The newly built theatre and amphitheatre modelled on the Palladian proportions is part of the humanistic project funded by the Brunello and Federica Cucinelli Foundation. < buildings have been designed in the renaissance revivalist style by chests and tables. Books are everywhere, the titles revealing the mind of a scholar—Alexander the Great’s empire-building; Luigi Serafini’s curious architect Massimo de Vico Fallani. The Palladian-inspired Theatre of the Codex, a 1980s illustrated encyclopaedia of an imaginary world written in Arts and amphitheatre have staged shows with John Malkovich, Peter a cypher alphabet; and Fifty Years of Ralph Lauren. Tucked amongst the Brook and Charlotte Rampling. The School of Solomeo academy offers tomes are first-day cover stamps announcing the 2010 engagement of the short courses in horticulture and masonry and mending and darning. Duke and Duchess of Windsor, with the former in a Brunello Cucinelli While graduation from the two- or three-year tailoring course does not sweater. The piano nobile (first floor of a Palladian or Georgian mansion), guarantee a job with the company, it helps explain the high price of apart from the three-seater sofas and chairs, has more books in a luxury tailoring: students take a year to make a single coat which is then breakfront library—and an antique Blüthner piano. The balcony beyond given to charity. is a favourite snoozing spot for the family pets, a golden retriever and a chocolate Labrador. The fierce privacy of his home attests to his resolve And here too lies Cucinelli’s villa, which, if you’re privileged to step to draw a clear line between the “public man” and “being one’s own into, offers an entrance into another world. The space is almost Spartan master at least at home”. in its simplicity, more like a Hogwarts’ set for a Harry Potter film than a fashion billionaire’s home. There are classical busts on pedestals, 16th- Urban regeneration, which he effected in Solomeo, is a growing > century oil paintings and life-sized statues amongst the antiquarian
A tailoring, horticulture and masonry academy, the School of In the valley, the 80-foot-wide Grand Monument to Human Solomeo offers students an education that combines cutting- Dignity in travertine on a marble base has five arches to edge technology with age-old handcrafting techniques. represent the five continents. The 200-seater theatre Cucinelli built in Solomeo. Perfection in the finished product is taught in short courses on mending and reknitting in the school. < global issue, he believes. “On the outskirts of a city, a mix of industry, temperance and courage and you will profit from the supreme good that you have discovered.” commerce and residential is important. Suburbs should be built to last.” He set out to prove this over 100 hectares in the valley below Solomeo. Bells ring out for the hour-and-a-half-long lunch break, during Obsolete, once windowless mills now house the brand’s open-plan, which time employees may use their mobiles, forbidden during working well-lit, efficient workplace where state-of-the-art machinery is hours, or go to the restaurant where the chef produces delicious seasonal balanced by views of a water rill and fountains. Against a backdrop of the dishes every day. “A 24-hour digital connection means spiritual freedom hills, the Monument to Human Dignity in the valley, with five arches is lost. Your spirit needs rest,” Cucinelli explains. Soft-hearted in life, but dedicated to the five continents, celebrates the Brunello Cucinelli ethos hard-headed in business, and a master strategist of fashion, his youthful of benevolent business based on beauty, truth and humanity. Well attitude and philanthropic goodness ensures that his legacy will long versed in both Greek and Roman classics, Cucinelli has been pro foundly outlast his label. affected byThe Meditations of Marcus Aurelius—personal musings by one of Brunello Cucinelli’s first shop in India opened in June at The Chanakya mall, ancient Rome’s most famous citizens: “In human life, seek justice, truth, Yashwant Place Commercial Complex, New Delhi. 154
Looks from the Nomadic collection.
