Fashion designer Kunal Rawal shares an exclusive offbeat Mumbai itinerary for our readers. If you want to see Mumbai through the lens of a creative marvel, scroll down. By Priyanka Chakrabarti
T+L India: What does Mumbai mean to you?
Kunal Rawal: Mumbai is an emotion. I have many sentimental pockets all around the city! The people, the pace, the architecture and even how close we are to one another, geographically, makes this city what it is!
T+L India: Five hidden gems in Mumbai that have inspired your creative process.
1. Rhythm house: I spent a lot of time around Rhythm House as a child. On weekends, my family and I would often go there for outings; when I grew older, the weekend ritual continued but this time with friends. I have so many beautiful memories attached to this place. And when I finally got a chance to open my store here, I just knew I had to go for it!
2. Mahim Church and Saint Andrew’s Church: These are iconic Mumbai locations. I used to visit these churches with my parents when I was a child. The architecture of these churches exude a sense of old-world Mumbai charm, and this line of aesthetic has deeply inspired me as a creator.
3. Carter Road: Carter Road has always helped me escape the city’s hustle and bustle. I am a beach person and I always find a quaint spot here to unwind.
4. Juhu Beach: I was born and raised close to this beach; I always find a sense of comfort when I’m at the Juhu beach.
5. Copper Chimney: This one is a childhood favourite and will always remain a spot of inspiration for me.
T+L India: Tell us about your latest collection, ‘Vision Quest’. How did it come about?
Kunal Rawal: This collection touches upon the thought of vulnerability and individuality. As we go through life, we’re constantly trying to find ourselves and I don’t mean existentially. I think occasion wear in the past has been dominated by restrictions. What is appropriate for a man or a woman to wear, what colour will look good on them or what will make them look out of place — we’ve had to work with these parameters to ensure how the garment would look but now the world is changing and people are becoming more experimental with their looks. This collection is meant for all kinds of people irrespective of their size, shape, colour or gender. Today, it’s about expressing your individuality, whatever that might be and that’s what the label stands for.
T+L India: When you face a creative block, where do you like to head to in Mumbai to get those creative juices flowing?
Rawal: More often than not it’s been important for me to find openness in Mumbai when I’m facing a creative block. I usually just go for a drive around my house and my old school; it helps me clear my mind. If I have more time in hand, then I drive to my store at Rhythm house. There is so much heritage and history in and around this area; just standing on the balcony instils a sense of calm.
T+L India: If you had to suggest a Mumbai itinerary to a person visiting the Maximum City for the first time, which places would you include in your recommendation?
1. Kala Ghoda and The Art District: It’s an amazing place to spend the day; it’s an amalgamation of art, fashion, history, and some great restaurants like Kala Ghoda Cafe.
2. The Taj Hotel and The Gateway of India: I think the view from the hotel and, of course, the Gateway of India are beautiful locations. These are total must-visit spots for anyone visiting the city for the first time.
3. For foodies, there are so many local joints that you would never find on a popular itinerary like Ram & Sham Bhailpuri, Elco or Mani Dosa. These are all hidden culinary gems of Mumbai.
4. Chor Bazaar: Chor Bazaar is so entrenched in its affiliation with our world but in a cool new way because it’s adapted over the years. It is truly a home for all sorts of hidden gems!
T+L India: Is there another city in India that resonates with Mumbai’s fashion sensibilities?
Kunal Rawal: Hyderabad or Bengaluru are two cities that are similar, aesthetically. I think Hyderabad, is coming up as a fashion hub, which is why we chose to open our third store there and it is our largest store.
T+L India: Your favourite eateries in Mumbai?
Rawal: Bombay Canteen, Gajalee, Ram and Shaam Bhai Puri, Elco, The Table, Mani Dosa, Oh Pedro, Izumi, Wasabi, Kitchen Garden and Cream Centre for their nachos!
T+L India: Any bucket-list spot in Mumbai?
Rawal: I’ve always wanted to visit Haji Ali but it’s something I haven’t managed to do yet.
T+L India: If you had to craft an ode for another city in India through your designs, which one would it be and why?
Kunal Rawal: I worked a lot in the south, styling for multiple Tollywood films; so, I think I would like to pay a tribute to the small towns of South India. Also, Rajasthan is on my mind.