When Gaurav was 14, he picked his first Shakti Burman painting. The art connoisseur’s family hails from Lucknow and he values heritage and loves all things beautiful.
As I meet him at his plush office, I see a dandy-on-the-job — he’s wearing a pin-stripped custom-made suit, a polka dotted pocket square, a gingham shirt, a dotted tie and a pair of tanned Berluti shoes. Style comes naturally to Gaurav, as he had the privilege of seeing beautiful things around him — textiles, old fabrics, jamawars, chikankari.
“I have a passion for well-tailored suits. When I’m pulling off a casual look, it’ll be a polo shirt with a pair of Jodhpur breeches. I am obsessed with the perfect white shirt and have a dozen of them. It’s a indulgence that I am not proud of,” he says.
Gaurav spent eight years in advertising on Madison Avenue. In 2006, he moved from New York back home. “Living in Manhattan through my 20s was such a rush. I learnt never to stop, never to walk a straight line thinking there was no other. Deadlines, clients, teams were juggled everyday, but it was living the New York way of life that made it for me. Advertising was about the rush of ideas, the spirit of creation and the madness of Madison Avenue.”
He heads the marketing for the largest luxury firm in India, Moët Hennessy (LVMH), however, he calls it less a company more a culture. “We are spearheading brands some of which are three centuries-old and have enviable legacies. With Moët & Chandon we share the magic of champagne with India. Creating a champagne culture in a largely brown spirits market has been very fulfilling.”
Secret to throwing a party
“I love entertaining friends at home. You can be yourself and showcase your sense of style — good home food and champagne. It’s all about genuine connections. You invite the people who you really love and want to indulge and celebrate them. Life is about making a Tuesday a Friday every time you pop open a bottle of champagne.”
Pratima and I
Gaurav’s better half Pratima is a fashion designer and he often gives her his creative input. “We have squabbled over Citizen Kane and Blow-up at Blockbuster, salivated over Per Se and Pastis, and made important decisions as Barneys or Bergdorf’s on Saturdays. We are such good friends we don’t need anyone else at times. We are similar, yet different — it’s a nourishing balance.”
Luxury to me is ..
“True luxury is culture. It is art that you buy to elevate your life — to make it more beautiful, more artisanal. To make you happy. The future of luxury retail is largely dependent on the infrastructure. Once we fix the basics, the consumers are here as is the business.”
“Today, it would be the artist Zarina Hashmi – her existential crisis mirrored in her visual vocabulary makes her stylish for me. She is 77 and beautiful.”