Shopping for luxury in a virtual world


For compulsive luxury shoppers, collectors and connoisseurs, acquiring another object of desire is turning into a pipe dream this year. With no auctions, art shows or museums to go through in this pandemic, luxury markets are facing an all-time low. The forecasts have not been very rosy either, with a recent report by Bain & Company predicting a 35% drop in sales by the end of 2020 and the Swatch Group estimating a sales drop of about 40%.

Luxury made in India is usually handmade and steeped in heritage. It is reliant on festivities, weddings and other happy moments. Indian markets see a substantial jump in shopping the moment winters set in too, and collectors start adding to their treasures. For some, this year is no different. Though locked up in their whimsical castles, luxury seekers are resorting to armchair travel through the very verbose online landscape. This year, it is all about ‘staying home, staying safe’ and enjoying the finer things in life.

All through this week, I ravaged through some online stores and Instagram pages to compile this list of seven rare collectibles that lotus-eaters can add to their repertoire of possessions.

The first is the Italian Atelier series curated by Casa Paradox. Hand-pick the finest from this series and add a spectacular timepiece made from fine onyx and gold-plated carvings in brass to your work desk.

Of all the ornamentation that the king of Indian couture is renowned for, the Calcutta sling by Sabyasachi Mukherjee takes the crown. It rings in nostalgia, conjuring an instant imagery of that town dotted with Thakur-badis, Victorian architecture, puchkas, the Howrah Bridge and laidback high teas with cakes from Flurys.

If you want vintage art, go to Artisera, the one website that offers the rarest of all vintage art. My pick is the gold dusted Kinnala busts. Tracing its origins to the 15th-16th centuries during the reign of the mighty Vijaynagara Empire, Kinnala idols are known for their vibrant colours, shining gold and beautiful detailing. It is believed that the intricate work on the magnificent wooden chariot in Hampi was done by early practitioners of the art form. Today, Kinnala art is practiced by just 25 families in the village of Kinhal, 55 km from Hampi.

Fourth on the list is a rare carpet from Carpet Cellar. During the reign of the Mughal dynasty, the taste for naturalistic floral sprays reached an apogee of artistic expression. Mughal design drew heavily from South Asian and Persian designs, with each flower and blade of grass painted with perfection, every petal abloom and positioned to please the viewer to the best of the artist’s ability. Add this carpet to your drawing room today.

Next we have a love settee, carved from the rarest of rosewood, swathed in a sheet of silver and furnished with the finest chintz—a part of the Victorian era when lovers had a chaperone seated next to them. This piece by Sanjeev Bali Lifestyles is a delight.

Arras, or embroidery in French, is captured to artistic perfection in this pichwai created by Dhruv Dhir within the Ateliers of Shanti in Benaras. One of the fifty pieces ever made, this Radha-Krishna in Sunderban piece is a sight for sore eyes. Measuring six by three feet, it has used over 300 silk threads for embroidering each foot—a feat of handicraft indeed.

And the last pick is a real feast for the eyes, a nostalgia rush. Many swear by the handlooms of Varanasi but it is at Delhi Vintage Co that you find them coordinated to such perfection with an embellished kanchli to match.