RUBINA’S RADAR | THE INDIAN RUPEE IS WEAK, BUT DELHI’S LOTUS MAKEUP INDIA FASHION WEEK SS19 AIN’T!

RUBINA’S RADAR

Paris Fashion Week kicked off with a Christian Dior show on September 24 in Bois de Boulogne in Paris. But what’s making more headlines than the French luxury label right now is Italian fashion house, Versace, of the famed Medusa head, with the impending Michael Kors buyout. Dior’s Creative Director, Maria Grazia Chiuri’s centerstage fashion and dance extravaganza left everyone breathless, but not more than her ethereal, bespoke designs for Italian fashion force, Chiara Ferragni’s wedding in Noto, Italy earlier on in September this year who chose Dior over every other fashion house for her special day. That’s had me screaming J’adore since. Rumour also has it that the SS19 collection in Paris was Chiuri’s last one for Dior.

American fashion designer, Michael Kors is getting ready to buy out Versace, headquartered in Milan, next week for approximately $2 billion after buying the designer shoe company, Jimmy Choo for roughly $1.2 billion in 2017.

This fashionable, not to mention consolidatory move of Kors will strengthen his position as an American powerhouse to European giants like Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy (LVMH) that owns 70 houses, with $50 billion in revenues in 2017 and Kering that have dominated the fashion industry with brands like Louis Vuitton and Gucci. Donatella Versace has been running Versace ever since the murder of her brother, Gianni Versace in 1997, the founder of the fashion house.

It’s always been a Paris versus Milan situation for fashion forwards, quite like the Mumbai and Delhi fashion weeks in India, but it’s always fashion that rules the runway regardless of geographical optics. The October Spring Summer 2019 edition of India Fashion Week, presented by the Fashion Design Council of India, takes on a new name – Lotus Makeup India Fashion Week with Lotus Makeup as its title sponsor. LMIFW takes place from October 10 to October 13 2018 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi. “Lotus is a leading make-up and skincare brand and what makes this partnership exciting is that it is a homegrown brand with indigenous offerings, which are rooted in India just like our constant endeavours to celebrate the innate Indian-ness in our design spheres,” says Sunil Sethi, President of the FDCI. LMIFW SS19 will see a Japanese designer showcase his designs, a first, on the Delhi runway and a triumvirate of designers together – Rajesh Pratap Singh, Rohit Gandhi & Rahul Khanna and Ashish N Soni, telling India what’s next on the fashion landscape in a sponsored show by LMIFW’s associate sponsor, Nexa.

Sunil Sethi, President FDCI

International beauty brands like Maybelline and Fiama Di Wills have sponsored India Fashion Week in the past, but this is the first time an authentically Indian beauty brand, Lotus Makeup, is collaborating with the FDCI’s India Fashion Week as its title sponsor. The sponsorship will add a definitive edge to Lotus Makeup’s thriving beauty business, an integral part of the fashion business. Given the crazed obsessions of beauty and fashion worldwide, this is a fiscal win for both. Add natural, sustainable and vegan beauty products that are cruelty-free with zero animal testing to Lotus Makeup’s beauty currency and you’ve got an Indian company that is fashionably on trend.

Abhishek Bachchan’s voluntary breather from acting saw him ironically breathe love and life in Anurag Kashyap’s Manmarziyaan as Robby a couple of Fridays ago. Kashyap is obviously happy with his narrative resonating with the audiences who’ve loved the film. The film is a lighter shade of love in comparison to his previous romantic dramas like Dev D (2009) and Gangs Of Wasseypur (2012) that celebrated dark loving. “This is the lightest shade of love that I can get. I need to keep it real. I can’t see myself making unrealistic films with no connection to the lives we all live. I now conserve my energies more for work than anything else and it seems to be working. Though, finding some semblance of importance in my teen-aged daughter’s life is another thing altogether,” laughs Kashyap over the phone from Strasbourg, France. “I’m delighted with the engaged response to Manmarziyaan and more so for my actors, Abhishek (Bachchan), Vicky (Kaushal) and Taapsee (Pannu) who portrayed them just so.”

So does Manmarziyaan indicate a more loved-up state of films from him, with say Salman Khan playing the lead? “Oh, that’s not going to happen as Salman is upset with me, but of course I would love to work with him,” he says nonchalantly. Whatever for? “Well, I was supposed to direct him in Tere Naam almost 18 years ago and I asked him to grow his chest hair and somehow, that did not go down well with him. We haven’t spoken since. I reckon he’s still mad at me though I am not sure. I’ve never told anyone about this but then again, it’s been a decade and more,” says the filmmaker.

Chest hair, really?

