3 years

ADVERTORIAL: LUXURY SPECIAL

The Customer Is Always Right

Happy feet: Christian Louboutin crafts to suit
Happy feet: Christian Louboutin crafts to suit
Handsewn: Custom buttons by Stefano Ricci
That’s so me: Leather crafted by Stefano Ricci
Exotic chocolates: Fabelle by ITC
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When Paul Simon’s popular track ‘Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes’ came out over 30 years ago, he was metaphorically talking about a wealthy woman in New York City and her various suitors. In today’s day and age, that song has a much more literal meaning. It wouldn’t be surprising to find a customer desirous of having shoes with diamond-studded soles, and if they have the money to splash, there are countless luxury brands to create them for her. Welcome to the world of bespoke products that cater to every client’s every tiny creative demand. In 2013, Italian designer Alberto Moretti created the world’s first 24 carat gold shoes for an elite set of customers around the world, and this trend of creating one-of-a-kind, limited edition pieces has travelled to markets like India as well.

Bespoke footwear brand Diamond Walker stepped in to test the Indian market in 2014 for a trunk show with Heel & Buckle. In about 8 to 10 weeks, and with a starting price of approximately Rs. 75,000, the luxury shoemaker promises to turn out whatever your feet fancy, diamond- encrusted leather, countless colour tones and, of course, immaculate fit. Christian Louboutin has a special love affair with India, and offers a bespoke bridal service exclusive to the Indian market. The minimum any bride needs to cough up for a completely personalised pair of shoes is around Rs. 70,000. Time is another extremely important part of getting that perfect pair of shoes, with the entire process taking an average of around one year to complete. “Couture gowns require several fittings. It’s the same with shoes,” Christian Louboutin explains. Besides offering the perfect Cinderella-like fit, the bespoke service offers shoppers a selection of styles, colours and fabrics to work with to create their own personalised wedding shoes. The final pair can also be embellished with initials, auspicious symbols, or embroidery inspired from their sari.

Clothing is the simplest for brands to customise, but many garment designer brands extend the customisation to other products too. A case in point is Stefano Ricci. In his own words, the Italian designer’s mission is to “… design garments for the wardrobe of a man who already has everything, who nevertheless appreciates rare and precious materials, sophisticated details, exclusive prints, unseen shades of colours and a style that is classic but also quite different and personal.”

The materials being offered by the brand are as rare and exotic as crocodile and ostrich, two materials that rule high among the favourites of elite Indian consumers. According to Stefano Ricci’s son, Filippo Ricci, who is also Creative Director, “Stefano Ricci follows a true 100 per cent Made in Italy rule, with the fabrics designed directly by the founder, Stefano Ricci. These unique textiles are exclusively made for the company, and can be found in no other brand worldwide… [our] bespoke tailors are ready and able to travel worldwide for any number of fittings, in order to find and serve clients no matter where they may be located.” In terms of a timeframe, says Ricci, “A crocodile belt, for example, could be customised within one day, whereas a bespoke suit may need 40-60 hours of hand work or more, depending on the level of customisation requested by the client. Besides clothing, the brand, which primarily catered to the male consumer, discovered the need to create offerings for women as well. Now, the portfolio of bespoke offerings has expanded to interiors of homes and yachts, crystal and porcelain dinner services and silverware.

Stefano Ricci isn’t the only brand that realised the importance of customising its products to cater to women. According to Devita Saraf, Founder, CEO & Design Head at Vu Televisions, “The best way to close the sale is to target the wife.” She says that women have become huge influencers of purchasing decisions in Indian homes. “They are very in tune with the lifestyle of their families and the environment around them.”

It’s the women that get into the detailing of the product and for them, Saraf says, luxury “is really a feeling - it’s being pampered, it’s sophistication, and it’s about feeling connected with an inanimate object and saying ‘that’s so me!’”

It’s this feeling of luxury and customisation that Vu brings to a category like televisions. The company offers both internal and external customisation of its products depending on specific requirements. The internal customisation ranges from large touch- screens, creating ‘super Macs’ and televisions used primarily for digital art. Externally, the brand has created bespoke televisions made with mirror, marble, wood, brushed steel and Swarovski crystals. For its HNIs, the brand offers one-on-one consultations, site visits and instalments. Even with instalments, some clients had extremely creative requests, “One customer wanted the TV installed in the ceiling, so that he could lie on his bed and watch it; someone asked for it to be installed in the bathroom; another businessman wanted his TV to be placed in the floor, something he could walk on!” says Saraf.

