RUBINA’S RADAR | ISHA AMBANI PIRAMAL IS INDIA’S NEWEST FASHION FORCE IN THE MAKING

Fashion keeners are still effusing over Sabyasachi’s Kashgaar Bazaar runway presentation in collaboration with Christian Louboutin earlier this month. But more so, because they can’t have, rather can’t buy, what they saw! Sabyasachi’s stores in Kolkata, New Delhi, Hyderabad and Mumbai are inundated with requests from Sabyasachi enthusiasts everyday, for the beautiful Kashgaar Bazaar resort collection, only to be told that none of the 125 pieces shown on the runway will ever be made. Not even the green toga sari that Bollywood’s actor extraordinaire, Alia Bhatt wore to the show, or the bandhni lehenga (fresh off the runway) she wore soon after.

But guess whose natural beauty and poise, wearing a custom black sari made by Sabyasachi especially for the show, has been causing an anomalous fashion delirium since? None other than Mukesh and Nita Ambani’s daughter, Isha Ambani Piramal! Innumerable, not to mention persistent demands, are being made to the couturier for the black sari Isha had worn. “I do not do any merchandise change on client pressure. The black sari was always going to be a part of our production,” says Sabyasachi of the sari, that will soon retail a little over INR 1,00,000 for those desiring it. It sure ain’t easy overshadowing anything or anyone in Bollywood in India, particularly when it comes to fashion, but Isha seems to have done just that, by being herself. As I see it, Isha is India’s newest fashion force in the making. Black Sari Woman anyone?

Isha Ambani Piramal in a custom Sabyasachi black sari | Photo: Vijit Gupta

Pinky Reddy hosted a celebratory lunch for her birthday on Saturday, April 20th, at Townhall, the latest restaurant on Mumbai’s ever-evolving culinary landscape for her friends in the city. Given Pinky’s convivial essence, it was an ebullient afternoon, well-attended by Mumbai’s beautiful women – Poonam Dhillon (who also had a birthday on the 18th) Rita Dhody, Poonam Bhagat, Rashmi Thackeray, Lali Dhawan, Laila Khan, Gayatri Oberoi, Madhoo Shah and Queenie Singh amongst many others.

Pinky Reddy | Photo: Rubina A Khan

The afternoon made me wonder if Cyndi Lauper’s classic track, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, should be reprised, and swiftly, as Women Just Wanna Take Selfies! Pinky’s husband, Sanjay Reddy, vice-chairman of the GVK conglomerate, was seen, given he’s taller than Amitabh Bachchan standing at all of six feet and five inches, but barely heard. But he made sure everyone was well taken care of, in quintessential Reddy style, disarming smile et al. This is what a real marriage is all about, rare, but there.

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©Rubina A Khan 2019

A Date With Estella By The Sea

Rubina A Khan reviews Estella, Mumbai: “a dreamy alchemy of sunsets, sea waves and sinful culinary indulgences”

Estella is Mumbai’s latest gastronomic dalliance since December 2016. The name Estella evokes a vivid recollection of the eccentricities of Charles Dickens’ legendary character by the same name in his book, Great Expectations, but a night out at Estella is anything but. Though there are great expectations from Estella, given it’s the first fine dine restaurant from Hitesh Keswani’s Silver Beach Entertainment & Hospitality, with its numerous bars and restaurants enjoying a credible culinary run in the city.

It’s the best time in the year to dine alfresco in Mumbai, under a moonlit, star-spangled sky, with a table overlooking the sea and a flirtatious breeze adding a romantic allure to the night. The color play of a February evening sunset, descending into the sea waves caressing the Juhu shoreline, is better than any app filter and the natural environs lend themselves beautifully to the restaurant and its island bar.

