Like a little secret, Cecilia Morelli Parikh’s wardrobe is safely tucked in one corner of her spacious bathroom. “This is my summer wardrobe,” she says, opening the door. If you have lived in Mumbai long enough, you know the only wardrobe you have is a summer wardrobe. But then Parikh, who is French, has spent only two years in the city. “The biggest challenge of living in India is that you get to buy so much in spring/summer and so little in winter. I miss my winter clothes,” says the 28-year-old.
Parikh moved from New York to India after a two-year stint as a buyer at Bergdorf Goodman. For the last year she has been busy working, along with her three partners, on a concept store called Le Mill located at an old rice mill in Wadi Bunder, Mumbai. She has brought some of her favourite fashion and lifestyle labels, many of which have never been retailed in India, under one roof.
Wardrobe staples: (from left) Shoes by Nicholas Kirkwood; Parikh's only pieces of chunky jewellery. Kedar Bhat/Mint
Having lived in Paris, London, New York and India, she has had various influences on her style sensibility. In the upper section of her closet, Pero shares space with Marni, and a Tarun Tahiliani sari hangs next to a check Comme des Garçons skirt. We spoke to her about graduating from Marni to Celine. Edited excerpts from an interview:
What was your first tryst with fashion?
I went to an all-girls boarding school in London and we would spend weekends tearing through fashion magazines. My British friends got to wear cool bright coloured flared pants. But my mother used to dress me in a very French way, buy me twinsets with matching brown pants. Finally, I bought purple flared pants and that was when I realized that fashion is also about what your friends are wearing. My biggest fashion explosion was when I went to America to study. I loved Marni as an 18-year-old.
How has your sense of style evolved over the years?
When you are 18 you are body-conscious, so I used to wear more flowing things. In New York, I had a hipster aesthetic. We wore corduroy jackets and paisley shirts and lots of bad stuff. Now I like more adult pants from Celine and Chloe. My look is classic but slightly daring, although I should take more risks.
I love jackets and I never wear anything flouncy or pink. I think sexy doesn’t have to mean showing your breasts and your legs. It can also mean wearing a masculine jacket and shorts.
What is your style obsession?
Today I have to say that I am quite obsessed with Celine. I love Phoebe Philo’s trousers and formal shirts. The nice thing is that they make really sophisticated blouses that are also fun. Besides that I am obsessed with my The Row leggings, which I have had for four years. I never travel without them.
What kind of accessories do you like?
I love jewellery, but I am not an accessory person at all. I like my jewellery to be delicate. I love Sara Beltran’s designs. She uses uncut diamonds with 22-carat gold. It’s precious but you can wear it every day.
How has your sense of style changed since moving to India?
Till two years ago my wardrobe was either black or prints. That’s the sensibility in New York, but since (in) India I have started wearing brightly coloured things. People here dress up a lot in the evenings. I used to dress up more at work in New York and go out straight. But here everyone goes home to change. I feel like I have more events to attend here so I buy a little bit more of evening wear. I show much more skin than I used to.
I got married to an Indian and had a fully Indian wedding in lehengas and silk saris. I love wearing saris and always wear them to weddings. I just bought a cool Tarun Tahiliani ikatprint sari, which is stitched, so I don’t have to scuttle up to my mother-in-law to drape it (laughs).
I also wear my wedding bangles all the time. As a European, I never really wore so much precious jewellery earlier.
How do you prepare for the Mumbai summer?
It’s a question of silhouettes, when trying to cope with the heat. Looser forms are really great and I wear loose, long sleeveless dresses in the day. I pull out my shorter sexy dresses in the evening. Shorts are another must; white is must and I have lots of whites in light cotton and mul fabrics.
Where do you shop?
The best shopping in the world is Paris. I shop at Celine. Le Bon Marche has great stuff. I love designers such as Heimstone and Tabitha Simmons. I discovered Pero, Anamika Khanna and Savio Jon in India. I shop at Ensemble and Aza.
Can you give us some efficient packing tips?
I carry my leggings and four blouses for day and evening with one key piece of jewellery for the evening. I never take dresses for short trips. I wear clothes from The Row all the time because they have some really amazing basics. When travelling abroad, I take just one coat for day and night. This season beige is in.