Le Mill: A good look inside Mumbai's new store
Le Mill, one of Mumbai's most keenly anticipated retail venues, is open for business -- and looking hot.
A multifunctional, lifestyle concept store, Le Mill is housed in a former rice mill bang in the middle of the city’s gritty docks area.
The four women behind the store stylishly curate fashion and furnishing that, while made in India, aren't necessarily easy to find here, as well as goods from overseas.
Founders Cecilia Morelli Parikh, 29, Julie Leymarie, 32, Aurelie de Limlette, 33, and Le Mill’s fashion consultant Anaita Shroff Adajania, 38, are passionate about creating an atmosphere where customers will want to linger.
“People go to Merci in Paris and may not buy anything, but they go because they want to hang out there,” explains Parikh. “They like the way it feels. I hope people feel like that about Le Mill. We want people to come spend time here.”
By putting in an organic cafe, a flower shop and a book section, the quartet hopes to foster a laid-back social atmosphere.
Who and what is Le Mill?
The three founders share a European style sensibility rooted firmly in India, and worked at various jobs before joining forces for Le Mill.
Leymarie was a marketing executive with L’Oréal in India. De Limlette, an artist who does window displays for Hermès, designs all the in-house crockery, while Parikh worked at Vogue India and Adajania is still fashion director at the same publication.
The spacious mill has been owned by Parikh’s in-laws for decades, and was used to store Chinese toys before she heard about it from her mother-in-law.
“I was looking to do a store but the rents in Mumbai made it non-viable -- then I saw this space,” she recalls. “Everyone in the family thought I was nuts, because of the area, but I thought that if you create a cool enough space, people will come.”
It was a gamble she was willing to take, and judging by the opening party, it may pay off too.
South Mumbai socialites mingled with Bollywood faces and a smattering of models, musicians and artists.
Ramona Narang said she liked the Mawi jewelery, Roohi Jaikishan loved the idea of a big retail space and a café all in one, Sussanne Roshan bought lots of clothes and Sikander Kher wondered where the menswear was. The answer is that there isn’t any yet, but they’re working on it.
Much of the store focuses on homeware, with sofas and coffee tables displayed in the main section. All the furniture is manufactured in India, mixed in with Muuto lights from Scandinavia in eye-popping colors, and beautiful linens and cushions.
For the fine jewelry section, Le Mill's architect and interior designer Ashiesh Shah placed a shipping container smack in the middle of the main floor, and made the interior look like the walls of an old Parisian house, replete with mouldings.
A mirror was suspended from the container's ceiling, the better to reflect the limited edition jewelery by Adeline of Paris and Sara Betran of Deszo.
Elsewhere in the store, one anteroom houses Indian-made children’s clothes by Paracas and Pero. Handbags by Yvonne Yvonne flew off the shelves on opening day, and so did the costume jewellery by Indian born Mawi and French-Arab Sharouk.
Exclusive to Le Mill are fabrics and embroidery by Seema Krish, an Indian designer based in Boston and designs by Mumbai-based Maximiliano Modesti, who also supplies to Chanel, Stella McCartney and Givenchy.
Le Mill carries an eclectic line of porcelain plates made in Sri Lanka and a collection of rugs woven in Jaipur.
“The idea is to mix and match and have fun with it,” said Leymarie.
Fresh fashion and flowers
Adajania heads up Le Mill's fashion department. The collection is fresh and feminine and wearable workday to evening.
Bespoke capsule collections by Savio Jon flew off the racks, and Anamika Khanna and Rajesh Pratap Singh will also be designing exclusively for the store soon.
Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen’s label The Row, London-based Saloni Lodha's label and French brands Les Fees de Bengale and Thierry Colson (who are based in Paris, but manufacture in India) were also well received.
A debut fashion collection by Neha Malhotra stood out.
Parikh says they're pricing all the imported clothes on par with the international rate, “so that what you’d pay for The Row in New York is exactly the same as you’d pay here. We are not passing on the import duty to customers.”
The average price point for the clothes is about Rs 10,000 with The Row being the most expensive line.
The in-house flower shop, Libellule (which means dragonfly in French), is run by Nazneen Jehangir, a highly successful Mumbai event florist, who’s doing retail for the first time.
Jehangir says she got involved with Le Mill because “we had a meeting of minds and a meeting of aesthetics."
Though Jehangir imports everything except roses, she says "there’s no reason Indians should go on paying high retail prices for bad quality.”
Average pricing for a bouquets is about Rs 2,500 with individual stems priced at Rs 250 and up. Home delivery is available within Mumbai for Rs 200 extra and you can actually order by phone until 4 p.m. on the day of delivery.
Plus, where else would you get hydrangeas in Mumbai?
17-25 Nandlal Jani Road, next to new railway bridge, Wadi Bunder
+91 (0) 22 23742415/16/17
Open 7 days a week, 11am - 8pm