Behind the Fashion Runway

Jul 05, 2012, 08:08 IST | Malavika Sangghvi

As long time observers of India's burgeoning fashion scene � from the time when magazines like Femina and Eve's Weekly carried dress patterns to Manish Arora's stints on international ramps � we are thrilled that the very astute journalist and writer Shefalee Vasudev has turned her attention to the world of the high paid darzis and can't wait to read The Powder Room, her tome on the men and women who say 'Pink is the blue of India'.

>> As long time observers of India’s burgeoning fashion scene — from the time when magazines like Femina and Eve’s Weekly carried dress patterns to Manish Arora’s stints on international ramps — we are thrilled that the very astute journalist and writer Shefalee Vasudev has turned her attention to the world of the high paid darzis and can’t wait to read The Powder Room, her tome on the men and women who say ‘Pink is the blue of India’. “Writing on fashion in India swings between insightfully and infuriatingly pedantic,” says the author.

Shefalee Vasudev and her new book The Powder Room

“I wanted to present an interesting view of Indian fashion — readable and real. Something that jumbled up the hierarchies, explored the experiences of high society fashionistas as well as tailors; the super rich as well as the middle class, fashion’s furious moments in luxury malls as well for those who shop at Big Bazaar.

The book is a collection of long profiles, which cut in and out of multiple stories. Each has one protagonist whose story reveals at least one aspect of what India makes of fashion and the layers beneath and around it,” she informs. And what was the toughest part, we asked the author who as editor of one of India’s fashion glossies has had a ringside view of her subject. “The toughest part: Powder Room is full of intimate confessions. So, the most difficult part was to narrate personal stories without sounding too intrusive, too colourful or too vicariously stunned. I had to write them subtly and I wasn’t sure if I would be able to. When you are a fly on the wall, you have to keep trying to avoid being swatted. It was difficult being the observer without boredom, an examiner without an agenda.” Powder Room is being launched later this month at the Kitaab Khana where Vasudev will be reading from her book. We can’t wait to be in the company of some of the countries leading fashionistas. Next question: But what on earth should we wear?

The Great Divide
>>  One of the best things that happened to us as Mumbaikars is that we experienced living in both North and South Mumbai at different phases of our lives. In Juhu till we were 16, and Breach Candy later (with stints in Kolkata and Delhi!) And because of this exposure we believe we have earned the right to poke fun of both stereotypes: the SoBo brat and the Suburban Type. And no, we are not revealing which side of the Great Divide our hearts lay. Marna Hai Kya? But here are some observations:

Mahim Church, Amitabh Bachchan’s home Jalsa

1. In South Mumbai when some one says the food is ‘to die for’ they mean the food is exquisite; in North Mumbai they probably mean it’s been adulterated and their servants colony’s been poisoned by it. 

Stock Exchange building

2. ‘Star’ in North Mumbai means a person who acts in films and lives in a posh bungalow. So ‘I live in a five-star building’ means five Bollywood stars reside in the tower (yes, TV stars are counted too.) In South Mumbai, a ‘five-star building’ means one with a private lift, a butler service and a helipad. 

3. Distance is measured in North Mumbai as the time it takes anyone to go from Amitabh Bachchan’s Jalsa to their destination. In South Mumbai distance is measured from Antilia. And yes, no one on either side of the divide has been inside either. 

4. A cause célèbre in South Mumbai is pet pooches being allowed their own walkway at the racecourse. A cause célèbre in North Mumbai means Salman Khan being allowed to drink while driving.

5. An ‘evening at the club’ in North Mumbai means having kebabs and sharab indoors in a wood-paneled smoky room surrounded by heavy drinkers and diners playing cards; an ‘evening at the club’ in South Mumbai is a tiny plate of cocktail sandwiches and a nimbu pani outdoor on the lawns watching people play bridge.

6. ‘Praying for divine intervention’ in North Mumbai is keeping Novena at the Mahim church. In South Mumbai, it means hoping the Housing Minister passes your real estate development project. 
And finally…

7. The ‘markets are down’ in North Mumbai means Vile Parle market has downed its shutters early that day. In South Mumbai it means the Sensex has hit a new low. 

We could go on but you get the drift. Readers are invited to send in their own pithy observations on the
Great Divide.

Movie Etiquette
>>  Sachin Ahir, the movie going MLA, (also a music buff, we’re told) who we had bumped into on Saturday at the PVR at Phoenix Mills called to clarify (extremely politely we must add) that he’d been there to watch a special screening of Sant Tukaram organised by the Shri Gajanan Friend’s Circle.

“Sri Gajanan Friend’s circle is an NGO working in various sectors like social, education, arts and sports events,” he said. “Since social workers and students were attending the function, it caused a certain rush in the area,” he admits, adding, “It is extremely unfortunate if somebody has suffered due to crowd gathering at such an occasion, which was unintentional.” Point taken and apology accepted. Now we’d like to ask the 39-yr-old MLA if he’s seen Rock of Ages.

Chalo Indigo Deli!
>>  We have been long time fans of Malini and Rahul Akerkar and their oeuvre, which includes not only some of the finest F&B ventures in town but also a great catering service which is fast becoming the de rigueur in housing dining option for the best hosts.

Indigo Deli

So naturally, when we heard that authorities had pulled down a part of Indigo Deli’s façade and roof in Bandra last week we were upset. We had been amongst the first people to attend the launch of the booming franchise at Colaba when it was just a twinkle in the Akerkar eye and been a loyal customer ever since.

Rahul and Malini Akerkar’s

Now, we hear that the Indigo Deli Bandra is up and running and bringing its characteristic and much loved fare to its clients again. Last week’s hiccup has not dampened its spirit or interfered with its commitment to customers. “There is no stopping us,” posted Malini on a social networking site. We like!

Sula’s premier wine maker
>>  We spoke to winemaker Kerry Damskey, Sula’s primary wine consultant who is visiting India to finalise the blends of Sula’s 2012 vintage wines. After graduating from the oenology and viticulture program at the University of California at Davis, Kerry had worked for wineries from Lodi to San Diego, and in 1986, was appointed winemaker for the old Zellerbach Winery in Chalk Hill where he established himself as one of Sonoma County’s best winemakers, winning awards for several of his wines.

“I come to India three times a year,” said Kerry speaking to us from Nasik where the Sula vineyards are based. “We are constantly upgrading the quality of our wines and bringing international cutting edge practices and processes to ensure that they compare with the best in their category internationally.” Asked which of Sula’s offerings he’s proudest of, Kerry replied, “Look, when we started out in the late 90s, this was a table grape growing region and so to grow wine-making grapes of such high quality is in itself such a big thing — but personally I’m proudest of our Sauvignon Blanc and our Dindori Shiraz.” “I carry them back home when I go back to California,” he chuckles, “They hold their own anywhere in the world.”  

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