Leh-based clothing brand Jigmat Couture is a young fashion label that has spun a high-fashion success story crafted out of its innovative mindset, entrepreneurial spirit—and by returning to its roots Writer Malika VerMa PhotograPher Sebran d’argent igmat Norbu is warm and affable, speaking with the polite Ladakhi suffix of ‘leh’ at the end of most sentences. It’s a trait shared by his wife and partner, Jigmat Wangmo, with whom he has built Jigmat Couture, a quiet yet formidable brand nestled in the Himalayan region of Leh in Ladakh. Not keen on the term ‘fashion designer’, he describes their role as ‘fashion artists’. They eschew the mainstream and produce one major collection a year, each of which delves into the neighbouring regions. They see themselves as cultural ambassadors, deep into research and often taking on the simultaneous need for archival work. After years spent in New Delhi, the couple moved back home to Leh in 2010 when they were expecting their first child. Sensing an opportunity to speak to the local community through familiar yet luxurious products, they founded Jigmat Couture. Textile weaving is deeply embedded in the culture, with both men and women weaving on specific looms. While the plain and twill weaves are the most common, Jigmat also offers herringbone, check and others using novel mixes of yak, sheep, goat and camel wool. Natural dyes include madder, walnut peel, wild rose, nettle, marigold, saffron, and other mountain herbs. Clients choose from a range of silhouettes, from tops and jackets to the women’s mogos or men’s phojos, which can be made to measure. Their version of bespoke redefines the very word as we know it. For a select few, they work at the earliest stage, wherein the client chooses from >
< hundreds of yarns, colours and weaving patterns. Work happens over the course of one week, from fibre to finish—three days spent on weaving, the remaining on stitching the garment and a client trial. Within a few years, the risk of opening a couture business paid off and they followed with offerings across ready-to-wear, textiles, wearable art and accessories. Each of these sits within a dedicated space in the city, making the five locations the largest and most unique city footprint of any designer, arguably, India-wide. The brand is more comparable to the culinary farm-to-table approach than anything else. The seasonal calendar dictates their flow: May and June, the animals’ natural shedding months, are dedicated to collecting, de-hairing and combing. Summers are spent in production—spinning and twisting yarn. The sub-zero temperatures of winter are ideal for sampling: with nothing to do outdoors, one can sit at the loom and explore possibilities of the weave. The line is then ready for retailing, summer being the busiest time. Whereas tourism brings its own set of clients, it is in the Ladakhi community itself that Jigmat Couture has found its stronghold. When the region opened to the rest of India in 1974, so did access to polyester and other textiles, and the next few decades saw a decline in local craftsmanship. Many locals concur that the return to a local sense of identity and craft through garments occurred when Jigmat Couture opened. Today, brides and wedding guests spend up to a few lakhs to be dressed in one of their creations. Everyday options with the prêt and accessories collections are also highly coveted. > Look from the Nomadic collection.
JLiogomkastfrCoomuttuhreeNTeoxmtialedMicucsoelulemctioofnL. aBdealokwh.: The PHOTO: BEHZAD LARRY. < Their wearable art series sits in the recently opened Textile Museum of Ladakh. It is a space unique to the Himalayan range, given Ladakh’s signiﬁcance during the silk route. The conﬂuence of various regions, from Mongolia and China to Varanasi, reveal themselves in the garments and artefacts. After years spent giving access to students and scholars alike, the Jigmats decided that a better way to share their knowledge was through a museum, which can be visited by appointment. Taking over four years to build, the three-storey structure is divided by ﬂoor, each sprawling across 2,200 square feet. Large windows and the warm grains of willow and poplar wood make for an inviting space; the ground ﬂoor often transforms to host a local o ering of curated dining experiences and performances by folk artists. The ﬁrst ﬂoor is for the Past—the inspiration and knowledge come from the 500 textiles and artefacts on display. The museum archives, which consist of over 2,000 items, are still being catalogued. The second ﬂoor is the Present, where the wearable art series takes centre stage. Garments are hung with ample breathing room, or meticulously folded. It features rare pieces, including a 10-kilogram meditation coat and textiles with a lining made from the extremely warm and labour-intensive brushed spuruk, nambu and cashmere appliqué. Incredibly, the wearer is cloaked in ﬁnery which still feels grounded and of the earth. The third ﬂoor is the Future, which is replete with various sampling looms, ready to weave and innovate. With the brand not even a decade old, the couple has already contributed to, given back and innovated within the region. With these inherently a part of their person, and the future of Ladakh, Jigmat Couture shares how a region can ﬂourish with an aesthetic entirely its own. 160| ARCHITECTURAL DIGEST|SEPTEMBER 2019
