All Jewelled Up

A name synonymous with exquisite jewellery creations, Moni Agarwal is one of the most sought-after jewellery designers in the country. Having begun her career just three years ago, this talented lady has tasted success quite early in her career. A designer par excellence, it is her passion that drives her to create such stunning pieces. Her latest collection, Zohrakshi, is an ode to nature, and flowers serve as its primary influence. This week, You & I spoke with her about her inspiration, how she got her start and some of her personal favourites.   

Tell us about your latest collection.
It’s called Zohrakshi, and it’s my ode to nature. ‘Flowers’, specifically, have really inspired me. I would say it’s the ‘flower’ that has served as its primary influence. The beautiful gardens of Hyderabad have spoken to me, and found their way into my subconscious.
There is, however, one point I want to emphasise here. Many people perceive only the ‘old and classic’ to serve as a muse. My jewellery and design aesthetic are all about drawing from the timeless and historic, and giving them their rightful place in the present. I do this by staying true to my roots, yet marrying those roots with the contemporary. In a sense, you could call it ‘fusion’ and Zohrakshi is no different. It’s the perfect metaphor for fusion – for seamlessly merging old and modern, timeless and trendy.
It is my modern interpretation of the divine flower power!
What can we look forward to seeing in this collection?
As I said, the essence of Zohrakshi is the flower, but to reincarnation is absolutely contemporary. I have tried to reimagine nature’s bountiful gift to humanity. Art imitates life, and life mimics art. Here you can look forward to a unique, cutting-edge refashioning of floral beauty in timeless, precious jewellery. It’s ideal for today’s woman, who is rooted yet forward, traditional yet visionary; a modern, global, self-confident lady.
How is it different from the previous collections?
There is a natural ease that the collection exudes. And that comes from using something as alive, beautiful and timeless as a flower for inspiration. There are certain aspects like modernising an existing or old theme that will perhaps always be a part of my work. However, this is a departure for me in that it does not draw from any specific ‘history’ per se. It is based on what is abundant in nature the world over and has been so throughout history.
I suppose for me this time the flower is also a metaphor for the beauty and quiet complexity of a woman. And every woman will be able to tangibly sense that in my collection.

Moni Agarwal with glam doll Sushmita Sen
Tell us about your show in Goa and your association with glam doll Sushmita Sen.
Certain places and people are drawn to each other. To me, my love of water, nature and travel naturally draws me to Goa. I absolutely love it! And now that I am totally inspired by nature, it couldn’t be a more fitting locale than stunning Goa!
Similarly, I’m blessed to call some very beautiful, extremely glamorous, and most importantly, some wonderful people, friends. Sushmita Sen is one of them. There is simply no one better to like, and to have like one’s creations. I dare say, it’s a match made in heaven, and played out on earth!
What is it about jewellery design that you enjoy the most?
You only really know and understand what love is when you fall in love. I kid you not, there is literally this physical reaction that takes place inside your mind and body. It’s cataclysmic, earth-shattering. It is un-ignorable! Why am I telling you all this? Because I fell in love at a very young age ... Not with a boy, but with jewellery! Ever since I can remember, I have been obsessed with jewellery. I would admire all the jewellery I’d see around me – from the classic satlada necklace to the timeless string of pearls. It made me go weak in the knees! With that kind of impact it was hard to imagine doing anything else. I get inspired when I travel, read something poetic, and connect it to all the stunning jewellery I’d been exposed to while growing up. And something, somewhere, inside of me germinates organically and the designs just come pouring out! Now you tell me what it is that I enjoy the most about designing jewellery (smiles)?
You’ve tasted success quite early in your career. What is the secret?
People always ask me this question. I thank you for being subtle about it (smiles). The truth is I have never strategised. I don’t know how to and simply can’t. I sometimes wish I could, but no such luck. I design by instinct, gut and inspiration. If there’s a trend I don’t catch, a season I miss, so be it. My point being, early success in my case was never a ‘planned’ thing.
If I was to introspect, I’d say I was at the right place at the right time. Luck, in other words. But, hey, I’ve also come to realise that at the end of the day, it is only – and only, how good your work is that can turn early success into sustained success. It’s like any actor who might have a good debut thanks to his or her industry connections. You’d call that early success too, right?! But to make a career of longevity, that actor would necessarily have to be good at work.
To whom would you credit your success?
My parents, my grandparents, my husband, my in-laws... errr... Basically all the tremendous, wonderful people in my life I have been privileged to have as family and friends. Exposure and encouragement were always available in spades. And yes, I’d credit myself a tad (winks).
What’s your USP?
Personally, it is my honesty. Professionally, it is my originality!
What is your personal style?
Personally, I think chic comfort would sum it up nicely. However, a vital style prerequisite in my view is to always be ‘appropriately’ turned out! Appropriate to one’s age, body type, as well as the event in question.
What are the current trends in jewellery this season?
Chokers are big internationally, as are statement neckpieces. Also single earrings are trending. Geometric designs are all the rage. And refreshed pearls are big. But can I tell you a secret ... Trends are all well and good, but nothing feels more satisfying and stylish than to break away every once in a while.

Your jewellery is worn by several celebrities across the country. How does that make you feel?
In one word – lucky! That these celebrities have an entire plethora to choose from is common knowledge. But when they patronise you, it is the most special feeling in the world. It is validation and a real connect.

Name a few people who’ve carried off your jewellery the best.
Oh, my God, that’s tricky.... They’re all friends so I can’t leave out names or I’ll be in trouble (laughs)! But some favourites include Chitrangada Singh and Sania Mirza.
Where do you find inspiration?
Inspiration is everywhere; you just have to spot it. I love history and travel and both those forces combined are a potent hunting ground for lots of inspiration. History and nature, though, top the list.
How do you celebrate Diwali?
Pretty much like the rest of our great country – lots of shopping (dear husband, beware), lots of eating, friends and family. What I do NOT do is pollute the environment with crackers.
What is it about the festival that you enjoy most?
You know the spirit of Diwali, quite like the essence of all our festivals, is familial love and togetherness. Especially in busy modern fragmented lives, festivals serve as critical coming-together opportunities. It’s the reuniting of a family, and a nation as one big family. I most enjoy this mass bonding.    --- as told to Niharika