Two tightly edited racks of designer Payal Khandwala’s signature looks in citrine yellow, bright orange, neon green, striking sapphire, proud purple and soft white stand together like a regiment of soldiers ready for drill inspection at her first store in Bangalore city.
We march up and give them the careful, considered once-over, resisting the urge to stand to attention. Tucked away at the back of the first rack, we find the outfit that Hillary Clinton picked for herself: the collared, handwoven silk kurta with a silver panel on the front and a brilliant blue band on the back. Oh Commander-in-Chief. The rest of the rack also has the same kind of glamour: we see Khandwala favourites like her blue brocade skirt but also selections from her holi-inspired Spring-Summer ‘18 collection like this hot pink Grecian-style dress that’s perfect for the cocktail party at a casual-but-not-really beach wedding. (Note: it had better not be in Goa, where Wendell Rodricks has some pretty sharp criticisms to make of Khandwala’s, er, approach to originality. Then again, she had a sharp answer herself.)
Then there are kimono-style jackets that we wouldn’t mind seeing on some of our own political leaders. What’s surprising, considering its March opening, is that the store doesn’t have much summer clothing on offer. (They must have believed the hype about Bangalore’s eternal cool breezes?) And brace yourself for more disappointment: you might fall in love with a pair of lime-green pleated pants just like our companion did, and they won’t have your size. The ladies at the store will try to assuage you with another pair that might be from the same shade card but isn’t the same hue. They may even frustrate you with the explanation, “We can customise this for you but we’re not sure of our delivery time because everything happens in Mumbai”. If only we could convince the bestie to move her wedding date back a few weeks.
The Pleatstocene Epoch
In an attempt to put the smile back on our friend’s long face, the sales ladies try to distract her with Khandwala’s much-feted re-imagining of the six-yards of the sari – The Little Sari. (Our friend, who came wearing an organza sari, takes a second to see if shade was being thrown in her direction, but is soon convinced that it was a harmless sales pitch.) As soon as she accepts the suggestion, the little tables in the corners are illuminated: one is stacked with these silk half-yards that can be draped over anything in your cupboard; the other is piled with pieces from Tachi – a minimalist botanics inspired jewellery line that stems from a collaboration with another artist.
We’re told the label decided to open in Bangalore because “most of their online sales seem to come from this city”. If you’re excited, rush on over. Your second visit will probably still be online, so that you won’t have to step out in this sun. Drawback: the walls in your room aren’t shimmering golden, your closet isn’t arranged to resemble the colours of a jewel-toned rainbow, whispering the words “Madam President” as you run your fingers over them.
Getting there: Payal Khandwala, Cinnamon, 24 Gangadhar Chetty Road, Sivanchetti Gardens, call 43718628, a silk handwoven kurta for Rs 16,800, gold silk pants for Rs 14,200 and the Little Sari for Rs 60,000 (all elements bought separately).
The story was contributed by Joshua Muyiwa, a Bangalore-based poet and writer.
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