to a place where design celebrates haute couture’s insatiable desire to create exquisite, exclusive perfection, and becomes uniquely Indian by crossing over into the realm of Rajput legacy. Sitting across the table from Singh, it is hard to relate my image of a man in a gaudy golden coat to the discreetly elegant fellow with impeccable manners and a very bright smile, who looks far younger than his 39 years. Simply clad in a smart, casual navy blue T-shirt and jeans, he tells me that '70 May 2012

My quest to understand the meaning of the Golden Achkan took me to a place where design celebrates haute couture’s insatiable desire to create exquisite, exclusive perfection, and becomes uniquely Indian by crossing over into the realm of Rajput legacy.

he is particular about what he wears, but not brand conscious. He is just as particular about time, he says, pausing while the waiter pours our coffees. His preferred coffee shop—Emperor’s Lounge at the Taj Mahal Hotel—is dignified and understated. It is located inside a five-star hotel that prides itself on its address—Number One Mansingh Road. The road runs through the heart of Lutyens’ Delhi, the seat of Indian democracy, but was named after Maharaja Man Singh I of Amer (later Jaipur), a dynasty related to Abhijeet’s forefathers by marriage. The story of Abhijeet Singh’s ancestry runs alongside modern Indian history. His paternal grandfather, Tribhuvan Pratap Singh, was an ICS officer, India’s first finance secretary, and a landlord from the Kachhawa clan of the Rajputs. During the heydays of the freedom struggle, Tribhuvan’s wife Madhuri Singh’s home in Bihar hosted leaders like Gandhi and Nehru. Rumour has it that his landholdings were so prodigious that the Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Act, 1976  was enacted with specifically him in mind. Whether or not this is true, once the act came into force, Abhijeet’s father, Nand Kishore Singh, a post-

graduate from the prestigious Delhi School of Economics and a teacher of Economics at the equally prestigious St Stephen’s College, joined the Indian Administrative Service in 1964, going on to become one of India’s leading public figures—as a politician, a Member of Parliament; as a bureaucrat, a finance secretary of the Planning Commission and an Officer on Special Duty at the Prime Minister’s Office; and as an economist, a high-flier with connections among the biggest of corporates. Abhijeet’s maternal grandfather, Hari Singh, from the Rathore dynasty of Rajputs, was the brother of Hanwant Singh, who ruled the princely state of Jodhpur from the time of its accession to the Indian Union in 1947 until 1952, when, dissatisfied with the state of the Indian Union, he contested the general elections, but died in a mysterious plane crash on the very day he was declared the winner. Hari Singh died young, too, but he lived a full life, one of the highlights of which was his wedding in 1947—an affair, recorded at length in National Geographic, as grand as Rajputana had ever seen. On this momentous day, Hari Singh wore a coat made of gold. May 2012 '70


Decades later, in November 2010, his grandson commissioned a wedding coat just like the one worn by Hari Singh. But while Hari Singh’s golden coat had blended seamlessly with the pageantry of his era, the meaning of Abhijeet Singh’s anachronistic achkan has been complicated by all that has since come to pass. In the year that Hari Singh was married, the amalgam of 565 princely states and British India made way for a federal democracy based on socialist ideals. Barely a quarter-century later, the last ceremonial import of subcontinental royalty ended when monarchical titles and privy purses were abolished in 1971. Abhijeet Singh, like his parents, married at the Umaid Bhawan Palace, the spectacular, Art Deco, gold-hued, layered-sandstone, 26-acre residential premises of the erstwhile rulers of Jodhpur, which is, with its 347 rooms, one of the world’s largest private homes. A part of the palace was converted to a hotel in 1972 to raise money for its gargantuan maintenance. Unlike when Abhijeet’s parents were married with exclusivist pomp, 64 rooms and suites can today be rented out by, and to, anybody who is willing to pay a nightly minimum of R28,000 for a ‘Historical’ single-bed to R660,000 for a ‘Grand Presidential’ single-bed. “The crucial difference between then and now is that now everyone fancies a king’s lifestyle,” says Abhijeet, “and has access to it.” Despite the faint undertone of nostalgia in this comment, it is apparent that Abhijeet Singh is firmly rooted in the present. The St Stephen’s College and Columbia University alumnus is a successful first-generation entrepreneur. Having begun his career as an investment banker with Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs, he went on to start a firm trading in chemicals and gradually expanded his business to include the manufacture of automobile parts. He has recently invested in the education sector by building private schools. When Abhijeet speaks of his lineage, he betrays no air of superiority, only a sense of belonging. His idea of his legacy is intensely personal, even reserved, so much so that he is as reluctant to discuss the values he grew up with as he is to name the cars he has in his collection. Why, then, would he choose to get married in such an ostentatious coat? I think of his observation above as soon as I ask myself this question. As he pointed out, the meaning of India’s royal past has been reduced to an aspirational lifestyle. When almost everybody wants to live like royalty, how does the actual blue-blood of yore conjure up its own style? Moreover—to borrow from Oscar Wilde—how do you create a thing of true worth in a world populated by cynics “who [know] the price of everything and the value of nothing”? Singh’s quest led him to his royal maternal uncle, the designer Raghavendra Rathore, who happens to be 13th in the present line of succession of the headship of the Rathore clan—if that eventuality were ever, miraculously, to come to pass—and who enthusiastically agreed to craft the precious achkan. Ancient Rajput custom dictates that the material for the groom’s attire is to be gifted by the bride’s family. Supportive of Abhijeet’s desire to pay homage to his grandfather’s legacy at his wedding, his future in-laws from the erstwhile kingdom of Idar (now Himmatnagar in Gujarat) dug out an heirloom: an 80-year-old length of cloth made of gold thread. Raghavendra Rathore was faced with the tricky task of working with this old, fragile, valuable material. Reinforcing it was the first of many challenges. He sought out artisans from Varanasi whose ancestors had spun the cloth for Hari Singh and entrusted them with the task of strengthening the weave. But the ex'70 May 2012

Singh’s quest led him to his royal maternal uncle, the designer Raghavendra Rathore, who happens to be 13th in the present line of succession of the headship of the Rathore clan—if that eventuality were ever, miraculously, to come to pass—and who enthusiastically agreed to craft the precious achkan.

