Just got back to LA from India.
My trip now feels like a dream. Was I really there? That’s what
just a week back in L.A. does to you. Thank God I have pictures to look at so that I know for sure that I was there.
The excuse for me going to India was to take part in FIAMA DI WILLS, which is Fashion Week in New Delhi. What an exciting experience that was! Since the last time I was there in only a year-and-a-half, Indian fashion has made an incredible
leap into remarkable style and quality. The more minimalist looks are more perfect and suitable for the West, but still possess that exotic twist of detail and hand work that is hard to find these days among Western designers’ collections — unless of course you are prepared to pay thousands of dollars.
I’m happy that in their effort to break into the Western market, the Indian designers did not shy away from their incredible heritage and tradition. After all, India’s colors, textures and style have been an inspiration for the West ever since Josephine made an evening gown from a hand-woven paisley cashmere wrap that Napoleon brought home to her from his travels.
Paras from Paras & Shalini, was graceful enough to help navigate the confusing procedure of getting registered as a buyer. Once I wrapped the
sticker around my neck, all doors opened for me.”
“It was hard for me to keep myself restrained and not order every collection that I liked. And then I thought; does the bad economy mean we can’t afford to shop anymore? No, it doesn’t. Instead, we have to make smart choices and invest in timeless pieces which we can reinvent over and over again. And that’s exactly what I did in New Delhi. I went for the best of Rajeshpratp Singh, Paras & Shalini, AshishnSoni, RohitGanhiRahulKhanna,Janavi.
I selected pieces that had style and flair; looks that I always go after — timeless pieces that excite for a long time. I didn’t do TRENDY pieces. I always leave the trends for shoes and hand bags. I chose unique clothes that one can easily personalize with accessories; pieces with incredible quality and attention to detail such as hand embroidery, hand stitching and pleating.
I worked with all the designers in person who were gracious enough to consider the changes that I requested. Many times, clothes that look beautiful on the tall, skinny mannequins do not look so good on real women. I insisted on trying on every single garment to make sure that nothing ordered from the ZVEZDA collection is less then flattering on a woman’s body.
The light-weight cashmere coat with flower and
all (pictured above) today is part of the ZVEZDA collection.
This Paras & Shalini dress in a shorter version could
be seen in ZVEZDA by the end of September, 2009.
After I attended the shows of all the designers that I was interested in, including Manish Arora, and went twice over my shopping budget for my store, I left Delhi and hit the road to Jaipur. Hitting is a big word in this case because we had to pass through numerous security check points along the road.
In Jaipur, I stayed at the Naila Bagh Palace; a place that I was familiar with from past trips. The Naila family history goes back centuries and crosses paths with Maharajas of Jaipur; one of its members, Thakur Fateh Singh, being the Prime Minister of Jaipur.
The Naila family introduced me to Mukesh. As far as I was concerned, his place had an Ali Baba’s cave feel to it. From him I got the most beautiful floral print Kanta bed covers and cushions, raw silk floral wraps and jewelry and scarves.
With my entire budget gone, I decided to go to the desert and never be seen again. Jameli, a gentle beautifully adorned 10-year-old elephant and I started crossing the desert just before the glorious sunset. A few minutes into the ride we were hit by a sand storm. My antique wrap came to use right away. I veiled myself to protect my face from the dust. It made me feel like a true Maharani, the closest I’ll ever get to being one! The wild dogs howling and animal eyes shining back at us in the dark brought this incredible sense of adventure that I live for. Sadly, a few hours later when we reached our destination, I had to say goodbye to Jameli.
My next trip was to Benares, a place for my spiritual pilgrimage. It was here, at sunrise on a boat in Ganga, where my journey began and my love affair with India started.
Under the mesmerizing chanting of pundit Shivaji, I released the ashes of my beloved mother and my dog Princess, in Ganga. I sent flowers and candles downstream to thank Ganga for taking in and embracing my dear ones.
It’s in my will, that after a pudja, organized by my dear friend Rajesh, my ashes are to be released at sunrise in Ganga. After that, the party is to be taken for good shopping.
From Benares I went to Sarnath which is only few kilometers away. I have dear friends in Sarnath. I come here for silent retreats as well. It is in Sarnath that I support the productive and meaningful efforts of Dr. Jain for running a school for kids from the poorest and lowest class in society. To see the school’s improvements and the children’s happy smiles is a heart-touching experience. I was surrounded with so much love, given so many hugs.
ZVEZDA, will be selling post cards with these children’s’ drawings with all proceeds going back to them for charity.
The day after, I went back to Delhi, wrapped up all my orders, gave my dear friends Prama and Ranji Bhandari a hug and boarded my plane.
Looking down from the window while the plane was taking off, I couldn’t help but to think and wish, “So long, my India. So hard to part with you. I can’t wait to return to you again. Whatever the excuse…”
ZVEZDA will show all the exquisite and beautiful pieces from this magnificent country on April 30, 2009. Save the date! Details to follow.