Maithili Ahluwalia needs little introduction. Whether she’s collaborating with the country’s most talented designers or interviewing legends like Scott Schuman (of The Sartorialist), Ahluwalia always has her hands full.
Known for her eclectic personal style, the thoughtful curator of Mumbai’s contemporary clothing store Bungalow 8 chats with me about her perception of beauty, her icons and why Wankhede stadium makes for the perfect store location.
“Less is more; I can’t say it enough. I know it sounds boring, but the outside is truly a reflection of what goes on inside. The older you get, the more your own emotional and mental make-up becomes a priority. Comfort is much more important than it used to be; I find that there’s finally some ease in my association with the world.”
“While I do appreciate beautiful things, I find that physicality is so much more than just ‘physical’ beauty. I’m inspired by S.N. Goenka of Vipassana Meditation and Yogacharya BKS Iyengar of Iyengar Yoga because they epitomize that philosophy perfectly. I’m striving for equanimity, balance and ease. I want to develop a healthy relationship with vanity and ego. It’s easy to be uncomfortable in your skin when you’re trying to be someone else, and I’ve been a victim of that in the past, but I’ve realized that it makes so much more sense to just do what works best for you. It’s far easier to live in a world where we’re content with our choices.”
“On a typical day, my beauty routine is pretty simple. I have extremely sensitive skin, so I depend only on French pharmaceutical products – La Roche Posay in particular. I religiously use the Toleriane Fluide during the day and the Toleriane Riche Cream at night. They’re both super hydrating and nourishing.”
“I also use Auriga’s Flavo-C Serum, Avène’s Thermal Spring Water, Bal D'Afrique by Byredo and Bioderma’s Crealine (Sensibio) H2o ultra-mild face cleanser. I’m also a big believer in organic, cold-pressed coconut oil for the hair, face and skin.”
“I’ve been going to the dermatologist Malvika Kohli since I was a child. I trust her opinion blindly; she knows I’m against anything that’s artificial. I do her oxygen facials, Vitamin C treatments and hydrating facials. Once in a while, I’ll get an aromatherapy massage at the spa. There are limitations to these therapies, though. If you’re not happy, none of it helps.”
“I’d be lying if I said I don’t use any make up. I use Chanel’s Vitalumière Aqua foundation or Giorgio Armani’s Luminous Silk foundation to start with. I love NARS’ range of lipsticks. I like mixing things up a bit – I’m always blending reds and oranges until I find the perfect shade. Finally, I use a little black mascara by Giorgio Armani and I’m done. It has to be effortless – comfort trumps everything.
"Shifting Bungalow 8 to Wankhede stadium felt like a homecoming. We were in this space between 2006 and 2008 and moved to Colaba unexpectedly. The stadium was being demolished and the reconstruction took over two years to complete, but we’re finally back here."
"I feel like the unconventionality and individuality of the location sets this space apart. Stores don't normally choose stadiums, if you know what I mean. We’ve designed it in textures of white so that we can create different moods and stories every three months. There is an infectious dynamism to it. It’s also all on one level, so that makes things easier."
"In terms of design, we’re always looking to surprise our customers. We have a new design team behind our in-house label. On that front, customers can expect expect a slight shift in perspective – maybe a bit more feminine, because this time around we’re an all-women team."
As told to Akshara Subramanian. Maithili Ahluwalia photographed by Shovona Karmakar.