pertise had apparently dissipated over the years. “The result was ghastly,” says Rathore, recalling that he had to begin work anew. This time, he got artisans from Jaipur and Old Delhi to work on building heft into the brocade—adding new gold-thread weave to the old while keeping a close watch to ensure that the tones matched. The paan, or motif, and the borders were embroidered separately and then appliquéd on to the finished brocade. Rathore replicated the entire process of embroidery to ensure that the final patterns were nothing short of perfect. Once the gold fringes had been added to finish and tack the paan and borders, the achkan was ready to be cut and stitched into shape. But greater challenges awaited him at this final stage. Rathore had to modernise not just the look and finish of the achkan, but also its fit. Hari Singh’s original was worn tight, almost like a second skin, in keeping with the trend of the times. A fit like that could only be carried off by a man with a bevy of attendants to run his errands while he himself maintained a perpendicular propriety. Abhijeet’s achkan, on the other hand, had to be tailored to his body shape, with ample room at the back for movement. But so difficult was this material that, despite precise measurements, it ended up looking like a gladiator’s costume at the first fitting. The cut apart, Rathore also worked on making the achkan as com-


fortable as possible—with Singh’s feedback during trials. Several versions later, the achkan finally emerged as Abhijeet wanted it. “Not many clients would volunteer to dress in a fabric like this,” explains Rathore. But Abhijeet Singh was quite literally up to shouldering the weight of his legacy. Weighing more than eight kilos, the achkan was not the easiest thing to wear. Rathore could not help being a tad nervous. Engineering this jacket had been nothing short of a nail-biting adventure—coordinating the whole process over different cities and workshops, guarding the precious raw material against theft and destruction, and racing to tie it all up on time. But the trial wasn’t over yet. Mounting and dismounting gracefully from a horse was just one of the many tricky rituals the groom had to perform in his suit on the wedding day. Rathore watched over Abhijeet carefully. Even as the man of the moment slipped into a vintage Buick beige-and-maroon convertible that was the pace car for his baraat—wedding procession—Rathore leapt to pull the achkan from under Singh to prevent it from stretching and possibly tearing on the awkwardly designed seats. From its conceptualisation to this timely save, the achkan fulfilled every possible meaning of haute couture—its creation set a new benchmark for high-end bespoke designer wear. But as with Abhijeet, Rathore’s idea behind this coat was greater than the straightforward idea of haute couture. Rathore is a serious, handsome man—polite, but withdrawn. Style was always integral to his sense of his own legacy. His greatgrandfather, Maharaja Sir Sardar Singh, who ruled Jodhpur from 1880 to 1911, had an out-of-the-box personal style that was widely emulated. He re-designed the way the turban was worn, with the longer tail and neat pleats in front—a distinct style now associated with Jodhpur. The strikingly handsome king drew his sartorial inspirations from literature in Persian, the language of the court in those days. Rathore grew up hearing stories of Sardar Singh, and was witness to his extended family’s indefatigable love of design—whether architectural, scientific or personal. But the 44-year-old designer was made aware very early in life that he would inhabit a world vastly different from the one he was born into. In the early 1970s, after the Indian government controversially abolished royal titles and privy purses, the extended nobility felt the heat of a new world that was forging itself rather forcefully. It was in those trying times that Rathore’s father, Maharaja Swaroop Singh, of whom he speaks a lot, made him see that he would have to find his own way. On a visit to a Coca-Cola factory, he drew his son’s attention to how packaging and branding could turn a dark, vile-looking, fizzy liquid into an object of desire. It was an observation that Rathore has held on to. Swaroop Singh also encouraged his son to stay in touch with village life in India, even after the boy moved to Parsons School of Design in New York. There, Rathore led a very different life to the one he was used to. He did the sort of odd jobs that might well be considered below par for nobility. New York shaped Rathore’s idea of fashion. But it was at the Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur, where his ancestors had lived for centuries, that Rathore hosted his first solo show, which set the tone for the future of his brand. Soon, Rathore would bring the quintessential Jodhpur attire of bandhgalas and breeches to the ramp. But as in life, so in design, Rathore has always interpreted tradition in his own way. His signature style has neither subscribed to the gilded aesthetic lazily associated with Indian royalty, nor the bright colour palate ascribed to Rajasthan. Yet he has never stopped looking for ways to bring back weaves, cuts and fabrics '70 May 2012

from pre-Independence India. One could have expected that when Rathore turned to gold it would be for a reason. Indian design is almost as difficult to define as the idea of India. Innumerable influences have merged seamlessly to form its complex and yet uncharted DNA within which lies the invaluable blueprint of Indian history. The contribution of Indian royalty to the evolution of both history and design is by no means paltry. From the humble sari to not-so-humble jewellery—royals provided inspiration for everything from dressing at home to popularising Indian designs abroad. But this contribution and the passion behind it was lost in the winds of change that swept away the political power and economic stability that had created a top-down design tradition. Many of these royals languished— some, rather pathetically, failed to reinvent their lives. Abhijeet Singh and Raghavendra Rathore are among those who made it through unscathed. Both of them speak of the future and its boundless promises with infectious enthusiasm, but they also speak of rebuilding the severed bridge that can connect it to the bequest of the past.

Not many clients would volunteer to dress in a fabric like this, explains Rathore. But Abhijeet Singh was quite literally up to shouldering the weight of his legacy. Weighing over eight kilos, the achkan was not the easiest thing to wear.

The Golden Achkan is a glittering beacon of this dream. The methodology of its making, now perfected, is being applied to clothes and products that Rathore’s design house is creating. By modernising a vintage design, Rathore is not just keeping his past alive but also seeking to make it available to designers and historians of the future. For Abhijeet Singh, the significance of this achkan is, largely, personal. His eyes glaze over with emotion when he talks about it. It is a symbol of familial intimacy, a marker of his identity and a tangible piece of his past. Singh believes that the creation of legacy is the hallmark of success and he is looking forward to handing over the achkan to his children one day, along with the stories that come with it. What his detractors might make of its ostentation does not bother him. He says that it is impossible for him to think of the Golden Achkan as a monetary investment—if at all, indeed, an assessor can put a value on it. In fact, neither he nor Rathore can tell me how much the coat is worth; they say that there is no record of how much was spent on it, given that both the material and the design services were, so to speak, inhouse. Abhijeet is now focused on preserving his wedding finery. His grandfather’s jacket was destroyed over time and he is determined that his will not meet the same fate. “If it were to catch fire,” he says, “all that would remain is a heap of gold.”   s Pragya Tiwari is a freelance writer, co-director of Balcony TV Delhi and the editor of an upcoming film magazine called The Big Indian Picture.


above At the DLF Emporio luxury shopping mall in Vasant Kunj. opposite page Ameeta Seth, daughter of cigar king Chetan Seth, at the Cingari – The Tasting Room. Lynsey Addario has freelanced for the New York Times, National Geographic, and TIME, covering feature stories worldwide. '70 May 2012


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clockwise from above Designer Malini Ramani stands in the bathroom of the Park Hotel during a birthday party for Sethu Vaidyanathan, the husband of Priya Paul, whose family owns the chain of Park Hotels. Novelist Ira Trivedi drinks champagne during the birthday party for Sethu Vaidyanathan. Guests mingle at a party thrown for the designer Jimmy Choo at the restaurant Blue Ginger in Taj Palace Hotel.

