Anamika's Myth and Magic

Many years ago, in an account by YSL muse Loulou de La Falaise, we’d read how women in the audiences would weep with joy on seeing his designs on the runway.

We had dismissed this as the excess and hyperbole that accompanies European Fashion; surely something as ordinary as vestments could not, should not, unleash such drama?

But ever since we spent time in Rome, recently attending the Bulgari 100-year anniversary party along with Kolkata-based designer Anamika Khanna and were acquainted with her oeuvre, we have stood corrected. The myth and magic of Anamika’s outfits can and have made women weep.

Anamika Khanna 
Anamika Khanna

Their sheer beauty and sublime grace, their astonishing ability to effortlessly and simultaneously reflect tradition, even while breaking the rules; to emphasise femininity and yet empower women; and to evoke heritage even as they invent a whole new metaphor for dressing, has left us enchanted.

‘Artisanal, quiet luxury’ as our friend Moet and Chandon’s Gaurav Bhatia describes them. And this weekend, along with a formidable claque of the fashion press from Mumbai and Delhi, we flew to Kolkata, where amidst a cornucopia of carefully curated old textiles, sculpture, photographs and a generous serving of Kolkata’s beautiful people, 34 of Khanna’s exquisite ensembles sat like ethereal figures in a costume drama dreamt up by a fairy queen.

“Only Anamika could have got us all on a flight to Kolkata,” said a fashion writer. She was referring to the fact that though Delhi Fashion Week had taken place and concluded already, a special exception had been afforded by its organisers FDCI, to hold Khanna’s ‘Luxury 2014’, collection in the form of an art installation at her flagship store, on Kolkata’s leafy Outram Street. “Fashion is always a reflection of where you are and what surrounds you,” said the shy, elusive designer.

“For us, this was a way of expressing an emotion that needed more than just a fleeting moment. We wanted people to take time and share the feeling,” she said. And this Sunday, they were all there: leading personalities from Kolkata’s echelons of industry design and society like Sanjeev and Preeti Goenka, Harsh and Madhu Neotia, flamboyant jewellery designer and bon vivant Raj Mahtani, the FDCI’s Sunil Sethi, and textile revivalist Darshan Shah, amongst others. Over champagne and canapés, some of the country’s finest eyes witnessed the sublime beauty of Anamika’s creations. And like in the case of YSL, not too few of them were dry.

Unmasked: a new writer
“It felt overwhelming and exciting that everyone had come together to celebrate my book,” said the young recently debuted author Tiara Dhody about her book ‘Unmask’ that was released over the weekend at a well-attended launch.

Tiara Dhody (right) with her mother
Tiara Dhody (right) with her mother

“It’s a collection of short stories that feature women and girls in vulnerable situations,” said the pretty young lady who’s off to Sarah Lawrence to pursue her interest in writing. How did she get started? “At first writing was just supposed to be an outlet for me to personally express my emotions.

But when I shared my stories, I got the confidence to publish them.” Er, which parent does she take after? “They’re both very creative,” she said. “Mom is a jewellery designer and my dad loves designing his own clothes accessories and home interiors.”

A celebrity Kabaddi match?
“I first saw a game of Kabaddi in my father’s film ‘Ganga Ki Saughand’,” said Abhishek Bachchan on his zestful ownership of the Jaipur Pink Panthers. “I used to play it in the garden of Prateeksha and then when I lived in Delhi,” he recalled.

Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai
Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai

“What I like best about it is that, unlike cricket and hockey that have been imported from abroad, Kabaddi is wholly indigenous and dates back to India’s ancient civilization; in fact there are references to it in the Mahabharat,” he said.

Aamir Khan, Amitabh Bachchan and Shahrukh Khan
Aamir Khan, Amitabh Bachchan and Shahrukh Khan

“I truly believe it should be encouraged and be given a platform,” he said about the star studded match played over the weekend at the NSCI where his team took on Ronnie Screwvala’s U-Mumbai and lost to it.

And can we look forward to a celebrity Kabaddi match between the all-star audience in the stands that he’d managed to gather? “Yes! Most definitely, why not?” he laughed. Amitabh Bachchan, SRK, Aamir, Sachin and Abhishek Bachchan? Hu –tu- tu- tu-tu -tu...

“It was a hair raising moment,” said Abhishek Bachchan. recalling an unforgettable moment from the weekends Kabaddi match at the NSCI. “One fan began the chant ‘Sacheen-Sachin’, then soon other voices joined in and for a few memorable moments the entire stadium resounded with that legendary cry: ‘Sacheen-Sachin! Sacheen-Sachin’!!”

Sachin Tendulkar with Aamir Khan. Pic/PTI
Sachin Tendulkar with Aamir Khan. Pic/PTI

The way he narrated it we could almost hear the voices. “Of course Sachin himself was most embarrassed, you could see him blushing,” said the newly turned sports entrepreneur with the best talent for droll quips and dry humour in Bollywood. “He told me that he used to play Kabaddi while growing up at Shivaji Park with his friends. To have a legend like him make time to encourage another sport was awesome!” Sacheen-Sachin!

Fashion Eds together?
“Nonita (Kalra) and I are working on something together,” said fashion writer Sujata Assomull Sippy en route to Kolkata. “An online fashion site,” she said.

Sujata Assomull Sippy Nonita Kalra
Sujata Assomull Sippy and Nonita Kalra

The former editor of Harpers Bazaar and the former editor of Elle? Who says fashion editors can’t get along? “We started our careers together,” smiled Assomull, “at the Indian Express.”

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