In a whirlwind trip to Delhi before flying off to London, Sheetal Mafatlal, the director of Mafatlal Luxury, which owns the licence to sell Valentino in India, took time out for an exclusive chat.
On plans of expanding her portfolio, Sheetal expressed regret that India does not have [major high fashion streets like] Via Montenapoleone or Via Della Spiga in Milan.
“We are in the process of negotiating to bring in other brands. The lack of retail space and very high rents are the problems we are facing.” However, she is very optimistic about the future of luxury business in India.
Some hard facts: “The combination of India having a GDP rising at 8 per cent per annum and one of the world’s youngest populations (more than 200 million people between 15 and 24 years) means spending power has shifted to those with a fever for fashion. Add to that brand awareness, plus the reduction of punitive import taxes, and India starts looking like a goldmine for luxury business.”
Sheetal has a long-standing relationship with the maestro, Valentino Garavani himself. So it was quite obvious to expect her to be present at Valentino’s final show. “Oh yes, that occasion was out of this world,” said Sheetal. “Valentino’s only brief to Patrick Kinmonth and Antonio for the 36-hour extravaganza was ‘Make it beautiful.’ Presentation of Valentino’s couture collection and a black-tie ball on the grounds of the Villa Borghese gave opportunity for Val’s gals to put on their best Valentino outfits.
The gals included an empress Farah Diba Pahlavi of Iran, a clutch of princesses — Firyal of Jordan, Caroline of Hanover, Marie-Chantal of Greece and Rosario of Bulgaria. Show-biz queens like Joan Collins, Sarah Jessica Parker and Uma Thurman made it one of most glamorous nights, indeed. Believe it or not, there was something of a family vibe in the midst of all that splendour.”
Sheetal tells us that the demand for Valentino men’s line in India has been strong — stronger than that for women, who buy more of accessories. Here is Sheetal’s ‘must-have’ list for men and women from the house of Valentino.
Historire bag, which Angelina Jolie was seen carrying
Fleur bag, which was seen in
Sex and the City carried by Charlotte
V logo patent leather elongated shoes in formals and casuals
Travel bags for the young executives
Shirts with contrasting colour
Jeans with the detail logo