CHANGE UNIVERSE: Magazine Jewels
New York | PeopleNovember 16, 2007

Malini Murjani, India Grandeur

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   The day I met Malini was when she landed in my house.

I came from my daily Ashtanga Yoga practice when my guest from Brazil called me in the Elephant room overlooking Central Park, to introduce me to a friend she says I'll love. Her name is Malini -- Malini Murjani. As soon as I saw her a thought came through my mind - Gosh! She so beautiful and she belongs so much in this room...

She smiles like she understands what I'm thinking, and says she's happy to meet a mutual friend. I know it's confusing, but certain things when you live them are just very simple and meant to be.

I am now having tea in her impressive 4,000 square foot duplex apartment in the 31st floor of United Nation Plaza on New York's Lower East side. The elegant and priceless decor is by award-winner interior and furniture designer John Saladino.

Hong-Kong born Malini, of Indian nationality, reveals to my surprise that she has been designing a line of accessories, handbags and belts for over five years. Her forte has become a favorite with editors at Harpers Bazaar, W magazine and Vogue. Among her clients are Paula Abdul and Tori Spelling. Her line is sold in high-end stores in New York and Los Angelesincluding Harvey Nichols, and on Pedder in Hong Kong.

As soon as I arrived Malini lead me to a beautiful library filled with crimson draperies overlooking breathtaking views of the East River from its window, a 19th Century Orientalist portrait of a Turkish visir seems to remind me of my own origins (my grandfather was from Turkey). It's strange feeling, I also feel I "match" this room while my eye catches all hottest items from her collection nonchalantly laying out on the red carpeted floor.

With a smile I am already used to she shows me her favorite, a very large shoulder bag made from a large grey python, a gazelle-fur-trimmed clutch with detachable exotic feathers flirtatiously hanging on the side, and a wide crocodile belt adorned with a roughly refined Brazilian agate stone that you'll find in any tourist store from Rio to Salvador airports. Nothing simple in Malini Design but without a doubt of great allure.

Each one of those pieces of art is loud and luxurious as one might expect from a woman who has led a life scouring the world for accessories to complement her jet-set, celebrity friends' lifestyles before she started making her own collection.

While I stare furtively at her grand picture in the newly inaugurated November 2007 Vogue India magazine cover, Malini asks me from the other side of the living room if my friend is on his way. Yes, she told me when I met her in the elephant room at home, she just got engaged and is dreaming to get married on the island of Bali. I offered to introduce her to one of my best friends in New York, a real estate entrepreneur who is originally from Bali. My friend obviously representing Balinese hospitality was delighted to be of service with anything we might need and was promptly on his way to meet with us.

Malini, the daughter of fashion visionary, Hong- Kong born Mohan Murjani. who is responsible for labels such as Gloria Vanderbilt (her beautiful mother Guni, was a fitting model of the house), and the invisible hand that hoisted Tommy Hillfinger high into the world of fashion. My friend from Bali arrives and as soon as I introduce them, he recognizes Malini in a glance and before even kissing me, affirms having seen her eleven years ago at her brother's wedding in Singapore. She laughs, agrees she attended the wedding. They exchange a couple of friends and acquaintances they have in common, and for a few seconds I don't exist anymore.....destiny and the 3 degrees of separation play stronger in that room while from the top of the wall the visir now majestically mocks me.

We could have all met in London or Switzerland where Malini spent her childhood, or in Italy where I grew up; in Tokyo where my friend relocated from Bali, in Bombay where Malini's family moved recently, or even at the Carnival in Rio at the market where agate stones are sold near my friend 's home, the one that introduced us, or even Singapore at the famous wedding years ago. Yet, it was here in global New York.

How can I leave this place?

"Malini please," I say, "while the two of you talk, can I borrow that clutch? I have a wedding to attend to next week in Jaipur. Do you know anyone there?"

Joelle's Picks:

The Artist: Malini Murjani

The products: Soon available on line at Joelle

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