Mumbai Writer, jeweler and fashion stylist, Umesh Jivnani, a connoisseur of fine things in life, passed away in the early hours of Saturday due to a cardiac arrest, at his home in Bandra West, Mumbai, leaving the Indian fashion industry stupefied at his sudden demise.
Jivnani, an alumnus of HR College of Commerce and Economics in Mumbai, is survived by his mother, older brother, sister and a young niece. He was 46.
Jivnani’s love for fashion and jewellery was all-encompassing, so much so that it could very well be described as his oeuvre in the short life he lived.
Not many can claim a personal legacy chronicling the fashion world in India like Jivnani, with his distinct, often flamboyant and unabashedly expressive style introducing his persona to every room he stepped into, even before you could speak to him. There was no fashion soiree or fashion week where his attendance could be ignored, such was his definitive presence, and that’s saying a lot for the world of fashion in India.
Jivnani reported on fashion for varied news publications and perhaps he was as much a recognised face in society as the people he was writing and talking about.
I did not know him personally, but I do remember the time he styled Christian Louboutin, as the Nawab of Gulbagh, in couture from Rohit Bal’s Gulbagh collection, when Louboutin was in New Delhi for Bal’s grand finale at Wills India Fashion Week in 2014, replete with a kilogram of diamonds around his neck and a colourful pagdi on his head. That image has stayed with me since — Louboutin could have passed off as an Indian in that frame, such was the effect of Bal’s clothes with Jivnani’s styling.
“I have known Umesh since the beginning of my fashion career when I started doing my runway shows. He was such a jolly fellow – we would always meet and laugh a lot. Umesh only had two passions in life, apart from fashion which was an essentiality to him – good food (which he was abstaining from of late, as he was working on improving his health during the pandemic) and travelling the world. I am in shock as he had no vices – he was a teetotaler and non-smoker – he was around my age – 46 — life is so unpredictable,” said couturier Varun Bahl, from Delhi.
Couturier Manish Malhotra, who had met him a couple of days ago in Mumbai, was taken aback on hearing of his passing as he was boarding a flight to Jaipur, as was the entire fashion fraternity.
He was known to possibly every fashion designer in India, having interacted or reported on them through the years. Fashion designers collectively described Jivnani as someone who did not apologise for his choices or seek validation for the same. He wore his persona just the way he wanted to, like his fashion.