Mumbai has long been India’s commercial and film capital, but the city is fast becoming a formidable art, style, culinary, and design destination—a welcome development in the wake of 2008’s tragic attacks. Once-badly-damaged hotels have reopened with elegant interiors and stepped-up security; restaurants such as the Thai-inspired Koh by Ian Kittichai (and soon a branch of London’s famed Hakkasan) are giving an international edge to the city’s food scene; new shops are luring European fashion talents to create sophisticated lines from locally sourced fabrics; and artists are reinventing south Mumbai’s art scene in and around the Fort and Colaba districts.
Navigating Mumbai’s traditional sari stands and stylish boutiques can be daunting; luckily celebrity personal shopper Monica Vaziralli (91-98/2007-8611) can guide you to the best spots. Two of her top picks: Neemrana (6 Purshotam Bldg., New Queen’s Rd., Opera House; 91-22/2361-4436) for cotton and georgette saris, robes, and blouses, and the newly opened Bandit Queen (130 Dinshaw Petit Lane, Kalachowki; 91-22/2294-8752), a home-goods emporium launched by Belgian designer Valerie Barkowski and textile exporter Sunita Namjoshi. The duo’s collections are all handmade linens and cottons from Indian mills and include elaborately pleated and embellished bedding that can take 40 days to create. For a finely edited selection of works by Indian designers, head to Mélange (33 Altamount Rd., Cumballa Hill; 91-22/2353-4492), where owner Sangita Sinh Kathiwada carries more than 20 mostly eco-friendly brands, including classic kurtas, tunics, and caftans with a modern spin. At the 2,500-square-foot D7 (Turning Point Bldg., Khar Danda Rd., Khar W.; 91-22/2648-5626), near Bandra, seven of Delhi’s best talents showcase their designs. Look for colorful bags from Manish Arora, a favorite of singer M.I.A.; appliquéd tunics from Namrata Joshipura; and the clean-lined wool suits and sweaters of Rajesh Pratap Singh, India’s answer to Jil Sander or Martin Margiela. Bungalow 8 (Grants Bldg., 17 Arthur Bunder Rd., Colaba; 91-22/2281-9880) made its name almost a decade ago selling contemporary furnishings; two years ago, Yves Saint Laurent and Lanvin vet Mathieu Gugumus-Leguillon arrived to launch the Bungalow—a line of women’s wear. Now Gugumus-Leguillon has unveiled a men’s collection with a cutting-edge twist on traditional Indian designs.