This week You! takes a look at the interiors of
a recently launched store – inspired by the Mughal era…

The fact is that the interior of any store is as important as the items it has to offer. An eye-catching space filled with attention-grabbing design and display elements attract passersby and pulls them in to view what the store has to offer. And that is exactly what one of the clothing brands ‘Diva’ni’ has aimed for; i.e. intriguing and elegant store interiors.

For those who don’t know, brand Diva’ni is the first international couture flagship store in the heart of Lahore’s luxury retail area; main MM Alam Road in Gulberg. The brand was first introduced to India in 2013 by Yash Raj Films, The brand is led by creative director Ms. Sanya Dhir, who joined the 65-year- old family business, Karol Bagh Saree House (KBSH) in 2009. Her calling was the need to break the age-old stereotype attached to ethnic wear and make it more accessible and relevant to the ‘Glocal’ woman. Hence, the brand was born; inspired by fashion, film and femininity, with a passion for heritage, a mastery of exclusive and extensive handcrafted techniques and an appreciation for traditional craft.

The whole idea behind the interior of the store was to design and blend all that Pakistan and India share – such as common traditions, culture, art, music, heritage; and above all the love for fashion, food and films. The thought behind the interiors was to create a spell binding experience on anyone who comes here to shop. The overall flagship couture store in Lahore is done in gold and beige hues and boasts of a private couture lounge where one would find bespoke limited edition pieces.

“When we came across this building which already had the local heritage essence to it, we thought that this was one of the spaces that is not commercially constructed and suited best for the brand. Then we sat down with the architectural team and explained them the aesthetics of the brand. Ajay Patel is a Mumbai based architect who is the man behind the architectural extravagance. We didn’t want anything very contemporary or cinema in the literal sense. So, there’s nothing very typically Bollywood in the store yet everything about the cinema is transported through the grandeur. All the patterns have been derived through crafts or the architecture of the time when Mughal architecture really reigned,” shares Dhir.

The highlight of the store interior is the ceiling which is definitely a piece of art. “Our kaarigars almost died creating this because every pattern has been cut to a certain size and every piece was numbered which was an exhausting and mind numbing exercise. About 2,500 mirrors have been fitted by hand on the ceiling, which gives off that regal touch to the place,” informs Dhir

As soon as one steps into the store’s ‘Grand Double Height’ marbled lobby one is sure to get mesmerised with the magnificent intricate ceilings that have onyx installed. There are also intricate inlays in the warm brown emperado marble floorings and traditional jaali works. The star jaali have been picked up from Mughal architecture but rather than going for a typical traditional mehrab, the one used at the store has been designed geometrically giving it a modern touch.

Also, the central space with vaulted ceilings and colonnades on either side create a unique atmosphere. Mirrors on walls and stained glass ceilings, are all included in the design of the store that add to the ambience of cinematic royalty. Yes, a step into the store and you will feel like you have gone back in time.

Coming to the furniture, that has now become a must in modern design when it comes to any luxurious store; most of the pieces were hand made in India. It includes decoration items such as the set of trunks neatly placed at the reception or tables with extensive woodwork and tile work.

The doorway is also handmade in kashi kaari and leads to the staircase that has a giant size portrait of Maharaja Madhav Rao of Gwaikor Royals of Baroda from the Fatehsingh museum – encased in a wooden frame that also holds glass bottles of various sizes. The portrait is one of the most eye catching objects used in the store.

According to Dhir, the portrait is of one of the existing royalties in India. “We have curated a collection which has been inspired by a painter called Raja Ravi Verma who used to paint for the Gwaikor family and is a famous painter of India,” she informs.

The side wall holds a variety of miniature paintings that have been picked up from the palace of Baroda. These frames hold original revenue stamps from pre independence which has handmade miniature paintings on them.

As far as the assortment of clothes is concerned, they are displayed in walk-in closets and brass has been used to highlight certain corners to give off an antique look.

The main display room is also a sight one must not miss. There is a rectangle shaped centre table along with two side tables that have lighting fixtures on top of them. It also includes a brass made ‘paandan’ for an added old world charm whereas each corner holds a red velvet box encasing the heirloom shawls.

Now coming to the couture lounge, the area that can take ones breath away with the creativity and effort put into creating it.  It is a space where you are engulfed by the luxury of the brand. The entire space is designed in a circular form with layered bevelled mirror ceiling creating an almost surreal feeling. Whereas the curved wardrobes with intricate carvings along the periphery add another dimension to the space. The entire material spectrum used in the project are handcrafted and handpicked from masters of workmanship across India, Pakistan and Middle East adding to the Global flavour of the store. The focal point of the couture room is a ten tier glass Turkish chandelier and a huge mirrored ceiling that gives a majestic appeal to this room. “The Turkish chandelier was bought by me on a visit to turkey from a very passionate seller of Turkish lights in Istanbul. I have a similar piece for my house in India,” shares Dhir.

The space also has a trial room which is not an ordinary changing room as it holds a queen’s throne done in red with a fully carved and hand drawn long back. The queen’s throne in the dressing area or Singhar room is better known is a beauty on its own and there is a video conferencing facility for customization is also available. This room is a marvel at sight not to mention the finer details such as the foot stool, jewellery boxes and meenakari brass lamps. The seventy year old carpet made with vegetable dyes adds much warmth and cosiness in the space that is tastefully decorated.

Everything has been handpicked and has a purpose in the overall design of the store. The best part is that the store has fused specialties of both the countries and blended it together to create a mastery. It is a complete representation of arts, culture and heritage.