Monday, August 31, 2015

A Scintillating New Season: San Francisco Opera Fall 2015

I’m looking forward to a very glittering opening night gala and a performance of passionate and elegantly staged ‘Luisa Miller’ at the San Francisco Opera House on September 11.

San Francisco Opera launches a very stimulating and exciting Fall Season that includes favorite classic operas, vivid new productions, witty and frothy entertainment, and a 5 hour and 30 minutes evening of serious, major Wagner.

This is going to be one of the best seasons and most diverse, with Gordon Getty’s new commission, Usher House, and the bubbly ‘Magic Flute’, large-scale productions including ‘Die Meistersinger’ and even family matinees, through June 2016

I have the whole program below—with beautiful, radiant season images, voluptuous and seductive stage sets, and an international roster of performers. Of course, I can’t wait for dreamboat Michael Fabiano to appear on stage as Rodolfo in Luisa Miller. He has been called the young Pavarotti (but better looking). Beautiful voice, so emotive.

See below for a special exclusive selection of images showing performers, costumes, stage sets, and all the style and eccentricity and oversized concepts I enjoy on-stage.

As you know, I’m a lifelong opera fan. My mother was a noted opera singer, and my parents immersed me in music and opera and ballet at a very young age. I was fortunate, indeed.

Opera has enriched my life and inspired my writing and ideas. And, as the great Ray Dolby the sound genius and opera lover once told me when we chatted during intermission, a night at the opera is the perfect time to dream up new ideas, let your imagination roam, and to think and ponder and invent as you watch and enjoy the performance.

Luisa Miller – Photo by Ken Friedman for San Francisco Opera

I’ve done some sleuthing for you. Here’s an overview of the season. Pick your favorite and quickly book tickets.

The season—starting with Luisa Miller, which has glorious sets and fantastically chic costumes—includes a very broad range of creativity and expression and style. There’s the surprise (Broadway, indeed) of Sweeney Todd, popular staging at its best.

Then it’s onward to the drama of Lucia di Lammermoor. And I can’t wait for Wagner’s Die Meistersinger (which has not been performed in San Francisco for many years), and then Gordon Getty’s new opus, Usher House, and The Fall of the House of Usher

The Magic Flute is pure charm and confection and light-hearted music. Most ardent opera lovers have seen it many times and could almost sing along. I love it.

Luisa Miller – Photo by Ken Howard for Santa Fe Opera

The Magic Flute – Photo by Cory Weaver for San Francisco Opera
The Magic Flute – Photo by Cory Weaver for San Francisco Opera

The Fall 2015 San Francisco Opera season:

Luisa Miller 
September 11–27

Sweeney Todd – The Demon Barber of Fleet Street: A Musical Thriller 
September 12–29

Lucia di Lammermoor 
October 8–28

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg 
November 18–December 6

The Magic Flute 
October 20–November 20

The Barber of Seville 
November 25–December 9

The Fall of the House of Usher: A Double Bill 
December 8–13

Sweeney Todd – Photo by Lynn Lane for Houston Grand Opera

The Barber of Seville – Photo by Cory Weaver for San Francisco Opera 

The Barber of Seville – Photo by Cory Weaver for San Francisco Opera

Luisa Miller – Photo by Ken Friedman for San Francisco Opera

San Francisco Opera’s 2015–16 Season opens with Giuseppe Verdi’s tragic opera of troubled love amidst political corruption, Luisa Miller. Company Music Director Nicola Luisotti conducts a cast headlined by three rising opera stars: American soprano Leah Crocetto as Luisa Miller, American tenor Michael Fabiano as Rodolfo and Ukrainian baritone Vitaliy Bilyy as Luisa’s protective father. Absent from the War Memorial Opera House stage for 15 years, Luisa Miller is presented in Francesca Zambello’s bold San Francisco Opera production, designed by Michael Yeargan and directed by Laurie Feldman.

San Francisco Opera Orchestra, San Francisco Opera Chorus and San Francisco Opera Dance Corps who bring so much style and talent and verve to each production perform all of the operas of the season also.

General Director, David Gockley — photographed by Terrence McCarthy for San Francisco Opera

General Director David Gockley’s Departure

David Gockley, who has been such a fantastically popular and effective general director, is retiring.
“Since 2006, I have been privileged to call San Francisco Opera my home. So much of what I have accomplished here would not have been possible without the unshakable commitment of our loyal patrons, subscribers, board of directors and the nearly 800 talented artists and employees who work to produce the finest quality opera on our stage. I have stacked my final season at this great company to the hilt with some of my most cherished works, including Verdi’s epic Don Carlo, Sondheim’s Grand Guignol horror show Sweeney Todd and Wagner’s colossal Die Meistersinger and in the summer 2016 Janáček’s transcendent Jenůfa”–David Gockley
The 2015–16 season marks David Gockley’s final season as company general director concluding a distinguished ten-year, seven-month tenure with San Francisco Opera. He is also capping an illustrious, award-winning 44-year career, which included more than three decades at the helm of Houston Grand Opera, as one of the most prominent and respected American opera impressarios of his generation.

