Mumbai Diary: Thursday Dossier

The city — sliced, diced and served with a dash of sauce

It's in his jeans
From selling rabbits to owning some of the most innovative fashion labels such as Maison Martin Margiela and Viktor and Rolf, Renzo Rosso, the founder of Diesel had many stories to share at a talk conducted by fashion designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee at an ongoing fashion week yesterday.

Veteran designer Rajesh Pratap Singh [left, in pic] couldn’t find a seat and had to sit on the floor, with Saket Dhankar. Pics/Satej Shinde
Veteran designer Rajesh Pratap Singh [left, in pic] couldn’t find a seat and had to sit on the floor, with Saket Dhankar. Pics/Satej Shinde

When Rosso was 10, he was gifted a rabbit by his friend. Rosso realised that the rabbit was pregnant, and started breeding more rabbits at his father’s farm, to sell off at the local market. As for the numbers, he bred over 150, and that was the first time he earned money.

Mukherjee and Rosso attracted quite an audience that included Fern Mallis, and young designers Shyma Shetty and Payal Khandwala
Mukherjee and Rosso attracted quite an audience that included Fern Mallis, and young designers Shyma Shetty and Payal Khandwala

Mukherjee shared how he first began selling jewellery in school from his tiffin box. “When I first went to the US, Ralph Lauren sold jeans for about $34 and ours cost $100. A journalist wrote, ‘Who is this stupid Italian?’ ” divulged the 60-year-old icon.

Rosso began selling jeans to his friends for $3, and this excluded fabric costs. Rosso recalled how everyone hated the brand name at first, and retailers would cut his call as soon as they heard it, “But I was convinced that my product would sell.”

The denim guru shared a wise mantra, courtesy his father. “If you are not suffering, you won’t be happy.” From a farm boy in an Italian village to building a brand that Kanye West lauds, Rosso’s lived the advice.

Love, love me do, they sang
It is a seven-year pitch for Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival, (MIQFF) scheduled from May 25 to 29 at Liberty cinema and Alliance Francaise Mumbai.

Social commentator Nandini Sardesai, Simone Singh and Wendell Rodricks at the KASHISH LGBT Film festival'16 poster launch held in an art gallery in Colaba last evening. Pic/Shadab Khan
Social commentator Nandini Sardesai, Simone Singh and Wendell Rodricks at the KASHISH LGBT Film festival'16 poster launch held in an art gallery in Colaba last evening. Pic/Shadab Khan

The run-up to LGBT fest, though, began yesterday with the launch of the winning poster that was designed around the theme, 7 shades of Love. The unveiling held at Colaba’s Gallery Beyond last evening saw an informal gathering where the audience was all ears when three songs dedicated to love were rendered by Alisha Pais and her Italian girlfriend, Giulia C, on the sitar.

Alisha held the audience, all lounging, in thrall as she was powerful and evocative, but as Kashish director Sridhar Rangayan said later, “It was not just the performance but the glances that Alisha and Gulia gave each other that were eloquent...” and a sigh went around the room.

Then came Sushant Digvikar, performer and Bigg Boss entrant, who sang Whitney Houston’s, Saving All my Love (we liked his silver moccasins). Just then, cameras flashed as actor Simone Singh and fashion designer Wendell Rodricks unveiled the colourful, somewhat kitschy poster created by freelance designer Ajoy Das. It was an evening dedicated to love, and who could blame the wistful singles for wanting to mingle?

Luxe night’s rest
Sleeping under the stars is both, a necessity and right in Mumbai. Pavements, steps leading up to shops, cement roundabouts enclosing trees — beds come up everywhere.

And the well heeled aren’t spared either. A Mimosa-John Dory dinner at Raghuvanshi Mills’ elegant Tasting Room later, when this diarist drove out of the compound that holds some of the city’s swishest stores, she stumbled on a sight that made her smile.

The chequered steps leading up to the yellow door of #DesignCell, star wife and interior designer Gauri Khan’s concept store made for the perfect bed for a certain someone looking for a good night’s rest. A bottle of water close at hand, he slept in the comfort of a mosquito net while a compatriot took charge of the white bench that sits outside the store together with a vintage bicycle.

Repurpose, refashion. The homeless in Mumbai know this mantra just as well as luxe lifestyle gurus.

Turn over a new leaf
For many years, the boundary wall of the Matunga Gymkhana ground, referred to as the ‘katta’ by students from Ruia, Poddar and Welingkar Colleges, used to be a haven to chill out, what with its canopy of trees.

(Left) New trees along the ‘katta’; (Right) A painted-over tree outside Welingkar Institute
(Left) New trees along the ‘katta’; (Right) A painted-over tree outside Welingkar Institute

Many romances have bloomed here, sandwiches eaten, and festivals been planned. But last year, when this diarist (a Ruiaite) dropped by the stretch, the sight of missing trees caused shock and sadness. The entire stretch of trees was dead (the disease-ailing trees stretched all the way up to Dadar station). A slice of nostalgia was lost.

A few of these dead trunks outside Poddar and Welingkar had been painted over in a vain attempt to hipsterise the lane. When we revisited the area yesterday, we were pleasantly surprised to note that the dead trees were removed, and new trees were planted along the katta. However, the painted ones outside Welingkar remain. Three cheers for the mini green revolution.

Chinese ecosystem
Ecosystem seems to have become the new buzzword when it comes to promoting technology. So much so that tech companies are now willing to undergo makeovers and forgo brand identity, to include the word ‘Ecosystem’. A few months ago, a popular Chinese smartphone maker, added the word to its name in India.

Though the change didn’t make them look more appealing (people still refer to their old name), it delayed the launch since the Indian Customs Department refused to clear product due to disparities in the name between the parent company and the Indian subsidiary.

Now, we hear that another popular Chinese smartphone maker, which disrupted the Indian market in 2014 with its low cost devices, has done the same. It has started a new sub-brand with ‘Ecosystem’ as part of its name to sell Chinese Induction rice cookers.

The rice cooker is WiFi-enabled, and can be controlled via an app, and is one of many products aimed at offering an ecosystem of smart home devices. Though we are not sure if the product is available in India, we are told, the brand was created to compete with Japanese products, and what better way than to start with a rice cooker.

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