It isn’t often that you meet people and instantly know you will be forever friends I had that wonderful occurrence when I met Jay and Deepa Lakhani Deepa Gurnaniat a reception at Neiman Marcus, Chicago, for, another new friend, Kobi Halperin , and his Erte inspired collection with embellishment by these extraordinary creators. At a fabulously delicious dinner at Margaux Brasserieorchestrated by our hostess, Shelley Rosen, Founder of Luxe Bloom, I was seated between the couple and I’m afraid I monopolized them for the entire evening, they are amazing. Here is their story.
I AM OBSESSED WITH YOUR PARTNERSHIP TELL ME HOW YOU COLLABORATE AND, OF COURSE, THE STORY OF HOW YOU MET AND MARRIED…IT IS A WONDERFULLY ROMANTIC STORY THAT I WANT TO SHARE WITH MY READERS YOU CAN BOTH ANSWER PLEASE PUT YOUR INITIALS IN FRONT OF YOUR ANSWERS
Jay Lakhani: It is funny that Deepa and I didn’t meet until much later in our lives even though our families have known each other for generations – we have been family friends since our great grandparents. The younger kids lost touch with each other because we were not living in India. I met Deepa in New York while her sister and I were roommates in College. We hit it off instantly because we were both in fashion school at the time – she at Central Saint Martins, London and I in the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York.
Deepa Lakhani: We fell in love and decided to get married pretty soon after that. From the beginning we understood that we also wanted to merge our fashion lines together. We felt that it was possible because we were in sync creatively and on the same page about our design philosophy.
WHAT WERE YOUR FIRST JOBS
JL: I am a Jewelry Designer by profession, but also passionate about sales and marketing. My first job in the industry was in 2001 with Andin International, wholesale Jewelry manufacturers supplying to department stores and retailers in the United States. Here I received training in design as well as sales and marketing.
DL: You can say I have been a designer-entrepreneur from the get go. I worked as an assistant buyer for Browns in London for a short while and that gave me an insight into fashion retail and the everyday needs of a girl. I always wanted to start my own embroidery factory and I did that in India in 2002.
Some of my, Nena’s, favorite earrings, examples of Deepa’s creativity
BRIEFLY DESCRIBE YOUR CURRENT OCCUPATION
JL: We are both designers by education and occupation. At our company I handle all of sales, marketing and PR while Deepa handles all of logistics, accounting, and production. We only meet when we design.
Jay working one-on-one with one of their artisans in their factory in Mumbai, India
WHEN DID YOU DISCOVER YOUR FIRST IMPRESSION OF YOUR TALENT
JL: As far as I can recall I have always had an interest in fashion, focused on clothing, silhouette and style. I would always diligently follow runway shows of my favorite designers and had a strong point of view since the beginning.
DL: I think we both always knew this is what we wanted to do. Fashion school is what helped me further discover my talent and gave me the confidence to pursue my love for design.
WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU HAD “MADE IT” EXPLAIN
DL: When we launched on 5th Avenue in New York City at the store Henri Bendel in November 2006. We made it at the ‘open see’ that has about 500 designers showcasing, and only 15 out of those finally make it. It was our first store launch and things really took off from there.
Below photos from The Accessories Council Excellence Awards, August 2017
Jay and Deepa with New York team at the Awards dinner
At same dinner with Anthropologie buyers and Betsey Johnson and Eva Longoria
HOW DID YOUR ORIGINAL PASSION BRING YOU TO WHERE YOU ARE NOW
JL: My parents are Jewelers by trade. I have always had a keen interest in fashion and an eye for Jewelry. We saw a need in the market for handmade products and the necessity of preserving traditional arts and crafts. That is true luxury to us. We feel strongly about this and that is why we started this initiative and have taken it on for years to come.
WHAT WOULD HAVE BEEN YOUR ALTERNATE CHOICE AS A CAREER….WAS THERE ONE
JL: Nothing but fashion for me.
DL: It was either fashion or medical school for me. My father understood my passion for design and nudged me in that direction.
Deepa’s April 2018 Birthday lunch
YOUR FAVORITE BOOK, MOVIE, LIST THE FOLLOWING,IN ORDER OF PREFERENCE…THEATER (LEGIT, MUSICALS), BALLET, TYPE OF MUSIC YOU LIKE TO LISTEN TO, LOCAL RESTAURANT
Book: Devil Wears Prada
Theatre: Kinky Boots
Music: Spiritual and meditational music, Buddha Bar
Local Restaurants: Mr. Chow and Bareburger in NYC, Pali Village Café and Bastian in Mumbai,
JL: I love to dance. I am a trained Bollywood dancer and used to teach classes in New York.
DL: I enjoy sketching and cooking in my free time. Both of us love yoga, traveling and watching movies together.
