Kalyani Saha, the former Vice President of Marketing & Communication of Christian Dior, India turned entrepreneur with silverware brand Rézon shares her take on luxury, craftsmanship and a tryst with making consciously.
While you juggle many hats, you’ve consistently been involved in the evolving landscape of luxury fashion in India, especially with your former role as VP for Marketing & Communications for Dior. What’s influenced the meaning of “luxury” for you and how has it evolved over the years?
Luxury has so many connotations for individual needs. For me, luxury is time for myself. I have been in this rat race forever, and the last two years have taught me more lessons than I could have ever imagined. When you're forced into a situation the way all of us have been, we are bound to learn some lessons after much time for introspection. I realised how little time I spend on myself and how lackadaisical I have been with my health. I have been forced to look at how fragile life is, and how important it is to have some “Me-Time” . Luxury today is all about time and time for myself. As rare as it may be , at least I am aware of the lack of it today and consciously do something about it.
What encouraged you to cross over from the world of fashion to launching your silverware venture Rezon? Can you tell us more about how you undertook this exciting journey?
I have always been a multi-tasker. I've done multiple things all my life. Oberoi Hotels to Indian Express to running an art gallery , exporting fashion accessories overlapping with Dior. While I was working with Dior and simultaneously venturing into launching a fashion e-commerce as well as Rezon Luxury Silverware. I have always been involved in diverse businesses. I get bored very easily! I got into a corporate job with Dior, the rest were all my entrepreneurial ventures, except running four diverse magazines for Indian Express and marketing for Oberoi Hotels which was my foundation for luxury as well as learning from the best mentor I had at Oberoi.
Dior was very kind and let me pursue my art business as well as my export of accessories which overlapped for four years . After a while , I knew I needed to do something on my own , for myself . Interiors and accessories have always been a passion and silverware is a very auspicious and precious metal in India , and I wanted to fill a gap in the market. My unique designs, quality and competitive prices have been a winner ! Gifting in India is huge . Wedding business is all it takes for you to penetrate through and you are pretty set ! Rezon has an extensive range of products as well which makes it easy for almost everyone looking for home décor and wedding customisation as well as corporate gifting. We have a unique signature style nobody else does in the country. It is the most copied silverware brand right now, which is why I haven’t launched a website. While it is frustrating, it's simultaneously an indication of its uniqueness !
As a style and fashion connoisseur, does “conscious” fit in your closet?
My first thought is always, do I need it? I honestly think that is the way forward. Want over need has been in the past most definitely though!
Recycling my mother taught us. I was privileged to be the eldest of the siblings including cousins. Nothing was thrown as we kept our clothes well, it was handed down to my sister and my cousins. Renting clothes I think is such a great idea and even when travelling you don’t need to either carry or buy! They send it over to wherever you are staying and pick it up too ! Nothing can be more economical or convenient! I'm mindful of what I buy, and support young brands who are walking the talk with being genuinely conscious. I love what “Yumi” does as well as “Sui” who I have been wearing since they launched. I feel good knowing what I'm wearing, where it's coming from, how it's being made and who's making it. As far as sustainability is concerned, I have become very conscious, because if I had to buy something, I would buy something which is either organic or ethically produced, even if it may not be as fashionable or trendy as fast fashion. There are so many brands doing groundbreaking work. Young entrepreneurs are being very conscious when they're starting a brand, following clean production. Every one of us has to be responsible and focus on the environment and what we're leaving behind for our children, our grandchildren, and the generations to come.
Which ready to wear designers at Saahra’s platform do you enjoy browsing and shopping?Are there any homegrown and sustainable labels that are on your radar?
I like Pero. It is so expensive, but it’s the best, her commitment to her designs and craft is amazing. Her sensibility and aesthetics and quality is truly international and so very unique. As far as homegrown brands go, I wear both Sui and Yumi regularly. Am a loyalist!
We also see some precious and heartwarming mother-daughter bonding on your social media. What are some of your wardrobe classics and the style secrets that you share with your beautiful daughter Tahira?
Tahira has a very distinct style of her own which is not at all similar to mine. She has grown up with two very fashionable parents and has an eclectic taste without being totally influenced by any particular look per say. I jokingly tell her that my wardrobe is her only inheritance , so she better start liking it! She’s a high street fashion girl, and living in London she has a lot of offering at hand. She is not really into designer wear with a students budget , but am proud of her ability to mix and match. She owns her looks beautifully! She has started dipping into my wardrobe which I am delighted about!
What was your most recent fashion investment buy that you feel that you'll be wearing for a couple of years now?
Earlier I was an avid hoarder with clothes lying in my wardrobe with labels intact. Honestly, now I am so dissatisfied with impulsive shopping and my whole mindset has changed . I’ve bought absolutely nothing recently. The most I’ve done recently is gone to Zara and bought their cotton basics. But I did buy a beautiful dress from D’ascoli , almost a cult brand , famous now internationally , made in and inspired by India ,a brand I love for their prints and their typical silhouettes.
Which has been your most memorable and iconic red carpet look?
One of my all-time favourite looks was when I went for a high-profile opening in Paris long ago, the opening of Collette, fashions most famous multi brand store. This was attended by every whose who of the fashion world including Anna Wintour and every editor and stylist and designer! I walked in wearing an emerald chiffon sari with a heavily embroidered Swarovski blouse by Tarun Tahiliani. I know I made quite a statement that evening! And it felt great to be admired in an Indian designer at such a fashion cesspool. It's one of the most beautiful pieces I have owned and it still occupies a place of pride in my wardrobe. I feel it got me a lot of attention because it looked contemporary yet so unique ,also for the way I styled it with the pallu around my neck like a scarf. I’ve worked for Dior for 12 years visited Paris for every Fashion Week, and during thatti Everytime I was stopped, it was someone asking abut an Indian designer I may have mixed with a Dior separate!
How would you describe your regular style? And what are the season's hottest trends that you're tempted to try?
My regular style has changed recently and I have forayed from the world of black and white into experimenting with pops of colour. I’ve made sure to never slip into my pyjamas or loungewear during the pandemic, even during longer periods of working from home. This kept me sane and not looking like I just rolled out of bed before zoom calls since that is just disrespectful. I’ve made an effort every single day to look a certain way because I’ve realised that the way you look plays an important role in the way that you feel.
What's next in the pipeline for you?
As calculated as my life might seem, the one thing I never do is make elaborate plans. I just let it playout. So far, my life has been full of opportunities, surprises and so many adventures that I am thankful for. Even though I am not sure what I am going to do next, I do know that staying busy all my life is catching up on me. This gets me thinking, maybe now it’s time to put myself first and I guess we’ll see where this thought takes me!