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clockwise from above Socialite and model Priya Sachdev at the opening of artist Subodh Gupta’s show at the Gallery Nature Morte in Niti Bagh. Guests socialise at Gallery Nature Morte. Subodh Gupta stands next to his installation ‘Atta’ at the opening of his exhibition.

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above Koel Purie of the celebrity chat show ‘On the couch with Koel’ poses on the said couch in the reception area of the channel Headlines Today’s office at the Videocon Tower, Jhandewalan. opposite page A lunch get-together (left to right: Kavita Ghai, make-up artist; Anu Kukreja, fashion designer; Reema Chawla, housewife; Binny Ghai, jewelry designer; Shalini Cochhar, restaurateur) at DLF Emporio.

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clockwise from above Socialite and vice-president, marketing and communications, of Christian Dior Couture India, Kalyani Chawla in a Dior gown stands alongside her daughter in front of her house in Delhi. Jewellery designer Hanut Singh sits with his two dogs, Jet Set and Kishmish, at his home. Socialite Anjalie Chawla at her house.

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above Snigdha Bhasin, 17, left, and Shimareet Bhasin, 22, sit in their father’s 1933 Morris Major at the Jaipur Polo Grounds in South Delhi. opposite page Delhi socialites meet for a brunch at a farmhouse on the outskirts of Delhi.

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delhi press images


e start this story not at the beginning but somewhere in the middle, for this is when we take the red pill and jolt into consciousness with one question: “Was Akshay Kumar’s mullet really real?” Before this in-between moment that changed everything, the men in Hindi films ran about with untamed chest hair, or with clothes designed for Riverdale, in movies with plots just as fantastic. Women’s wardrobes were, meanwhile, stuck between directors who missed the early 1980s and directors who missed the late 1980s. The more fortunate women kept personal designers who did not bother with context, or had their star mothers pick something, anything. Barring a few memorable films, it was all pretty dowdy. So here’s what happened. In 2001, a couple of months before September 11, a mainstream movie named Dil Chahta Hai came out. It was three hours long and advertised eight songs, and that is where its resemblance to other Hindi movies ended. From the time the trailers were out, the movie acquired a reputation for looking like nothing that had come before (and, for a while, anything that came after). On either side of its release were sappy love stories and family sagas and snarling action heroes. It stood by itself: three young friends just out of college who hung out, fell out, and came together again. The first— and in the end, the deepest—impression it made was a visual one. Its actors wore everyday clothes, and those clothes complimented scene backgrounds, and they had tamed hair. The actors—Aamir Khan, Saif Ali Khan and Akshaye Khanna— played believable characters, and their unhurried, untucked style meshed naturally with the movie’s pretence. Dil Chahta Hai gave rise to the filmic portrayal of an urban style that producers and directors had steered clear of until then. It also made slacker films a legitimate endeavour. After its release, Arjun Bhasin, the film’s stylist, was often accosted with offers to replicate his work. “That happens, no?” he said to me this January in Mumbai. Dil Chahta Hai had been so unique, he said, that even though he had done much work in the dozen years since its release, he was still introduced as the guy who had styled the generative movie. Arjun had originally wanted to direct movies, leaving India in the early 1990s to study filmmaking at New York University. But there he gradually turned away from the constraints of the technicalities of film direction and drifted to the blank canvas of styling. His first professional assignment was as a costume assistant to Lovleen Bains, the renowned clothes designer, on Mira Nair’s Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love (1996). Here he met the director Zoya Akhtar, who at the time was casting extras

Akshay Kumar and Shilpa Shetty in a song from the 1994 film Main Khiladi Tu Anari.

From the time the trailers were out, Dil Chahta Hai acquired a reputation for looking like nothing that had come before (and, for a while, anything that came after). May 2012 '70


while doubling as one of the film’s several courtesans. They hit it off, and hung out later during her visits to New York. On one such occasion, Farhan Akhtar, Zoya’s brother, turned up and began discussing, in Arjun’s recollection, a movie that wasn’t about “a farmer killing Pakistanis”. Farhan told Arjun that he “totally had to style this film”. I asked Arjun if he had hesitated, given Farhan’s inexperience. “We were all in our early twenties,” Arjun said, “and Farhan was, like, ‘Let’s do this,’ and I said, ‘Yeah!’” The work and the enthusiasm, Arjun said, “were the thing”. Before filming began, Arjun was sent to Bhuj in Gujarat (“Straight from New York. It was a shock.”) to meet Aamir Khan to see if their planets aligned. Aamir was at the faux village of Champaner—the set of Lagaan in Jam Kunaria village—a half-hour drive from Bhuj, and Arjun remembered him dancing on the roof of a hut until dawn. He met Aamir at daybreak, and explained to the actor that since he would play a regular guy, he’d be styled according to the character brief. It was quite a gamble for a reigning star like Aamir Khan to shed an over-the-top persona, but—having already begun his journey toward nonconformism—Aamir was excited by the approach. “Before Dil Chahta Hai,” the fashion journalist Rochelle Pinto told me, “film fashion always had to be outrageous, always larger than life. A film star had to look like a film star. But this movie made its actors look like a more polished, more appealing version of the people you see on the street.” Bandana Tewari, Fashion Features Director at Vogue India, made a similar point in an email to me: “None of the actresses and actors in DCH had that oomph associated with 80s and 90s and actresses like Sridevi and later, Kajol and Karishma Kapoor. This movie pioneered the unaffected clothing of urban India that would rather hide behind nondescript clothing and style than be overtly identifiable for wearing ‘costumes’.”

