Tailoring success

These five achievers from the world of design, politics, art, sport and hospitality have mastered the art of marrying style with substance. We take a dekko.

     Print Edition: June 27, 2010

Rakesh Thakore
Designer

Rakesh Thakore, 54, is the sheik of chic. As the co-founder of Abraham & Thakore (A&T), he has been instrumental in cultivating India's rich textile heritage. His specialisation, along with creative partner David Abraham, lies in the design and development of rare handwoven fabrics from India's hinterland-mostly Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh-for home furnishings and clothing for men and women. Together, the two have successfully reinvented traditional weaves like ikat and embroidery techniques like kantha and Kashmiri kashidakari into a modern idiom.

Since the inception of the brand in 1991, when the duo would tote samples of fabrics in suitcases for buyers around the globe, to a design haute house with a presence in France, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, US and UK, A&T has clearly come a long way. Back home, the label can be seen in New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. There are plans to enter second-tier cities like Pune and Ahmedabad as well. Given the design duo's upward graph, it's bound to be a successful innings for years to come.

Shirt: ABRAHAM & THAKORE . Pants: ERMENEGILDO ZEGNA . Belt: KENZO . Bracelet and shoes: TOD'S .Watch: GIRARD PERREGAUX FULL CALENDAR 1966


Omar Abdullah
Chief Minister, J&K

Shrill sirens and a 15-car entourage befit the arrival of the most important man in Jammu & Kashmir: chief minister Omar Abdullah. At 40, the bike-riding, iPad-loving, BlackBerry-wielding, Facebook-fancying Abdullah is the youngest man to hold this office. He first made his mark in 2001 when he became the youngest minister of state for external affairs in Atal Behari Vajpayee's cabinet, showcasing Kashmir to the world. After resigning in '02, he took over presidentship of the National Conference from his father Farooq Abdullah.

In March '06, much to the disapproval of the government, he had a one-onone meeting-the first of its kind-with then Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf, in Islamabad. But that's all in the past. Since January '09, when Abdullah became CM, he has kept his focus on the development of key sectors like electricity, connectivity, health, education and water. Recently, he called for achieving self-sufficiency in agricultural produce and promised to provide assistance to progressive farmers in order to make the sector economically viable.

Back in Delhi, his dimpled good looks and friendship with another dimpled scion make him much sought after by the capital's beautiful people but, unlike his dad, this Abdullah is no party animal. His preferred go-to guys are his Sanawar buddies.

Bandhgala: CUE BY ROHIT GANDHI& RAHUL KHANNA .Shirt: SALVATORE FERRAGAMO . Pants and Shoes: OMAR ABDULLAH'S OWN . Sunglasses: TOD'S

Atul Dodiya
Artist

A sense of serenity echoes through the spartan studio of Atul Dodiya, 51, in Ghatkopar, Mumbai. This is his sanctuary where he creates seminal pieces of art that are among the most relevant in contemporary India. As one of the country's highest-selling artists-two years ago Christie's auctioned his Three Painters, for Rs 2.5 crore-Dodiya's work portrays subtexts of India's urban middle class life.

A graduate of the J.J. School of Arts, Dodiya's watercolour series on Gandhi, titled An Artist of Nonviolence, made him every collector's insta-favourite. Why? Because the works sold for Rs 85,000 apiece-a feat for a young artist back in 1999.

And things have only gotten rosier. This March, Saffronart's auction of Dodiya's As Though He Listened sold for Rs 1.2 crore. He is now preparing for Basel Art Fair, where he will showcase a series of paintings of bright shutters influenced by Bhupen Kakkar and Dodiya's own brand of aestheticism.

Shirt: RAJESH PRATAP SINGH . Pants: CUE BY ROHIT GANDHI& RAHUL KHANNA. Waistcoat: DIOR HOMME . Watch: CORUM GOLDEN BRIDGE

Samir Suhaag
Polo player

Having grown up watching his father play polo, it was only natural for Samir Suhag, 38, to succumb to the charm of the chukker. In 1989, Suhag took up polo for a lark and played his first tournament with the 61st Cavalry. In just seven months, he went from being a -2 to a +1 player. Until recently, Suhag was a +6 goal player, a handicap that puts him in the league of polo legends.

(Due to an injury, his handicap now stands at +5.) One of the most prolific players in the country, he played for the Kashmir team for a while and was instrumental in winning the President's Cup in 1991. In 1994, businessman and fellow polo player Navin Jindal saddled him with the captaincy of the Jindal team. That was when Suhaag took up the game professionally.

In the span of his career, Samir has steered the Indian team to many victories, most notably against South Africa (2005) and Argentina (2004). He currently plays for the Sultan of Johor's (Malaysia) team and the Risalla Club (Gurgaon), and says he wants to take the game to the masses by opening a polo academy for youngsters. For an elitist sport like polo, that's like removing the biggest handicap.

Shirt and jeans: D&G . Watch: PARMIGIANI PERSHING CHRONOGRAPH . Riding boots: SAMIR SUHAG'S OWN


Veervijay Singh
Hotelier

Veervijay Singh, 54, is living the dream. It all started when he visited Mumbai in 1969 and was awestruck by the beauty of the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower. Seven years later, after graduating from IHMCTAN, New Delhi, he started out as a trainee chef at that very hotel. Today, he is the award-winning COO of Taj's Premium Hotels and oversees the operations of 33 hotels across seven countries.

Colleagues say it is Singh's experience in F&B, combined with sharp business acumen, that has seen him turn Taj properties into success stories. His first breakthrough came in 1992 when he took over the Gateway Hotel, Hyderabad, and doubled its F&B business within a year of getting on board. The second turnaround came in 2000, when Taj took over Krishna Oberoi, Hyderabad, a hotel which had been in the red for 14 years.

Singh turned it into a moneyspinner in less than two years. The man is now gearing up for the opening of 20 Taj hotels in the next three years; the most awaited of which is a property in Srinagar that will start operations next year. Singh aims to take the Taj's Premium Property division to a turnover of Rs 1,200 crore by this financial year, up from Rs 1,000 crore. How? The trick, according to him, lies in a clear vision and a strong belief in the old adage: the guest is god.

Shirt: H20 BY ROHIT GANDHI& RAHUL KHANNA . Pants and belt: ERMENEGILDO ZEGNA

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