Indian Diva, Modern ‘It’ Girl
Who is that girl? The one that seems to live a charmed existence – in every corner of India and the world. She parties, she swings, she looks great, she works hard and, most of all, she loves herself. She is probably in an unusual profession. She is bound to be doing something completely out of the ordinary. She loves looking at herself in the mirror and is not above having a quick chat with her reflection. “Gorgeous!” she exclaims, to herself. She exalts honey hues, crushed wine, bijou blue, simple taupes and probably hangs her easy wear flirty outfits on hangers gilded with glitter – a bright fuchsia would do very nicely and certainly augment the dress-up mood. She represents an enhanced brand of chic, a new type of confident woman…. She is the Indian ‘It’ woman and doesn’t she know it!
These are party babes with a difference. They spend the day hard at work. They have their own income and know exactly where to be seen blowing it up. There is always time for a yacht party at noon, a Bollywood bash at midnight, a brunch, a lunch, a cocktail evening, a work hour off, hitting the stores. They could be swilling wine by midday and still make it for that 3 p.m. meeting with the head honchos. In fact, they are the head honchos. They make the rules and break the accepted moulds with easy insouciance. Designer Malini Ramani epitomises the ‘Indiva’, the party gal with the hard work gene. Meet her and her friends being well…typically, atypically themselves!
‘Hedonistic celebration’ is her muse, ‘The Party’, her inspiration. Ramani’s cowl-necked slip dresses, silky drawstring pants, jazzed up kaftans, mirrored tracksuits are created to ‘swish you from one high-profile do to the next’. They embody trend-India with a strong local sensibility. Knits, peasant tops, baby-dolls, these are the leitmotivs of the ‘Indiva’. “My ideal client is the Indian glamorous girl with a jet set life and a cool career as well,” says Ramani, herself part of this eclectic troupe. Being the quintessential ‘Indiva’ she designs for herself, is perfect in her own fabrications that she throws on and off at will and attracts society’s cream like fluff to Velcro.
Favourite Place To Brunch: Olive, New Delhi. Pine Tree Shack, “Outside my house in Goa.” The Coffee Shop, Union Square, New York.
Shopaholic’s Day Out: Scoop, New York. Barneys, Fred Seigal, Los Angeles.
Best Watering Hole: The Thai Wok, New Delhi. Indigo, Mumbai. Soho House, The Meat Packing District, New York.
A TV producer based in Johannesburg, South Africa, Saira Essa, has discovered her ‘It’ counterparts in New Delhi, on a visit with her crew to cover Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week (WLIFW). Essa had already established the ‘Indiva’ connection through phone calls from South Africa, ordering Ramani’s ensembles to be flown out to her for special occasions. She loves to dress to feel, “mad and sexy. Wherever I am in the world, I like to stand out like a wild number!” Essa has recently discovered and succumbed to the charms and fit of Indian designers and is set on promoting them in Africa. “The quality of fabric is fabulous, the finish is amazing…I am not into threads hanging out,” says she, adding, “I cannot put down roots in any one place.” Spoken like a true ‘It’ lass!
South African Designers: Norman Callan, “for something sexy and formal.” Gavin Roger in Cape Town and Julian in Johannesburg.
Brunching Out: Georges, Johannesburg. “My favourite is winter lunches because in the day, the sun is beautiful and it is just fab to sit outdoors. Some very good-looking people sit there.”
Cocktails: The Dome, Mumbai. “Really great view out there!” Dinner at the Eiffel Tower, Paris.
Shopaholics Day Out: “I really enjoy shopping for shoes in Johannesburg.”
Ace model, Feroz Gujral, believes in doing it all. “The key is, there is no fear. I just get up and do what I do, when I want to do it.” She is excited that she recently sold her first film script. She has also managed to wrangle herself a spot on Mani Ratnam’s new movie set. “The idea is to watch the best people work and then decide what I want to be…producer, director, script writer.”
Gujral admits to being a ‘night person’, a bit risqué and certainly displays a high glamour quotient. Her attitude is global and when she travels with Ramani’s ensembles, she usually comes back without them, having gifted them to admirers. On the other hand, with typical elan, she states, “I like the whimsy of clothes but don’t like to take them too seriously.”
Favourite Brunch: Imperial, New Delhi, on their lawns. “London, Paris, Italy, anywhere outdoors, where it is green.”
Cocktails: “I don’t drink but everyone else does. So, The Sky Bar, Hilton, London and The Dome, Mumbai.”
Dinner: “Dinner should be in the open…the hills of Tuscany, Lakshwadeep on the beach, a beautiful boat in Sardinia. Or, my mother’s house in Hyderabad where everything is always exquisitely done.”
Shopaholic’s Delight: “I am a real fan of design and it is completely irrelevant who creates it or where I find it. I am not a brand person and am the world’s worst shopper.”
Ameeta Seth is in the cigar business. Having finished with a stint of number crunching on Wall Street, she returned to New Delhi from New York, to run Cingari, the cigar company started by her father who was ‘very passionate about cigars’. A training session in Cuba and “I learnt everything there is to know about cigars, from factories to plantations.” Her passion is clothes. “I love fashion,” she states simply. “I love wearing Malini’s clothes because they make a woman feel very independent.” She particularly loves to dress ‘for the cocktail hour’ when she wants to feel very glamorous. She throws herself a wink in the mirror that seems to draw her like a magnet. And the best part of her job? She gets to go to Cuba twice a year, satisfying her ‘Indiva’ sense of adventure.
Favourite Party Place: Olive, New Delhi. Place To Brunch: Serafina, New York. Lounging Around: Shalom, New Delhi.
Frequented Phrase: “Just joking.” Alternately, “Kidding!”
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