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above A still from Mira Nair’s Kamasutra: A Tale of Love (1996), with which Arjun Bhasin started his career as a stylist. bottom (left to right) Sharman Joshi, Kunal Kapoor, Siddharth, Atul Kulkarni and Aamir Khan as college students in the film Rang De Basanti (2006).


This attention to a new language of style in the early 2000s was part of an ongoing revolution in Hindi cinema that had recently witnessed the relative decline of unidentifiable funds, or black money, the introduction of professionals who sought to change Bollywood’s business practices, and changing cinematic tastes. A reel of new directors had begun showing up at film production houses and television channels with scripts and ideas born in reality. When the director Ram Gopal Varma, for instance, announced that one of his film productions would not contain songs, it confirmed suspicions that no one knew what the new world looked like, but that the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria had set sail. I asked Arjun whether directors and producers had begun, at the time, to be influenced by cultures beamed down after 1992. “They were always watching Kurosawa and movies made elsewhere, so they knew,” Arjun said. In his opinion, Dil Chahta Hai showed filmmakers that audiences were ready. “Also, in the ‘90s,” he went on, “you couldn’t pull references from anywhere, you couldn’t get the variety of clothes that you get now.” Post DCH, movies started to have a separate budget for style, which involved tough negotiations between the producer and the stylist. “You had to break each scene down, put down what kind of shirt you need, what coat you need, and you give them an estimate, saying here’s how much this scene will cost. It [the estimate] ran to over a hundred pages, and the producers would say, ‘We don’t have a budget for that,’ so I [would] tell them, ‘Okay, we can change this or that around, or he’ll have to wear that in two scenes,’” Arjun said to me about that era. The deal for DCH, Arjun said, was very straightforward, with each character assigned a corresponding palette. Aakash, played by Aamir, developed into a formal personality, so his “palette” was blue and silver. “Akshaye Khanna was this artist, so his was messy, shabby, cotton, linen, very painterly.” The emergence of a new aesthetic in Hindi cinema has its roots in the “employment of professional stylists in movies”, Tewari wrote in the email. “They are now given specific budgets and access to top stars in order to help them look the part.” But what appears a norm today was a strange practice a decade ago. The first days of the new style age, which began in 2001, were marked by a glaring lack of direction and imagination. The style missteps of the stars were excruciatingly reported in the media, which was undergoing an explosion in numbers and looking to Bollywood for content; like with cricket, everyone had an opinion on Aishwarya Rai’s outfits at Cannes. “This led to the first five years of ‘manufactured’ looks and personalities,” Tewari said. “All the actresses looked like each other and a homogenisation of the idea of beauty took place. All girls straightened their hair, wore contact lenses and stylists flew to London and Bangkok to shop for their clothes.” But in the following years, as the domestic fashion industry came into its own, and joined forces with Bollywood, our films started to move towards an aesthetic purple zone, where clothes no longer stood out, where period dramas (Jodhaa Akbar, 2008) had clothes from that period, where actors dressed simply in films about the hinterland (Welcome to Sajjanpur, 2008). New styles were introduced and nascent ones amplified, bringing them to a young audience eager to try on something new. In the words of a fashion observer, “People could look at this and say, ‘Hey, I can wear that.’” A telling example of this trend was Kareena Kapoor’s outfit of a T-shirt and Patiala pants in Imtiaz Ali’s Jab '70 May 2012

right Aishwarya Rai at the opening ceremony of the Cannes Film Festival in 2003; Aishwarya arrives for a movie premiere during the 2003 festival; Aishwarya poses with actors Gong Li and Laetitia Casta before the opening ceremony of the Cannes 2004.


above (left to right) Ira Dubey, Sonam Kapoor and Amrita Puri in a promotional photo for the film Aisha (2010).

We Met that became an instant rage among college students all over the country. Revived by fashion, Bollywood gradually became the major channel for its propagation. “Retail has been greatly influenced by films,” Tewari said. “Today, retail chains play an active role from the script stage … Actors and actresses are also seen endorsing high street brands and promoting the clothes as much as the films.” Required to appear in public often and at short notice, Bollywood stars’ personal attitudes to style changed. Being dressed in a movie was one thing, but outside it, stars were earlier less sure of themselves. Rochelle Pinto recalled that stars would call their designers and ask them to create “ten clothes” for special events. Their dictates didn’t take the weather into account, or the setting, or any protocol. Suddenly, she said, stars found themselves exposed to the harsh glare of the national and the international press, and had no other option but to deliver on the expectations. “Given that Aishwarya was at Cannes—and the only Indian there—it became a national debate.” As it turned out, in subsequent years at Cannes, Aishwarya turned up with an ever-improving wardrobe, winning back some of her fiercest critics over time. All the while, cinema kept changing. India kept changing. Television and real life kept changing. Film analysts often use the term ‘global exposure’ to explain why Indian cinema has changed so rapidly, but in the case of film style, some genuinely '70 May 2012

When the director Ram Gopal Varma announced that one of his film productions would not contain songs, it confirmed suspicions that no one knew what the new world looked like, but that the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria had set sail.

