She's been the senior most woman at the Taj and the recipient of several awards and accolades, so when Deepa Misra Harris, Senior Vice President – Global Sales & Marketing, was known among the senior executive resignations in the hotel group last week, it caused a flutter. "Why did you leave?" we asked Harris.
"Time I started to build my dream and live it!" she said. "I was always spoilt for choice at the Taj. It's an institution which people never leave, with a culture that breeds loyalty," said the highly regarded marketing professional and industry leader. "So yes, the industry and market are shocked at my resignation as they saw me as the quintessential Taj person."
Deepa Misra Harris in a file photo with actress Sigourney Weaver
"What now?" we asked. "I am not changing direction as given the space I have worked in makes me a luxury specialist and India has very few who have worked three decades with a luxury brand," said the power lady whose gentle demeanour masks a cutting-edge precision.
"Having been instrumental in effectively delivering the Brand Architecture for Taj, differentiates the unique skills I bring to a highly competitive market and allows me to develop marketing solutions and platforms through a branding/marketing and PR consultancy," she said, adding, "The big reveal is yet to be announced as I only want to work with few marquee clients." Nice!
The designer and her muse
So big business and the bottom line have impacted what was until now a very special relationship between a designer and her patron/muse. Anyone who knows their Lagerfeld from their Galliano will know what a big role Sonam Kapoor had played in the trajectory of Anamika Khanna's success.
Sonam Kapoor at Cannes. Pic/Twitter
Long before she had become a household name (well, certain households only) her graceful garments were afforded maximum attention that only Bollywood can bring through the star. And that was because Sonam wore them most and brought out the best in them.
Her Cannes 2014 outing in a pale pink AK net sari had elicited much applause, for instance. So naturally, when the Dolly of the Doli was not there to walk the ramp as showstopper for her fave designer this weekend, it came as a surprise to quite a few. That's when realisation dawned.
"She's been signed by L'Oreal as one of its faces," said an insider. "How could she walk the ramp at a Lakme show? Kareena is the face of Lakme." But obviously, this hiccup has not endangered the close ties between AK and SK. Her sister Rhea was right up there in the front row on Sunday.
LitLive! and the Doshi Foundation
"This is a very special event because with it we begin collaboration with the Vinod & Saryu Doshi Foundation. Hopefully, it will be a long lasting association because the aims and objectives of the Foundation and Literature Live! are the same promotion of literature and culture in its myriad forms," it was Anil Dharker, indefatigable founder of Literature Live! informing us of his venture's latest tie up.
Anil Dharker and Saryu Doshi
"Everyone knows how deeply the Doshis have been involved in culture in all its aspects. Saryu of course was trained for it, but Vinod was an industrialist by inheritance and a culturalist by inclination." "So when Maitreya got in touch with us for a tie up it was a marriage of true minds to which who would bring an impediment?" said Dharker.
"We plan to do literary evenings once a month or so, and our first one is with a certain Mr Vir Sanghvi next week," said our friend, adding tongue-in-cheek, "perhaps you might know him?"
Visitors to the hallowed interiors of Bombay House, that bastion of the Tata's conglomerate, are prone to remark about the delightful change in the overall vibe brought in by the relatively young current Chairman Cyrus Mistry. What's more, according to an insider, the august boardroom chatter has taken a decidedly youthful turn.
"School vacation dates and teenage pastimes are discussed now, by the top executives," said the insider, "Also, suddenly the attention has shifted to school admissions and why the group never set up a good school in Mumbai." Why not indeed.
Chronicles of Mumbai's young and restless
Apart from the Fashion week hoopla, the past weekend saw Mumbai's young and restless let their expensively cut hair down on Friday night at two big parties simultaneously hosted at the Palladium Hotel.
Rohit Bal, Surily Goel and Mandira Bedi
The first was to promote a new dating app where entry into the hotel's Zenith suite and club Exo was apparently only granted after checking if you had downloaded the app; the other 'by invitation only' party was held at the hotel's pool level and hosted jointly by ace designer Rohit Bal along with Palladium owner the enterprising Gayatri Ruia.
Both dos saw a mix of SoBo and NoBo denizens, including director Ayan Mukherjee, cricketer Zaheer Khan, Mandira Bedi and Yash Birla. The parties are said to have gone on till the wee hours and until the open bars ran dry, after which a select few took the hi-jinx to a couple of rooms at the hotel where they were joined by big ticket Bollywood names.
Saturday saw a repeat with the action shifting to the neighbouring Four Seasons Hotel, where actor restaurateur Dino Morea and Vishal Shetty hosted their second instalment of the 'playground', a pop-up nightclub in the hotel's ballroom and where guests like Surily Goel, Nandita Mahtani, Zayed and Fardeen Khan and DJ Aqeel danced the night away.
And according to sources Four Seasons' owner Adarsh Jatia was in attendance and was delighted at how his hotel banquet space had been transformed into a scene from Nikki Beach in Ibiza!
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