HOME….MODERN, TRADITIONAL, ANTIQUES (WHAT ERA) ECLECTIC DESCRIBE
JL: Our home can be described as minimal, modern, and our zen, cozy refuge at the end of a hectic day
WHO WOULD YOU HAVE AT YOUR FANTASY DINNER (LIVING OR DEAD AND BE SURE TO INCLUDE YOURSELF!) AND WHAT WOULD YOU SERVE (10-12 GUESTS)
JL and DL: Anna Wintour, Oprah Winfrey, Anne Hathaway, Gautam Buddha, Dalai Lama, Karl Lagerfeld, Coco Chanel, Erte, Beyonce & Aishwarya Rai Bachchan.
JL: We would serve a full Indian spread because I love Indian food. A traditional Indian Thali would be so much fun. It would of course be organic, nutritious and mostly vegetarian because that’s how Deepa likes it.
FAVORITE VACATION SPOT VISITED AND/OR ON YOUR GO TO LIST (HERE IS A CHANCE TO TALK ABOUT WHERE TO GO AND WHAT TO DO IN INDIA!)
JL: We are in love with Bali and could go there again and again. Greece is a place on our list that we haven’t been to yet. Hopefully Summer 2018!
DL: We also go to India often, especially to Mumbai and love it there. Otherwise the most beautiful, colorful side to India is in Rajasthan with its beautiful forts, luxuriouspalace hotels, rich textile heritage and fantastic food.
FAVORITE WORK OF ART
JL: Mona Lisa
DL: I love Leon Bakst and Erte’s portraits of Marchesa Luisa Casati
HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE REMEMBERED
JL: We would like to be remembered for our humanitarian contributions to society. We believe in giving back and building up people around us who are in need.
A FAVORITE, OR TWO, RECIPE
Both Deepa and I hail from the Sindhi community in India, and our favorite Sunday indulgence is Koki, a whole wheat, spiced pancake. You could eat that with some chilled yoghurt or mango pickle or some Dum Aloo (potato dish) famously from the region of Kashmir. I follow British-Indian chef and author Maunika Gowardhan @cookinacurry and these recipes are from her blog.
150gms whole wheat flour
1 medium red onion finely chopped
2 green chillies (or less if you prefer it mild)
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp pomegranate powder
80gms coriander leaves finely chopped
1 tbsp softened butter
Salt to taste
Vegetable oil for frying
In a bowl mix the flour, chopped onions, chillies, cumin seeds, pomegranate powder and coriander leaves. Add the softened butter and salt. Mix well and add the water little at a time to make a soft and slightly sticky dough. Knead well and divide into equal portions.
The koki should be still thick so roll the dough out to no more 8cm in diameter. Heat the pan. Add the koki to the warm pan. Cook for 5-7 seconds over medium heat and turn over to cook the underside. Add a tsp of oil on the top side and flip over again. Cook for a further minute on each side as it begins to change colour and has a few brown speckles on the bread. Keep warm wrapped in a cloth or foil while you make the rest. Serve warm with a pickle & some yoghurt or a curry.
Kashmiri Dum Aloo
60gms cashew nuts
18-20 small new potatoes peeled
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium white onion finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1” piece of ginger finely chopped
200gms greek yoghurt lightly whisked
1 ½ tsp kashmiri chilli powder (or mild paprika)
1 tsp fennel powder
½ tsp cumin powder
2 tbsp tomato puree
½ tsp ground cardamom powder
Salt to taste
1 tsp crushed dried fenugreek leaves (optional)
1 tbsp coriander leaves for garnish
Slivers of ginger for garnish
Soak the cashew nuts in warm water for 20 mins. Prick the new potatoes with a fork lightly (this helps them cook all the way through). Heat 1 tbsp of vegetable oil in a wok or kadhai. Add the potatoes and fry for 3-4 minutes until they turn crisp and golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper & set aside.
Whisk the yoghurt and mix in the chilli powder, fennel powder and cumin powder. Stir the spiced yoghurt and set aside.
Drain most of the water from the cashew nuts; blend the cashew nuts to a fine puree. Set aside.
Heat the remaining oil in the kadhai. Add the chopped onions and sauté until they begin to soften for 4-5 minutes. Add the chopped garlic and ginger and fry for a couple of minutes as it cooks. Turn the heat to a low setting and add the spiced yoghurt. Stir well for a minute and add the cashew nut paste. Stir for 2-3 mins. Tip in the tomato puree and stir for a further 2 minutes.
As the curry starts to leave oil from the sides of the pan add the fried potatoes, water and salt. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10-15 mins stirring ever so often until the potatoes have soaked in the flavours and cooked all the way through. Add the cardamom powder, crushed methi/fenugreek leaves if using, fresh coriander and ginger. Stir and serve warm.
BLOGS/ INSTAGRAM/ WEBSITES YOU FOLLOW
WWD, Business of Fashion, Vogue India, Man Repeller, Chiara Ferragni, Alessandro Michele, Priyanka Chopra, Deliciously Ella and many more
All photos courtesy of Jay and Deepa Lakhani.