Free-Spirited Dresser: Will Mulford Is All About Comfort
There are many intriguing facets to this multi-hyphenate, but the one that piques your fancy most is his taste in fashion, with handmade being the pivot of his style. “Fashion is my life. Not in a dramatic way, but I am always thinking about fabrics. My tailor at any time can be my dearest friend or my greatest enemy,” he says. Several pairs of shoes from both his grandfathers, a cream tussar kurta — from his grandmother’s archival collection — together with his mother’s tuxedo jacket and the cream two-piece suit with the tan Nehru cap that he stitched for the opening of Caffé Palladio Jaipur are a few closet-charmers he absolutely treasures.
Hailing from Wisconsin, USA, the desire to learn Hindi brought Mulford to India seven years ago and he’s stayed on ever since. He has a fervent admiration for what he calls ‘the men of the street’ — auto drivers, porters, old uncles, pandits, imams, fishermen — as well as Jor Bagh aunties. “Style can be found everywhere and oftentimes my brightest style inspirations come from the most unlikely sources.” The itinerant fashionista disparages fast fashion and finds sartorial keepers in but a few labels. His coterie of go-to brands includes Idli, by Thierry Journo, who is a Jaipur-based French designer, for the gorgeous prints, and P. Mith, a Bangkok-based menswear label. He digs men’s fashion of the ’50s and leans towards Baroque motifs for womenswear, and this quite naturally reflects in his own sense of dressing which is also gender-fluid. “Border&Fall recently launched The Sari Series: An Anthology of the Drape project and I have been having a field day with the drapes. Why can boys not wear a sari is the question we should be asking ourselves,” he asserts, admitting that the sari is what he would choose to wear in a fashion quandary.
The free-spirited dresser is all about comfort, immaculately channelled with a pleasing mix of subtlety and surprise. “If I am honest with myself, I would love to wear a lungi and a T-shirt during the day and a silk lungi with a buttoned-down shirt for evenings. If I am trying to impress, it would probably be a pair of high-waisted loose capris with a tucked-in buttoned-down shirt for the day and a pair of well-tailored pants, T-shirt and blazer for the evening.” The globetrotter’s shopping destinations include Kathmandu in Nepal, and Varanasi for brocade, Jaipur for block prints, Ahmedabad for mashru, Lucknow for chikankari, Kolkata for cotton, the North for woollens, all khadi stores and a well-curated Dastkar exhibition. Taking a break from actively working at Bar Palladio Jaipur, Mulford is currently developing the interiors for a five-room luxury property outside of Jaipur called Anopura, a series of petite farmhouses nestled in the Aravali hills; editing a travel and shopping guide on Mumbai as part of the LoveTravel series, founded by Fiona Caulfield; and making plans to set up a homeware boutique in the country. While he has got his fingers in many pies, he also admits that he is most passionate about food: “Eating it, cooking it, buying it, talking about it.”
His nomadic personality has been enriched with experiences in a way that only travel can. With a lucid love for India and its cultural beauty, he says, “I have to say that there is no other place that I have lived where fashion has felt as genuine and lived-in as in India.” And it is amusing to learn that he feels his most powerful when clad in a pair of cream, polyester bell-bottoms that he discovered in Dadar market. “I wear them when I go dancing and I swear they help unleash a beast,” he announces with certitude.