Tag Archives: mumbai

Bombay Review: Le Mill


LE MILL

Le Mill opened in 2011 to much fanfare. Tooted as the first real “concept” store in Mumbai, Le Mill famously promised to bring favorite Western designers to the subcontinent and absorb the import duties. They’ve made good on their promise, but beyond that asset, the only “concepts” at work in Le Mill are pretty clothes and nice home décor.

That said, Le Mill offers more than your run-of–the-mill boutique (aha.) The store is housed in a large, old mill in the dockyards of Wadi Bunder, and it’s a beautiful space worth experiencing. It incorporates both Indian and Western clothing designers, but also some wonderful in-house flatware, a children’s corner, a gemstone boutique housed in a shipping container, a (lackluster) flower shop, and a cool café for the hot and weary.

Le Mill currently carries a number of chic and fresh designers from the United States, Europe, and India, including Heimstone, The Row, Les Fils de Bengal, Thierry Colson, Neha Malhotra, Rajesh Pratap Singh, Cutler&Gross, and the rising star Saloni Lodha…. Some of my favorite items: a breezy orange sundress by Les Fils de Bengal (9,590), an intricately beaded Saloni dress (29,000), A white crochet top by Heimstone (15,290) or their pink silk pinafore (20,000), the splashy prints by NorBlackNorWhite, and Rajesh Pratap Singh’s exclusive men’s suits.

The aesthetic is pretty standard Mumbai though—light fabrics, hand-prints, bright colors, and beading.  I struggled to see anything new or surprising in their point of view. And I wondered, of all the exciting young designers in the West who might blend beautifully into Bombay’s aesthetic (Proenza Schouler, Erdem, Mary Katrantzou, to name a few)—why choose The Row?

My favorite stuff at Le Mill was actually their home-wares, especially their lovely in-house line of bowls and plates, printed with coolly colored patterns (500-800 rs each; concocted by a former Hermes designer). I also liked their “Platinum” collection—flatwares in solid pastel colors rimmed in silver (330-1490 per piece). Also fun: enamel bowls (500) and tiffins, chunky corked jars (300-600), and Obataimu’s amazing Object Lights—old trumpets, buttermilk churners, cameras and the like transformed into beautiful and unique light fixtures. (about 50,000). The store incorporates some wonderful design elements, like the paper interpretations of Bombay’s ubiquitous crows, the mismatched café chairs, and the flamingo-footed jewelry cases.

If you decide to make the trek to Le Mill, don’t miss out on the café, by Arjun Gadkari. The menu is small, seasonal and immensely satisfying. We tried the ricotta crepes, the breaded chicken, the gnocchi, and the barley salad; my absolute favorite however, was the shredded lamb and mint salad w/ pomegranate. Splendid.

Le Mill
17-25, Nandlal Jani Road
Next to Wadi Bunder New Railway Bridge
Wadi Bunder (East)

Daily, 11am to 8pm

Shopping By Neighborhood: Kala Ghoda

KITSCH

If, for whatever reason, you feel the need to snatch up Western designer duds whilst in Bombay, Kitsch is probably your best bet. Stocks a tiny and well curated selection of brands, including Stella McCartney, Hervé Leger, and Lanvin. Be forewarned—Kitsch does not absorb the price of the import duties, so, if you can afford these clothes in the first place, you might be better off just buying a ticket to the states and shopping there. Or pay the shipping fees on Net-A-Porter.

N.B. that it’s odd that the least kitschy place in Bombay snapped up that name. Kitsch is anything but.

Kitsch
48, Dr V. B. Gandhi Marg
Near Rhythm House
Kala Ghoda

Monday to Sunday, 11am to 8.30pm

SABYASACHI

Sabyasachi sets the tone with an alluring entrance: before your hand reaches the door it has mysteriously swung open, tumbling you into a wonderland-like rabbit hole of mustachioed maharajas, enameled mirrors, old ticking clocks, and dapple-cut lamps. It’s… entrancing! (Pardon the pun.)

