Stepping into Jahanavi Bhaskar Laag‘s studio is like stepping into a sparkling accessory wardrobe in India. We’re thankful for that, via her brand Ishaveya, Laag has brought to Beijing a collection of jewelry brands with gorgeous collections of necklaces, bracelets, and earrings set with semi-precious stones and one-of-a-kind cuts, all the way from Delhi, LA, and Calcutta. In light of the recent launch of Laag’s winter collection, we sat down with her and got her to spill on her jewelry, her shopping habits, and her dream closet.
How do you choose the pieces for your shop?
A lot of it is about keeping your eyes open seeing who is doing well, what’s catches my eye, and who is breaking boundaries. It’s about finding someone who has a balance between the craft of India and the fashion of the West. Sometimes, if it’s too ethnic it doesn’t work.
Who buys from Ishaveya?
The kind of woman that buys from me is often young and ambitious or slightly older and in a very steady point in their life where they’re willing to spend a little bit extra for the real deal. I don’t work in costume jewelry, and I don’t work in artificial jewelry, I only work in semi precious stones because I believe there is a value for money.
I assume I wouldn’t catch you wearing costume jewelry then.
When I started attending events, dinners, I wanted to be a little bit more refined. Either you have something that is costume, but is so unique in its design that you’re like, "This is unbelievable, this is totally individual." That’s great. But if that’s not the case, then I’m really not so excited to spend so much money on something that’s plastic.
How do you find shopping in Beijing, where a lot of items are famous for being fake?
Don’t get me wrong, I have a shoe problem … For me it’s not about brands, it’s about design. You can be a great brand and have the most horrendous clothes. And you can be an unknown designer and have incredible pieces. Even now when you go to 3.3., you see new and upcoming Chinese designers tucked away there. I like the silk market and Yashow because for me it’s all about finding the diamonds in the rough.
So you have a ‘shoe problem’. How many shoes do you have?
My mom calls me Imelda Marcos. She had the largest amount of shoes in the world.
Do you have all of them in Beijing?
I have most of them in Beijing. My husband had my last apartment redone, and when I came to Beijing, he said there was a surprise for me. He had taken the ayi room and turned it into a walk-in closet. It was about the size of this office, and I just started crying and said, "I love you so much, I’m so happy I married you. You made it all worth it!" It had space for shoes everywhere, and you could see them all. They were all color coordinated.
Wow, that’s great!
… And then I moved to my new apartment, and I have like eight different closets and I can’t find anything. It’s disastrous.
What designers should we look out for at Ishaveya?
Watch for Isharya. They’re doing phenomenal.
This blog post first appeared on thebeijinger.com on November 14, 2014.
Photos: Courtesy of Ishaveya, Mitchell Pe Masilun