The predominantly Australian and Asian menu here is expansive, with the wines and cocktails curated in accordance to the cuisine being served here. The Smashed Avocado and Smoked Jalapeño Falafel was a great dish to start the rather indulgent evening, followed by Pistachio Crusted Lebanese Lamb Koftas and a Grilled Polenta Steak. The Spanish Seafood Ajilio was tweaked to my preference with only prawns but it wasn’t the greatest dish or something I’d possibly eat again. The Cauliflower and Blue Cheese Cannelloni drowned in a cheese overload, losing all flavour, but that of the dominant cheese, in the bargain, the Baked Mud Crab and Ricotta was good as was the Lamb Wellington Deconstructed – an innovative creation, but it could have really done without the heavy sauce and extra elements on the plate, as the wonderfully prepared lamb and its intrinsic flavors came through without the added trappings. But it’s the Estella Tenderloin Steak and the Estella Strawberry Martini (a must!) that I enjoyed the most here. The Blueberry and Lavender Short Bread is a sweet desire that one must cave in to whilst dining here.

A night out on the Estella deck in the cooler months is like a dreamy alchemy of sunsets, sea waves and sinful culinary indulgences, with an attentive, prompt and friendly service. Estella offers you a sense of space and privacy, despite the deck tables being set quite close to one another. This is primarily due to the candlelight on the tables, breaking through the darkness, with just enough mood light to see your companion’s face (especially if you’re on a first date!) and your food and drinks but of course. And most importantly, people dining on the deck are largely focussed on their food and conversations here without obsessing over selfies and food shots! That in itself is quite an achievement from the chefs of Estella!

Estella is only open for dinner everyday, 7PM onwards.

Nichani Kutir Building, Juhu Tara Road, Juhu, Mumbai 400049
+91 7999998232 estellamumbai.com

©Rubina A Khan 2017

Girls Chase Ranbir, And He Runs After Samara!

Rubina A Khan interviews jewellery designer, Riddhima Kapoor-Sahni for Gulf News:

Whilst Bollywood superstar-in-the-making, Ranbir Kapoor, makes headlines for his box office hits and misses, his hookups and breakups in Bollywood and his current single status, his sister Riddhima Kapoor-Sahni has transitioned from being a star kid, to wife and mother, to an entrepreneur in her new role as a jewelry designer, launching her eponymous line, in the first half of January this year. Bollywood veterans’ Rishi and Neetu Kapoor’s first born is excited about stepping into her new shimmer and shine phase as a designer, and if the alluring Sahni’s quintessential minimalist and classic personal style is anything to go by, her designs will have you clamoring for more!

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Riddhima Kapoor-Sahni

You launched a jewellery line, your first, earlier this month – Riddhima Kapoor-Sahni. What turned you into a designer vis-à-vis modeling for the Notandas jewellery brand with your mother, Neetu Kapoor, earlier on?
I have always understood jewellery and have an intrinsic flair for it, but I was never a jewellery person as such. I would wear small pieces but not really bling myself up! But I was mesmerized by the designs of Notandas, the brand my mom and I modeled for, and were the face of, for the past eight years. Their designs were at par with top international jewellery houses and we had a blast shooting for them. Every piece was stunning and was a pleasure to wear every single time and made a deep impression on me during that time period. After the contract got over, I started telling my jeweller to make this and that for me, designs that were mine, instead of buying in stores, for everyday wear. The result of that was that everyone started commenting on my designs and loving them, so I thought why not design jewellery for others too? No one has really tapped the mid-market segment in India for every day, fun jewelry that’s made of diamonds, semi-precious and real stones and 18 karat gold ranging from Rs 30,000 upwards and that’s how Riddhima Kapoor Sahni Jewellery came into being, along with my jeweler friend and partner, Anuj Kapoor in Bombay, where our pieces are manufactured. It’s wearable, affordable and light jewellery anyone can wear everyday to a lunch, brunch, coffee conversations, birthday party – be it your child (I’ve been getting so many orders for them!) teenager, mom or just about anyone who loves jewellery.

It’s just the beginning as RKS is only about two weeks old right now, and I am already overwhelmed with the fantastic response to the bracelets we launched this month, especially the four-leaved clover one and the evil eye one that was my first design. My plan is to launch ten pieces every month, and take orders on the same. I have been taking orders from India, London and New York so far, and hopefully Dubai soon, as I plan to go international with my brand. January has been about bracelets and February will be another exciting launch of pendants as it is the month for romance and Valentine’s Day.

