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BYREDO Mumbai Noise 02
Photography Ashish Shah

Diet Paratha and BYREDO join forces to celebrate Indian artistry

Ahead of the launch of new fragrance Mumbai Noise, Diet Paratha founder Anita Chhiba enlisted ten Indian artists to lend their creativity to its bottles

Since launching the Diet Paratha Instagram account in 2017, Anita Chhiba has established a unique online platform which celebrates culture and creativity within the South Asian diaspora and beyond, through a collation of evocative images and words. 

From collaging images of hooked noses side profile-on, to spotlighting South Asian talent through collaborations with Burberry, Gucci, and more, Diet Paratha’s curation of art is intended to uplift its followers – while simultaneously addressing and shifting negative stereotypes often perpetuated by the media’s representation of South Asian communities.

“Our cultural identity shouldn’t define us – we’re so much more than that,” says Chhiba, speaking to a South Asian representation which only references cultural monuments or traditional food and clothing. “It’s been so negative and we’ve been historically excluded for such a long time. (Diet Paratha) does so much for so many people... Just by seeing ourselves in a different spotlight and being able to shift the perception of how we’re seen in mainstream media.”

Now, Chhiba continues this celebration of artistic talent by joining forces with luxury fragrance, beauty, and fashion house BYREDO – founded in 2006 by Indo-Canadian Ben Gorham. Launching today comes a new fragrance inspired by Gorham’s childhood moments spent with his grandmother in Chember, Mumbai. 

Named ‘Mumbai Noise’, the scent shifts enticingly through warm wood and amber, bitter coffee, leather, plum, and sweet tonka beans. But where BYREDO bottles are usually stripped-back and fuss-free, it’s at this point Diet Paratha’s influence comes into play. In anticipation of the fragrance’s launch, Chhiba has curated a collective of exceptional artists to decorate ten bottles with their own work. 

Those on the line-up include Mumbai-born Jaishri Abichandani, who chose to spotlight six noisemakers – from fisherwomen to sex workers – from her hometown, and Manu Pillai, who channelled memories, objects, and textures from his childhood onto his bottle. Manjit Thapp reworked traditional folk paintings, while stylist and artist Neesha Tulsi Champaneria drew inspiration from the way global diasporas evolve.

Elsewhere, visual artist Shweta Sharma expressed her gratitude towards growing up in Mumbai,  Chila Burman looked to her Punjabi heritage and the climate crisis to create a “positive, punky” design, Richie Shazam covered his bottle with tattoo-like layers and self-portraits, and Sarah Naqvi and Shreya de Souza reimagined hermaphrodite god and ‘queer icon’ La Diable. 

‘I want people to see this project and be inspired by it and feel great about who they are and feel great about the fact that these types of companies are giving us spaces to be ourselves and flourish without the filter’ - Anita Chhiba

According to Chhiba, her goal was “to see a really high calibre of Indian talent being themselves and getting inspired”. “It’s crazy that we’re underrepresented – India has over one billion people, and in the UK, British Asian is the second biggest minority group after Black,” she says. “The sheer number of us speaks volumes alone.”

She continues: “I want people to see this project and be inspired by it and feel great about who they are and feel great about the fact that these types of companies are giving us spaces to be ourselves and flourish without the filter.”

Besides curating the collective of artists, Chhiba is also hosting an intimate cocktail party at London’s Lexington Street flagship store with BYREDO, where guests will be able to view each artist’s bottle, celebrate Mumbai Noise’s launch, and join together in anticipation of Diwali. 

Chhiba explains that she tried to include Indian and South Asian people in each aspect of the event, which will bring together South Asian chefs and DJs. After discovering a gap in the market for South Asian florists, however, she reached out to Sage Flowers – a brand which trains young people from marginalised backgrounds to become florists – to create funding for two South Asian interns to assist on the project.

“This isn’t just talking about the community, it isn’t just involving people like me, it’s about giving back to the culture in ways where we couldn’t find other Indian talent,” Chhiba explained. “It’s not exactly groundbreaking, it’s actually just the bare minimum.” 

She added: “I’m really grateful to BYREDO for saying yes to all of that.”

BYREDO Mumbai Noise is available here now.