Luxury on your sleeve

Last Updated: Fri, Nov 16, 2012 19:50 hrs

Three style-savvy professionals give Priya Kumari Rana a peek into their most coveted accessory - the classic cufflink.

Restaurateur, Mumbai

The suave founder of Olive Bar and Kitchen is known for his eclectic, colourful style. Often spotted in casual jackets in shades of cream, teal, lime, sky blue, and melon, Singh says, “Because of what I do, I’m able to get away with being fairly unconventional in my clothes. In the last few years, I have found that I really enjoy sharp suits. Because I live in Mumbai, I need lighter, linen summer suits which I can also wear formally. Most of my stuff is done for me by Lecoanet Hemant.”

A self-admitted aficionado of accessories — pochettes, suspenders, tie pins (even though he doesn’t wear ties), and cufflinks — Singh chooses them based on “what looks good”. For somewhat formal dos, he likes pairing his cufflinks with tuxedos, of which he owns four or five. “I got two tuxes made by Lecoanet Hemant and two by Gaurav Gupta, and just ordered one in royal purple,” he says. “It’s all about how the cufflinks will look with the tuxedo and shoes. I usually go with open linen shirts, and no tie or bow tie!”

Singh owns a number of Paul Smith cufflinks, which he feels complement his personality. “Then I found this lovely shop in Mumbai called Obataimu which is in Kala Ghoda. I bought two pairs for friends, which I haven’t given to them yet, and my wife Sabina had a pair made for me.” These are a pair of monogrammed, vintage-typewriter-key cufflinks that carry the initials of his friend Monu Bali. Another very striking pair that Singh has got as a birthday gift for cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar has the initials S and T in Marathi, in typewriter lettering. His own pair carries his initials — AD. “Style should be individual. One should be able to bring it out in one’s accessories; for instance, getting your pochette printed with the picture of someone who’s important to you — your babies, your nieces, your passions. You can even put the pictures on cufflinks, or have cufflinks with Hindi lettering.”

For Singh, it’s all about dressing slightly against the rules. “When people wear formal shirts and cufflinks with jeans, you think ‘Hm, that’s interesting.’ Age has nothing to do with style. If you’re 40, then don’t pretend you’re 20. Cufflinks are ageless. I like ones that are playful, colourful, and not very serious.”

Designer, New Delhi

Lean, tall and dapper Thakore, a part of design duo Abraham & Thakore, is excited about the coming winter. “The cooling weather gives people the chance to dress up. You have to make the effort, if people have taken the trouble to invite you,” he says. He likes to go for the complete look, with beautiful shoes, a great jacket, a gilet (waistcoat), pochette and cufflinks. His first pair was in gold, gifted to him by an uncle when he graduated from design school, followed by a pair in silver, another family gift. It all began with the idea of coordinating his pochettes with his links.

So Thakore got a boxful of one-, two- and three-tone knots in silk from the Thomas Pink store in London to add colour to his ensembles. “For me, it’s all about detailing. If I am going to a wedding, I will wear a fine, pin-tucked shirt with a French cuff, and embellish it with cufflinks. But for an informal do, it could be a fitted shirt from Zara, teamed with simple cufflinks, in contrasting colours even,” he says. Most of the links in Thakore’s collection have come to him as gifts. The sapphire and diamond pair he’s wearing is by a French jeweller, from a special friend. “I enjoy giving cufflinks as gifts. I recently got some for my nephew, a young professional who is required to wear them with dress shirts and work shirts,” he says.

Episode in Delhi is one of Thakore’s favourite stores for cufflinks in silver. “They are simple, elegant. Very rarely do I go to a jeweller for cufflinks; I order mine.” He’s now getting two pairs in tanzanite and topaz set in gold, that he can match or mismatch, by changing the linking. Thakore doesn’t feel that dressed-up only means black tie and cummerbund. “At a sit-down dinner at the Met in New York a few years ago, I wore a Nehru jacket. That’s the Indian look; it’s very simple and terribly stylish,” he says. To show off the cufflinks, the sleeve should be visible, “just about a quarter inch out of the suit sleeve”. French or single cuff, with jeans or a jacket, cufflinks are never out of fashion for Thakore.

Advisor to the chairman, Louis Vuitton, New Delhi

The scion of the princely house of Kapurthala, Singh sported his first pair of cufflinks at the age of 10, inspired by his flamboyant great-grandfather, Maharaja Jagatjit Singh, and grandfather, Maharaja Paramjit Singh, who owned “bowls of them”. Singh isn’t too far behind. “I don’t remember how many I have,” he says. “I love them; I wear them all the time. The family always wore cufflinks as part of the dress code.” They had cufflinks by Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Boucheron, and all the old French jewellers. Singh clearly makes a distinction between the day cufflink, which is informal and sporty, and the evening cufflink, which is more bling, with a precious or semi-precious stone or two. He only wears his cufflinks on a double-cuff, bespoke shirt, preferably by a shirtmaker from Jermyn Street, London. “The key is to make sure that both the buttonholes are completely aligned, with the ornate side of the cufflinks on top, and the swivel bars not going this way or that. Lots of people struggle with them, and lose interest. The links have to be shaped so that they get in through the buttonhole. That’s why the shirts should be from a great shirtmaker who knows.”

At formal dos, Singh has even worn his cufflinks with bhandhgalas or sherwanis, since he likes to “promote Indian attire”. His favourite pairs include an enamel and diamond one belonging to his grandfather, a square one with bidri-work, a couple in tanzanite and silver from Van Cleef & Arpels, a Tiffany silver pair honed out of one solid piece, another antique pair with rubies and sapphire set in glass, and a green clover from Dior — a gift from a friend. On his shirtsleeves is a blue lapis lazuli pair from French jeweller Chaumet. Singh prefers not to have them made in India, as he feels that Indian jewellers don’t know cufflinks. Indians, he feels, need to learn more about dressing up. “Look at the way our government dresses! We’ve lost our dress sense. People forget we were leaders of sophistication — the workmanship one saw in my great-grandfather’s days, in Western clothes, uniforms, cufflinks, boots with spurs — is gone. The younger generation, always in a hurry, may lose out on the magic of wearing cufflinks.”

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