David will be missed. I commend him and thank him for giving life and quality and emotion and creativity to each opera.

Thank you to David, especially for listening to opera’s devoted fans when he first arrived in San Francisco—and then creating seasons showcasing familiar and beloved operas, as well as a worldly mix of newly commissioned works, family favorites, Wagner summer seasons, froth and laughter, and tragedies. Thank you.

Opera Ball – Photo by Drew Altizer for San Francisco Opera

Opening Night Gala: Highlight of the San Francisco social / cultural season

The opening-night performance of Luisa Miller is held in conjunction with Opera Ball 2015: Moonlight & Music, San Francisco’s premier social event of the year.

The season-opening weekend concludes with San Francisco Opera in the Park on Sunday, September 13 in Golden Gate Park’s Sharon Meadow. This free annual concert features artists from the Company’s Fall 2015 season and the San Francisco Opera Orchestra conducted by Maestro Luisotti.

Opera in the Park – Photo by Cory Weaver for San Francisco Opera

Season Overview
Other highlights of San Francisco Opera’s Fall 2015 Season include Michael Cavanagh’s new production of Gaetano Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor with Diana Damrau and Piotr Beczala.

Lucia di Lammermoor – Photo by Ken Howard for Metropolitan Opera

I can’t wait for the San Francisco premiere of David McVicar’s production of Richard Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, conducted by Mark Elder in his Company debut and starring Greer Grimsley, Brandon Jovanovich, Rachel Willis-Sørensen and Sasha Cooke.

Wagner! It’s a five-and-a-half-hour production. For me, it is not long enough. Wagner’s music takes you away, transports you to great ideas and grand themes. It is always uplifting, even when it is ultimately tragic.

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg – Photo by Robert Kusel for Lyric Opera of Chicago

Everone’s looking forward to the American premiere of The Fall of the House of Usher—a double bill presentation of Gordon Getty’s Usher House and Robert Orledge’s reconstruction of Claude Debussy’s La Chute de la Maison Usher—directed by David Pountney and conducted by Lawrence Foster.

Usher House – Photo by Stephen Cummiskey for Welsh National Opera

All fall season evening performances begin at 7:30 p.m., except for the September 11 season opening night performance of Luisa Miller, which will start at 8 p.m., and evening performances of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, which will begin at 6 p.m. Fall matinee performances begin at 2 p.m., except for the December 6 matinee of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg which will begin at 1 p.m.

The San Francisco Opera Guild presents Insight Panels on October 6 for Lucia di Lammermoor, November 16 for Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and November 30 for The Fall of the House of Usher. These hourlong informal discussions with cast members, conductors and directors begin at 6 p.m. and take place at the Herbst Theater, Veterans Building, 401 Van Ness Avenue. More information is available at

The 2015–2016 Season continues next summer, beginning May 27 through July 3, with performances of Bizet’s Carmen, Verdi’s Don Carlo and Janáček’s Jenůfa.

War Memorial Opera House, San Francisco – Photo by David Wakely for San Francisco Oper

Relevant and Inventive—San Francisco Opera is Immersed in the Community

San Francisco Opera, one of the jewels in the crown of San Francisco culture, is an American opera company. It is based in San Francisco, California, and performances are presented at the War Memorial Opera House in the city, and other very popular venues, including the city’s ballpark. It was founded in 1923 by Gaetano Merola and is the second largest opera company in North America.

One of the defining features of director David Gockley’s tenure in the last ten years has been his commitment to bringing opera into the community through state-of-the-art technology. One of his first acts as general director in 2006 was overseeing San Francisco Opera’s first free live simulcast to a crowd of 6,000 in Civic Center Plaza. Simulcasts have since occurred at Stanford Stadium, movie theaters across the Bay Area, and AT&T Park—an enduring partnership that has grown into a Bay Area tradition and has been enjoyed by opera fans and baseball fans.

The technology for these simulcasts and other media outreach comes from another of Gockley’s innovations, the Koret–Taube Media Suite. The first permanent high-definition video production facility installed in any American opera house, the Koret–Taube Media Suite gives the Company the permanent capability to produce simulcasts and other projects including the Grand Opera Cinema Series, live recordings of San Francisco Opera productions available on DVD and other media.

