Fashion over home-made food
Delectable food, designer talk...Vijay Arora at The Grand's Enoki restaurant in Delhi. Photo: S. Subramanium.
A LOOK at Delhi's Page 3 crowd will effortlessly give you a handful of regular faces. Among them, fashion designer Vijay Arora is a common feature. So, when you sit across a table over lunch with this partyhopper, you would wait for him to talk about the food that he tasted in a Who's Who party vis-à-vis another, some French delicacy tasted in an old-world Mediterranean town, or perhaps sips of a period wine, the upshot of which he had splashed on his designer label `Anant'. The coloured glasses that one would like to see a Page 3 celebrity and the goggled faces that these names often flash back, no way makes you believe that they do anything beyond holding a tall glass of wine here and a jig in a designer wear there. Aiming all the way at the flashing cameras.
"I try to be at all the parties that I am invited to. For the simple reason that this is one way of meeting and making friends. The rest of the time, I work hard," explains Arora. Having chosen the Japanese restaurant Enoki at The Grand for the lunch do, you again seem to think of it as an equally suitable venue for someone as fastidious as a fashion designer to eat out. Something different, away from the usual.
"If you ask me seriously, I would say, I prefer homemade food. The dal and roti made at home is something one can eat everyday but not some exotic food. Though at Enoki's, the Yakitori food has more of health and less of oil," Arora clarifies. Even if he is attending a party, he says, he hardly misses dinner at home.
Leaving the waiter to decide the food to be served, he gets talking: "I hardly used to wear the kitchen apron till I went to do my MBA at Cornell University in the US. There, you are on your own and have to go near the cooking range." From following recipes on websites to reading instructions to garnish tinned food, this Delhiite did it all. "Till then, I did not know that I would end up as a fashion designer one day. It was just by chance that I got into it and I am loving it," the chat over an array of dishes laid out on the table by now is getting down memory lane. It was in 1993 that he started off with a range of men's kurtas. "Unexpectedly, it got good response and I saw a demand for similar kurtas for women," Arora says over morsels of Japanese sticky rice, button mushrooms, potatoes and chicken meat balls in Yakitori style. An important landmark for his label `Anant' was the participation at The Lakme India Fashion Week 2003, he says.
And then, there is no looking back. The LIFW 2004 saw Arora with his wife Shobna displaying on the ramp collections with oodles of embroidered works and embellishments. "That is our main focus. We try to experiment with new motifs but embroidery and embellishments are the base lines," he describes, munching over squids with ginger, grilled prawns and salmon in Tepeenyaki style straight from the restaurant's open kitchen.
Even their winter collection unveiled this past week at a city hotel he adds, the emphasis was on these base lines. In the presence of a glittering crowd, the Aroras rolled out flowing outfits including saris, salwar-kameez and even men's ethnic wear using Jamawar embroidery and Chinese motifs.
"Given a choice, I would prefer to design saris. They are like a clean canvas to me where you draw what you want to," he comments. Getting into grilled bananas for dessert, Arora says, at times, he tries out Italian dishes at home. "Something which has less grease and high taste value suits my palette," he says.
A designer code, you bet!
SANGEETA BAROOAH PISHAROTY
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