{Festive Special} Carnival Of Colour


As a blogger, I get invited to a number of events every week. And after four years of doing this, every store launch, collection preview, fashion show and meet-and-greet session blends into the other, until all that’s left is a potpourri of clinking glasses, microscopic finger food, too many selfies and conversation that lacks any sort of depth.


I was quick to make assumptions, as one would based on the above premise, and thought that my afternoon at the Parvati Villa store would be similar. But I’m pleased to report it was a game changer. The owner, Ileshaa Khatau was present from start to finish, and is easily one of the kindest, most cultured people I’ve met in the business. Tactfully dividing her time between her family members and making sure I felt welcome (and hydrated with the biggest nariyal paani I’d ever seen), she chatted with me about her exquisitely decorated store.


The store, nestled in the most effervescent part of town, Colaba, spans across three different spaces, and is a kaleidoscopic mix of colours, home and personal accessories, furniture, art and curios from around the world. There’s something for everyone, whether young (a hand made Snakes and Ladders game for children accompanying their moms), old (antique mementos that could bring a nostalgic tear to the eye) or the fashion-driven (kitschy stilettos, one-of-a-kind jewellery, and beaded bags from Brazil).


If I had to list the things that made this pocket full of treasures unique, it would take all day. But my favourite feature by far was the customizable shoe option. With the help of their in-house shoe designer, I got a beautiful pair of edgy gold glitter stilettos designed for my wedding day (pictures to follow as soon as they arrive in three weeks). You can pick from an array of styles, shapes, sizes, colours, textures and comfort factors, to design a shoe that is uniquely ‘you’. And if that wasn’t all, they also dabble in customizing scarves, bags and jewellery. If this isn’t the perfect place to visit for last-minute Diwali presents, I’m not sure what is.


Ileshaa told me all about why she opened a store, her alternative career and why a piece of ‘Shakti’ jewellery is the hottest, most feminine piece you could be wearing this Diwali:


BB: Why the name ‘Parvati Villa’?

IK: Goddess Parvati has nine different avatars that represent nine different aspects of her personality. As Parvati, she is peaceful, meditative and nurturing. As Kali she is a blood-drinking warrior woman. As Tara she is beautiful, seductive and alluring. Modern women, too, have so many different facets to their personality. I wanted the accessories to reflect all of their many moods.


BB: What was the idea that triggered opening a store?

IK: I’ve always been interested in retail since I worked at a jewellery store in Alaska when I was studying in the US. I absolutely learned so much during my time there because I love interacting with different kinds of people. It gives you such an interesting insight into the decisions they make and the things they choose to do. I also chose accessories because since they are valued at less than what garments are, they’re usually confined to the corners of a store and aren’t displayed well. I wanted to create a space where the accessories would be the heroes and each piece’s unique story could be communicated to the customers.


BB: What made you pick Colaba to open your store in?

IK: I love Colaba! It’s everything that is beautiful about Bombay – old buildings, green by-lanes and busy market life. It’s an amalgamation of so many different kinds of people – backpackers from all over the world, local residents and people living in luxury at the Taj. The products at Parvati Villa also really appeal to the tourists, so it felt like a natural fit.


BB:What are your biggest inspirations when picking items for the store?

IK: Hindu mythology has always fascinated me. When I source or manufacture a new product for the store, I always try and think of Parvati’s nine avatars and try to think of which avatar the piece would fit. I am also very drawn to things that have been made well, where attention to detail has been the top priority and where the product has a back story I can share. And then, of course, there’s always travel. I am always inspired by my travels to different places in India and overseas, and that is reflected in the merchandise.


BB: Are most of the items sourced or manufactured?

IK: A lot of the items, like the shoes, some bags and jewellery are manufactured in-house. Some are sourced from other designers and vendors and a lot of items are sourced by me personally, from my expeditions around India from Leh and Ladakh to Kerala and Karnataka. I am always on the lookout for beautiful pieces we could sell at the store, so you’ll find things here from Cambodia, Sri Lanka and even Brazil. I was there earlier this year for  the carnival, so I made it a point to meet with artisans and designers we could source from.


BB: In terms of decor, tell us a little about the theme and aesthetic of the store. Did you hire a designer or decorate it yourself?

IK: I like to micro-manage everything and so I decorated the whole store myself. For me, it was very important for the space to reflect the the ethos behind the product. The theme is all about reflecting the modern day Parvati, and so there are symbols of Lakshmi, hot pink and lotus flowers all over the store – they are recurrent themes in mythological traditions.
BB: What products do you sell? What are the price ranges like?

IK: We sell home and personal accessories – shoes, jewellery, bags, scarves, brooches, cushion covers, key chains, small antiques, candles, laptop sleeves, art, furniture and assorted curios. While most of our products fall between the affordable Rs.1500-6000 price point, bigger items like art and furniture could go up to Rs. 80,000.


BB: Tell us a little bit about you, the woman behind Parvati Villa.

IK: I grew up in Malabar Hill in South Bombay and studied Political Science at the University of Chicago. Even though it was completely unrelated to what I do, it helped me realize the importance of informing the customers about what they are buying. I have also taken on educational counseling as an alternative career. I love kids and teaching them has taught me so much.


BB: We keep seeing the word ‘Shakti’ across various pieces of jewellery and accessories around the store. Tell us a little about it.

IK: Traditionally the word ‘Shakti’ meant feminine energy and was a strictly feminine word. What is great is that somewhere along the line, someone realized that women are powerful and have strength, but it’s also sad in a way because we’ve lost that word to masculinity and people like Shaktiman. Lately, I’ve felt as if there has been a lot of negativity towards women. You’re always reading about it when you open the papers or watch the news and whether we like it or not, it does leave an impact. I wanted to reintroduce ‘shakti’ as a feminine principle, to be able to give women strength and take away their feelings of weakness and vulnerability. Society wouldn’t be able to function without the creativity, intelligence and sensitivity that women bring to it, which is why I want women to feel good about their femininity again.


Parvati Villa will be launching an all new inspired jewellery range and taking their products online in the next couple months. Watch this space, because I can’t wait to see what this girl on fire does next!

Stop by the store the next time you’re in Colaba, or follow them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for updates!



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