For my money, the final showroom doesn’t quite measure up to the promise of these first two foyers, but the clothing is undeniably beautiful. Even if you’re not looking to buy, Sabyasachi, a rising star in the internatioal fashion firmament, is a fabulous place to view intricate and traditional ceremonial sarees, kurtas, etc. There are also stunning displays of gems, so luxurious that I shied away from asking the price, as I’m so obviously an imposter.

Unfortunately, none of the charming curios are for sale, but if you fall in love—never fear! Head to Mini Market.

Sabyasachi
52 Dr. V. B. Gandhi Marg
Near Rhythm House
Kala Ghoda

Monday to Saturday, 11am to 7.30pm; closed on Sunday.

FABINDIA

Fabindia is a veritable emporium of affordable Indian silhouettes in an endless array of bright, fun prints and colors. The cuts and styles are simple and don’t scream “India!” in that annoying way, so you can bring separates home and integrate them into your everyday wardrobe. My favorites are the blousey harem pants or the short sleeveless kurta tops. They also have stunningly beautiful and affordable scarves and dupattas.

And the price is practically impossible to beat, especially since the quality is incredibly high. Furthermore, your money is being well-spent—Fabindia is run by married couple who source their fabrics and products from over 7,500 craftspeople and artisans across the country. They’ve also made a commitment to maintaining traditional handloom weaving and printing techniques. And most impressively, Fabindia promotes the market-based poverty-alleviation and financial inclusion models through its reliance on community-based companies owned by local craftsmen to source the products.

My favorite stuff at Fabindia, though, isn’t the clothing—it’s the furniture and home wares, which are cheerful, affordable, and often very lovely.

And if you get hungry…

Head to KALA GHODA CAFE for a snack. It’s one of a kind in Bombay, and absolutely worth experiencing. Try their own delicious blend of joe alongside a Melly Salad or a sandwich or waffles.

Shopping for home decor in Mumbai

Towels at Fabindia

There are three great, affordable chains in Mumbai where you can stock up on fun home accessories to decorate your kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom with:

FABINDIA: If you want bright, Indian-inspired home décor for unbeatable prices, look no further than Fabindia. The flagship store in Kala Ghoda has walls lined with bright fluffy towels, washcloths, dishtowels, sheets, bedspreads, pillowcases, curtains and anything else you might need, in fun and constantly changing patterns.

Fabindia also stocks some great accessories like lampshades, picture frames, vases, candles, bath products, and recently, I even spotted a little globe.

THE GOOD EARTH:  The Good Earth takes Indian home furnishing to new levels of awesomeness and sophistication. They have a series of collections covered in designs ranging from lotus-splashed Buddhist-chic to Technicolor Bombay kitsch. These designs are splashed across multi-product lines which often include a wide array of products: plates, cups, pitchers, table clothes, and so on.

The flagship store in Raguvanshi Mills, Lower Parel, sells all the collections, as well as some really beautiful wooden furniture, and everything else from lotus shaped candles, to fragrance-oils, to yoga-wear, to  to cow-print toilet paper.

The Good Earth isn’t cheap, but comparatively to cities like New York or London, you get good value for money. And the design aesthetic is truly charming and original. I wouldn’t mind decorating my entire apartment in The Good Earth (and many well-heeled Mumbaikars do.)

ANOKHI: Anokhi is the best store to pick up traditional Indian textiles at reasonable prices for no hassle. Anokhi is famous for its hand-made block prints, meaning that a design is carved into a block of wood, and then applied by hand in a pattern onto bedspreads, blankets, tablecloths, cushion cases, and so on. Think of Anokhi as Fabindia’s more expensive and more sophisticated older sister. And perhaps prettier.

Anokhi is also applies its block printing (and other traditional techniques like beading and embroidery) to a line of clothing. The clothes straddle the line between Indian and Western—a mix, we’ll say between Indian-inspired Western-wear, and Westernized Indian digs. Definitely a great place to pick up staples for your trip around the rest of the sub-continent. Prices run from about 500-1000 rupees for basic clothing (11-22 USD)

Keep an eye out for: light-weight scarves (350 INR), duffle bags (850 INR), and Anokhi’s great blankets (2750 INR for a double.)