Readers of THE STYLE SALONISTE in 149 countries can find these recordings and enjoy them…even in Delhi or London or Lima or Sydney.

War Memorial Opera House, San Francisco – Photo by David Wakely for San Francisco Opera

San Francisco Opera is considered one of the top companies in the world—and it is always exciting to meet opera fans and audience members who’ve come from Sydney or London or Paris or Berlin or Munich for a special performance.

I love to be surrounded by passionate opera lovers, many of whom (like beloved trustee/major patron John Gunn) have been attending their whole life.

I adore seeing music students and performers and multi-generation families and other opera lovers who practically move in to the Opera House for the season. They’re so happy, they radiate. 

War Memorial Opera House, San Francisco – Photo by David Wakely for San Francisco Opera

San Francisco Opera—if you have not yet had the pleasure of attending a matinee or a lively Friday night or sedate Tuesday night—has been thrilling music lovers since 1923. San Francisco Opera has presented the United States debut performances of numerous artists, including Vladimir Atlantov, Piotr Beczala, Inge Borkh, Boris Christoff, Marie Collier, Geraint Evans, Mafalda Favero, Tito Gobbi, Sena Jurinac, Mario del Monaco, Anna Netrebko, Birgit Nilsson, Leontyne Price, Margaret Price, Leonie Rysanek, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Giulietta Simionato, Ebe Stignani, Renata Tebaldi, and Ingvar Wixell; conductors Marco Armiliato, Gerd Albrecht, Valery Gergiev, Charles Mackerras, Georg Solti, and Silvio Varviso; and directors Francis Ford Coppola, Harry Kupfer, and Jean-Pierre Ponnelle and many many others. 

War Memorial Opera House, San Francisco – Photo by David Wakely for San Francisco Opera

It’s a truly international company—and every production is enhanced by global talent, from creators of costumes and sets to conductors and musicians and dancers, to singers and even prompts and backstage geniuses like hairstylists, technicians, lighting designers, makeup artists, set painters, dressers.

War Memorial Opera House, San Francisco – Photo by Cesar Rubio for San Francisco Opera

For More Information:
For information and to check programs and the artists, and to purchase tickets, please contact:

PHOTOGRAPHY: All performance and stage/ production images here are used courtesy of San Francisco Opera.

Monday, August 17, 2015

India in All Its Wonder: A Special Visit to Delhi, My Favorite Hotel in Delhi. Shopping. Books. Everything You Need to Start Planning a Trip to Delhi and India. Or Dreaming of India.

This exciting week I am taking you on an insider visit to Delhi, India, to visit my favorite hotel, The Lodhi, and to meet experts and get rare and very special tips on shopping for jewels and fashion and style in Delhi. This compendium of book lists, shopping lists, and hot tips might be my longest in the six-year history of THE STYLE SALONISTE. 

Save it, print it out, and pass it on to your friends.

Robyn Bickford, co-manager of The Lodhi and a Delhi resident for four decades, has selected her favorite style shops.

And Fiona Caulfield, founder of the essential India Love Guides to Delhi and Jaipur and other regions, has picked her favorite Delhi jewelry shops.

I’ve also gathered an extensive and exclusive top list of books about India from London’s treasured bookshop, John Sandoe.

Books are essential to understanding and enjoying g India. I’ve chosen favorite India books from my library (with pictures). Persephone Books in London offered tips on favorite India books.

If you are planning—or even dreaming of—a visit to India, you will want to read and save this week’s post. Beautiful India and its literature. A treasured hotel, and India and its literature. Exclusively this week on THE STYLE SALONISTE.

Pour some Assam tea, or make a teapot of Darjeeling, or sip a cool lime soda.

It’s a long-form post—full of inspiration and ideas. Let’s start with a visit to The Lodhi—and then venture forth.

The New Modern India 

The Lodhi hotel, where I stay when I’m in Delhi, is dramatic and surprising. It’s modern India and it’s superbly managed. The architect, Kerry Hill, embraced the modern essence of Indian design influences—and gave the stone buildings a modernist attitude. The architecture—with tall verticals, is both a nod to the classical silhouettes of centuries-old palaces, and a deep recognition of the powerful force of modernism in contemporary Indian architecture.

An ethereal Meier-modern new hotel with a serene garden setting and elegantly delineated architecture is the new chic place to stay in Delhi. It’s The Lodhi, just five years old, and already a favorite of stylish young Delhi couples and international travelers intent on getting to know the fast-changing and surprising new India.

