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Pictures: Inside the Star-Studded Launch of the Nita Mukesh Ambani Cultural Centre

Gigi Hadid and Shah Rukh Khan. Photo:

This weekend, the Nita Mukesh Ambani Cultural Centre (NMACC) was inaugurated with an extravagant three-day event in Mumbai. The grand launch was attended by some of the biggest names in the Indian film industry as well as renowned international faces including Gigi Hadid and Zendaya.

Seeped in opulence and fanfare, the opening was a testimony to the influence of a cultural landmark in the making. Masterminded by the affluent and highly influential Ambani family, the NMACC is a celebration of the centuries-long heritage of art, performance, and craftsmanship in India – from dance and fashion to acting and visual arts.

Dedicating the one-of-a-kind space to her mother, Isha Ambani said, “The Nita Mukesh Ambani Cultural Centre is so much more than a space – it is the culmination of my mother’s passion for arts, culture, and her love for India. She has always dreamt of creating a platform that would be welcoming to audiences, artists, performers, and creatives at large. Her vision for NMACC is to showcase the best of what India has to offer to the world and bring the world to India.”

The Ambanis are without a doubt a powerhouse of a family – they are often cited as the wealthiest in Asia – with patriarch Mukesh Ambani hailed by Forbes as the 10th richest person in the world. With the most expensive private residential home to their name and making headlines for having Beyoncé perform at Isha Ambani’s wedding, there is nothing that is out of the realm of possibility for this family. This alone is not what pulled some of the biggest stars to Mumbai. Nita Ambani’s training in classical dance and lifelong devotion towards the arts also plays a major role behind the foundation of the NMACC, one that was surely palpable by the guests in attendance this weekend. The family is also among the biggest philanthropists in the country. From opening India’s first Covid-19 dedicated hospital during the pandemic to the multiple different avenues of social work under the Reliance Foundation – according to the latest annual report the foundation has touched the lives of over 57.5 million people – the Ambanis certainly believe in giving back to their community and the NMACC is just the latest initiative arising from this commitment.

Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas pose with photographers

This is why it comes as no surprise that the Ambanis offered what is being hailed as India’s Met Gala across social media. From Zendaya’s stunning hand-embroidered sheer violet sari by Rahul Mishra to Gigi Hadid’s Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla number in gold and ivory – the traditional chikankari sari was hand-made in Lucknow and took over a year to make – the night was full of dazzling ensembles. Some stars even opted for Arab designers, with Priyanka Chopra wearing Elie Saab on Day 1, Alia Bhatt going for a Krikor Jabotian mini on Day 2, and Sonam Kapoor Ahuja dressing up in a black Ashi Studio number on the same night. Other guests, from Indian stars to the Ambanis themselves also walked the pink carpet exhibiting unmatched sartorial excellence, a testimony to India’s longstanding connection with fashion.

Also in line with the Ambanis’ penchant for all things spectacular, comes India’s biggest musical, a production that moved Priyanka Chopra to tears. The Great Indian Musical: Civilization to Nation is an immersive theatrical experience that brings together exceptional Indian talent from choreographer Vaibhavi Merchant to musician Ajay-Utal and more than 350 other artists including an epic 55-piece live orchestra from Budapest, to showcase India’s cultural journey through history. All costumes for the show have been designed by beloved couturier Manish Malhotra.  

India in Fashion: The Impact of Indian Dress and Textiles on the Fashionable Imagination

Ensembles by Zandra Rhodes (left and center) and Jean Paul Gaultier (right) in the Hippie Trail section of the exhibition. Photo: Courtesy of NMACC

Curated by Hamish Bowles – Vogue editor, prolific author, and costume expert – and designed by award-winning exhibition designer Patrick Kinmonth the NMACC’s inaugural exhibition is an ode to India’s rich sartorial heritage. Showcasing over 140 pieces sourced from museums and personal collections around the world, the exhibition is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The collection succeeds in representing the long-established symbiosis between India and fashion with couture costumes by renowned brands, and vintage pieces dating as far back as the 18th century.

Couture Spring 2023 from Rahul Mishra. Photo: Courtesy of NMACC

A total of 10 zones feature India-inspired costumes with distinctive themes and unique stories. Two historic 20th-century dresses created for Lady Mary Curzon, the Vicereine of India from 1898 to 1905, find their way back to the country for the first time while a luxurious coat that once belonged to Sir Jagajit Singh Sahib Bahadur, the last Maharaja of the former princely state of Kapurthala, hints towards India’s heritage of royal decadence.

1989 Autumn/Winter Haute Couture Collection, Look 74. Patrimoine de Chanel, Paris. Photo: Courtesy of NMACC

Pieces from Chanel, Dior, and YSL are accompanied by customized bespoke shoes for the exhibition from Christian Louboutin. Isha Ambani’s Valentino wedding lehenga and a reproduction of Michelle Obama’s tulle evening dress, created by Indian-American designer Naeem Khan for the 2009 state dinner with then Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh are also on display. Then there is a piece from YSL’s landmark Spring/Summer haute couture 1982, inspired by his Indian muse and model Kirat Young. Various other spectacular exhibits shine a light on India’s impact on the global fashion imagination. 

Ensembles from the Chanel section of the exhibition. Photo: Courtesy of NMACC

Scroll down to see some of the most stunning looks at the NMACC gala. 

Day 2

Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone. Photo: German Larkin

Manuel Arnaut and Rumana Nazim. Photo: Courtesy of NMACC

Shah Rukh Khan with his family. Photo: German Larkin

Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas. Photo: German Larkin

Mukesh and Nita Ambani. Photo: German Larkin

Maria Grazia Chiuri and Isha Ambani. Photo: German Larkin

Gigi Hadid. Photo: German Larkin

Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor. Photo: German Larkin

Sonam Kapoor. Photo: German Larkin

Aishwarya Rai Bachan and her daughter. Photo: German Larkin

Aliaa Bhatt. Photo: German Larkin

Day 2

Gigi Hadid. Photo: Courtesy of NMACC

Zendaya. Photo: Courtesy of NMACC

Tom Holland. Photo: Courtesy of NMACC

Penelope Cruz. Photo: Courtesy of NMACC

Sonam Kapoor Ahuja. Photo: Courtesy of Ashi Studio

Emma Chamberlain. Photo: Courtesy of NMACC

Karan Johar. Photo: Courtesy of NMACC

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