It’s terribly tacky to compare, but bear with us. Louis Vuitton stores in India don’t carry the label’s ready-to-wear line; Salvatore Ferragamo did, but stopped the women’s range; Chanel does, but the selection isn’t too large. Most shoppers will step into the new Gucci store with those yardsticks. And wonder why India didn’t enter Gucci’s creative director Frida Giannini’s consciousness earlier.
The 86-year-old Italian brand’s first store stands at Galleria, an in-progress luxury shopping centre at Mumbai’s Hilton Towers. The brand recently kicked off a new design concept for its stores worldwide and, after Ginza and Hong Kong, Mumbai is the next store to show off the new look.
The discreet signage and show window lead into a showcase for the Italian brand’s GG and Guccissima logos. But inside, nothing overshadows the products, not even the windows framing the Arabian Sea. Nestled within rosewood and suede nooks and display cases is the Fall/Winter line. But what’s most unexpected is that it’s not a part of the Fall/Winter line but all of it. Bags, shoes, luggage, watches, sunglasses, accessories, ready-to-wear, formal menswear and jewellery all find a spot on the shelves.
You’ll spot many versions of the seasons “it” bags, most importantly the Indy, as well as several variations of classics. Don’t dig the GG logo? There’s the more elegant cursive script. If you want the signature green-red-green webbing but no other obvious indicators of Gucci-ness, there are bags with those as well. Want to be one up on your best frienemy? Go for the large Boston bag with the Gucci crest.
Pick a dress to go with your bag or shoes (that’s the way it’s done this season). The store’s buyers say they kept Indian women and their bodies in mind while shopping for skirts and dresses. So, none of those evening gowns that only a Latvian model can do justice to (there is one such show-stopper of a gown, but that’s more to be ooh-aahed over on the mannequin, rather than bought.) You can swipe plastic for a good collection of shifts, wrap dresses, blouses and skirts (sorted by colour in two sections—neutrals, browns, mustard and rust for the day, and black, pinks and plums for the evening.)
For those who can’t get enough Gs, there are doodads such as cigarette lighters, cellphone charms, iPod cases and monogrammed scented candles and (our favourite) trays to make G-shaped ice.
The monogram and logos are omnipresent—the sales staff pick up bags from the higher shelves with a prong covered with logo-embossed cognac leather and the shoehorn is also monogrammed.
FYI: It’s currently the largest luxury store in the country, with 3,400 sq ft of selling space. Ermenegildo Zegna in Mumbai, the second largest, is 2,600 sq ft.
Men will be able to do more than hover around the women and grapple with the age-old: “Honey, do I look fat in this?” Instead, they can get fitted for a suit, pick a few French cuff shirts or join the lace-ups or slip-ons debate (then opt for a pair of sandals, because they didn’t want to take sides.) There’s also a super collection of belts; you’re sure to find the perfect one.
But there are more attractions, and because they pull at the heartstrings, you’ll be very willing to loosen those on your purse. Bronze baby booties with a bow in the signature green and red, Gucci teddy bears and soft balls with inbuilt rattles give a new meaning to brand baby. Your pooch can also get his own green-and-red dog leash, a dog bowl or Guccissima pet carrier.
If you are one of those (rare) Indian luxury buyers who prefer the label’s logo to be on the inside of your garment or accessory, you might have to look a little harder before you swipe your platinum. Though more subtle than other luxury giants, Gucci likes it when their symbols do the talking. Most of the shoes and the ready to wear line also have the Gucci branding in some form or another. You choose whether you want your G displayed discreetly/prominently.
For women, the entry level ready-to-wear starts at Rs9,000 for T-shirts. Ties start at Rs7,000, men’s shirts at Rs14,000, and suits at Rs50,000. Small gifts like keychains and celllphone trinkets cost up to Rs4,000.
Spanish Nights at Café Uno, Shangri-La Hotel, New Delhi
If the aftertaste is anything to go by, the Spanish buffet at Café Uno is fit for Bacchus. Many hours after consuming the sumptuous spread, the lingering wholeness of the seafood bisque refuses to leave the tongue. It returns in surges, overwhelming the mouth with an all-enveloping vigour and quickly vanishes just like the traces of a retreating sea.
The restaurant offers Spanish Nights every Thursday till 30 September. In addition to the culinary delicacies on offer, Spanish music will be played till late at night. The spread includes a glass of sangria to go with the regional specialities and a profusion of seafood from the bounteous coastline of Spain.
One of the signature dishes is the emperador ala espalda, a chunk of emperor fish on a bed of fried whole tomato served with some strands of cooked spinach in a porcelain ramekin. The lemon-butter sauce brings out the delicate taste of the fish, and the crispy bitterness of the spinach complements the package well. Chuletas de cordero consists of lamb chops cooked in red wine sitting elegantly on a dollop of mashed potato. The lamb is cooked to the right texture, neither overtly tough nor falling apart. The pine nuts add a welcome nuttiness. A personal favourite is the black lentils, potato and ham stew that was bursting with the smoky aroma of serrano ham, and makes you think how lucky Spanish peasants are to regularly consume such delightfully hearty stuff. The Paella Valenciana was flavourful and wafting with the aroma of saffron, served with ali oli (Spanish garlic sauce). The bisque was excellent, the outer ring of the thin liquid the colour of the setting sun.
It is said that most Spaniards wouldn’t dream of ordering a sangria at a bar or a restaurant. No doubt the drink made from red wine, gin, rum, cointreau and diced seasonal fruits was excellent: not overtly sweet, a hint of tartness, a slightly bitter aftertaste, a zesty deep red colour and generally refreshing, but it can hardly make up for the fact that the wine was local and not Spanish. What about a glass of Rioja or Sherry? Gambas al agillo, or prawns cooked with garlic and white wine, though pan-fried to the right texture, was virtually drowned in chilli flakes and wine (or was it the quality of the wine?). Finally, music was just a secondary prop: no soulful strains of a flamenco guitar but a rather belabouring, repetitive, taken-for-granted bustle of pop-electronica.
The buffet costs Rs1,500 plus taxes. The price includes unlimited servings from the appetizers (including Spanish cold cuts) and dessert counter, and an espresso to top it all off.