I am working on customizing orders with people I share a personal rapport with – I will emboss, engrave and add elements to my designs for them and will even revamp a wedding ring for them, but in my style and design aesthetic. You just have to leave it to me and trust me on that. And no, I will definitely not be doing the whole “copying the Cartier” kind of customizing at all! Online is the future and I am promoting my work through social media. I don’t want to open a store as of now, but you never know.

Who is the woman who wears your designs?
Me! The woman who wears my designs is someone like me. My designs are an extension of my personality and who ever wears them can then reflect their own personas on them.

From a star kid to wife and mommy to now jewellery designer and entrepreneur… what role is the most exciting for you?
Being a mother is by far the most exciting, satisfying and rewarding role in my life.

Your sense of fashion is classic minimalist. You are always dressed for the occasion you’re at without the Bollywood or the Delhi fuss. What are your must-dos for your look?
I like to make a statement with my look, but in a classic style. You’ll never see me in a set or wearing my entire jewellery box blinding people everywhere I go! I’m a big watch collector – a classic, vintage Rolex person – it’s my jewellery. So, a watch is mandatory for every outfit that I wear and then I’ll add my chain bracelets as I am in love with all my RKS bracelets or a cuff or earrings to complete the look, whether I am wearing jeans or a dress or an Indian ensemble.

What is your favourite gemstone to wear and now, to work with, for your designs?
Rubies are my favourite gemstones. I wear a small sized one on my little finger.

How did a beautiful girl like you not ever think of doing movies being Neetu and Rishi’s daughter? And how are you so comfortable being away from the spotlight given you grew up in the thick of it?
At 17, I went off to London to study and was away from all the filmi brouhaha. I came back home to Bombay at 22, and got married, soon after, to Bharat (Sahni) who I had met in London, and moved to Delhi. If I had stayed on in Bombay, maybe the life of stardom might have hit me, but staying away, I was unaware of the effect it could have had on me. My parents were swarmed and bombed with film offers for me but I’m really glad I didn’t do films and the way my life has played out. I love my life and I love my husband and my kid and the way things are.

You just celebrated your tenth wedding anniversary on the 25th of January, but you look like a newly married girl. How has it been being Mrs Sahni?
Bharat and I have come a long way – ten years! It’s an amazing, ongoing journey together, and our precocious daughter, Samara, is almost five-years-old now. It’s incredible just thinking about it. I do miss my parents because I live in Delhi, and they are in Bombay, but it’s not too far geographically, so it’s not that bad. My parents just celebrated 36 years of being together on the 22nd of January this year and it’s been inspiring to see their marriage, looking up to them and seeing them surviving it all. I’m very close to both my parents and of course my brother. Family comes first for my dad and he’s very big on that. So I’ve learnt to keep family first in everything I do.

Your daughter Samara is a summation of all the Kapoors, and the dubsmashes you post of her on Instagram are very popular. Who does she take after?
Samara loves herself! As soon we are ready to step out, she makes me take selfies of us in the car, pouting and posing with her. She loves the camera and loves singing, dancing, dressing up, putting on pretend makeup, enacting dialogues from my dad and Ranbir’s films and imitating just about anyone. She’ll keep asking me, “Mamma, why do I gave to go to school? Let me help you in your jewellery business. Mamma, why do you get to wear pretty clothes, jewellery and makeup everyday and why can’t I?” I indulge her, as does everyone in the family, to a large extent, but I just want her formal education to be completed, as besides her naughtiness, she’s very bright, a thinker, with an elephantine memory and sometimes, her thought processes befuddle me and get me wondering if she’s really only five years old? These days, kids only teach you everything. Samara is just like my dad – she is totally like him. She has him and Ranbir wrapped around her little finger and she means business. Girls chase Ranbir and he runs after Samara!

This feature first appeared in Gulf News on 28 January, 2016

©Rubina A Khan 2016