SALONI drops anchor at 134 Sloane Street, London
On September 9, the World of SALONI got its own brick and mortar space in the heart of London - giving India-born, Hong Kong based Saloni Lodha’s colourful collections a tangible residence in a city she calls her second home. The pop-up houses everything from the brand’s beautifully embroidered dresses to objects and antiquities curated by Lodha and set designer Julia Wagner and a reflection of the designer’s cross-cultural world. For Lodha, the store has been a dream in the making. When the label turned 10 in 2018, she ushered everyone back to her roots in Udaipur, Rajasthan. In the Lake City of India, a three day ‘HoliSaloni’ event among 130 editors, influencers, models, and fashion friends, marked the milestone year for the brand. In light of the new address, she said, “Last year for Holi I brought everyone to my home - this year I am bringing my home to them.” And with that, the two-storey, 3,340 sq. ft. address, is an oasis for the curious mind.
In true SALONI spirit, the pop-up will travel across cities, and along the way pick up new collaborations and connections. We speak to the designer on the inspirations and the objet d’arts that dot the new store.
Much like her chameleonic collections that are worn by multi-tasking women all around the world, the store doubles up as a gallery and an ode to the global nomad and her nomadic home. Lodha, who was born in India, built her brand in London and eventually settled in Hong Kong, shares this wandering spirit with other artists like Clara Porset, Sheila Hicks and Gabriella Crespi, who inspire the store space. Known to eschew typical presentations, the launch of the store was timed with textile artist Will Cruickshank’s 3-D sculptures and wall hangings, as well as a reveal of the brand’s all-new look, starting with a newly-designed logo by New York based Patrick Li and Li Inc. In true SALONI spirit, the pop-up will travel across cities, and along the way pick up new collaborations and connections. We speak to the designer on the inspirations and the objet d’arts that dot the new store.
Q/ What was the inspiration behind the showroom interior?
A/ We wanted the store to feel like the home of a traveller and collector. We created an intimate and beautiful retail space that invites our customers on a journey exploring the roots of the brand. We wanted the customer to engage with our collections up close and to understand our design process while exploring the underlying narrative of our vision.
Q/ What kind of vibe/ambience did you intend to create with the showroom?
A/ The high ceilings of the space provide a feeling of calm and grace that make it the perfect theatre for collaborations and story telling. I want our customers to feel they are invited to my home and offer them the hospitality they would receive there. For example we worked with mixologist Michael Isted on custom drinks for our customers that remind me of being at home in India.
Q/ How does the showroom reflect the brand?
A/ I like to thread stories and creative narratives which is hard to achieve in a fashion show or photoshoot format. There is a deeper journey I want the brand to go on. For example we created a pressed earth counter in the store that was inspired by the mud huts we created for our HoliSaloni event last year. I want to continue to add layers of our brands history across time and the store allows us to do that.
Q/ What particularly challenges / opportunities did the space present?
A/The space is perfect. The challenges came from the fact that this is the first time the brand has ever ventured into retail so we are learning a lot along the way.
Q/ Are there any particularly special features? What is it you love about them? / Where was the furniture sourced from? Are there any particularly special pieces of furniture? What is it you love about them?
A/ There are so many beautiful pieces in the store like the Adrian Pearsall Sofa, Ilmari Tapiovaara Coffe table as well as a pair of 1930’s Gerdau armchairs. Everything is playful and modest, with strong geometric lines and simple beauty.
My favourite piece in the store is the Clara Porset Butaque Lounge chair. There is also the Martin Visser rare sideboard that is filled with beautiful things that the customers can explore.
“It’s an organic and natural process which means we are filling the store with things we love gradually. We plan to do different collaborations in the store which will change over time.”
Is there art on display in the showroom? If so what piece and why? How and why did you select the chosen artists – does their work speak to the brand?
As is the case with any home we are approaching the store’s art in the same way. It’s an organic and natural process which means we are filling the store with things we love gradually. We plan to do different collaborations in the store which will change over time.
For the opening we created a window installation using natural dyed textiles from Auroville, India. These have travelled with us from India via Le Bon Marche in Paris where we installed a Colour Walk. We wanted to show the textiles in their natural context, hung as if they are drying to highlight the simple beauty of the process.
Does the showroom have a special relationship to the neighbourhood or city where it’s located?
When I first lived in London I lived in the neighbourhood in a flat on Egerton Gardens and then in an adorably snug mews house on Ennismore Mews. I love how elegant yet cosy Sloane Street is and think the play on words Saloni and Sloane is fun too.