It’s a favorite hotel for Silicon Valley talent like art collector Komal Shah, a former Yahoo exec who recently joined the Asian Art Museum board. Top interior designers like L.A.-based Michael S. Smith, and leading architect/designer Jean-Louis Deniot, with headquarters in Paris, land there on business trips.

The Lodhi lobby is a contemporary design statement with modern Indian paintings and vivid jolts of orange on club chairs. An over-water restaurant and a terrace beside the pool offer calm respite from vibrant Delhi.

The first impression of The Lodhi is of massive walls of carved marble deployed with precision and superb restraint. An austere and highly refined architectural sensibility is at work here. Pared down and gracefully delineated, the walls of honed ivory-colored stone are reminiscent of the pale carved exterior walls of the Taj Mahal. 

Suites at The Lodhi have a private terrace with a panoramic view with the historic dome of Humayan’s Tomb in the distance. The heated plunge pool is large enough for brief laps followed by repose on the cantilevered chaise longue. The hotel is located near Lodhi Gardens and the neighborhood is leafy and green year-round.

The Lodhi is also very close to historic Lutyens landmarks and the newly designated heritage neighborhood that includes dozens of Lutyens-designed bungalows and government offices.

India is always celebratory and ornate. Many travelers arrive specifically to immerse in the excitement of hallucinogenic hues, and the jangle of music and crowds.

The Lodhi is from another aesthetic, very tranquil and calm. The hotel has a modern style sensibility, one that is truly Indian and poetic, without the razzle-dazzle. It’s discreet and quiet—superbly managed to feel serene and comfortable. 

The Lodhi hotel site includes a large sheltered swimming pool, tennis courts, and outdoor spots for quiet reflection. Guests often use the pool in the cool of evening for refreshing laps.

The hotel architect and designer is Australian Kerry Hill, based in Singapore and Western Australia. He is a master of his craft. The Lodhi feels India modern, but chic and 21st-century. Delhi without a trace of nostalgia.

Hill noted that he referenced India’s great history of palaces and temples and past building traditions through suggestion and association rather than replication, and through the reinterpretation of indigenous building forms as opposed to mimicry.

“We prefer to build upon what is there and to contemporize our understanding of what it can be,” said Hill. “I think of our design for The Lodhi as being current, but filtered through a sieve of traditional values.”

A butler guides guests along an enfilade of silent hallways. In the suite, a graceful bedroom has an efficient series of adjacent wardrobes, luggage stands and dressing tables. Everything in the right place. The scent of fresh tuberoses wafts into the air.

The butler returns with a glass of fresh-squeezed pomegranate juice, the ultimate Indian luxury. There are many other treats.

The hotel is expertly and gracefully co-managed by New Zealand-born former diplomat Robyn Bickford, and her husband, Manav Garewal. They pamper guests, opening up their Black Book for special sources for cashmere shawls, finding rare tickets for an event, taking care of all details. 

In each suite, through tall shuttered doors open to a wide sheltered stone terrace. Each suite has a plunge pool, heated, on a terrace that’s open to the fresh air.

Privacy is perhaps the most precious travel luxury. The Lodhi feels like a private residence. There are no obtrusive signs, and staff greets guests by name.

The hotel is set on 6 acres, has two wings, nine floors, thirty-nine rooms and twenty-eight suites, and there’s a panoply of restaurants, a hair salon, a lap pool, plunge pools, all sheltered by jaali screens to modulate light and intense outdoor heat.

The décor throughout has a very light and airy sensibility of modern Anglo-Indian, with dark exotic wood wall cabinets, bronze bowls filled with pomegranates, stone bowls with fresh tuberose blossoms, everything cohesively modern Indian. All furniture was locally crafted.

The Lodhi, a favorite for auction houses and museum types, recently partnered with the Apparao Galleries of Chennai to showcase contemporary Indian art and sculpture around the hotel. Sharan Apparao, founder and owner of the Apparao Galleries, curates a revolving collection of excellent new artists and points of view.

The Lodhi is a dramatic property, and a haven in fast-paced Delhi.

I can’t wait to return.

In particular, dining choices at The Lodhi are the perfect combination of authentic India dishes and an international selection of contemporary favorites. I particularly enjoy the organic salads at The Lodhi, and sometimes feel like a perfect Mulligatawny soup or a simple sandwich. Bread is baked in the hotel bakery. For long-distance travelers, The Lodhi offers delicious choices. Oh, and be sure to stop at The Bakery to pick up a pretty cupcake or some cookies afterwards.

The Lodhi interiors are enlivened by collections of contemporary art curated by Chennai gallerist and collector Sharan Apparao, who includes witty pieces of pop culture, grand sculptures, fine paintings, abstract pieces and photography among the ever-changing collections.

