Parties, Galas & Soirees with a South Asian beat!
Browsing: Little Black Book: Events
Jashobanti Mahanand is the nineteen-year-old daughter of a migrant worker from Orissa, India. Since she was nine she has worked in a brick kiln, tossing bricks in the blazing sun. So what was she doing in New York at a glittering event with some of the city’s most powerful and influential people?
The answer is just one word: AIF.
The American India Foundation (AIF) is the development organization which connects the dots between the poorest of the poor and affluent society, where funds are raised for a better future for the children in the slums, the forgotten villages and small towns of India.
Life size peacocks, filigreed gold pillars and small pools of rose petals and lotuses – a little piece of Kashmir had been recreated in New York by Children’s Hope India with its Evening in Kashmir gala at Chelsea Piers in Manhattan. Guests even got a chance to saunter near the iconic Dal Lake – in spirit at least as they posed for family photographs before a large image of this famous body of water.
The evening began with the noted Sufi singer Kailash Kher being spotlighted on a darkened stage as he invoked the Almighty for blessings with a powerful rendering of ‘Kashmir’ and following it up with much loved ‘Allah Ke Bande’. The Pride of Kashmir Award was presented to Kailash Kher by Ambassador D. Mulay for his unifying music and his involvement with social causes.
That Indian sensibilities of style can merge seamlessly into the Western vocabulary of fashion has been proven by many international designers – but new Indian-American designer Sheena Trivedi puts her own stamp on this east-west marriage – and has tremendous fun doing it.
Trivedi presented her Fall/Winter 2014/15 Collection at the Empire Rooftop to a packed hall with models ensconced on top of light boxes, dressed in a collection which could be described as edgy New York with tribal Banjara touches – suitable for both Soho and the Rajasthani desert.
New Yorkers are getting thoroughly pampered – if they can’t get to India to catch the latest Indian fashion, topnotch Indian designers with celebrity models are coming to New York! You had the gorgeous Lisa Ray walking the ramp for Satya Paul, and the equally eye-catching Soha Ali Khan for the designer Joy Mitra.
And so it was that some of India’s hottest fashions came to New York in a space which is the only neo-Gothic Reformist Synagogue built back in 1849. The surreal internal architecture of this space, now known as the Angel Orensanz Foundation for the Performing Arts, really added to the atmosphere.
Ah, New York – the wonderful melting pot! Where else would you find a Diwali celebration being held at a Jewish synagogue? A Diwali gala organized by the Jiva Performing Arts is being showcased at Congregation Rodeph Sholom, a Reform synagogue founded by German immigrants which is of the oldest synagogues in the US. Joyous dhols and jingling ghungroos will resonate in the air.
It was about the beautiful city of Varanasi, of endangered silks and a way of life that is under threat. Barneys New York with Freida Pinto, David Adjaye and Wendy Schmidt hosted a private dinner to celebrate the the luxuy brand Maiyet Varanasi Silk Capsule Collection and the nonprofit Nest Varanasi Silk Weaving Facility which through an innovative partnership are bringing new hope to weavers, helping them to redefine and rethink their craft production. It’s all about preserving the centuries old tradition of handloom silk by creating high demand products and a whole new market.
The great thing about New York City is that you never know whom you’re going to meet and where. It’s like pulling a slot machine lever every morning and watching a waterfall of casino coins tumble out – or not!
So if you had told me that before the week was midway through I’d be sipping wine at Tina Brown’s fabulous apartment and hobnobbing with celebrated author William Dalrymple and a bunch of celebrities, I would have been skeptical. But that’s the way the week turned out. Only in New York City…
September 6, 2012 was no ordinary day – it was the day that fashion became thoroughly democratized with Fashion’s Night Out taking over Manhattan. Every man and woman even remotely interested in style was invited to the citadels of couture for an open party.
The streets of Manhattan were over-run by hordes of fashionistas – all dressed to the hilt, many in designer dresses, others in their own unique styles and they had taken over the city. It was like one big, glorious feista, especially in lower Manhattan. Women in groups, women with boyfriends, generational groups too – everyone out to celebrate something as whimsical, as fleeting as fashion.
