>> Trendspotting is a cherished occupation of this column and here’s one more: close on the heels of the ‘Honey Moneys’ (that claque of TV’s twice born who combine glamour with financial flair) like Shereen Bhan, Menaka Doshi, Mitali Mukherjee and Shailee Chopra, come the ‘Lifestyle Babes’ a pride of former TV and film actresses who having retired from their earlier callings have gone on to carve out careers in lifestyle shows and endorsements.
Of these, the prime examples are Gul Panag, (the Twitter face for the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week), Sushma Reddy (presenter on the Indian Fame Gurukul and travel presenter on TLC) Shenaz Treasurywala (VJ on MTV’s Most Wanted) and Mandira Bedi (hosting duties for ICC Cricket World
Cups, the Champions Trophies and the IPL).
Former models/actresses don’t die; they only go on to a lifestyle show near you.
Cosmetic giants face off
>> Now it can be told: for long the mystery of why Lakme, India’s strongest cosmetic brands which had been built up assiduously by Simone Tata and Anil Chopra and which was being wooed by the world’s largest cosmetic and beauty company L’Oreal did not bite the bait and merge with the international conglomerate.
After all, with the market share that both companies commanded in different regions and with their combined expertise their consolidation would have been a win-win for both. But, on Thursday night when we ran into Anil Chopra, who was in a particularly garrulous mood at a hip SoBo watering hole we finally learnt why he’d chosen Hindustan Lever over L’Oreal. “The negotiations were done, the papers almost signed and sealed,” said the suave executive, credited with bringing fashion week culture in to the country.
“And then I was invited to a dinner in Paris with my counterparts to get to know them better. After all, it was a marriage of sorts,” he says grinning. “That’s when one of their head honchos said something to the effect that they were expecting Lakme to fall in with their company culture and embrace their ways completely,” he says, adding, “So, I went home, sent off a few mails and called the whole thing off. It took one dinner conversation for me to realise they were looking at us only as a junior ally and that in a few years our company would have been submerged within their identity.” Who said casual dinner party conversations are casual?
Mumbai’s Mad Men
>> Mad Men may have captured the collective imagination of the current generation with its depiction of the over- the-top antics and extra curricular activities of advertising’s top brass across the shores. But if an insider is to be believed, our local Mad Men were no slouches when it came to the double martini life.
“There was this gang of ad gurus who came up with the idea of a weekly single malt Wednesday lunch at the SoBo sports club they were members of,” says our source. “The rule was that each week it was up to one member to invite one drop dead attractive guest so that the rest of the afternoon could be spent savoring her company,” we were informed. Er, how did any work got done, we asked remembering the iconic campaigns of that era. Ahh, that was our inspiration, we were informed.
>> And come rain or shine, the party crowd can be counted on to party on.
As a little bird texted: “Some of Mumbai’s leading party hearties are in Bali as we speak, for Ashish Goel’s big birthday bash including Nandita Mahtani, Surily Goel and Renu Chainani...” ‘Tis the season to be merry…
Enter the luxe multi-brand giant
>> He was emblematic of the first wave of the post reform globalisation boom in India and as managing director of Zegna, Rahul Prasad, the smooth talking, motorbike racing, luxury marketer from Stern and Parsons was responsible for putting his suits on some famous backs. But following that Prasad kind of dropped off our radar resurfacing last week when he told us of his latest incarnation, this time, as MD of Pike Preston Partners Limited, a corporate advisory and M&A firm, with a core competence in the luxury sector, and with a client list that includes Saks Fifth Avenue, Galleries Lafayette and Harvey Nichols.
So, what’s on the cards, now we asked. “Plenty,” he said, “With changes in FDI norms for multi-brand retail in India, one of the world’s leading luxury department store from New York is closely monitoring the Indian market and my colleagues and I will be spending most of this year in India as we develop and structure a partnership between it and a local partner. However, due to the confidentiality considerations we cannot disclose the names yet,” he smiled, “But what I can speak about is my BMW S1000RR (the only one in Mumbai) that I shipped from Munich to keep me sane on weekends while I spend 18-hour workdays on this project.” Nice!
Novel business enterprise
>> As a business enterprise it’s unbeatable. And trust a member of Mumbai’s oldest and most venerable club to hit upon it. Apparently, said gentleman, a septuagenarian, who measures out his life in coffee spoons in the verandah of said club, has struck upon a novel way of generating income: he rents out his residence by the hour for other members in need of privacy when they require a place for undercover assignations. “At Rs 2,000 an hour with drinks thrown in, it’s a steal and far more private than a five-star hotel,” says our source. So, even while he sits and watches the grass grow, his bottomline increases.