Natasha Poonawalla for HELLO! India© HelloIndia

Exclusive: Natasha Poonawalla’s New Chapter In London

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Sangeeta Waddhwani

There are some spaces where dreams fuse with reality, and the new Poonawalla residence in Mayfair, London, is that very kind of a design oasis. At 25,000sqft, it’s the most spacious home in the tony neighbourhood — famous for its Georgian townhouses, rarefied restaurants and hotels, the legendary Savile Row and fashion stops on Bond Street.

All Mrs Poonawalla has to do is step outside, to find herself transported to a world rich in sensibilities, be it fashion, art, exclusive members-only clubs, cafés and pubs. She lives and walks in beauty, and her home, rich in European and Renaissance tableaux, synergises well with her neck of the woods. A perennial font of inspiration.

This bold move reflects a family on the cusp of change and evolution. With her children in boarding school and a husband managing the Serum Institute’s India operations, Natasha Poonaalla, as Executive Director, worked hard to set up Serum’s UK office back in 2020 — the year the world hungered for vaccines more than any other commodity.

The move was also consonant with Natasha’s rising visibility at global charity galas, her philanthropic and social alignment with the world’s power elite — be they women with a mission, celebrities, couturiers, or even Edward Enninful, the global creative and cultural advisor of Vogue. Need we say more?

Enter the world of India’s ultimate luxury ambassador, as we get cosy and embark on her most tell-all tête-à-tête since crossing over continents.

HELLO!: Natasha, congratulations on your bold move to London. What led to this shift?

Natasha Poonawalla: “The decision was influenced by a combination of compelling factors. Firstly, the opportunity to collaborate closely with our partners at Oxford. Establishing a marketing office and teams in the UK became a necessity, and the relocation provided access to diverse educational prospects for my children. The move also allows me to immerse myself in a new chapter of personal growth, expand my horizons and pursue my philanthropic endeavours on a deeper level. It’s a chance for me to make a positive impact on a broader scale.”

H!: Your family is currently a bit spread out. Adar is busy in India, the kids are in boarding school, you are travelling between India, the UK and the US... How does this work?

NP: “Balancing a geographically spread-out family can be challenging. Adar’s work commitments in India and the children’s education necessitated our current arrangement. But we ensure frequent family reunions and leverage technology to stay connected and involved in each other’s lives. While it may be a new experiment, it’s allowed us to adapt, grow and cherish the moments we spend together, regardless of the distances involved.”

H!: Given how passionate you’re about designing new spaces, what were some non-negotiables while creating your home here?

NP: “I did have some non-negotiable requirements to ensure a comfortable adjustment for my family, particularly for Adar, my father-in-law and the kids. Initially, I aimed to find a balance between the features of our homes in Mumbai and Pune, avoiding any drastic changes. My priorities were ample space, abundant natural light, and a seamless blend of modern aesthetics. Working closely with talented decorators, I focused on creating a harmonious living space that truly embodies our individualistic style and values. It was essential to foster an environment that promotes creativity, comfort, and a sense of warmth, welcoming not only our work family but also our friends to frequent meetings and gatherings.”

H!: You’re the consummate fashion muse! Does it ever feel like a job?

NP: “Fashion has always been a source of inspiration and joy for me. While I do invest time and effort into curating my personal style and staying updated with the fashion world, I view it as a passion rather than a job. It’s a creative outlet that allows me to express myself and embrace new trends, but I also believe in maintaining a healthy balance in life. At the end of the day, my family, philanthropic work, and personal growth remain my top priorities, and fashion serves as a medium to enhance those experiences rather than consuming me completely.”

H!: You’ve evolved from a Pune-based corporate princess to a recognisable global Indian face who understands and consumes luxury, and even challenges paradigms of style...

NP: “It’s been truly transformative. Looking back, I’m grateful for the opportunities that have come my way and the platform I’ve been given to represent India’s evolving fashion landscape. This evolution has not only shaped my personal style but has also allowed me to contribute to the changing narrative of global fashion and the perception of India’s creative potential. Style has the power to transcend borders and create connections between diverse cultures. By blending Indian elements with international fashion trends, I aim to highlight the rich tapestry of our heritage. Through my work, I’ve had the privilege to collaborate with renowned fashion designers, industry leaders and influencers who share a similar passion for redefining traditional norms. Together, we’ve pushed the boundaries of style and inspired others to embrace their individuality. I hope that through my journey, I can inspire others to embrace their own cultural identities, challenge stereotypes, and foster a sense of pride in our collective heritage.

H!: Can you share anecdotes of the behind- the-scenes work for some of your most iconic looks? Like your Schiaparelli metallic bustier paired with a Sabyasachi saree for the Met Gala’s Gilded Glamour theme...

NP: “Achieving an iconic look like that requires a seamless combination of creativity, craftsmanship and attention to detail. It’s a collective effort that involves multiple talented individuals working together to create a fashion moment that leaves a lasting impact.

Natasha Poonawalla©GettyImages

The iconic look I donned for the Met Gala was truly a product of passion and creativity. It entailed meticulous planning and close collaboration with my talented stylist, Anaita Shroff Adajania, who not only embraced my bold and unconventional ideas but also encouraged pushing creative boundaries. We discussed ideas, explored possibilities, and aligned our visions to curate a standout look that represented my personality and resonated with the theme of the event.

The design teams involved, along with Sabya and his extraordinary creative genius, contributed to adding a remarkable jewellery element to the ensemble. The hair, makeup and accessories were all about finding the right balance to complement the boldness of the outfit. My glam team worked tirelessly to create a look that exuded elegance and drama with impeccably execution. Additionally, my nail artist and photographer played pivotal roles in ensuring that every detail was perfect. Together, we pushed the boundaries of fashion. It was a celebration of creativity, artistry and fearlessness in fashion.”

Realisation: Ruchika Mehta; Photos: Zoey Mcconnell; Hair: Christian Wood; Makeup: Nikki Wolff; Styling: Rebecca Corbin Murray; Co-Ordination: Avantikka Kilachand, Anushree Sardesai & Roshni Suklecha

This is an excerpt from an interview from HELLO! India’s August 2023 issue. To read the full interview, check out the latest issue right here.