Creating a timeless and exclusive piece is something that premium watchmaker Vacheron Constantin understands perfectly. The Swiss brand is willing to completely customise its piece, involving the client at every stage of development, provided they have a minimum of Rs. 2 crore to dole out for a bespoke watch. One example of Vacheron Constantin’s level of customisation is a piece that is now called the ‘most complicated watch in the world’. This piece, according to Rishab Suresh, Country Manager, Vacheron Constantin, “took no less than eight years with three full-time persons involved in the development of its caliber.” The watch uses classical principles of watch-making along with modern concepts and has 57 complications, several of which are completely new and unique. Of course, there are a set of challenges that come into play when it comes to creating unique one-of-a-kind pieces. Suresh explains, “It is crucial to create an offering that the client is exactly looking for, which can get challenging if there are no past references... When a project involves high complications, our master watchmakers come into play, and ideas flow back and forth.”

With the most complicated watch in the world, the watchmaker faced quite a few challenges as it “had to create the caliber from scratch, innovate with materials used in the armillary tourbillon, which is both technically exciting and visually dramatic, and conceive the complicated Hebraic perpetual calendar, a totally new and remarkable complication by Vacheron Constantin,” says Suresh.

Luxury goes hand in hand with luxury, so let’s bring out the bubbly. An expert at keeping spirits high, Moet & Chandon not only has a range of vintage champagnes on offer but also customises the bottles. Personalised bottles can have name engravings, neck ties with names and dates, gold lettering on bottles, or even Swarovski crystals. Moet has created customised bottles for a bevy of Bollywood celebrities including Shah Rukh Khan and Kareena Kapoor. The brand also created a bespoke crystallised bottle for the wedding of Mahesh Bhupathi and Lara Dutta.

As You Like It

You might be used to being asked how you like your tea or coffee. But has anyone ever asked you how you’d like your chocolate? Indian conglomerate ITC is asking, with Fabelle - As You Like It chocolates.

As You Like It, under ITC’s luxury chocolate brand umbrella, offers personalised chocolate cup creations with a myriad possibilities of fillings and toppings. You can choose from milk chocolate or dark chocolate cups, and seven delectable fillings like milk choco crème, dark choco crème, white crème, dark almond choco crème, dark mint choco crème, berry preserve and caramel. And you can crown these with any of 10 delectable topping. All this, made by the chef right in front of your eyes. You can also use their smart and breezy app to create your personalised combinations.

ITC’s chocolates have been in the making for almost a decade now. Several creations were put before the senior management over the past decade and each time the chocolatiers were sent back to the drawing board. Finally, a team of international and national chefs collaborated with top-class chocolatiers to create the finest quality chocolates with choicest ingredients from across the world. This finally got a nod and Fabelle was born.

Fabelle chocolates are today being crafted in a state-of-the-art facility in India using best-in-class technology. Impeccable single origin cocoas are being sourced from the finest cocoa producing regions in Africa and South America such as Madagascar, Ivory Coast, Venezuela, Saint Dominique and Sao Tome. Master chocolatiers have skilfully combined the tastes and textures of these single origin cocoas with the rarest ingredients such as acacia nectar, Madagascar vanilla, French sea salt, Lankan cinnamon, ancho chilli, and many more to deliver magical gastronomic experiences.

Fabelle’s Elements are intricately crafted pralines inspired by the elements of nature; the Ganache range serves up velvety soft cubes of exotic cocoas delicately churned with butter and fresh cream; Signature Chocolate Entremets are an invigorating classic French confection; Chocolate Dreams are inspired bites of chocolate paired with interesting flavours; Signatures are exotic chocolate desserts. To be launched soon are Single Origins (rich dark chocolates sourced from six exotic cocoa growing regions around the world), Gianduja (an Italian delicacy infused with roasted Turkish hazelnuts) and Ganache Apple and Cinnamon (dark chocolate made from fine Ghana cocoa with apple and cinnamon infusions).

Walk into the Fabelle boutique in ITC's luxury hotel in your city to savour the finest chocolates, just as you like them.

(Advertiser-Sponsored Feature: A Marketing Initiative)