believe that as Indian stars opened themselves up to Western influences, their personal sense of style grew more complex, and definitely more assured. Rochelle pointed to Kareena, who went from what I perceive as perfectly normal to something that Rochelle called “size zero”. About the past few years in Bollywood, she said, “the whole emphasis was on being very fit. On wearing revealing clothing without being titillating. She no longer wanted to wear what everyone else was wearing. Suddenly there was competition. Everybody started losing weight and coming out with fitness DVDs. They began to talk about how much they were eating, what they were drinking.” And in at least one case, what they were smoking. In early February, Hrithik Roshan, an actor known to appear in camera shots that end no lower than his waist, announced in a paid Mumbai supplement that he had given up smoking, and that if he could, so could everyone else. This was no different from any other “determined star reforms himself” story, and yet it was, because the subjects of food, clothing and yoga were already taken by his peers. But, more seriously, the announcement represented the growing confidence of Bollywood stars; they could now put themselves out there without any fear of damage, and in many cases, expect to see rewards for the perceived risk of admitting a weakness to the public. This confidence led to stars taking the style narrative to the next level. “They were more willing to experiment. Not every designer now makes saris. They now make funky, forward-thinking stuff. It’s not like we constantly need to look abroad now. Now there’s lots of interesting stuff happening here,” Rochelle said. But the same confidence, some would say, also led to an overemphasis on style—increasingly, at the cost of substance. What started in the mid-2000s with Sanjay Gupta’s movies, which touted sunglasses and funky belts for a script, crested in 2010 with Aisha, not a vehicle as much as a chariot for the human product placement named Sonam Kapoor. And in between was Tashan (2008), a film with magnificent clothes, a sense of fun, but not much else. In a recent essay in the weekly magazine Open, film critic Anupama Chopra asked, “When did styling become a substitute for script?” She wrung out of Karan Johar, the director and fashion frontrunner, this observation: “Nine out of ten movies get it all wrong because everyone is aspiring and emulating but not thinking. It’s all very well to reference a fashion magazine or video, but finally you have to look at who is wearing the clothes. We don’t know how to strike a balance, and as a people, we fall very easily into the wannabe space.” Even then, Karan inadvertently let slip where his attention lay: “… I am a little more aesthetically sound than others. I might slip on content, but one thing I can’t be accused of is being tacky.” The past decade in Hindi film style represented a certain confidence and a coming together of influences, and because of this it was seen as another example of a newer, brasher India. But it was, more accurately, a realisation of what audiences wanted, and of how stars hoped to present themselves. The mullet and the chest hair were left behind, but in their place came an assault of fashion. The lessons of Dil Chahta Hai were forgotten by so many, and so often, that the threads lingered but the fabric was left in tatters. Arjun says he has never felt that way about another movie since. “All of us were so young. It was a group of people who were thinking the same way. It was a ‘gut-feeling’ film. That whole film was like an instinct.”   s

tanveer khan / dna


above Arjun Bhasin, the stylist for the film Dil Chahta Hai, with model Carol Gracias at a party in Mumbai in September 2008. top Kareena Kapoor in a song from the film Tashan (2008).

May 2012 '70



n our inaugural issue, CSL spotlights two celebrated designers at the helm of two distinguished fashion houses: Karl Lagerfeld of Chanel and Frida Gianini of Gucci. Both Lagerfeld and Gianini now hold the responsibility of keeping alive formidable legacies and have reinvented the respective brands with their bold visions for style—creating, in the process, design oeuvres that inf luence trends and retail the world over. The photojournalist christopher morris/VII, a founding member of the photo agency VII and known for his wartime reportage photography, has captured an exclusive slice of their intriguing lives.

Behind the Making of Two


Karl Lagerfeld at his desk at the Maison de Chanel.

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The plan for a fashion show is displayed on a wall inside Karl Lagerfeld’s office.



has been chief designer for Chanel since 1983, 12 years after Coco Chanel passed away. Since his arrival, he has become the face of the brand, and has led the iconic house into the new millenium.

The photographs in this essay were taken in Karl Lagerfeld’s office in Maison de Chanel in Paris, where the designer likes to review his work during fittings and before shows.

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Karl Lagerfeld reviews an outfit in his office.

A model walks down the stairs at Maison de Chanel.

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above and below A model walks the ramp at a Haute Couture show for Chanel in Paris.

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FRIDA GIANNINI was appointed creative director for Gucci women’s ready-to-wear and accessories in 2005, after having joined the company in 2002. In 2006, she also became the creative director for men’s ready-to-wear as well as the entire Gucci label.

This collection of photos shows Frida Giannini in New York City, attending the opening of a Flash Sneaker store and touring the Gucci offices.

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right and facing page Frida Giannini in New York city. below right At a Gucci store in New York city.

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Frida Giannini at the opening party for Gucci Icon-Temporary flash sneaker store.

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Jean Larivière: Louis Vuitton and the art of travel


by Samantha de Bendern


ean Larivière was scratching out a living photographing yoghurt pots when a friend of his offered to introduce him to the creative team at Louis Vuitton who were looking for someone to photograph their first ever advertising catalogue. “It was 1978, I was 38 years old and completely broke,” Larivière explains to me from his Paris loft. “But I nearly walked away from the opportunity. On the very same day I was offered to film a documentary about the photographer Jacques Henri Lartigue. The work would have been unpaid, and I would not have even appeared in the credits. But although I desperately needed money I hesitated between Lartigue and Vuitton because I was, and still am, passionate about film, greatly admired Lartigue, whom I longed to meet, and most of all I was sick of working on commercial projects.” Jean Larivière is an artist and photographer, now famous for his partnership with the iconic French luxury fashion and leather goods house of Louis Vuitton. Seeing him today, surrounded by a bevy of hip assistants who tread reverently around him, it is hard to imagine him struggling to survive, let alone photographing yoghurt pots. With a glint in his eye and a silky mane of snowy white hair, he is very much the slightly eccentric but nevertheless fashionable ‘artiste’, dressed in khaki combat trousers and an orange chunky wool jumper. His home in the 11th arrondissement of Paris, once a derelict warehouse, has been lovingly restored over the years, and is warm, welcoming and exotic. Each room is jam-packed with mementos carried or shipped back from the four corners of the globe, to which he travelled to photograph advertising campaigns for Louis Vuitton for 30 years. More than any other place, India is present everywhere: doors and door frames from Bikaner and Jaisalmer open into rooms filled with bric-àbrac from Kerala and Goa, a chandelier from Bombay is suspended above a stairway, and colourful Rajasthani spreads and covers are casually draped over furniture from Jodhpur. Old photographs of maharajas hang on the walls, next to watercolour landscapes of rice fields or the foothills of the Himalayas. When I ask why there is so much of India, he pauses and says that first of all he simply loves India—and that in a way May 2012 '70

above Snières, France, shot in1984. The backdrop is a painting by Jean Larivière.