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Hosted by Dior and the Venetian Heritage Foundation, the Tiepolo ball—held in May, at the Palazzo Libia—featured grand table settings that rekindles the stylish past of the “ball of the century” Writer Shweta Vepa VyaS PhotograPher MaSSiMo LiStri D ior has always had a passion and talent for looking back at an exquisite past and recreating it through its own lens. And this time, the maison reimagined the legendary Tiepolo ball, which, in 1951, had captured the imaginations of mid-century royalty, celebrities, artists and a host of attendees that included Salvador Dalí and Christian Dior himself. Held at the grand Palazzo Labia in Venice, under its magnificent frescoed ballroom painted by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, it was truly the “ball of the century”. Early this year in May, Dior, along with the Venetian Heritage Foundation, hosted the Tiepolo ball to mark the 20th anniversary of the Foundation. With Maria Grazia Chiuri at the helm, the masquerade ball was held in true Venetian tradition, evoking all the glamour and spectacle of a bygone era. Chiuri, in collaboration with design houses Bevilacqua and Rubelli, created couture pieces for exclusive guests. But what was truly breathtaking was Dior’s taste in fashion and textiles spread onto the table dressing. Precious porcelain, glassware, cutlery, candelabras, heritage fabrics from the Fortuny archives—all of it set amidst the frescoed ballroom—sure made for a delightful sit-down dinner party. AD pulls out vignettes of the stunning scenography at this affair to remember. 162| ARCHITECTURAL DIGEST|SEPTEMBER 2019
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STARRING NAWAZUDDIN SIDDIQUI as Marcello Mastroianni LAKSHMI MENON as Anita Ekberg
ASIATIC LIBRARY as the Spanish Steps FLORA FOUNTAIN as Trevi HORNIMAN CIRCLE as via veneto BIKRAMJIT BOSE as Federico Fellini
PFahsohtioognrsatPyhleirstBtikarnaiamjFitadBtoese After its release in 1960, La Dolce Vita soon became a cinematic victory. Through a series of long shots and still frames, director Federico Fellini tracked a week in the life of jaded tabloid journalist Marcello Rubini (played by Marcello Mastroianni), as he chronicled the lives of Rome’s decadent upper crust and their extravagant but empty lives. What it also did was contrast the city’s historical architecture with its modernist structures, making Rome, in a way, both the setting, as well as the star of La Dolce Vita. Just as Fellini’s masterpiece showcased Rome’s genius loci, within these pages, AD showcases the spirit of Bombay. Echoing Fellini’s layering of pseudo-documentary with fantasy, we shoot the beautiful Lakshmi Menon and the enigmatic Nawazuddin Siddiqui, against the backdrop of the recently restored Flora Fountain, where literal light and shadow serve as metaphors for contrasts—the dark side of human nature and hope, ancient and modern, dream and reality, fashion and architecture. (THIS PAGE) ON LAKSHMI: SILK DRESS, ‘TRIBALES’ BUTTERFLY EARRINGS AND ‘TEDDY’ PEARL NECKLACE, ALL DIOR. ON NAWAZ: SHIRT, RAYMOND. TIE, SUIT AND SHOES, ERMENEGILDO ZEGNA. TRENCH COAT, SAHIL ANEJA. (ON OPENING SPREAD) ON LAKSHMI: TARTAN WOOL SUIT AND ‘TRIBALES’ BUTTERFLY EARRINGS, DIOR. ON NAWAZ: KNIT TURTLENECK, CORNELIANI. TWEED SUIT, HOUSE OF SUNIL MEHRA. TRENCH COAT, SAHIL ANEJA.
Much like the film, the 155-year-old Flora Fountain is a structure with many layers—both literal and metaphorical. Though constructed during the time of British colonial rule, it is one of Bombay’s best-known landmarks. Recently restored, it can now be seen in all its beauty and glory, as it stands witness to the people of the city, and the country, as they go about their lives.
Some of the greatest scenes in La Dolce Vita were made so by their framing. The helicopter transporting a giant statue of Christ over an ancient Roman aqueduct; the paparazzi crowded at the base of a staircase, the bulbs of their cameras pointed up; a helicopter circling three bikini-clad sunbathers, as Marcello tries to get their numbers. Here too, this quiet rendezvous between Nawaz and Lakshmi at Rue du Liban—which looks like a classic brasserie, designed by Dale Atkinson of Rosendale Design—appears to have come about after a high-speed chase, as indicated by the blurred right side of the frame. ON LAKSHMI: TURTLENECK, ORGANZA DRESS, ‘TRIBALES’ BUTTERFLY EARRINGS, CAMEO RING AND RING WITH CRYSTALS, ALL DIOR. ON NAWAZ: KNIT TURTLENECK, CORNELIANI. TWEED SUIT, SAHIL ANEJA. LOCATION COURTESY RUE DU LIBAN.