Sharan Apparao

Shopping in Delhi

I asked two experts on Delhi shopping to check their private listings—and give us an insider look at the best of ‘only in Delhi’ places stylish and chic treasures.

Come with me to check the fantastically inspiring lists from Robyn Bickford, the co-manager of The Lodhi hotel (Robyn has lived in Delhi for four decades) and a precious list from Fiona Caulfield, the founder of the best-selling Love Guides series of guidebooks to Delhi, Jaipur, Goa and Kolkata.

These are the lists to bring with you when you visit Delhi. Give them to your driver and prepare for the best jewelers, a private visit to a shop for the finest handwoven cashmere shawls, and new designer fashion studios, and classic boutiques.

Robyn Bickford’s Favorite Places to Shop for Style:

Anjali Kalia
My new Discovery: Anjali Kalia is a wonderful designer who makes fresh and innovative and interesting clothes to order in the Indian style but with an international ethos. I have a stunning new summer and party wardrobe with different textiles, embroideries, style and flair. The pants are mostly palazzo style and are a wonderful change from my usual churidhar and much more comfortable. Anjali’s label is ‘Kora’ meaning Pure. Make an appointment—and prepare to plan a beautiful, versatile wardrobe that will also look wonderful when you return home to New York, Paris, London, Los Angeles or San Francisco. A special experience.

Kamayani mobile (0091) 26258680.
An incredibly eclectic and passionate collection of textiles and artworks (pichwai paintings) of all kinds-hand embroidered, painted, handwoven, vintage, contemporary pieces including shawls, sari’s, scarves, wall hangings. They are all beautifully crafted—and you will enjoy them for many years. 

14 Sundar Nagar Market.
My favorite Delhi jewelers. Very good stones and design-both classic and contemporary and also fabulous antique pieces. Mr. Bharany Senior is an expert on antique shawls and textiles and has a wonderful collection. I suggest making an appointment, and sitting down for a private consultation.

Good Earth
Well-known shops, these are a must-visit in Khan Market and Select City Walk, with a finely honed design aesthetic. From homewares, crockery, glassware, bedlinens, décor items, and now a superb range of clothing and furniture. New designs are created each year and themed throughout the range of items on display. The Kashmiri Tarabaksh and Samarkand collections over the past two years have been exquisite. The perfect place to find gifts for others and gifts for yourself! 

Kashmir Loom
C65 Nizamuddin East.
My absolute favorite for handmade Kashmiri shawls and blankets. The indomitable Jenny Housego and the charmingly knowledgeable Asif Ali make a formidable team in design and knowledge. All of very high and consistent quality, the range of shawls is constantly updated with new designs. Very good examples of rare Kani and embroidered shawls and I crave the fine, handwoven Gujjar cashmere blankets and throws. Designs for men and women. Make an appointment and spend hours trying on scarves and shawls. Sip tea and enjoy the beauty, the touch of pure cashmere and exquisite embroidery.

Nappa Dori
Handcrafted leather items with incredible attention to detail by Gautam Sinha, a fashion graduate. His work is modern and fresh. I adore his tape measures in vibrant colors that look like French macaroons, his photographic images on toilet bags, satchels and briefcases, trunks, notebooks and umbrellas. Sold in Meher Chand Market and at The Lodhi Shop at the hotel, the Nappa Dori range is constantly being expanded. Practical, exciting and very well made.

Raw Mango
Young textile designer, Sanjay Garg, has created Raw Mango, wonderful contemporary textiles in saris, shawls and dupatta’s and now clothes for women. With deep respect for history, craft and the weavers, Sanjay is very popular with the younger generation as well as their mothers. Exhilarating color combinations in silks and cottons. A selection of his range is available at The Lodhi Shop, in the hotel lobby, and other outlets.

Moon River
D16 Defence Colony. (also on Facebook and Instagram). 
More an experience than just a retail store, Moon River has a well curated range of items including Abraham and Thakore clothes, fashion brands, one-off pieces, collections and exhibitions and their own range of jewelry, Moon River Bijoux. My recent purchases have included a large blue and white bowl with a fish design (my birthsign), a large pichwai paining from Rajasthan, and stunning spinel and pearl earrings. A great find. 

This is an exciting new style neighborhood—one for discovery and a view of ‘what’s newest’ in Delhi. New boutiques and ateliers open each week. One of the traditional old villages now merged into Delhi, Shahpur Jat is quite a ‘design hive’ but still with a vivid life and energy. Full of interesting shops and ateliers, this area is well worth a visit. My favorites include Sanskar By Sonam Dubal for clothes, Puneet Jasjuja at Second Floor Studio for his décor and design pieces. Allow 3-4 hours to meander.

