Asmita Aggarwal gets a glimpse of the wardrobes of leading designers, Rina Dhaka and Adarsh Gill, to uncover their fashion fetishes and an enviable collection of designer handbags and shoes
Keeping it simple
In a fashion obsessed world where skyscraper heels and monogrammed bathroom slippers are the norm, designer Rina Dhaka prefers to keep it simple and not succumb to capricious fads.
Even though her wardrobe is teeming with designer bags, ranging from Prada to Miu Miu — two of her eternal favourites — she calls herself a GAP girl.
“I am not a label addict, I look at fashion as investing in key pieces and my mantra is to mix- and-match,” she admits. You find ‘Indian by Rina’, her range of transparent churidaars that she invented in the 1990s, and nifty salwar-kurtas in the closet as well.
“I immediately pick up something that catches my eye. If I start reflecting and analysing things at the mall, I tend to lose my spontaneity, which for me is the deal breaker,” she laughs.
It becomes evident as you walk into Dhaka’s bedroom that she adores belts and handbags, as they “complete the story” for her. “A handbag has become a game changer, it will help you get past a day when you are, well, not so well dressed,” she says.
Not one to shop in India, most of Dhaka’s wardrobe is burgeoning with dresses, shoes, bags, trousers and shirts picked up during shopping trips to New York and London. But before she could afford high street fashion, Dhaka would hop onto an auto and travel to Sarojini Nagar to seek hidden treasures. “You get the best brands at the cheapest prices,” she says.
Dhaka hates denims but adores rugged navy khaki pants. “In the day, I prefer boy GAP shirts — they are neither sexy nor fashionable, but they sure are functional,” she says. Even though Dhaka is a “trousers girl”, she has acquired dresses of all shapes over the years.
Of the many belts that she possesses, her favourite is the one from Lanvin that she teams up with simple crinkled muslin skirts. A timeless Chanel clutch shares spaces with a Zara tote in her wardrobe.
“I bought Zara shoes too from Paris. Apart from that I also own a Tod’s bags and Jimmy Choo and Christian Louboutin pumps. The Manolos (Blahnik) give me bunions but they have undeniable sex appeal,” says Dhaka who has acquired 30 pairs of shoes in ten years. And she is “now in love with Nicholas Kirkwood”, the British luxury shoe designer.
“There is something jewel-like about his creations,” smiles Dhaka.
If it’s GAP in the day, it is certainly not black in the night for her. “I wear a lot of pinks, so you can see the knee length skirts in that colour. I also like China blue and sea green,” says Dhaka who is a colour junkie. Even though friends like Rohit Bal and Sabyasachi Mukherjee have generously gifted her Indian outfits, she likes the fit and feel of her own creations. “There is nobody who understands your body type better than you,” she concludes.
Comfort first, style later
It was in the 1980s when Adarsh Gill was the toast of New York with her label of pre-stitched saris that she met Gianni Versace. The fashion guru, who was known for his obsession with Medusa, requested Gill to launch an evening line for him and his partner Antonio d’Amico. “He was an artist first and a designer later — one of the humblest, soft spoken persons that I have ever met,” she says about Versace.
Her remarkable journey, from a successful stint in the US to her current popularity in India, is reflected in her wardrobe. She proclaims her love for Armani. “Nobody cuts as well as him,” she says. And that’s why you will find slim cut trousers in teal, ash grey and black tumbling out of her closet.
Gill, who has worked with design houses like Valentino, Gucci and Givenchy, avoids bling and prefers an understated look. “Most of my wardrobe comprises of saris as they embrace your curves in the most sensuous way. I make my own saris — some of them are double shaded, others are ombre dyed, embroidered or crystal studded,” she adds.
She teams these with sleeveless, tie backs and the more sober cap sleeve blouses. In the day, however, she opts for trousers with comfortable tops, accessorised with matching jewellery. Sapphires, diamonds and amethysts are all the bling that she needs.
Especially remarkable is a huge collection of designer handbags that Gill has acquired over three decades. They have neatly divided into evening wear and accessories for the day. A unique Christian Dior bag with gota work, a boxy Hermes and a charcoal black Givenchy with a stunning gold sling and sequined bags designed by Gill share space in the closet. “Some of my them are as old as 25 years,” she smiles.
Bags are no fun without shoes! So you can find Salvatore Ferragamo slip ons along with neon green Metro ballerinas. “I can’t wear heels anymore, so I stick to flats. I look at comfort first, style comes later,” she concludes.