At a stately seven feet, the statue of the Roman goddess Flora crowns the 32-foot- tall fountain. In a juxtaposition that Fellini would undoubtedly find amusing, she spends her days calmly overlooking Bombay’s chaotic traffic. In the long shot on the facing page, Nawaz and Lakshmi pause on the steps of the Grecian portico and massive Doric columns of the Asiatic Town Hall and Library. ON LAKSHMI: SILK DRESS, ‘TRIBALES’ BUTTERFLY EARRINGS AND ‘TEDDY’ PEARL NECKLACE, DIOR. ON NAWAZ: SHIRT, RAYMOND. SUIT, TIE AND SHOES, ERMENEGILDO ZEGNA. TRENCH COAT, SAHIL ANEJA.
Framed by the gentle curve of Horniman Circle’s arcaded colonnade, Lakshmi and Nawaz re-enact a sequence of La Dolce Vita, where in a vintage Ambassador, on an isolated road, the two find a moment of romance. ON LAKSHMI: DENIM DRESS AND GLOVES, DIOR. EARRINGS, VIANGE VINTAGE. ON NAWAZ: LIGHT TURTLENECK, CORNELIANI. WOOL SUIT, RAYMOND.
ON LAKSHMI: BLOUSON, BUSTIER DRESS, ‘TRIBALES’ BUTTERFLY EARRINGS AND GLOVES, DIOR. ON NAWAZ: KNIT TURTLENECK, CORNELIANI. TWEED SUIT AND POCKET SQUARE, KARRTIK D. WOOLLEN TRENCH COAT, NUMERO UNO. SHOES, ERMENEGILDO ZEGNA.
ON NAWAZ: TURTLENECK, CORNELIANI. WOOL SUIT AND POCKET SQUARE, RAYMOND.
ON LAKSHMI: TARTAN WOOL SUIT WITH MATCHING SKIRT AND ‘TRIBALES’ BUTTERFLY EARRINGS, DIOR. (PREVIOUS PAGE) ON NAWAZ: KNIT TURTLENECK, CORNELIANI. TWEED SUIT, HOUSE OF SUNIL MEHRA. TRENCH COAT, SAHIL ANEJA. WRITER: DIVYA MISHRA. PRODUCTION COORDINATOR: TALIB CHITALWALA. ASSISTANT FASHION STYLIST: TOSHIA KADER. HAIR & MAKE-UP ARTISTS: SANAH KEWAL (FOR NAWAZ); GUIA BIANCHI (FOR LAKSHMI). PRODUCTION: CUTLOOSE PRODUCTIONS. GAFFER: SHREYA DUBE.
TEXT: DIVYA MISHRA. DRAWING COURTESY OF VIKAS DILAWARI ARCHITECTS. about the fascinating process of restoring MAbuhmabai’s favourite landmarks Designed by Scottish architect Richard Norman Shaw (who was once described as “an architectural Picasso” by a noted architecture historian), Flora Fountain was the ﬁrst—and only—design by its architect out of his native United Kingdom. Built in 1864, it was considered one of Shaw’s oddest projects, bringing together imported stone, a Greco-Roman aesthetic and a jolly mish-mash of sculptures of indigenous ﬂora and fauna at its base. But Shaw’s confusion was perhaps easy to understand. He’d been tasked with designing a structure for a country he had never visited, and his attempt to fuse a classical European sensibility with a touch of local ﬂavour was bound to irk purists. But purists aren’t always right. Today, after many years of being a much-loved landmark—even if mostly in a state of disrepair—the recently restored Flora Fountain now gracefully presides over the south Mumbai city square it was built in 155 years ago. Carried out by conservation architect Vikas Dilawari, with the help of the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai and the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage, the two-year restoration was not without its di culties. “There was a constant ﬂow of challenges,” says Dilawari, seeming exhausted by just the memory of it. “Working on a site that is the main square of the city is not an easy task. Fountain restoration is not taught in textbooks; and more so, this was the restoration of a city icon!” Dilawari knew the import of the task at hand, and proceeded slowly, employing a very careful, very informed trial-and-error method to minimize the risk. The structure often surprised him. “It’s only when I started documenting it at close quarters that I realized how grand it is—its proportions and artistically carved sculptures,” he says. Dilawari and his team were also pleased when they accessed the central drum, where they found the entire working mechanism. Now, at an imposing 38 feet (“The height of a three-storey building!”), the statue of Flora, accompanied by four nature goddesses and 20 lion heads that spout water down the structure, calmly oversees a city that frantically bustles about around her. “If you saw the city from her eyes, the view would be amazing,” says Dilawari.
