Sunday, September 21, 2008


As a fashion reporter in Hong Kong who spends most of her week visiting with luxury good houses including watches and jewellery, (I hate to say that it but) I am finding it harder and harder to say "WOW!" until last week when I attended the trunk show of Kolkata-based jewellery RAJ MAHTANI.
At the very top end of the market, people are no longer looking for iconic designer products. The super rich of the world (and I would like to think the super stylish) have gone off hankering for the "It" bag, the 'statement accessories' from shoes to necklaces or the recognizable dress. These days, that market which is relatively unaffected by economic tsunamis, is looking for something of extremely high quality that is at the same time individual, bespoke and uniquely theirs.
(Mahtani's people did not want to release really nice photos to me because I was told 'Everything is one of a kind and our clients hate it when they see thier pieces in magazines." This is similar to what Kaiser Karl told me about the haute couture, "If we have a movie star wearing haute couture, I know we will not be able to sell that dress privately." Haute couture starts at 50,000 euros for a day dress or suit.)

The very forward thinking Mahtani comes from generations of Indian court jewellers who started their business in the 1800s. His designs, which range from 3000 USD to 3 million USD (his most expensive piece to date), is not for the faint of heart in style or pocket book.

In fact, he says to me matter of factly, "How can people think I am like Gem Palace when they do mostly small pieces?"

He brings a rock and roll sensibility to traditional Mughal design by using oversized colored stones and diamonds mostly cut in table-cut style which may have been an ancient style of diamond cutting probably from the 1700s in Europe when diamonds were first used to adorn royalty and aristocracy.

There are several things that make Raj Mahtani's jewellery collection fabulous and so perfect for contemporary lifestyle. First it is so original no one else will have what you have so you don't stand a chance of seeing 'the right thing on the wrong person."

Second, despite how huge the jewels are, if I had one of his bib neckalces, I'd wear it during the day with jeans and a tee shirt and no one will even begin to estimate how much it is. (Sometimes because big is unbe-fuckin-lievable, it becomes perfect for everyday wear. I once tried on a 56 carat diamond and thought I could walk out of Sotheby's and no one would rob me. Likewise with the Van Cleef piece made of 20 carats of diamonds on a mink choker. Who would know? They were so huge they looked costume!).

Third, Raj Mahtani is a destination: Kolkata. Not exactly on the tourist trail so it is hard to get to. Either you go there or you wait for him to show up in your 'hood--Singapore, London, Hong Kong, Moscow. Next year he plans to open shops in London and Moscow.

(New York jewellers Verdura and Seaman Schepps have the same strategy. Verdura does not even have a street level boutique)

And finally, he uses precious stones in an irreverent yet very stylish way. Don't you find it so outdated to see someone wearing diamonds in a manner so precious (usually at weddings) looking like she spent all her money on her diamond choker while her dress (usually in cheap chiffon) comes from some local made to order designer? Or off the rack bridge?

Or carrying a Birkin but wearing a knock-off Marc Jacobs dress from the stalls in Causeway Bay?

And shoes from Admiralty? Don't even get me started!


Nothing screams 'Third World fashion'/office girl look more than that.


Cha said...

spot on Kitty! the queen of haute couture fashion!!!

Nemesne said...

welcome back Ms Kitty! we missed your articles a lot. Still counting the days till your book comes out.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone (or "some" member of Manila's gliterari and social climbing society)in Cosmo Manille knows who RAJ MAHTANI is?coz i do...thanks to google and and those back issues of VOGUE and TATLER(British!!!)

Welcome back darling!!!


Verushka said...

I have good friend whose family made gowns for royalty and big shot people.Madame had some gowns made.The custoreras went to the Palace for a fitting and went home with Cartier watches.They were made to choose from a tray.

gretagarbo888 said...

can't wait for your new book, kitty. and to like to add: do the social climbing socialites you've mentioned also know carlos falchi? LOL. Kitty, you were sooo right on about the office girl'd be surprised at how many wannabes Philippine society has spawned. Even in the provinces....this syndrome abounds.