Kamala, The Crafts Shop
1 Rajiv Gandhi Handicraft Bhavan, Baba Karak Singh Marg. 
A superbly disciplined collection of craft pieces directly from artisans is run by The Crafts Council of India. Selling pottery, textiles, rugs, paper, silver and more. Well worth a visit and to buy. 

The Lodhi Shop
The Shop at The Lodhi hotel has a strong social awareness program. In the Lodhi Shop there are silk cushions with tiger motifs hand-embroidered by village women in the Sundarbans and commissioned by the Wildlife Protection Society of India to raise funds for tiger conservation. Clutches woven with Pulkari embroidery in the villages of Punjab make great gifts. Other changing exhibits ensure that there is always something new to discover. Jewelry, menswear, books, décor, pillows, and women’s tunics and dresses, as well as shawls and scarves.

Compiled by Robyn Bickford and Manav Garewal
Joint General Managers
The Lodhi

Fiona Caulfield's Favorite Jewelers

Fiona Caulfield is an India expert I admire. She has been based in India since 2004 and is the creator of the acclaimed Love Travel Guides. These handcrafted books are the only luxury guides for India. The 4th edition of Love Jaipur, Rajasthan, was released in January 2015. Fiona contributes to the world’s finest travel media and also offers a bespoke concierge service, Love Travel Journeys where she creates extraordinary travel experiences for private clients.

These are the guides I read before I travel to India—the Delhi book and the Jaipur books are my favorites. Fiona checks each location—and in her comments in these books she offers insight, insider tips, notes, advice, and very useful and essential information on locations. Ask your local bookstore, buy them in India, or find them on Amazon.

Fiona Caulfield's Seven Favorite Delhi Jewelers:
Bhagwandass & Son
95 Dariba Kalan, Chandni Chowk (opp the Old & Famous Jalebiwala on Chandni Chowk). Ph: (011) 6538 4693
Established in 1865, this small shop is one of the oldest in Old Delhi and perhaps the oldest jeweler store in the city. Brothers Promod and Jagdish Mehra, are the fourth generation in their family to run this institution, which is famous for fine Kundun and Meenakari (enamel) jewelry with traditional Mughal motifs.

Kanjimull Jewellers
D 30 Defence Colony, 1st Floor. Ph: (011) 4140 3500 
An elite jeweller, that traces it’s history back to 1870, is known for extraordinary stones and an equally extraordinary clientele, including both Indian and European Royalty, as well celebrities such as Jacqueline Kennedy and Margaret Thatcher.

Padma Gems
9A Sunder Nagar Market. Ph: (011) 2435 1513 
The humble retail store belies the grand jewellery created by Mr Arjun Jain, who is the fourth generation in his family to run this business, soon to be joined by his sons. Padma’s clients include the elite families of India and some of the worlds most famous jewelers in New York and Paris. They uniquely control the whole process in house, and the workshop, located above the store, is run by Babu, a 74-year-old karigar, who is in charge of the hundred or so artisans who meticulously hand craft exquisite pieces.

Hanut Singh
A7 West End. Hanut Mob: 98102 87460. www.
Grandson of the late Maharaja Kumar Karmjit Singh of Kapoorthala (who was renowned for his priceless collection of jewels) Hanut Singh creates contemporary works of art (Mughal meets Art Deco) for a star-studded global clientèle including Madonna, Beyoncé and Queen Rania of Jordan. His streamlined style is an effortless blend of Mughal, Art Deco and Art Nouveau. 

en inde
125/126 Meherchand Market. Ph: +91 11 4905 0832. www.
Contemporary jewelry designer Anupman Sukh Lalvani is known for bold statement pieces, mainly hand crafted from steel and incorporating organic materials like jute, wood and shells as well as textiles and antique elements. The gallery showcases jewelry, including the pure gold talisman pieces and a highly curated selection of fashion and homewares.

Olivia Dar
5H, 1st flr, Jungi House, Sharpur Jat. Olivia mob: 99993 86060. www. 
French designer, Olivia Dar has been living in India for close to 20 years, creating embroidery for Christian Lacroix and other couture designers. In 2011 she opened a small atelier where she create sexy and chic hand-made jewellery including vibrant collars, cuffs and headbands as well as gorgeous clutches and belts. She also retails in Paris, Rome, Ibiza and St Tropez. 

18 Babar Rd, Bengali Market. Ph: (011) 2335 0454 
A Delhi institution, come here for an abundance of well-priced silver jewellery with semi-precious stones. Half of the fun is searching through drawer upon drawer of treasures. They also have a newer more formal store at 7A Khan Market. Ph: (011) 2464 3017. 