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©Rubina A Khan 2018

Shah Rukh Loves My Work The Most, Says Design Virtuoso Gauri Khan

Whilst her husband Shah Rukh Khan is the uncrowned king of Bollywood, Gauri Khan seems to have come into her own as a design virtuoso, befitting her status royale as the celluloid sovereign’s wife. Gauri Khan Designs, her eponymous design studio, is headquartered in Mumbai, but her visual representational percipience is swiftly traversing worldwide.

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Gauri Khan at Chivas 18 Alchemy in New Delhi

The modernist designer couldn’t resist turning into an alchemist of sight at the second edition of the quintuple sensory Chivas 18 Alchemy experience in New Delhi, transforming the space with her definitive luxe aesthetic. As much as her husband is the alchemist of sound with his unequivocal eloquence, she seems to speak (the reluctant conversationalist that she is) through her alluring and arresting visual artistry. Khan makes for relaxed, affable company when she’s talking business, but turns a deep, love blush when SRK Face Times her during our conversation. “It’s Shah Rukh,” she says, tossing her hair into place and arching her frame into a flattering angle to talk to him.

Rubina A Khan caught up with Gauri Khan in New Delhi for Gulf News tabloid!

You entered the world of design in 2011 and have been making enviable headway since designing homes, restaurants and pop-up events…
It wasn’t a planned effort to get into interior design. I’ve been an artist all my life, in school and college, and even after I got married to Shah Rukh, I used to do a lot of charcoal paintings at home. There’s a lot of connection to art in my life – I bought a lot of art and was intrigued by artists and read up on them extensively. Then I started designing my own home, Mannat, with my architect. A lot of people walked into the house and asked me to design for them. My friends, Yash and Avanti Birla opened Yantra about 15 years ago and they asked me at the time to join them and so did my friend, Kajal (Anand), as she knew I was passionate about art and design. But I wasn’t ready for it. Then Sussanne (Khan) asked me to do a collection for her store launch. So, it’s been a slow and steady pace for me into the world of design with friends.

What draws you to design – the creative pursuit of it or the final outcome?
Creating a first impression is what I set out to achieve when I start designing a space. Being creative and imaginative in my everyday life is tremendously exciting. All aspects of design, right from my drawing board to the actualization of it all enthralls me. When the thoughts in my headspace integrate seamlessly and are realized into tangible and tactile reality, from the inception stages to the final outcome, it gives me a great sense of accomplishment and it’s the most wonderful feeling.

How did you turn into an alchemist of sight for Chivas 18 Alchemy?
Fashion designer Ashish Soni approached me with the idea to participate in the second edition of Chivas 18 Alchemy as the alchemist of the sense of sight as the concept is based on the five human senses of sight, sound, touch, taste and smell. Given that I love the creative space that Alchemy mounts their campaigns and the way they format and execute them with immense style and finesse, I was immediately attracted to it and now I’m an alchemist too! I added the touch of blue velvet drapes to turn the outdoor garden space of Alchemy into an indoor one, akin to a palatial living room. It was challenging, but it turned out rather fluid as the velvet lent an indoor vibe to the space and the artisanal glass bottle chandeliers, custom made especially for Alchemy, added the molten hue of inviting warmth. Lighting is the key to all my spaces. It’s been a fantastic experience with Ashish, Pulkith and the Alchemy team and it was a joy to work with them. This is one of the best events I have attended and now, participated in, right from the venue to the scale and the exceptional invites… everything about it is extraordinarily stunning.

What is the key component to the alchemy of sight?
The key component for me is when I design a space on paper. When the eye visualizes what can be, which then manifests into a real space – that’s a visual delight for me. Subsequently, for it to then come to life exactly the way I envision it, to becoming the heart and soul of the design endeavor – that’s the key to my alchemy of sight. What I did for Alchemy on paper, and to now see it come to life in this luxurious and seductive a manner, makes me extremely happy.

What is your signature design move?
It depends on the project really – if I’m doing a restaurant, a young boy’s room, a nursery, a middle-aged couple’s home – each space is different. But I make sure every space I design is warm, easy, inviting and comfortable. That’s the quintessential design move that I adhere to in all my GKD work. I absolutely abhor cold, model homes.

How many hours do you work everyday?
I don’t work all the time. It is an artistic pursuit wherein I can create anytime and anywhere, whether it’s at home or at a site visit or a set. I spend a lot of time at home and I don’t have any fixed hours or schedule per se. That’s the beauty of my job.

