The inspiration for this issue of Indulge was a routine visit to the Harry Winston booth at BaselWorld 2011.
I’d gone there, most of all, to be amazed by Harry Winston’s Opus timepieces. If you haven’t heard of them, I highly recommend you Google them up right away. Or, at least, do so after you’ve had a chance to flip through this issue. There is really no way to verbally do justice to the sheer...other-worldliness of the Harry Winston Opus collection.
Alternatively, you could just buy one of those superb Opus Eleven pieces for a smart $230,000.
So there we were, sitting through a product presentation by Frederic De Narp, Harry Winston’s CEO, when he starts referring to the rich design heritage left to the company by one “Mr. Shinde”.
Wait. Shinde? As in the Maharashtrian surname Shinde? Frederic, I thought to myself, we need to have a chat.
You can read a short profile of Ambaji Shinde on Page 26. Working on that story, the rest of this issue fell into place quite nicely.
What we see today in international luxury is a timely renaissance in the East. Timely because if it weren’t for booming demand from China, and, to a lesser extent, markets such as India, more than a few glamorous brands in New York, Geneva and London would be lining up for bailouts. And a renaissance because this isn’t the first time that consumers in the East have propped up luxury brands. It has happened before. And we will tell you all about it.
We start by asking Amin Jaffer and Anna Jackson to tell us how India first discovered western luxury. And how that transformed the way the potentates of the past lived their lives. Ambaji Shinde’s story is just one chapter in the subsequent impact that Indian tastes had on Western consumption. Also, we take you on a guided tour of the premium retailing facilities at Mumbai’s international airport: the temples of retail, if you will, for the potentates of modern India.
These stories are interspersed with sumptuous snapshots from history.
The maharajas and nawabs have no place in today’s independent, democratic India. But their objects of desire are a reminder to brands in the West, and buyers right here at home, that Indians are no strangers to the good life. We know a good thing when we see it.
Except for that frog house elsewhere in this issue. Let us try collectively, as a nation, to avoid repeating that.
Sidin Vadukut, issue editor.