Longtime Delhi resident, the author Malvika Singh is a great friend of mine and she is an excellent guide/writer/ reporter on Delhi and other Indian cities.

I recommend her recent book, ‘Perpetual City A Short Biography of Delhi’ which is a personal and informative memoir of Delhi.

Look also for her recent books, ‘New Delhi: Making of a Capital’ and ‘Delhi” Red Fort to Raisina’ and ‘Delhi” India in One City’.

Her books are available in Delhi at Bahrisons book store at the Khan Market. You’ll want all of her books. They are authoritative and beautifully detailed.

I’m obsessed with India—and I’m always collecting India books. I collect biographies, histories, reports, memoirs, overviews, travel books, short stories, researched books like those of William Dalrymple, as well as detective stories by Tarquin Hall (highly recommend), and even a few books of fiction.

For this India edition of THE STYLE SALONISTE I asked the folks at John Sandoe Books in Chelsea, London, to offer their selection. I love it. Print this out—and start collecting. It was compiled by Dan Fenton and John Owen and their colleague Arabella. Thank you, Dan, John and Arabella.

Fiction – recent titles:

Neel Mukherjee – The Lives of Others
A delicate and sensitive family novel set against a backdrop of political tension in 1960s Bengal. Gloriously written.

Damon Galgut – Arctic Summer
The author traces EM Forster’s journey to India, and the places are beautifully evoked.

Amitav Ghosh:
The Sea of Poppies
River of Smoke
Flood of Fire

Elegantly written but with bags of humor, Ghosh’s trilogy is set in Bengal in the early 19th century during the run up to the opium wars.


Vikram Seth – Suitable Boy
An epic, immersive read, it tells the story of four families over 18 months in post-partition India. Read it quick before A Suitable Girl comes out next year.

Rudyard Kipling – Kim
Perhaps the classic of Indian colonial writing.

Ruth Prawer Jhabvala – Heat and Dust
Booker winning novel telling the story of a woman going to her trace her grandmother’s connections in Imperial India.

John Masters – Nightrunners of Bengal
A tense, exciting historical novel set during the Indian rebellion of 1857.


M.J. Carter – The Strangler Vine
The first of three books with duo Blake and Avery at its centre. An easy but great fun read.

R F Keating – Inspector Ghote Breaks an Egg
Classic of detective fiction set in India.


William Dalrymple – City of Djinns
A sensitive, and fascinating portrait of the city that Dalrymple has lived in for many years. History and place are brought alive through his, often very funny, anecdotes. All his other books are also worth reading for insights into Indian or Afghan history.

Anne de Courcy – The Fishing Fleet
De Courcy brings Imperial India alive through the stories of the women who were married into its civil service.

Peter Hopkirk – Quest for Kim
Hopkirk vividly recounts his journey retracing Kim’s footsteps across India and seeing how much it has changed.

Charles Allen – Plain Tales from the Raj
Oral history is an oft-mocked genre but it makes for fascinating stories as here in which Allen interviews a huge range of people about their experiences in India before the end of Imperial rule.

The contemporary picture:

Edward Luce – In Spite of the Gods
An important and well-written book about India’s growing importance from its rapidly expanding economy to its tense nuclear relations with Pakistan

Fanny Parks – Begums, Thugs and White Mughals, ed. W. Dalrymple
The journal of an Indophile Brit in 19th-Century India makes for tantalizing, compelling and entertaining reading.

John Beames – Memoirs of a Bengal Civilian
These memoirs of a civil servant in India were an extremely luck find in his attic after his death and make a great companion read to Fanny Parkes.

Mark Shand – Travels on My Elephant
A quite wonderful account of a six-hundred mile journey across India on Tara the elephant by the prominent conservationist (and late brother of the Duchess of Cornwall).


India’s Elephants, ed. Annette Bonnier
Stunning images of elephants both wild and tame across India.

Indian Textiles: the Karun Thakar Collection,
 ed. John Guy
A breathtaking private collection of textiles from across India.

Sultans of Deccan India, 1500-1700: Opulence and Fantasy
The catalogue of a current exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum, this book explains and shows Deccan’s India’s important place in Indian and world culture


Hobson-Jobson: The Definitive Glossary of British India by Sir Henry Yule;
Compiled in 1886 as a glossary of Indian terms, the book’s enduring entertainment value can be found in Yule’s eccentric and, at times, excessive attempts to trace the etymology of words and phrases commonly heard in the Empire.