Some Gauri Khan Designs’ tips for homes?
When I am doing up a residence, I try to make the elements come together in such a way that the owners feel comfortable and at peace in their home. My design aesthetic is luxurious and glam as I love these aspects of good living, but that doesn’t mean the home loses its warmth and comfort or that I’d put chandeliers in a baby’s nursery.

a) Make any space your own, where you belong, with your own distinct individualism. It could be anything from lights to an art piece, something that tells the story of your personality.

b) Don’t try to make a touch-me-not home where it becomes more like a museum and less of a warm, inviting home. When a home has super fancy elements with a trying-too-hard feel, the fear of disturbing the elements keeps you from enjoying the space and creates an uncomfortable aura in the home for you as well as your guests.

c) Luxurious and glamorous homes should be designed such that the owners should not find the comforts of their own homes even in luxury hotels. Despite all the luxe elements, the comfort of a home should never be compromised.

Who loves your work the most?
Shah Rukh loves my work the most. I have been attending award functions with him for 30 years and now, I’ve won my very first Excellence in Design Award this month; we both couldn’t be happier.

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Shah Rukh Khan

What’s the biggest love of your life?
Design is my biggest love! It consumes me.

What’s your dream project?
My most exciting dream project is Karan Johar’s new home. I’ve done the nursery for his kids and the terrace in his current home. Karan’s always been my inspiration and he’s been my support, in my personal and professional life, so I’m super excited to start this project. He’s a creative being himself and when I create something for him, and he appreciates it, it makes me feel like I’ve got an ‘A’ in a school report card. It makes me very happy when Karan “approves” of my work.

Any plans of opening a store in Dubai?
Dubai is home to us and I love coming to our home in Dubai. I’m looking forward to bringing Gauri Khan Designs to Dubai very soon. It’s already in the works.

This feature first appeared in Gulf News on 18 March, 2018

©Rubina A Khan 2018

RUBINA’S RADAR | SHOBHAA DE’S BOOK LAUNCH IN MUMBAI & SUNIL SETHI’S INDIE EYE PREVIEW IN NEW DELHI

RUBINA’S RADAR

The magnificently restored Royal Opera House a historic address in Mumbai since its inauguration by King George V in 1911 and India’s only surviving opera house relegated to redundancy in the 90s, is now open to the culturati. It is no longer just a geographical landmark on the Uber app, but a live destination that’s marking up newer glories contrasting from its original, sepia-toned ones today. This vintage Baroque edifice was where author and columnist, not to mention “ready-to-be-lynched-for-anything” Shobhaa De launched her latest book, Seventy And To Hell With It on a fine December evening last Wednesday. At the garden gathering amidst family and friends, De was on fire, as a discerning hostess in a cobalt blue, custom couture blouse by Abu Jani-Sandeep Khosla and a real zari Jaipur Kota Doria sari greeting her guests, with her luminosity lighting up the de riguer photo-ops and selfies. She then went on to breathe fire in her role as a celebrated author on stage, in conversation with journalist Barkha Dutt and Bollywood actor Kangana Ranaut.

The conversation revolved around sex, the celebration of age and beauty in every stage of a woman’s life, the empowerment of women and the power of speaking up, changing the patriarchal guard and living your life wholly on your terms to a full (Opera) House. De’s quintessential ability to turn anything on its head without so much of an arch of her eyebrows or her “De resting face” with a diverse point of view that could swing from radical to pure nonchalance is what makes her one of the most read and heard “Made in Mumbai” voices in India. Had I been in conversation with her about the book on stage, my opening question would have been “How is sex at seventy, Shobhaa?” because her immediate response would have been far more entertaining and memorable than the latest Bollywood film!

In Delhi, fashion’s most formidable force, Sunil Sethi previewed his collaborative design effort, Indie Eye sunglasses and eyewear, with artist Jayanta Roy and designer Tanira Sethi at a Lutyens lawn gig at The Lodhi in conjunction with designer Ashish N Soni’s celebratory 25 year milestone in the fashion business. Indie Eye will be launched in Milan in 2018. The mannequins wore the fashionXart eyewear dressed in Soni’s exquisite all-black Spring Summer 2018 line in a contemporary hard-metal open-air installation tent, alongside a white garment installation which was as enchanting as it was dreamy, exhibiting his structured and minimalistic design ethos beautifully.

There was Artificial Intelligence to talk to Soni, Sethi and Saif Ali Khan (Taimur’s father!) about all things fashion which was interesting, but the Glam-Cam was a monster fail. A garden gig on a Saturday night in the freezing cold temperatures of Delhi surprisingly brought out the warmth in all its glamorous guests, well, almost all. To attend an alfresco cocktail event like this is a Game of Thrones gamble – you either winter wing it in Uggs and cashmere or you whinge all night about the cold, over endless drinks, which is rather unfashionable.

©Rubina A Khan 2017