Stepping through the threshold of the neo-Romanesque red-brick facade at the edge of Christopher Street in New York’s West Village feels like a portal to another realm – an opulent and visually arresting world familiar to anyone who has known the famous Indian designer Sabyasachi Mukherjeeatmospheric shops across India. Shoppers stroll through the stained oak archways, under a seemingly endless cavalcade of chandeliers and through Central Asian kilims to peruse the designer’s first-ever ready-to-wear collection, displayed with a reverence worthy of a museum amid an assortment of antiquities from Mukherjee itself. markets across India, Europe and beyond. Sheer tulle skirts, hand-embroidered trench coats, shimmering jewelry, and leather bags mingle with 16th-century Mughal paintings, French window displays, and Italian Renaissance mirrors on display from floor to high ceilings.
After years of delay, Mukherjee finally unveiled her West Village jewelry box this week, her first boutique outside India. Between that opening and his month-long jewelry showcase at Bergdorf Goodman in September, he spent more time in the city than ever. “New York is a city of dreamers,” he says. “If you put your best foot forward, magic can happen.” A few days before the store’s official debut, the designer sat down with Robb Report to share some of his best travel moments.
Best Travel Ritual
I fly Emirates, and I go to the living room, take a shower, slip into my pajamas and go straight to my cave and sleep as soon as the seat belt signs are off. I tell them, “Don’t bother. I sleep better, especially when it comes to a transatlantic flight from Dubai to New York. I can sleep 13 hours non-stop, I think it’s white noise.
At Alfonso XIII in Seville. It was absolutely brilliant: it overlooked a garden and had a palm tree in front. But often, a great suite is about the quality of the sunlight that comes in. I was there in the summer, when the south of southern Spain can be beautiful, and the morning sheets were bathed in golden light. There must have been some citrus around and there was a heady smell coming in.
And another sequel that I love—and it’s not just because I did it, but because I think it’s beautiful—is Cinema Suite to Taj 51 Buckingham Gate in London. This is Sabyasachi. It looks like the store. It’s like home, because that’s how I would decorate my own house.
Hot coffee. I think most hotels don’t get their coffee properly, by the time the coffee gets to your room it gets slightly lukewarm. I like my coffee very hot. I also like hotels that give you fluffy bathrobes. And for me, the most important thing in a hotel is good toiletries. It’s such a luxury.
My penthouse at Square, as it offers beautiful views of Central Park. In a city with such tall skyscrapers, Central Park is an oasis for me.
Better shopping experience
The souks of Marrakech. I get anything and everything that catches my eye, from bar soap to grilled meat, dates and figs, costume jewelry, mirrors, furniture, carpets, rugs, textiles, spices etc It’s not so much about products as about experience: the smell, the sound, the people, everything.
It’s easy. I had gone on a tiger safari with a friend at Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan, and we were staying at Aman-i-Khas seaside resort. We had BBQ lamb and felt like we were in the middle of a forest. Having a nice meal by the fire, on a winter night, when the stars were out and there was a campfire, and the fact that you felt there might be tigers lurking and you look – the feeling of danger and thrill and shiny food. It was a very memorable dinner.
I am not a collector of memories, my best memories are my memories. I don’t take pictures, I don’t buy anything. For me, a memory is the memory of a good local meal in a beautiful place. I carry my memories in my head.