Behind Closet Doors: Maithili Ahluwalia, owner, Bungalow 8

  • Praachi Raniwala, Mumbai
  • Updated: Mar 18, 2016 19:27 IST
For the entrepreneur, style goes beyond fashion (Photo: Aalok Soni/HT)

Maithili Ahluwalia needs little introduction. The owner of concept store Bungalow 8 is one of the most individualistic personalities in the business today. Dressed in oversized androgynous denims and an anti-fit top (made out of a vintage African textile reworked by a contemporary designer, she informs us), Ahluwalia welcomes us to her aesthetically decorated bungalow on Carmichael Road early one morning. We discover that her curatorial instincts are not just reserved for her store but extend to her wardrobe as well.

Style sensibility: “Style is more holistic than just garments. It’s about having substance, a point of view and a certain reading of the world. I like my style to be an extension of who I am and not overly considered. If we limit style to fashion, we’re looking at things in a very myopic way.”

A Maison Margiela bag from Ahluwalia’s collection (Photo: Aalok Soni/HT)

Wardrobe staples: “My relationship with fashion is erratic and unpredictable. It depends on my state of mind. But I’d broadly describe my staples as those that boast ease and a degree of effortlessness — that could be worn-out denims, overalls or a vintage kimono from the ’70s. I’m all about mixing and matching and combining things that don’t necessarily go together. An Indian sensibility spruced with globalism and internationalism appeals to me.”

Also read: Behind closet doors: Esha Gupta

Shopping haunts: “I’m not into malls. When I travel, I am drawn to the works of contemporary designers in those cities. So, I seek out independent boutiques that stock designers with a new voice. I can find unique buys just about anywhere—be it Assam, London or the Chor Bazaars of the world. Geography is irrelevant.”

Go-to designers: “A peasant blouse from Sabyasachi Mukherjee is one of my favourite pieces — he has a fantastical mind and is a true storyteller. I love saris by Anavila Misra, she is a product of confident India. I also wear Bungalow 8’s in-house label.”

A glass necklace from Manila (Photo: Aalok Soni/HT)

Style influences: “My grandmother (Chandu Morarji) and mother (jewellery designer Jamini Ahluwalia) have been my immediate style influences. My grandmother was very confident and comfortable in her skin. She wore things no else would dare to. My mother, too, has bucked trends and done her own thing when it comes to style.”

Vintage win: “While I love contemporary styles, I am drawn to vintage (though the term is highly abused today) pieces. Fashion that is worn-in, one-off and has an element of discovery appeals to me. I am fortunate to be a child of heirlooms and have a lot of treasured pieces from my grandmother’s closet.”

Ace accessories: “An architectural Maison Margiela clutch with a mirrored surface, a vintage Paco Rabanne bag that belonged to my grandmother and a fisherman’s bag from Khadi & Co are some of my favourite bags. A burnt charcoal necklace, a gold vintage Grecian neckpiece and a glass necklace from Manila are other treasured buys. I also wear my grandmother’s temple and tribal jewellery.”

Style advice: “Style is about celebrating your difference and that which makes you unique. It should be about heterogeneity, not homogeneity. It’s important to know yourself to find your personal style.”

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