Frank Zambrelli, in New Delhi for the unveiling of the Ganesh Minaudière and the opening of their first store in the country, talks about Leiber’s plans for more India-inspired creations.
Leiber came out with the Peacock Minaudière a few years ago—why did you decide on the Ganesh this time?
We had made the peacock six years ago, but this is the first time we consciously decided to use India as our design influence. The process started two years ago, and we looked at a number of things for inspiration, even vintage sari prints. During our research, we realized the role Ganesh plays in people’s lives here. And I love the various facets to his personality; he likes to have fun. Any puja here begins with Ganesh and we thought that since we’re launching in India, our beginning should also be with him. It’s really a new level of work for us. In fact, the Ganesh has more colour variation than any other Leiber minaudière ever created, and takes more time to complete than any piece we currently craft.
Zambrelli is inspired by vintage sari prints. (Harikrishna Katragadda / Mint)
Since there’s a spiritual and religious connection, will the people of India be open to using the Ganesh minaudière as a bag?
I know people are using it for a more spiritual part of their lives. In fact, I hope people use it as an objet d’art, something to be revered.
Hermés is also doing India-inspired fashion this year. What is it about the country that is influencing international fashion brands?
It’s just a coincidence that this happened for us in the same year. But anyone who designs for a living is drawn to India. Personally, I have always admired the multiple facets of Indian culture. So much of it is alive till today. Look at the sari. Even in the 21st century, it’s firmly embedded in the Indian culture. I came to the country for the first time 14 years ago. I was assaulted by the sense of colour, and for the people here, this sense of colour and aesthetics is instinctive. Indian women celebrate their femininity. There is so much fodder for inspiration.
Is there anything in particular that you’ll be incorporating in your pieces for the future?
We are planning a coloured alligator bag and even something inspired by vintage sari prints. Then, of course, there’s the architecture. How do you go to Rajasthan and not get inspired? Also, we are going to be using a lot of gold. While the world debates on the gold and silver season, in India it’s always a gold season. From India, you learn how to use the same vocabulary in a new way.
There are so many luxury brands setting up shop in India. How is your brand identity different?
The word luxury is so abused these days. Leiber is about customization and colour, it’s uber luxe. Leiber is, in a way, just launching in India, but Indian women have been collecting Leiber since the brand has been around. Our brand is celebratory, a natural fit with India. In fact, I think they’re like twins separated at birth. Of course, there’s competition because you’re targeting the same luxury spend. Were we talking about selling a day bag or a French-made bag, I would have had a hard time. But ours are exquisitely crafted products that are completely different.