In 1804, a newly knighted Sir James Mackintosh arrived in India, where he had been sent to take up the post of Recorder of Bombay. While he never quite took to the country, Mackintosh promptly set up the Bombay Literary Society, which would later evolve into the Asiatic Society of Mumbai. Though the Society began operating in Mackintosh’s home, three decades later, it shifted to the neoclassical building we now recognize as the Asiatic Society Town Hall and Library. “It is the city’s oldest public building; it’s been used as the city centre, as the court, as a university—it was the judicial and the administrative centre of Bombay in the 1830s,” says conservation architect Abha Narain Lambah, whose firm was responsible for its restoration, in association with the city’s Public Works Department. Abha Narain Lambah Associates started work on the structure in 2009,
DRAWING COURTESY OF ABHA but proceeded in stages. Despite being a Grade 1 heritage structure, the building NARAIN LAMBAH ASSOCIATES. housed functioning government o ces, and libraries and “at no point could we vacate any part of the building”, says Lambah, adding, as further explanation for the staggered restoration process: “We didn’t even have funds for the whole building.” It had a host of structural problems caused by age and the monsoons, which Lambah’s ﬁrm tackled as and when the circumstances permitted them to. In 2017, after the structural repairs were complete and the facade restored, the chief minister of Mumbai, Devendra Fadnavis inaugurated the newly restored structure. Today, on the 30 steps leading up to its magnificent portico with eight stately Doric columns, tourists pose for picturesque selﬁes, ﬁlms are shot, and on cloudy days, students and passers-by sit for a breather as they watch the city move around them.
hInasthone mly aandydryeesaserds thheartashs eMharssTkn. HowenreSsihme toenllesTusawtah,ydoensiegnoefrheRridtueaNreastnda friends continues to spark awe and laughter every time they meet PhotograPher Bikramjit Bose
Above: A view of the sitting room with a large painting of a shepherd and his flock—in front of the sofa is a low table with part of a collection of silver items acquired from a small shop in Bhuleshwar, Mumbai. Right: A bronze candelabra—most of the bronze pieces and Chinese artefacts were brought over from the erstwhile Tata residence at Bombay House. Facing page: A desk in the corner of the sitting room with a portrait of Simone Tata’s grandmother. Previous page: Mrs Tata in the sitting room.
O ne of my favourite pictures in my phone gallery is a recent one of Mrs T gazing at her birthday cake, in wry amusement. The unusual cake was specially made on the instructions of her grandchildren, and it held all the irreverence that Mrs T is known to appreciate—atop the cake, fondant had been skilfully shaped into a tiny bottle of whisky and a tube of red lipstick. I wasn’t exactly surprised to see her response when the cake was brought to the table. While most women in their late 80s would look forward to an icing of pastel roses or sweet sentiment scrawled in cursive, I have known only one lady of that vintage who would throw her head back and laugh at an offering as cheeky as that. Nothing, though, can outshine the disarming elegance that Mrs T exudes so effortlessly. That evening, the soft glow of candlelight caught every detail that I have long admired about her visage—her silvery, coiffed bob; her signature red nails; the way strands of freshwater pearls rest on her neck; and her strong, long fingers holding a glass of her favourite whisky in one hand and a cigarette in another. Being a designer, I take great pleasure in observing the little elements that go into the making of people as well as of fine objects of art. For me, Mrs T has been an endless chapter on character and style, ever since I joined her enterprise, Trent Limited, in 2001 as merchandise consultant for the home interiors division of Westside. >
< As the years rolled past, we formed a ritual of meeting every few weeks and catching up over a couple of drinks at her home in old Mumbai. Her house looks out at the sea, and a playful breeze is a gentle constant in the large, open balcony where, in winters, she hosts elaborate sit-down meals for friends and family. The menu for these soirées is meticulously planned by her, days in advance. It’s a joy to watch her place detailed instructions to her staff on the fine art of presenting food and balancing multiple flavours, and it’s humbling to watch her do all of that oh-so gently. Similarly, even when it’s easier to delegate someone to oversee the maintenance of her home, she will take it upon herself to commission the reupholstering of a sofa > Above left: The Swiss clock in front, flanked by two Dutch vases, is surmounted by a colourful porcelain parrot. The crown moulding is a reproduction of the moulding at Bombay House. The Chinese Thangka painting had to be put under glass when it was found to be deteriorating. When Mrs Tata relocated to this residence, a majority of the Chinese artefacts at Bombay House were moved to the Tata Collection of Chinese Antiquities at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya.