“Tonight themoon kisses the stars. O beloved, be like that to me.” Rumi.
Holi Saloni was a truly spectacular affair filled with the magic, joy and colour which are at the heart of the brand’s philosophy of playful elegance. The event took place at the magnificent eighteenth-century Raas Devigarh Palace, in Udaipur, Rajasthan, a seven storey hilltop fort palace set high in the majestic Aravalli hills. In all, one-hundred and twenty guests flew from all corners of the globe for the exuberant three-day celebration.
On the first night Saloni hosted a grand dinner in the palace gardens. In preparation, the Saloni team dressed the gardens in colour and light. Strings of lights danced suspended amongst long pink and orange ribbons of fabric hung all along the avenues of trees, through which the dining tables were placed. Hundreds of candles were arranged throughout the centre of these tables, adding to the diaphanous glow, so that the moon seemed to have landed in the palace gardens for the evening. As the scent of jasmine and roses melted into the warmth of the early summer night, the guests entered the gardens, each in a colourful, dazzling gown created by Saloni especially for the dinner.
The Dressing Room
In all, Saloni created one-hundred dresses for guests to choose from, in every colour and decorated with exquisite embroideries and embellishments. Caroline Issa wore the long MICHELLE in movie star swoon-worthy emerald green silk satin. Eugenie Niarchos chose a playful combination of the AIDAN skirt and the CLEMENTINE choli both embroidered with tiny glittering mirrors set against smoky blue and pastel-hued sequins. Dree Hemingway looked ready for the red-carpet in a floor-sweeping KELLY in mustard-gold silk satin. Ruth Chapman looked sublime in a hand embroidered MAYA. Feiping Chang shimmered in an all-over gold sequinned CAMILLE. Quentin Jones was a vision in a bougainvillea pink metallic jacquard ISA. As more guests entered, colourful and glittering in the magical evening, it was like a rare lunar rainbow had appeared across the palace gardens.
It was SALONI’s first foray into evening wear, and signature shapes as well as new designs were given a sultry spin in delicious fabrics like metallic jacquard, sequinned satin and gold embroidery work using time-honoured Indian craft techniques. Embroideries inspired by childhood memories of those ornamenting the saris of Saloni’s mother and grandmothers were translated into exquisite detailing on many of the evening dresses. Guests including Peter Dundas, Philip Lim and Imran Amed wore black tie or embroidered shervanis, That each guest wore a splendid Saloni creation for the dinner, is made all the more notable by the fact that final fittings took place less than twenty-four hours before. Most guests arrived in Delhi or Mumbai the day before the dinner, and flew to Udaipur on the morning of the event.
In a part of the palace where centuries-old carved marble pillars circle around a black and white chevron floor, the Saloni team set up an entire hall filled with the dresses where guests could come to make their final selection. Adjacent to this, a fitting room was created, and a team of tailors flown-in from Mumbai along with dressing assistants on hand to make final adjustments. The fitting rooms were part of a set-up that replicated backstage at a fashion show. Guests who had flown in that morning were given full hair and make up in anticipation of the festivities. The Saloni team recalls guests wearing embroidered blue Kimonos especially designed for Holi Saloni, running back and forth across the palace from their rooms to the fitting rooms and for hair and make-up as the countdown to the dinner intensified. This was just the start of three days of celebrations that felt akin to an exuberant palace “house” party.
An extraordinary event demanded no ordinary team, and on hand to help guests prepare was Angelo Seminara, four times winner of the British Hairdressing Awards (BHA) Hairdresser of the Year. He created glamorous and bold hairstyles interweaving precious jewellery into many of the looks. Hair pieces, earrings and necklaces set with diamonds and precious gems were loaned by renowned Indian jewellers Amrapali. As the hostess, Saloni Lodha wore a regal maang tikka head piece, set with XX and XXX and the one-shoulder LILY dress made from a hand-woven sari fabric her father had sent especially from her family’s favourite sari shop in Mumbai. Fashion and celebrity make-up artist Daniel Kolaric gave the guests smouldering eyes and bright lips, fine tuned for the black-tie dinner’s high octane glamour. On the mood-board for the hair and make-up looks were images of Saloni’s first fashion film Jodhpur Jackie, which reimagined Jackie Onassis’ trip to India in 1962. Related inspirations were drawn from ‘60s Bollywood actress Asha Parekh known for her flower-adorned beehive and eye flicks spelling sultry drama. Homage was also paid to the photography of Henry Clarke whose iconic shoots of models like Simone D’aillencourt in locations like Udaipur and Jaipur for Vogue in the 1960s have become iconic of the glamorous meeting of Rajasthan and fashion imagery of the era. Models Julia Johansen, Jessica Hart, Suzanne Baker and Varsha Gopal were all the perfect embodiment of these influences, with a high swept updos and bold metallic eyes.
After months of planning and preparation all was ready, and the guests, their faces lit up like stars, sat down for the dinner, a Rajasthani banquet of thali with selections of delicately spiced meats, pulses, vegetables and rice dishes. The guest’s jewels and sparkling attire glittered in the candlelight so it appeared that a thousand dancing fireflies had come to observe the night’s festivities. After dinner the guests danced into the early hours of the morning to a set by DJ Paulie Sirisant and enjoyed signature cocktails specially created by the Herbalist from the neon Holi Saloni bar. Up above the gardens, the palace was lit up in all its glory. In this magical scene, where Earth ended and the spinning galaxies began no longer seemed certain, Holi Saloni had begun…