Tongue in Chic

Meet three Mumbai Mesdames who you won’t find in party pages anywhere,but are soon becoming the city’s new faces of blue-blooded glamour

Written by EXPRESS FEATURES SERVICE | Published:January 16, 2012 3:07 am

NAME: Pooja Deora

AGE: 33

PROVENANCE: Daughter of Shashikala and Manmohan Shetty of Adlabs Entertainment,at Walkwater Media. A few moons ago,her father’s company was the biggest film production house in Bollywood.

EDUCATION: Mumbai’s NM College and then a Bachelor’s degree in Science and Management from Purdue. Has been working with her father for over 10 years,since the company started the famed IMAX multiplex theatre in Mumbai. “We had more than 100 screens in India by the time we sold to Reliance and exited,” says Deora,who married Congress MP Milind Deora in a famously low-profile wedding three years ago.

FAMOUS FRIENDS: Filmmaker Karan Johar,Parle scion Schauna Chauhan among other fashionistas.

FASHION QUOTIENT: “I wear a lot of clothes from my friends Divya Anand and Anushka Khanna. I also like Sabyasachi,Varun Bahl and Anamika Khanna,” says Deora. Michael Kors for staples (“he makes me look thinner”),Armani Exchange,Stella McCartney and online shops like Asos and Netaporter keep her wardrobe stylish. That her taste is highly refined is evident in her famously chic teaming of separates. “I like mixing up my clothes,that way you can run into any situation and have something on for it,” she laughs.

PARTY METIER: “Milind and my favourite pastime is watching DVDs of rock concerts together,Queen or Nirvana Unplugged,and having our friends join in,” says the swarthy beauty. “We also do more Sunday lunches than Saturday nights,and it’s usually the Breach Candy Club or Ankur.”

PARTY SETTING: “When I married,I moved into a bachelor pad. I brought in lots of plants,colours,textures and family photographs. When we entertain,it’s always home-cooked food — south Indian dosas and chicken curries.”

DEFINITION OF A GOOD TIME: “Very few people,a relaxed vibe and a bottle of wine.”

NAMRATA ZAKARIA

NAME: Maithili Ahluwalia,CEO and creative director of Bungalow 8,a lifestyle store that’s consistently found itself in Wallpaper and other design bibles as one of the best stores in the world

AGE: 34

PROVENANCE: She’s the daughter of marketing guru and former CEO of AC Nielsen India,Titoo Ahluwalia,and the famed costume jewellery designer Jamini. Jamini hails from the old textile family,the Morarjis. Her brother is the filmmaker,Ashim Ahluwalia. The family lives in an old art deco bungalow on Carmichael Road.

EDUCATION: High-schooled at the United World College of South East Asia,Singapore,Maithili went to college at America’s number one liberal arts college,Swarthmore. She also went to London School of Economics during a gap year and lived and worked as a management consultant in New York City until she moved back in 2003 to start Bungalow 8.

FAMOUS FRIENDS: She has many pals,she’s even hosted Madonna and Sting during their Mumbai visits. But her inner circle is small,elite and very tight — right from the reclusive politician Milind Deora to art consultant Priya Jhaveri to Janice Blackburn of Sotheby’s and eco-queen Christina Kim. “I’m not a small talk or wild party person,I’d much rather do yoga,read,travel or spend weekends at Kashid,” she says.

FASHION QUOTIENT: She’s almost always in bohemia from her own label,The Bungalow,where she is the artistic director along with Mathieu Gugumus Leguillon. She also loves Dries Van Noten,Isabel Marant and vintage. “You should wear fashion,not the other way around,” Maithili lets in her motto. “Fashion is about the perfection of imperfection,” she adds.

PARTY METIER: Maithili hosted Madonna at her father’s sprawling Colaba flat and Sting at their holiday home in Kashid. Hugh Jackman,Maggie Gyllenhal and Jade Jagger have been guests at soirees at Bungalow 8,too. “They have all been intimate settings with few outsiders,” says Maithili about her parties. “There’s always an air of informality and casualness.”

PARTY SETTING: Entertain at home,not outside,opines Maithili. Have an eclectic mix of people — writers,designers,art buffs,finance wizards and politicians. Have sit-down dinners so people can really talk. “And experiment with cuisine,we are great organic buffs,” she says.

DEFINITION OF A GOOD TIME: “Being around people that inspire me intellectually,aesthetically,emotionally,spiritually.”

NAME: Cecilia Morelli Parikh,partner at

Le Mill,one of Mumbai’s newest and,clearly,the biggest fashion and lifestyle spaces

AGE: 29

PROVENANCE: She’s born to a French art collector mum,Marie-Francoise Germain,and Italian father,Vincenzo Morelli,a partner at private equity firm Texas Pacific Group. She was born in the US but grew up in London before she returned to attend Yale.

EDUCATION: St Pauls School,London. Bachelor’s from Yale University,majoring in History of Art and Theatre Studies.

FAMOUS FRIENDS: Party girls Ria Talati,Karla Bookman,Gayatri Rangachari Shah,partner at Le Mill,Julie Leymarie,and film producer Rhea Kapoor.

FASHION QUOTIENT: “Isabel Marant for her effortless Parisian chic. She’s brilliant for going out as she’s always a little sexy,but never too much,” says the foxy blonde. “The Row for incredible staples that are the best travel companions. Celine for its simple solutions for the modern working woman.”

PARTY METIER: Hosted a fabulous cocktail for New York’s It-designer Bibhu Mohapatra at her beyond-chic blue-walled Marine Drive apartment. The guests included fashion editors and society tastemakers and you never read about it anywhere.

PARTY SETTING: “Get the Café at Le Mill to do the food!” laughs Cecilia. “Always have a bartender. Serve champagne (or anything bubbly) to make the evening more fun. Have lots of fresh flowers,and I use baobab candles that shimmer in the evenings. Make sure you create different intimate and comfortable seating areas around your house too.”

DEFINITION OF A GOOD TIME: “Lots of friends and great conversation.”

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