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15.03.2017

Mourning Becomes Electric

Lovers of Bombay Electric, youre allowed to feel sorrowful when you enter its former premises, newly inhabited by Sanjay Gargs Raw Mango and his terracotta horse sentinels. Just know that the slant of sunlight through the front windows is the same; and the tall, metal thin cupboard winks like it holds leftover Gheebutter secrets. 

To assist in this difficult moment is the sepulchral air of a store almost entirely draped, painted and scraped over in gauzy white, with walls of glass-paned closets lined in ivory muslin.

But enough, buttercup. The saris inside the shrouds are alive and breathing. Some even recall the playfulness of early Garg, when he made mustard yellow feel like they belonged in a Rajput miniature, and a rani-pink border could suggest that you were a new-made barfi waiting to be eaten. They seem weightier and more self-conscious now — helped along by the heft of the price tags — but theres much to enjoy. 

Some even recall the playfulness of early Garg, when he made mustard yellow feel like they belonged in a Rajput miniature, and a rani-pink border could suggest that you were a new-made barfi waiting to be eaten.

A true-green Banarasi embroidered with tiny magenta parrots is a sweet visual gag (and also dead-serious beautiful); a bold bronze with zig-zag stripes of green and gold is like something Zelda Fitzgerald might have liked to wear; a shimmering navy-blue chanderi is rich and glossy enough to look like a Banarasi, worked over with tightly-furled marigolds.  

Chanderi West 

Weve always liked that Raw Mango dresses its women up to be serious without being pompous, a spirit that pops up to great effect in Gargs blouses and blouse materials. It's delightfully in abundance here: were especially struck by sky-blue silk painted over in the lightest bronze. The botanical prints are, admittedly, mannered, but very charmingly so. As for that stunner of a belted tunic in bold red-and-black stripes, thanks Sanjay: youve restored our dreams of buying AC Milan and appearing in the stands, emperor-like, in the colours of the realm. 

The things that look as if they belong in a museum are the wedding outfits — sweet in an indistinct way, but neither expensive-looking enough for exhibitionists, nor restrained enough for hipsters. The verve and wit of Gargs best unstitched work are inhibited here; marched to the altar like unready brides. Well, a store as big as this is meant for kairi-picking favourites. Sorry we didnt leave that football blouse for you.

Getting there: Raw Mango, next to Taj Mahal Hotel, Apollo Bunder, Colaba. A red and black silk blouse costs Rs 14,600. 

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