Style guru Monica Vaziralli is the woman to go to for the latest on fashion in Mumbai. We caught up with her to find out a little more about the city’s fashion scene, the top Indian designers to look out for, and where to find those one-of-a-kind items in the city…
Graves: Mumbai is your domain and home – can you tell us a little bit about the energy and vibrancy of the city?
Monica Vaziralli: ‘Mumbai is like New York, a journey through the city unfolds many stories and the city’s pizzazz is unbelievable. I grew up in Mumbai and hence know all the right people and sources of entertainment, it also gives me the opportunity to knock on all doors.’
Mumbai © Sapsiwai – Shutterstock.com
Given the city’s size, how do you keep tabs on new openings and fashion in Mumbai?
‘Because people know what I do I receive invitations to a lot of openings and events, which is a great way to determine what’s interesting. There’s also a social calendar in the local newspapers if I end up missing something.’
How does the Mumbai fashion scene compare to those in Europe’s fashion capitals, like London and Paris? How have you seen it change over the last decade?
‘Indian designers are right up there with the rest of the world, and I would have to say that they are swiftly becoming the best. They have great talent, style and are just as good as the global household brands. Few have become household names outside India, but that doesn’t mean they are not as accomplished. In terms of price they are more competitive. Over the last decade we have seen designers change to encompass Western style and they have managed to blend the ethnic East with the chichi West.’
Who are the most exciting Indian designers working in fashion in Mumbai at the moment?
‘My personal favourite is Monisha Jaisingh because she has managed to create the perfect synthesis of Western and Indian styles. Another exciting name to watch out for is Tarun Tahiliani who has blended craftsmanship and local textiles with a tailored European form.’
Monica Jaising fashion © Monica Jaising
You are the go-to person in Mumbai to act as a guide for fashionistas and shopaholics alike, how did you find your way into the field?
‘I have been an interior decorator for the past 35 years and after a while my taste and eye has been able to extend beyond home décor and I have been able to pick up on the quality, style and trends of the fashion world. It has been a gradual process, a development of taste that transcends a single discipline.’
What’s your number one piece of advice for shoppers who are coming to Mumbai for the first time?
‘Take time to look around, if you’re in a hurry it is really difficult to get the feel of the city, the designs, the fabrics, the trends and the people. I can advise you on what to buy, but ultimately it will be your own eye and style that will define your purchases and you can only build that up by imbuing yourself with a greater knowledge of your environment.’
Mumbai Fabrics © Ella Hanochi – Shutterstock.com
Haggling is part of life – how can an outsider possibly secure the best price – where do you start?
‘Haggling is part of a bygone era or for market stalls – if you’re interested in the type of design and fashion that I can advise you on then you are going to be paying fixed prices from internationally focused stores, where striking a bargain is really tricky.’
Where are your favourite spots to unwind in the city after a long day of shopping?
‘My personal favourite is the Willingdon Sports Club; housed in a wonderful old colonial building it is the place to go to meet people from many different walks of life over a cup of tea or a drink at the bar. For something a little more luxurious then I like to meet clients at the Eau Bar at the Oberoi or the Sea Lounge at the Taj Mahal Palace.’
Eau Bar at The Oberoi, Mumbai © The Oberoi
What is the best way to quickly immerse oneself in Mumbai and to get a real feel for local life?
‘The best way to get to know Mumbai is to be introduced to someone locally who can give you all the local news, insider tips, ideas on what to do and where to go. Mumbai is relatively small and us locals can always introduce you to people from many walks of life that can give you an even more detailed snapshot of the city, depending on what you want to know.’
If you would like to adventure into Mumbai yourself you can view our itinerary; Saffron & Sandalwood for further information.