As one pulls up to the picturesque driveway attached to the elegant home of designer-entrepreneur Somya Namita Khurana, it becomes clear why she’s known as a fine curator of all things beautiful and luxurious. The charming hostess welcomes us into her lavish space, decorated with tasteful flowers, mirrors and plush interiors.
Here, she holds court over her spirited friends clad in festive outfits in varying pastel hues from her label, ITSOM by Somya. The scene is set to ring in the festive season, and as it’s the first one post-pandemic, it promises to be decadent in every way. Each of the seven ladies present is a changemaker in her own right.
Apart from Somya, there’s Heba Zaidi Khosla, mother, educator and co-founder of Early Learning Village; Aanchal Jain, founder of Izzari Jewels; Lakshitaa Khanna, India’s first water sommelier; Reshma Malhotra Arora, entrepreneur and influencer; Chandni Girdhar; influencer and founder of e-commerce portal The Shiny Street and WynkMe cosmetics; and Sugandh Jolly, philanthropist, educator, investor in specialised higher education in the fields of art and design, car racing aficionado, and founder of GLO-A.
Over bubbly and brunch, HELLO! chats with the ladies about their work, style, festive trends and much more!
HELLO!: How did you enter your chosen field? How has it evolved over the years?
Somya Namita Khurana: “At a young age, I started travelling the world for work. This gave me exposure to the different facets of how a woman can look. I realised that the most important thing about style was being comfortable and feeling sexy in what you have on, no matter your size or shape. That inspired me a lot. In Europe, I was amazed to see beautiful women wearing Chantilly gowns and casual shorts on the streets with equal panache. This pushed me to launch my own multi-designer store ITSOM, where I curate and handpick every design on display.”
Chandni Girdhar: “As I was always fond of dressing up and glamour, I wanted to study makeup. I practised as a makeup artist for 12 years, before pivoting to being an entrepreneur with my brands WynkMe and The Shiny Street. I believe that everyone can achieve what they want if they envision it clearly and work towards it with utmost humility. Ultimately, whatever you are from within, it shows through your personality.”
Heba Zaidi Khosla: “I’m an educator and I taught for many years before taking a break when I was pregnant. Within four months, I was itching to get back to it because I love what I do. Fortunately, an opportunity to start a preschool called the Early Learning Village came along, and I took it up happily since preschool hours are much shorter than those of a big school. Our school has over 200 children ranging from 18 months to four years. We have a very child-centric philosophy; we celebrate childhood and offer a holistic start to one’s education.”
Aanchal Jain: “I think it’s every girl’s dream to play with diamonds! Though I worked with my father’s company for many years, during the lockdown, I decided to follow my passion for designing and manufacturing diamond jewellery. Initially I started with reading glasses and sunglasses made of gold and diamonds. I later included other accessories and bridal and occasion wear, too.”
Reshma Malhotra Arora: “I work with my father in his jewellery business, SKM Jewellers. I head the marketing and sales division of the brand. Though I consider myself in the learning stage, I thoroughly enjoy interacting with customers and, of course, being around and having knowledge of the stunning jewellery on display.”
Lakshitaa Khanna: “Global water sommeliers Martin Riese and Michael Mascha inspired me to embark on my own journey to becoming India’s first water sommelier, with the onset of Bodh Waters. Through my work, I hope to educate people on the nuances of fine water and how it can be healthy and bring joy.”
Sugandh Jolly: “When my husband and I were looking for playschools for our daughter, we didn’t like any in Delhi. Simultaneously, I felt ready to work, so we entered the education sector. First, we opened Wonderland, which functions with a mix of the Montessori and International Baccalaureate Learning Village in Gurugram.
As investors, we are also venturing into specialised higher education soon. On the personal front, my husband and I are avid car racers and were India’s first couple to take part in the Gumball 3000 rally. As a makeup enthusiast, I started the Glo-A makeup app. I believe it’s important to follow all your passions!”
H!: How would you define your festive style?
SNK: “My personal style is very traditional. I love donning bindis, bangles, lehengas and sarees, but I also enjoy fusion wear. For me, it’s most important to enhance the beauty within. The outfit I’m wearing today has traditional elements like zardozi, patra and a dupatta, but the twist comes from the feathers on the shoulders, which makes it chic. I’d wear this to a wedding, a glam sangeet, or even a gala or a ball abroad.”
CG: “I’d call my style statement-making! I don’t like to overdo it with too much going on at once. The styling should be on point, with neutral glam and glossy makeup. I might play with my hair, but the outfit should do the talking. I’m also not very ethnic, which is why I love Somya’s collection. I feel it’s one for women of all ages and preferences.”
HZK: “My style is classic; I never wear things that are considered trendy. I pick long-term pieces and enjoy mixing and matching. I like them to be timeless, and I feel Somya’s clothes are like that. I love her intricate detailing and the traditional yet contemporary silhouettes. The pearl cape and bralette I’m wearing completely reflects my style, which is an amalgamation of the old and the new.”
AJ: “I look for things that are easy and comfortable. As a jeweller, I like letting my jewels shine more than the outfit. This gorgeous saree of Somya’s that I’m wearing today is the perfect outfit to compliment my ornate Indian jewellery. I’d wear this to host my own Diwali party because it’s both chic and traditional. She has a taste and style that’s quite unique from others.”
RMA: “I prefer to go heavy on glam. I love wearing statement jewellery and dressing up. And I don’t hesitate to experiment with traditional and modern glamorous styles. I wear both depending on the place and occasion. I’d wear this gorgeous saree to a cocktail party or a Diwali party.”
LK: “I’m very basic when it comes to my festive style. I don’t play dress up. I like pastel nudes and simple silhouettes, and I use accessories as statement pieces. My preferences don’t change with the seasons either. I like to invest in solid statement pieces I can wear over a long time.”
SJ: “Modern and chic is how I’d describe my style. I like to wear clothes that are traditional yet sexy! Somya’s festive collection is fabulous because the work is so delicate. I love that her stuff is a blend of western and Indian.”
H!: What are the festive trends to watch out for this season?
SNK: “Fusion is the biggest buzzword in the industry at the moment, and I believe it will be the biggest trend, too.”
CG: “In terms of makeup, I always recommend that people go for makeup that suits them instead of aping trends. It’s best not to go overboard with colours. Keep it glossy and glam, but also neutral and minimal.
HZK: “Just feel comfortable in whatever you wear. Your clothes should make you feel like the best version of yourself. It’s a trend for the ages!”
AJ: “For jewellery trends, I foresee a lot of coloured stones, mix and match of styles, and a return to minimalism because people don’t want locker jewellery anymore. I’ve also seen stacking and layering of necklaces picking up. Of course, the overarching trend for the Indian festive season is to go over the top!”
RMA: “I think after the pandemic, everyone is really excited to dress up again, so I’d agree that going OTT and dressing up is definitely in.”
LK: “I’m the wrong person for this question. I don’t follow trends!”
SJ: “This festive season is going to be all about tassels, feathers, and pretty embellishments to enhance the outfit and take it to the next level. Accessorising with interesting elements like bralettes, capes, corsets or collars with sarees is definitely a trend to watch for.”
Photography: Abhishek Khandelwal; Creative Direction & Styling: Amber Tikari; Hair & Makeup: Neha Singh
This is an excerpt from an interview that was originally published in Hello! India’s October 2022 issue. To read the full interview, get your hands on the latest issue right here!