Ladies Who Lunch | Verve Magazine
India's premier luxury lifestyle women's magazine
February 15, 2011

Ladies Who Lunch

Text by Anshu Khanna. Photographed by Amit Dey

Cocktails and chrysanthemums…appetisers and artefacts…strawberries and style…. Champagne flows as easily as the conversation when fashion designer Reynu Taandon invites the capital’s young fashion divas to a sumptuous afternoon treat, finds Verve

  • Shabnam Singhal, Pushpanjali Sharma, Reynu Taandon, Shreya Singh, Nikhita Tandon
    Left to right: Shabnam Singhal, Pushpanjali Sharma, Reynu Taandon, Shreya Singh, Nikhita Tandon
  • Shabnam Singhal, Pushpanjali Sharma, Reynu Taandon, Shreya Singh, Nikhita Tandon
    Sitting (L-R): Anu Bardeja, Tanisha Mohan, Nazuk Bardeja, Promila Bahri Standing (L-R): Pushpanjali Sharma, Shreya Singh, Pooja Gogia
  • Shabnam Singhal, Pushpanjali Sharma, Reynu Taandon, Shreya Singh, Nikhita Tandon
    Pushpanjali Sharma, Promila Bahri, Shreya Singh, Pooja Gogia
  • Shabnam Singhal, Pushpanjali Sharma, Reynu Taandon, Shreya Singh, Nikhita Tandon
    Shilpa Dhingra, Nikhita Tandon

Come winter and New Delhi turns mystical under the warm glow of the sun. Flowers run riot in full technicolour – white chrysanthemums, multicoloured dahlias, white tube-roses, orange marigold and violet rhododendrons dot the streets. Amidst this burst of nature also emerge the girls in boots, minks and coats, style divas who combine a sense of sassy chic with the warm cover of winter woollies.

This turns out to be the perfect occasion for the luncheon hosted by style diva Reynu Taandon for a few modish friends. This ‘lady of the manor’ is renowned in the capital for her sense of style and beautiful home full of rare art.

The large cast iron gates open, to usher you onto a lush green farm where the Taandon family lives. The long winding road is flanked by pristine views of sprawling lawns full of flowers, tennis courts, vegetable gardens, barbecue corners and little Gazebos decorated with Victorian chairs, iron tables and garden umbrellas. Abode to Taandon’s most striking collection of art, the home bears testimony to her long journey of acquiring some well-known masterpieces. “Aficionados tell me my art collection is priceless but for me the memory of acquiring each piece with so much care is invaluable,” she says.

No surprise then, a Jamini Roy, a Shergill, a few Gujrals, Suhas Roys and Sanjay Bhattacharyas serve as the backdrop to this colonial-to-modern home where colour palettes from beige to brown are enhanced by vintage Jamevars thrown in rich maroons and reds. The ambience is made more festive today with the careful inclusion of glass by Rosenthal, Villeroy & Boch and porcelain by Lladro – the home is also richly decorated with flowers designed by Romilla Kashyap and Ranjana Surekha.

Taandon’s guests for the day perfectly fit the bracket of the young and peppy stylish of the city. As her good friend Saurabh Khanijo rustles up an all- vegetarian, four-course meal from his restaurant Kylin, the stage is set for the women to enjoy an extravagant treat of the freshly picked vegetables from the farm.

As the women trickle in, the mood is set with a laidback aperitif session on the lawns. Careless banter fills the air as New Delhi’s devastating diva Tanisha Mohan captures the frame. Pushpanjali Sharma catches up with good pal, the shy and pretty Princess Shreya Singh from Tehri Garhwal, who grew up in the near-spiritual palace of her grandparents in Rishikesh, now converted into the very soulful Ananda Spa and Resort.

Sharma hails from the Ayurveda-led health conglomerate Baidyanath family – who set up their business in 1917. She began her career promoting the family concern but is now bringing global brands to India, hand-holding them in their initial start-up phase. A patron of straight-lined classicism, she likes to combine the classic with the vintage. “I collect pieces that are timeless and can be worn in many ways,” she says elegantly. An alumnus of Stanford she has promoted car brands such as Bentley and Lamborghini and is currently helping the Blues group to promote their varied brands.

In a similar zone is the very petite Shabnam Singhal who is creating the Indian luxe alternative at Emporio in Delhi. The Gallery Mall is fast emerging as the most affable mix of Indian couturiers like JJ Valaya, Laconet-Hemant, Suneet Varma, Reynu Taandon and inspiring lifestyle stores like Casa Paradox, Fendi Homes and Versace Homes. A workaholic, this pretty luxury landlord has made a quick transition from the family’s bio-chemical business to housing – on an exclusive arrangement – some of India’s most luxurious addresses including the Park Hotels in Hyderabad and Chennai.

Another brand-developer on the guest list is yoga guru and fitness expert Yuvarani Shreya Singh who underplays her Rajput lineage spreading across the Himalayan state of Tehri from where her grandfather HH Manvendra Singh comes, to Nepal where her mother hails from. Promoting the jewellery brand Ananya she is seen flaunting the Cavalier, the new look of the Dior Winter 2010 that takes women on an equestrian look of corduroy breeches, gilet and jackets in suede, boots and very androgynous slings.

Style icon Shilpa Dhingra, heir apparent to the Orient Craft Empire, has brought in brands like S Oliver. Heading the lifestyle division she looks into the export of very exclusive linen and soft furnishing consignments to leading stores like Saks and Neiman Marcus.

In the zone of promoting bejewelled baubles are the mother-daughter duo of Nazuk and Anu Bardeja who recently launched their Letoinde collection. Educated from the GIS institute in Singapore the very delicate Nazuk creates textured and fabled pieces in gold and precious stones along with pearl-encrusted collars and studded party pieces in silver and semi precious stones. Hers is a modern elegant look in a dress picked up from Italy and a stylish hat by Ritu Beri. “My dress begins with the jewellery I wear. Everything else is coordinated accordingly,” she beams.

Flashing one of Nazuk’s creations is restaurateur Pooja Gogia who along with her husband promotes the very popular nightspot Nasha in New Delhi. Well-known to the Page 3ites of New Delhi, Pooja works closely with the family’s catering business inspiring chefs to add a zing to their food.

Nikhita Tandon, Reynu’s designer-daughter is a young entrant into the world of design. She takes pride in having her own identity alongside her accomplished mother and insists that she has carefully chosen the path of fashion.

The quiet Promila Bahri from Jaipur’s ‘Golden family’ wears a Bohemian look inspired by her very Boho nature. A lady of foresight, she established India’s first well-thought out kids brand Lil Tomatoes way back in the early ’90s. Having sold the brand a few years ago, this Sufi singer now owns an interesting establishment called Gallery of Galleries in which she showcases interesting art and photography exhibitions and multimedia shows.

After soaking in the sun along with sipping champagne and dipping fresh strawberries into molten chocolate, the all-women entourage indulges in a well-spread out meal followed by Reynu’s herb infused-tea that Delhi’s divas love. Potently charged with herbs from her garden the tea is served in the finest china on her Versace round table with an inlaid lazy susan…all in all, a laidback afternoon in the resplendent winter garden.

Carte du jour
On the table, that afternoon…

Teppanyaki Thai platter
Kylin lettuce wraps
Thai spring rolls
Veg crystal dimsum

Tom kha
Crispy Thai salad

Main course
Teppanyaki Veg teriyaki
Silken tofu and snow peas in basil sauce
Stir-fried veg
Thai curry
Pan fried noodles
Sticky rice
Hakka noodles

Ice cream spring roll
Date pancake

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