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Pleasure Palace

A Sunday afternoon spent at the Emporio mall is a crash course in luxury in India

Written by Namrata Zakaria | July 31, 2013 5:51:21 am

It had been close to two years since I had stepped into DLF Emporio,India’s only “luxury shopping” mall at Vasant Kunj,New Delhi. The temporal distance reintroduced me to the fine space and also gave me a status update on the business,something I was hoping for.

I was especially surprised to find the varied labels available here. I had no idea about the presence of many in this country,especially stand-alone stores by Michael Kors,Pucci and Missoni,and even Harry Winston.

Louis Vuitton,Dior and Fendi have been here since the mall opened in 2008. I had visited it in its first week of existence,and it was desolate. The Indian designers crammed on the third floor,who wanted shops on the coveted ground level,were made to wait until the big daddies from Europe and the US arrived. The wait wasn’t too long,but the Emporio runs a full house now. It houses almost every label that’s available in India (with the exception of Hermes and Chanel). There is Gucci (who are staying here despite a three-storied,glass-encased flagship boutique just a 25-minute drive away at Gurgaon’s Oberoi hotel),Tom Ford,Salvatore Ferragamo,Tod’s,Bally,Jimmy Choo,Christian Louboutin,Bottega Veneta,Ermenegildo Zegna,Canali,Giorgio Armani (and Emporio Armani),Roberto Cavalli (and a Cavalli Café) and so many more.

An hour on a Sunday afternoon here,and you’d be fooled into believing the economy is thriving. It was chock-full with shoppers,young chic women who looked like they had stepped out of a plane from Milan. Men in Ralph Lauren’s large-horse candy-coloured T-shirts,nannies who knew exactly which floor Les Petits was on,and little ones here for the blueberry muffins from the chic Café E.

The Pucci store is only a week old and it’s full with the delightful prints the Italian label is known for. The shop girl tells me in the first hour of its launch,she sold a Baroque-inspired pair of wedge heels from their Dragon line (the heel is made of milk and resin and figures intertwining dragons). It costs Rs 3.87 lakh,more expensive than many small cars sold in this country.

Louboutin’s Yolanda gold spiked heel costs Rs 1.96 lakh. It is arguably the most expensive shoe label in the world but the sales staff here delightfully assures me this store is cheaper than anywhere else,“thanks to the falling rupee”.

A preteen is shopping at Tod’s with her grandparents,they’re buying her a pair of white loafers.

Missoni — adored by fashion mavens for their signature zigzag knits — just launched the evening before. They are still celebrating today,offering a glass of French champagne to every customer who walks in. There are also antipasti of spinach and artichoke quiche and chicken paté canapés. Even if you don’t make a purchase (the dresses here cost a lakh,and a swimsuit is for

Rs 34,000),you leave with a little gift bag with an adorable key-

ring inside.

Manav Gangwani,whose start-up Infinite Luxury has brought in several luxury labels to India,is watching over at Missoni’s party-for-all. He tells me he’s scouting for locales in Mumbai’s Bandra-Kurla Complex (the city’s sky-high rents and flailing infrastructure have scared off many labels). Missoni is his fourth store at Emporio — after Roberto Cavalli and Pucci —and he says he clearly sees it for the money it brings him.

Les Petits is a surprise too; it’s a children’s multi-brand store that has Young Versace,Simonetta,Fendi Kids,Baby Dior,Miss Blumarine and I Pinco Pallino. It’s hard to get a toehold here.

The Emporio serves as a good business model for many real-estate developers. Find a spot in the middle of nowhere,create a shopping haven and bring in the footfall. Mumbai’s Palladium attempted it at the overzealous Phoenix Mills,but its poor planning has caused Zara to rub shoulders with Burberry and Etro.

With the new FDI norms,new and specialised shopping spaces are the need of the hour.

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