India played a fundamental role in his career with LV thanks to the inspiration he found in Victorian photographs of India. I ask him how, and he insists on going back to the very beginning. “In the 60s, I was an artist and I used a camera among other things. Then in 1972 I became a photographer, because I began to use my camera to make a living,” he says. Born in Paris in 1940, he excelled at painting at a young age, and after studying fine art in the French town of Angers, he threw himself into what he calls “pure art”—combining photography, painting and animation—greatly encouraged by his friend, the Chilean surrealist painter Roberto Matta, before making a foray into cinema (notably as an assistant to the New Wave documentary filmmaker Chris Marker). His work even attracted the attention, support and admiration of the German Dada and surrealist painter and poet Max Ernst as well as of Salvador Dali, both of whom he met on a number of occasions. By the time he reached his early 30s, however, he was finding it impossible to survive on his artistic work alone. “So I began '70 May 2012

photographing inanimate objects, mainly jewellery and yoghurt pots. Believe it or not, there is a lot one can do to a yoghurt pot in the right lighting…. But I was drifting away from art and my passion for film, and feeling more and more empty. When I was given the opportunity to work on a film on Lartigue, I felt that fate had intervened to awaken me from the soulless rut I had worked my way into. What I did not know was that fate had something quite different in mind for me.” Caught between following his heart and working on the Lartigue film project, or following his head and taking up an offer of an interview with the Louis Vuitton team, Larivière stuck his head in the sand and went on a holiday to join his photographer girlfriend in Canada. “I was in a taxi driving through Montreal when I suddenly spotted a sign which said ‘Lartigue Avenue’ pointing in the opposite direction to that in which we were driving,” he explains. “I got out of the car and on the other side of the sign was a street called ‘Larivière Street’! My girlfriend said that fate had intervened, that I had ‘met Lartigue’, that we were going in opposite directions, and that now I had to ‘meet Vuit-

above Junia Castle,India, shot in1988. previous page Junia Castle, 1988.The women seen in the background had gathered to see the photo shoot, and Larivière decided to include them in the photograph.

ton’. The next day I called Paris and arranged my interview at the Vuitton offices.” Larivière insists that he knew very little about Louis Vuitton, except that they created exquisite luggage and handbags, and that this would be their very first catalogue. He recalls that he turned up at the LV offices looking rather dishevelled and feeling totally unprepared. Apart from his yoghurt pots and jewellery, he had little else to show in his “commercial” portfolio, so he brought along a book titled The Last Empire, which featured 19th and early 20th-century photographs of India, notably some beautiful Indian landscapes. He told the creative team that he wanted to “photograph Vuitton luggage the same way the 19th-century photographers have photographed the landscapes in this book—luxury is timeless, and I want to take pictures for Vuitton that are as relevant today as they will be in the future.” “After deliberating for half an hour,” says Larivière, “somehow they decided that I was the person for the job, and they hired me on a one off contract for the catalogue, to be called ‘The Soul

of Travel’.” The result was an outstanding success and for the next 25 historic years Vuitton commissioned Larivière to photograph advertising campaigns for their luggage. His travels for Vuitton took him around the world, from Greenland to Tibet, Patagonia, Africa, Cambodia, and five times to India, for which he holds a particular affection. When asked what it is he likes about India, he hesitates, then says, “Everything—and, of course, the light which is so wonderful. I wanted to capture the soul of travel—to be pure and mysterious, the light of the land I photographed was really important.” His first catalogue for Vuitton simply shows luggage in the middle of landscapes and cityscapes in Guadeloupe, the US and Rajasthan. Then as the years went by the landscapes become more and more dominant, while the luggage becomes less and less visible, until the initials “LV” alone remain in the pictures. These appear on the horizon, up a tree, in the arms of a child silhouetted against the sunset, carved in sand or precariously constructed out of sticks in a desert. It is as if the signature of Larivière’s photography were enough to conjure up the image May 2012 '70

above ‘La comète’(The comet), captured inThailand, is from a series of photographs taken to mark the passage of Haley’s comet in 1986.

of Louis Vuitton’s whole panoply of trunks and accessories for the fearless traveller. Larivière explains that in order to photograph l’âme du voyage, he would often journey for days—by car, foot, balloon, train, cart, whatever means necessary—to reach the isolated corners he felt could adequately express the poignancy of discovery, as well as the loneliness that is the constant companion of true travellers. In these lonely voyages, the ever-present Louis Vuitton logo becomes the familiar echo of “home” for the intrepid traveller. In this, his work has truly expressed “the soul of travel”, which is to travel the world but still feel at home. But Larivière was not content simply to bring back beautiful and evocative photographs for the Louis Vuitton campaigns. From time to time he would sneak off, either alone or with a model, and take a few “off the wall” photographs, in which either a model or the Louis Vuitton logo would appear in a somewhat surreal setting, or “off set”, during one of his travels. Take the elephant photographed in the old Louis Vuitton factory in the Paris suburb of Asnières-sur-Seine. This picture was actually '70 May 2012

taken using toys propped against the blacked out windows of the factory onto which he had painted a full moon. This photograph, in a series titled the ‘tribulations of a Louis Vuitton in India’, is meant to refer to the exotic dreamlike quality that India evokes for Larivière. The picture of the model dressed in a white ball gown looking at a group of women in Rajasthan was also taken outside the main body of work for the Louis Vuitton campaigns, and was shot unexpectedly as a whole group of village women suddenly turned up on the set. Larivière presented these “secret” photographs to Louis Vuitton long after they had been taken. Now, in homage to the artist’s work, the House of Vuitton has made a limited edition Louis Vuitton briefcase customised to house some of Larivière’s photographs, using leather padding and moulded compartments so that each print is cocooned in its own protective casing. In November 2011, Louis Vuitton also published a limited edition portfolio of Larivière’s work in a large handmade box containing 50 photographs and drawings, which also included the secret photographs.

above Rajasthan, shot in1988.

Looking back on his career, thanks to the remarkable freedom afforded him by Vuitton, Larivière managed to have an extraordinary life, travel the world in style, make a decent living, and do so without compromising his artistic integrity. And it is as an artist that Larivière wants to be known and remembered. Today, thanks in part to his iconic collection, L’Œuvre Louis Vuitton, which is credited with having established LV as the travel companion of note, Larivière is able to pursue some of his artistic endeavours, many of which require considerable financing. His latest work is a “wind trunk”. This extraordinary creation can perhaps best be described as a multimedia sculpture in homage to the wind. “I wanted to make a portrait of the wind,” explains Larivière. “So I drew a trunk, which Vuitton made for me, which contains compartments in which I have captured the wind.” He shows me some drawings and I begin to visualise this extraordinary creation. Some compartments contain the 62 numbered test tubes in which Larivière has “imprisoned” the wind, captured at Cape Horn, on the southern tip of South America, where some of the wildest winds of the planet blow.

