Turning a New Leaf…
Nine years back when I walked into her beautifully curated home for a Hi! Blitz shoot, she instantly broke the ice with her warmth and candour. Peppering the afternoon with interesting anecdotes from her part of the world, what I observed was that she eliminates mediocrity. Firmly believing that you better be darn good in what you do so that no one dares to give you nonsense, Kalyani Saha Chawla imbued this insight in me. Ever since then, I’ve marveled at her drive to succeed. Courting several highs in fashion and glamour during her 12-year stint with Christian Dior, India, this diva, who thrives on new challenges, is now scripting a unique story with Rezon, her fabulous line of luxury silverware.
Silver, considered an auspicious metal in India, is the hero at Rezon, which comprises 200 pieces of home décor items, religious and other accessories for corporate gifting and weddings. Marrying age-old techniques of hand-beating sheets of silver, etching, chasing, engraving and enamelling, the items are unique, offbeat and completely hand-crafted. Marshalling her troops over the phone even as we talk, it’s evident that Chawla has sunk her teeth well into her new role as an entrepreneur.
Chawla, who grew up in Kolkata, studied at Loreto House before moving to Chennai in 1990 to work with The Oberoi Group. Over the years, she has worked at a newspaper as a branch manager, advertising and marketing, opened Montage Art Gallery in Kolkata, started her own export business in Delhi, worked as vice-president, marketing and communications, at Christian Dior, India, and co-founded an online fashion portal. Rezon is her newest baby. She is now managing it all while continuing to work with Dior as a consultant.
Says Chawla, “Silver is considered an auspicious metal in India. I used to make gifting pieces combining it with leather and hence its versatility in design and use is not alien to me. Even though Rezon was launched a year back, it suffered because I got busy with the fashion portal. Thankfully, I did not have the luxury to sit and mourn over the losses. The setback propelled me to plunge headlong into the business, give it my all and make it a name to reckon with in the market. We made a collection that I am already exhibiting all over the country. A retail space is in the planning stage as well.”
With Dior in her DNA, the entrepreneur acknowledges that her connect with the luxury label fine-tuned her regard for class and quality. It enriched her sense of aesthetics and design, even while raising her own bar for herself. “I’ve learned so much about quality and design from Dior. The aesthetics you see in Rezon is the culmination of the exposure and eye that was honed during those years,” maintains Chawla, highlighting the exquisite craftsmanship infused in her products. Some of the most experienced silversmiths have teamed up with her to produce an intense collection that is synonymous with opulence and grace. Marrying age-old techniques of hand-beating sheets of silver, etching, chasing, engraving and enamelling, the items are unique, offbeat and completely hand-crafted. We notice some of the finished pieces that look marvelous. A dramatic cluster of blooming lotuses and leaves catches attention. This piece is part of the Lotus collection, comprising candle-stands, centrepieces, table lamps and vertical floor decorative pieces, which was inspired by an antique diya from the 19th century.
The Secret Garden collection, full of photo frames, decorative boxes and bowls, is an ode to flowers, pretty insects, branches and lilies and features rose quartz, lapis and jade for that luxurious touch. The tri-colour collection combines silver, rose-gold and gold in candelabras, platters and serving trays. The vibe is fun and peppy in the Retro collection where pop colours are enamelled on the silver boxes. There is something for everyone at Rezon and it is this variety that has become a strong point feels Chawla. “There is an extensive range to choose from even though we are a luxury line. Because I have always believed that diversity in options is imperative. Our pricing is also a sweet spot. In the current economic situation where the buyer is a tad confused, often cautious and definitely not too prone to splurging, one has to keep the price points comfortable. Having had enough experience in retail and luxury, that was one of the biggest concerns,” explains Chawla.
But that does not mean she is deviating from the luxury space. Her focus is on the make and quality because the well-travelled and discerning immediately single those out from the populace. Positioning is extremely important. Quips the entrepreneur, “There are a few big players in the market who are doing some great work. But there is a space for everyone out there. While in fashion you can witness the co-existence of Dior with Fendi, Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Hermes, even in luxury silver, there is ample scope to present something new and floor the buyer with your design sensibility. You create an identity completely unique from the others. The patrons grow because of your signature look and your emphasis on craftsmanship, quality and design.”
Hair and makeup: Puja Taluja