India Books I Love — My Library

This book list is dedicated to my dear reader, Julieta…who asked me to suggest some books on India, for lifelong learning.

The more you know, the richer and more rewarding will be your India trip.

I have acres of books on India. I read biographies (Gandhi), history (Dalrymple’s volumes), memoirs (Pamela Hicks), and many Indian fiction writers (the Desai family, Lahiri) and many books on histories of the maharajahs and Indian life, culture, music, architecture and textiles.

I love the books of writers like V.S.Naipaul, as well as Amitav Ghosh, and Jhumpa Lahiri (writing about Indian expatriates in books like ‘The Interpreter of Maladies’)…her writing is exquisite. I also love Kiran Desai (“The Inheritance of Loss) and books by her mother, Anita Desai. And there are the charming writings of R.K Narayan.

You may find the following books of interest: (and of course, if you are going bird-watching or in search of antique textiles, you can easily find very specialized books on every topic.) These are a good start—in no particular order, but recommended highly for excellent background and insight and pieces of the pictures. Generally, the books I favor and have enjoyed are background, in-depth learning, rich detail, research, and factual information always written with grace, charm, and wit.

‘City of Djinns’ by William Dalrymple (2003) is a vivid account of his first year living in New Delhi. He’s now become a favorite historian of the region’s great stories. Dalrymple’s nature is contrarian, and often dyspeptic, but he has a lovely admiration and intense interest/passion for Indian people and history.

‘The Last Moghul’ also by Dalrymple, offers the panorama of one of the last significant rulers and dynasties.

‘Passage to India’ by E.M. Forster (1924) paints a sympathetic and textured account of British/India encounters during the colonial period.

‘At the Court of the Fish-Eyed Goddess, Travels in the Indian Subcontinent’ (which is is now published as The Age of Kali) by William Dalrymple (1998) is a wide-ranging series of essays on Indian life, culture, politics.
A Princess Remembers The Memoirs of the Maharani of Jaipur’ by Gayatri Devi (1996) sketches a romantic view of her childhood, subsequent marriage to the Maharajah of Jaipur, and jetset life. She founded schools for girls and a grade school in Jaipur, and was instrumental in protecting and fostering traditional fine crafts and arts of the region.

‘The Raj Quartet’ by Paul Scott. These are the books on which ‘Jewel in the Crown’, the hit PBS show, was based.) Scott’s writing is wonderfully accomplished and richly sympathetic to all of his characters.

‘Freedom at Midnight’ by Collins and LaPierre. Blockbuster, full of detail, research. A closeup view, with private and upclose knowledge of Gandhi's life and death. Must read.

‘Daughter of Empire: Life as a Mountbatten’ by Pamela Hicks (2011) offers insight into the last days of the Raj—and she was in the center of it all.

‘Indian Summer The Secret History of the End of Empire’ by Alex von Tunzelman (2009). I read this on the way to India, when it first came out. Her research is impressive, and it’s another slice of insight into this complex time of history.

‘Chasing the Monsoon’ by Alexander Frater (1998). Witty English writer sets off to follow the monsoon, one summer. Romantic and charming.

Persephone Books:

I’ve recently been in contact with Francesca Beauman at Persephone Books in London.

Persephone Books is an independent publisher based in Bloomsbury, London. Founded in 1999 by Nicola Beauman, Persephone Books reprints neglected fiction and non-fiction by mid-twentieth century women writers.

I highly recommend these beautifully produced books—that use artful endpapers and vintage/period images on covers. You’ll also want to visit their London shop…small and crammed with great books. These are books to treasure and read, and re-read, and savor. Rare and very special.

Francesca Beauman offered these notes:

‘The Far Cry’ is one of the greatest books ever written about India, you’ll adore it. It is by Emma Smith, and was first published in the late forties. Persephone has now published a new edition. 

India is very close to our hearts here at Persephone Books, probably ever since the founder of the company, Nicola Beauman, write a biography of E.M.Forster and went there for research. The book, E.M. Forster A Biography by Nicola Beauman, explores all aspects of Forster's life, including his intense engagement with India. In fact, the Persephone book bag is made by a women’s collective in India, so we definitely do what we can to support what really is such a wonderful, fascinating country of India that we love so much.


The Lodhi Hotel
Images of The Lodhi Hotel, Delhi, courtesy of The Lodhi Hotel.

Fiona Caulfield Travel Writing
Fiona Caulfield’s Love Travel Guides series: You can purchase all of the books, including the latest editions, directly from the company.

John Sandoe Books
John Sandoe has been a favorite Sloane Square book shop for many years. This is where the Maharani of Jaipur used to buy her books.

Persephone Books