An integrated sound system makes it possible to listen to a “wind symphony” composed of all the sounds made by wind harps that he took with him during the journey from Buenos Aires to Valparaiso, on board a French Navy ship. The journey can be charted on a touch screen in 2D or 3D, on which a line moves between each location where the air samples were taken. At each sampling spot a red dot flashes, the travelling line stops and a film starts on a small screen integrated into the inside of the uppermost lid of the trunk. Finally, inside the top drawer, underneath a leaflet hand drawn by the artist and describing the journey, is a secret compartment which conceals a precious platinum print taken by the artist on passing Cape Horn. In this last, almost-hidden detail we find once again the hallmark of Jean Larivière with his last-minute surprises secreted away. Looking to the future, Larivière says that he would like to return to India, to photograph the last maharajas who actually reigned, and their descendents. If the project comes to fruition, perhaps he will come back with new treasures from the land where, in many ways, his fantastic adventure began.   s May 2012 '70

kavi bhansali


Cafe Van Gogh in Arles


Arles, Light

a Festival of


i knew arles was close at hand when I saw the tips of cypress trees swirling like they do in a van Gogh painting. But the swirl is a technique of his hyper-real form so it is entirely possible that the real sight of the trees was distorted by my mind’s eye, thrilled to be where van Gogh spent some of the last years of his life. For my journey from Aix-en-Provence to Arles, I decided to get off the highway and drive on the country roads that run through the '70 May 2012

fields of Provence—the enigmatic cradle of natural splendour on the southern tip of France. Once in Arles, I strolled through the town looking for what he had painted— the old mill, the banks of the Rhone and the site of his yellow house that was destroyed in the Second World War. The town is deceptively quiet, and holds in its heart captivating narratives of history. I retreated into van Gogh’s nightly haunt, the inspiration for his The Cafe Terrace on the Place du Forum which is now called Café Van Gogh, to sip a glass of wine and watch the town folk go about their daily life. My next stop was a massive warehouse-style building, the site of one of the world’s best-known photography exhibitions, The Rencontres Internationales. Looking at some of the finest, most intense photographs from all over the world, I thought about how the definition of art had changed over the years. Photographers featured here had journeyed way out of their comfort zones to capture the grimmest moments of our lives—from war zones to secret bedroom drawers. Van Gogh did not seem to believe that, in order to be counted, art must speak of

strife directly. That is not to say he did not know strife intimately. The town whose ordinary sights he immortalised had refused to accept him. Its people called him “le fou roux” (the redheaded madman) and had him imprisoned in a madhouse. Today, his legacy is integral to Arles’ existence. Out of the exhibition and back into van Gogh’s world, it is easy to see why he was entranced by the town and its surroundings. Arles lives in several epochs at once. It is the gateway to the wetlands of the Camargue, a fabled land of gypsies, cowboys and bullfights staged in an arena that hosted Roman games in the first century. But its true secret is its rhapsodic sunlight. Sit anywhere on Place du Forum and let it envelop you. You might just see what drove van Gogh to the ecstasy that they call genius, and lunacy.   s

Arles is a about a 40-minute drive from the international airport of Marseille. There are two direct trains to and from Paris a day, and the journey takes four hours.

pascal deloche / godong / corbis


A Chanel store in a shopping mall in Hong Kong

they’re all here: louis vuitton, prada, Chanel, Cartier, Armani, Ralph Lauren, Ermenegildo Zegna, Versace, Burberry, Hugo Boss, Tom Ford, Jimmy Choo. Add a sprinkling of homegrown highend designer names, like Shanghai Tang and Vivienne Tam, the full range of more modestly priced brands like H&M, Zara and Esprit, and the entire universe of the high-end jewellery and watches world, and what you get is a shopping paradise that is unrivalled in the world. Compared to many Indian cities, Hong Kong, with a population of seven million people, is relatively small. But it more than makes up for that, both in terms of the range of fashion goods that are for sale here, and in terms of the number of outlets in which they are sold. Louis Vuitton, for example, has seven stores in Hong Kong. That’s just one less than in London—and four more are located in Macau, the former Portuguese colony that is just an hour’s ferry ride from Hong Kong. Prada has eight stores in the city, Burberry more than a dozen. You get the idea. The reason: If you’re an international fashion name wanting to tap into the


Shop Hong Kong

till you drop in


wallets of the millions of Chinese who can now afford upmarket goods, you have to be in Hong Kong. This is where many mainlanders come to shop, so a presence here is key.  And Western-style fashions appeal to them. Traditional Chinese wear—like the figure-hugging, high-necked cheongsam dresses that are most often associated in people’s minds with Chinese fashion, or suits with Chinese-style collars—can be spotted at formal events. When they do, they look gorgeous, often boasting highquality, delicately patterned silks. But unlike in India, traditional-style clothing is rarely seen here: it’s modern Western styles, perhaps spiced with an extra helping of lace, beading or bows, that people want—and wear—whether at work or at glamorous social events. And with more than 80 shopping malls to shop in, finding the right attire for any event is rarely a problem.   s

Bettina Wassener, International Herald Tribune’s economics correspondent in Hong Kong, contributed this piece exclusively to CSL. May 2012 '70

atlantide phototravel / corbis


The well-known Baobab Alley near Morondava in Madagascar

the high notes of ‘c’est bon pour le moral’—it’s good for the morale—reverberate in the rugged landscape of Madagascar. Despite its stark poverty, the capital of Antananarivo, where we fly into, is a happy place. A zest for life, generosity of heart and a deep belief in nature and its gods render everything “c’est bon bon”. It’s all good. I am in Madagascar because my family has a penchant for searching out raw, undone landscapes. Filled with curiosity and a sense of adventure, we explore the country on foot, by cart and by boat, discovering a land with the greatest endemic biodiversity on the planet, testing our physical limits. We trek through deep jungles in search of all species of lemur and chameleon, f lycatcher and orchid. We cross the red laterite earth on ox-carts, a thousand white phosphorising Comb Ducks, Helmeted Guineafowl, BlackBanded Plovers f lying above us. We climb the tsingy—giant, tentacular rock formations, worshipped by the northern Antakarana tribe (the Tsingy de Bemaraha national park, the biggest protected area in Madagascar, is a UNESCO Natural World Heritage site). The tsingy are fearsome, jagged karsts, and ascending them through dark cracks and vertical '70 May 2012



