It might look out onto the quintessentially-tropical tableau of the Taj pool, but deep in its heart, Andraab’s first Mumbai store, which opened a couple of months ago, knows that winter is coming. And winter is what it is preparing for, this oasis of quiet, cloudy shawls and carpets on a garishly glamorous corridor, otherwise stocked with Dior purses and dark chocolate pastries.
That’s not to say that Andraab isn’t fashionable or even glamorous: you only have to run your fingers down an unusually boisterous pashmina scarf, featuring a sorbet-coloured ikat design; or perch on the boat-like emerald velvet couch; or have a chat with the very dapper Mr Roohid, who presides over these weaves.
“Open as many shawls as you like; we love to fold,” he urges, unraveling a collection that even this reviewer’s mother, a pashmina-purist who has been collecting in Kashmir for decades, can’t help coo over.
Under her eagle eye, out come pure white scarves with the thinnest, bluest edgings; shawls in a range of “natural” shades, scattered with light embroidery; and a clever four point reversible scarf that’s woven together in the middle, opening like a three-dimensional cross. All of these are rendered from high-quality pashmina.
“The idea is to preserve the craft and weave, but update the aesthetic,” explains Mr Roohid. Andraab’s shawls are designed in-house or with international collaborators, and hand woven in Kashmir. According to our accompanying shawl expert, they are expensively priced, but not exorbitant: at Andraab, a shawl will cost close to double of what you’d pay if you bought directly from the weavers, and you’d be hard-pressed to find comparable designs.
The store also stocks a small but strong collection of carpets, festooned with fabulous tales and creatures, but it’s the shawls that capture our imaginations. They look like they’d fit right into downtown New York or a Delhi winter wedding, and have us exiting, even on this sunny afternoon, with our head in the clouds.
Getting there: Lobby Heritage Wing, The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Apollo Bandar, Colaba, call 022 6237 4856, Rs 31,000 for a reversible double pashmina.
Photo credit: Fashion United
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