The very first party I stopped at was at Soigne K, the luxury boutique on Madison Avenue owned by Soigne Kothari. It was pure carnival as crowds gathered to see fiery dancers in the store windows and indulge in shots of tequila, rose and white wine, and dainty little finger foods.
New York is the place where nothing is impossible. You can be a medical student, decide to take on a fashion career and actually see it materialize before your very eyes. All you need is chutzpah – and of course, talent.
Ask Siddhi Vaishnav and she will tell you New York is indeed the place to test-drive the most amazing vehicles. Just a few months back she was immersed in medical studies – and now here she was, the center of ‘A Tale of Two Cities’, a NYC fashion event choreographed by her newly formed company Clic by Siddhi.
It was a power show of Indian success in America and so it was quite symbolic that an Indian flag flies proudly outside the historic hotel where the event was held on Fifth Avenue. The hotel of course is the beautiful Pierre, owned by the Taj Group, and was the venue of The Light of India Awards honoring Indian-American achievers.
The red carpet where the celebrities walked was not really red but the royal blue of the Taj and the guests who walked on it were royalty too of the NRI breed, including Shashi Tharoor, Amitav Ghosh, Lisa Ray, Sabeer Bhatia, Padma Lakshmi, Jagdish Bhagwati, and Siddhartha Mukherjee, to name a few.
Recently Meera Gandhi launched her book, Giving Back at the Leela Palace Hotel in New Delhi. As Fareed Zakaria writes, “The act of giving is twice blessed, touching the recipient but also the donor. We are at the beginning of a great revolution of giving. Meera Gandhi describes and celebrates it in this beautiful, heartwarming book.”
I missed it. This beautiful festival of Indian dance in the middle of Manhattan’s bustling downtown business district. A pretty surreal event, I’m sure, looking at the pictures of bedecked dancers striking poses, surrounded by skyscrapers rising against the New York skyline. Yes, the temples of Khajuraho are very far away.
Traditional Brahmin values, sex and rock n roll and drugs, caste and class, British missionaries, forbidden love affairs and murder, Indian schoolgirls playing British – all in the same India of the 70’s. ‘Miss Timmins’ School for Girls’ is a lush coming of age story and a murder-mystery rolled into one, set in an all-girls school in the sleepy hill station of Panchgani in India.
It also happens to be Nayana Currimbhoy’s first novel – and that is surprising for the writing is seasoned, evocative, taking you into a compelling yet insular universe.
Q and A with the author.
It was the night of maharajas and maharanis, of pomp and splendor. The occasion was Children’s Hope India Royal India Gala and Pier Sixty in Chelsea Piers, Manhattan had been transformed into a royal retreat with life-size peacocks, golden sculptures, rich silks and gorgeous live mannequins draped in Mughal couture. Yes, hookahs and turbans too!
Photo: Shaun Mader
With all the fashionistas in New York, this was bound to happen. Against the grand canvas of New York Fashion Week, a group of young South Asian women entrepreneurs created their own hurrah, a showcase of the sparkling talent of desi designers from the US and the Indian-subcontinent.
At the Fashion for Compassion event at the Ritz Carlton honoring Ranjana Khan, there was a happening buzz with lots of star power on the red carpet : Abhay Deol, Preeti Desai, Archie Punjabi, Samrat Chakrabarti, Janina Gavankar, Anusha Dandekar, Pooja kumar, and Shenaz Treasurywala.
This Spring there were hugs and handclasps galore as New York’s rich and powerful mingled in the beautifully lit up Cipriani Wall Street which is located, appropriately enough, in the Financial District where so many fortunes are made.
Over 500 movers and shakers had gathered to applaud another great performance in the art of giving. The occasion was American India Foundation’s 10th year Gala to felicitate not the biggest spenders – but the biggest givers of them all, the leading philanthropists.