Designer Robert Mischenko's Insider Guide to New Delhi
01 May, 2018
Ukrainian-born designer Robert Mishchenko launched his brand on Instagram from his studio in New York in 2015. Within months it had created an international buzz online; the vice president of global buying at Net-a-Porter direct messaged Mishchenko and suddenly the brand was selling with luxury retailers. With a background in editorial, working as a freelance stylist and contributing editor at ELLE Ukraine, Mishchenko understands how to best present Ukrainian fashion to an international audience. Today, his embroidered designs - with an air of endless holidays - are considered summer staples.
Mishchenko travels regularly for both business and pleasure. New Delhi is one place that made a significant impression on him - so much so that it inspired his SS18 collection. After spending seven weeks exploring the area, he ticked off the tourists spots then dug deeper for local places that should be on your radar.
Why is New Delhi a significant place to you?
I first went to New Delhi when my business was going through a lot of changes. It was part-business trip, part-spiritual journey. I met so many interesting and wonderful people, but what I remember most was the spiritual peace I felt there.
What surprised you?
To see that 95% of women still wear a sari on a daily basis. It's incredible to see a strong culture survive with all the pressures of society to conform. My own collections are based on the traditional dress of my birthplace so I found this very inspiring. I think this sort of genuineness is having a rebirth.
What is your favourite memory from your travels there?
I have many - finishing every day by the pool while looking at the incredibly beautiful pink sunsets that are almost unique to Delhi; taking a tuk-tuk to dinner with local friends; meeting artisans and seeing their work.
How did it inspire your SS18 collection?
The colours inspired me. There's a unique mix of orange and bright pink, blue and yellow, white with golden details. I spent quite some time exploring different markets where the colours were especially vibrant. The Indian people are not shy about colour and that's how it should be; strong colours bring happiness and alertness.
Where should we shop while we're there?
The local markets are amazing. Not only can you find great products, it's also an experience that just has to be lived.
What should we wear?
Light linen dresses, off-the-shoulder tops... it gets hot in summer. You want to be comfortable, but also look your best. I think dressing well is one way for tourists to respect the place they visit.
Where is your favourite place to wake up?
The Imperial New Delhi. I love the colonial design, 5PM tea and the incredible spa.
Where can we order the best meal in the city?
My favourite place for dinner is Gulati, a casual family restaurant with excellent food. There may be a bit of a wait to get in, but it's worth it.
What is one dish we have to try?
What's great about the local cuisine is that it caters to everyone; there are vegan and vegetarian dishes in every place - though I loved everything from the grill.
How many days should we visit?
Even though I stayed for seven weeks I think four days would be enough for the city. Then head out to see a little bit of the rest of India.
Who should we bring with us?
Friends. It's one of those places where having fun in a group feels like the thing to do.
What is one spot few people know about?
Vayu, a store selling clothing, furniture and home decor in the beautiful palace-like building of Bikaner house. Another spot is Handloom House in the Handloom Marketing Complex in Janpath; it's like an air-conditioned alternative to a traditional market. They sell a variety of saris and home textiles - you'll need several days to go through everything! On the second floor they organise hand craft fairs. When I visited, it was all textiles from West Bengal with only people from that region showcasing their fantastic fabrics and embroideries.
How should we spend the final day of our trip?
Sadly I spent mine working, so do anything else! If you have four days there you'll have a packed schedule anyway, but go to a market and try to really take in the people and the culture. That's the most important thing to do wherever you travel.
What do you plan on doing the next time you visit?
I want to go to Jaipur and see the Amber Fort.