Don't go the China way

Feb 17, 2016, 06:01 IST | Malavika Sangghvi

Acknowledged as one of the world's most renowned luxury houses, Hermes is perhaps the only luxury label that truly respects and understands India

Acknowledged as one of the world's most renowned luxury houses, Hermes is perhaps the only luxury label that truly respects and understands India.

This is perhaps because its stakeholders have eschewed treating the country as a merely a back room supplier or as a subordinate market for their goods preferring instead to spend time here, learning about the culture of the land and its people. Hermes produces one of its iconic bags entirely out of Ahmedabad where the Sarabhais have played host to members of the Hermes clan for decades.

Patrick Thomas
Patrick Thomas

And more recently inspired by Sunita Kumar of Kolkata, the label launched a collection of exquisite saris — a tribute to the country. All this and more was the subject of our conversation with the former Global CEO of Hermes, Patrick Thomas, who retired in 2014 after a decade at the helm of the luxury goods house.

He was in Mumbai as a speaker during the Make In India week. “Unlike China which underwent an intense Cultural Revolution which destroyed most of its traditions, and therefore turned to foreign brands with a vengeance to fill up the void -- India has such a rich and varied heritage of art and crafts,” he said to us at the post session reception at a suburban hotel.

When informed that Indians are being urged by western brands to go the China way, Thomas was disturbed. “There are red carpet events and balls which clearly state an 'only ball gown' dress code,” we informed him. “It's the beginning of the end,” shuddered Thomas. “The country will regret it.”

Reception for visiting UK minister
This evening industrialist Dilip Piramal and his wife Shalini, the current Presidents of the IMC and its Ladies Wing respectively, will be hosting a reception in honour of the UK Treasury Minister, Hon Ms Harriet Baldwin.

Shalini Piramal and Dilip Piramal
Shalini Piramal and Dilip Piramal

“In addition to Finance, the Hon Minister is also is in charge of women's empowerment,” says Dilip, “And the British High Commission has asked us to invite leading women of the city.”

The Piramals are a jolly couple who like nothing more than entertaining them at well-planned soirees at the Worli home, which often end in singing. Given the stiff British upper lip this one might not end in song, but is expected to be just as lively nevertheless.

Going, going, gone... Anish Kapoor
It's being talked about as the difference a person can make to an organisation. Later this month when Saffron Art holds its auction at their newly opened gallery at Prabhadevi, the caliber of the art going under the hammer is being said to be of a particularly high standard, with Gaitonde, Manjeet Bawa and other contemporary masters included.

Saffron Art CEO Hugo Weihe
Saffron Art CEO Hugo Weihe

All this is said to be the handiwork of the auction houses' new CEO Hugo Weihe, who is said to have brought his international training to bear. But the piece de resistance is certainly going to be a work by no less than Anish Kapoor expected to fetch between R4-6 crore. “Never has a Kapoor piece come up in an Indian auction so far,” says a collector. “It's certainly created a buzz.”

Urban Gypsy at Large
Sarah Singh, the New York based daughter of an American mother and a Patiala Prince, writes in to say that The world premiere of her film 'A Million Rivers' starring Om Puri and Lillette Dubey will be held at Victoria and Albert Museum early next month.

Lillette Dubey and Om PuriLillette Dubey and Om Puri

Shot on a shoe string budget, the film written, directed and edited by Singh reflects her Indo-Western sensibility and has been described as 'a surrealist, quasi-narrative fiction film set in South Asia.' Singh's earlier film was the award-winning film The Sky Below, which she made a few years ago travelling through the rugged hinterlands of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Northern India with not much else but a hand held camera and a backpack.

Sarah Singh. Pic/Ashwini Pai BahadurSarah Singh. Pic/Ashwini Pai Bahadur

This nomadic gypsy approach informs the rest of Singh's life too. In New York she is known for the walking explorations into rind of the Big Apple that she takes visitors on to introduce them in to the rites and rituals of the edgy art culture and food scene.

And when she's not doing that she's exploring other secret rites in her fatherland, her press release states 'as a side note, Sarah was recently part of the team that brought her cousin, the Maharaja of Patiala, Amarinder Singh to victory in his political campaign for Amritsar. She expects to return to India to join his team when he runs for a second term as Chief Minister of Punjab, 2017.'

Comedy for the Soul
It was December 2014 when Bollywood's Karan Johar, Ranveer Singh and Arjun Kapoor accepted to be part of a one of a kind comedy live show where a percentage of proceedings would go to a good cause.

Ranveer Singh
Ranveer Singh

They had obviously not expected the repercussion and the backlash they were subjected to post the controversy ridden AIB Roast show that captured the nation's attention. And now word comes in that the band of four comedians that make up All India Bakchod (AIB) are back (minus the Bollywood brigade) more than a year later with their latest offering of live comic entertainment known as 'AIB Diwas'.

Gursimran Khamba, Tanmay Bhat, Ashish Shakya and Rohan JoshiGursimran Khamba, Tanmay Bhat, Ashish Shakya and Rohan Joshi

We are informed the program will be broken up into four different acts and feature other comedians including one of our personal favourite Kaneez Surka who appeared on the satirical TV show 'The Week that Wasn't' and they promise that the whole show will be improvised and unscripted.

The gig is scheduled for this coming weekend and will be held on Marine Drive's Hindu Gymkhana stadium. And no, there will be no roasting this time around — unfortunately once bitten Bollywood is playing safe now.

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