rock faces is a test of nerves. We spend three days on the river Tsiribihina in dugouts, floating through valleys and crouching in grassland. We explore bat-ridden stalactites and stalagmites, the ethnic Sakalava villages and the rough, purple gorge of Bemaraha. Cockroaches and crocodiles cohabit the land: a natural claim to harmony. During our last three days, we sail, in a traditional dhow, along the Mozambique Channel. Warm belly, eager ears, the sentiment of “C’est bon pour le morale” fills me up, and I sing with the crew. The king of an island tribe accompanies us on the boat on the last day, and as we catch crabs for lunch, he blows his conch. Sanguine sky, glassy sea: we are alone, we and the king and all the water. The tumoral neuron heads of the famous Baobab punctuate the sunset. Lemurs sit molded to one another, white, f luffy, sunlit. Barefooted, unbathed children play with makeshift toys, blowing up heart-shaped balloons in my eyes. A savage landscape, a song is whispered, now a gentle one.   s Himali flew to Antanarivo from Delhi via Mauritius on Air Mauritius and Air Madagascar. Her trip was organised by Ibex Expeditions (

samantha de bendern


The living room of the Master Bedroom, Te Aroha


Te Aroha: colour a riot of

in the Mountain of Love


i come from the mountains, but my mountains are tame and familiar, unlike the wild and majestic Himalayas that tower on the horizon. I find them intimidating, but from the terraced garden where I sip my tea, I can contemplate them from a safe distance. I am snug in this haven of luxury called Te Aroha, a boutique hotel tucked away near Mukteshwar, in the hills of Uttarakhand, 325 km north of Delhi. Te Aroha derives its name from a Maori expression meaning “Mountain of Love”,

and ‘love’ is the word that comes to mind when one sees the way in which a prominent Delhi lawyer converted his summer home into a hotel in 2009. It all starts as we enter the property through a sunshine yellow gate. After a short climb up stone stairs cut into the hillside, the main building emerges. Once again, we are greeted by a burst of yellow: yellow roof, yellow flowerpots, yellow leaves clinging to the trees on this December morning. The riot of colour continues as we are led into a living room with teal sofas, a blue oriental carpet and teal curtains. Our bedroom is green, with a large glass window the length of the wall, from where the view is spectacular. Curiosity now bites, and I wonder what colours lie behind the closed doors of the nine other rooms. Diplomatically, we negotiate a grand tour. Purple, red, blue, beige, pink: each room is different, a testimony to the loving attention that the owner has put into creating a place that is truly unique. After settling in and enjoying a sumptuous lunch served on a terrace overlooking the valley, we decide to set out and discover our surroundings. We are spoilt for choice: shall it be a trek higher into the hills, a visit to the nearby village or a

jungle walk? The first day we settle on the village, where humble houses cling to the hillsides on both flanks of the dusty road that passes as the main street. I indulge in some shopping, buying some exquisite shawls hand-made of goat wool. The next morning, we are up at dawn and spend a few hours meandering through the tight paths of a dark forest, photographing the mysterious faces that the shafts of pale sunlight draw on the tree trunks. For the grand finale, we trek to the highest point near the hotel, from where the mighty mountains encircle the horizon. In the clear morning air, their razor jagged peaks cut through the sky. We stay a few days, and from each outing we return to Te Aroha exhausted but happy. After tea and biscuits on our balcony, we wash off the sweat of the day in a steaming glass shower room looking out on the Himalayas. I feel as though I am suspended in the sky, and the mountains seem softer in the evening light. I feel that they are friendlier now, and I long to discover them up close.   s

May 2012 '70



Do you have a favourite fashion or design item, something personal that you treasure? This can be either one of your creations or something by someone else. It’s hard to pick between fashion and art, since we love our designs and also collect art! Our brand has been around for 14 years now, and looking back at our designs, each one is important and tells its own story. It all starts with an idea. You begin to conceptualise it and it’s beautiful to see what the ensemble turns out to be in the end. So, it’s definitely difficult to pick a favourite as such. Do you collect anything? If so, what and why? Yes, we collect art and run an art gallery in Golf Links by the name of Palette. Art is timeless and plays an important role when it comes to seeking inspiration. How would you define ‘style’? Style is personal—to each his own. One should not follow trends blindly, but be able to put together one’s own look without trying too hard. That is style—a flawless, effortless look!

sajjad hussain / afp photo

Rohit Gandhi & Rahul Khanna

above A model wears a creation by Rohit Gandhi and Rahul Khanna during the Grand Finale of the Wills Lifestyle India fashion show in New Delhi in October 2011. left Fashion designers Rohit Gandhi and Rahul Khanna.

Coco Chanel. She understood fashion and revolutionised it for generations to come. '70 May 2012

If you look back over the ages, as far back as you want, is there one person who personifies style, as you understand it? If so, why? It would be Coco Chanel. She understood fashion and revolutionised it for generations to come. And today we have Diane von Furstenberg—she is also a style icon. In your opinion, over the past 100 years, what has been the most stylish period, and why? Fashion is always being constantly reinvented and has gone through many changes over the past decade. The great thing about it is that new designs and silhouettes are introduced and yet one manages to use the old to seek inspiration. From the Victorian era, right down to the ’60s and ’70s and now to the present, one can see a strong influence of the past.   s



Most importantly people should have their own style—and this is apart from fashion. In your opinion, over the past 100 years, what has been the most stylish period, and why? I think it would be post the art nouveau period when art deco burst forth and classicism existed with modernity of that time, but still within parameters. No one walked into a restaurant in torn clothes and shorts.   s '70 May 2012

reuben singh / the india today group / getty images

Do you have a favourite fashion or design item, something personal that you treasure? The quilted bundi that I wear over anything—a shirt, a kurta or even a Tshirt. It goes from casual to formal and is comfortable in all seasons. Do you collect anything? If so, what and why? Art, because I buy what I love and paintings always give me great pleasure. How would you define style? It is innate—it is not necessarily what you wear but how you wear it and how you carry yourself. Most importantly, people should have their own style— and this is apart from fashion. If we look back over the ages, as far back as you want, is there one person who personifies style, as you understand it? The Maharani of Cooch Behar, Lord Mountbatten, Minal Modi, Mehr Rampal—they all personify style to me.

walter stoneman / hulton archive / getty images

Tarun Tahiliani

above Fashion designer Tarun Tahiliani strikes a pose for a picture at his home. top British naval officer Lord Louis Mountbatten (1900–1979).

CSL, May 2012