RIP, Gulshan Ewing

22 Apr,2020

 

By Meher Castelino

 

My first meeting with Gulshan Ewing was brief when I walked into the office of Femina to see the editor, Dr K D Jhangiani for a cover picture. Gulshan was the ultra glamorous, Assistant Editor of the most popular women’s magazine in India, Femina, that had just announced the first Miss India Contest in 1964.

 

It was a photographic contest when 500 beauties from all over India sent their photos, from which 10 were selected for an exhaustive interview with Mr P K Roy, General Manager of Times of India and Dr K D Jhangiani, Editor of Femina. Fortunately, I was selected and later learnt that Gulshan too had approved the choice.

 

Soon after, Gulshan left Femina for a more challenging post as Editor of Eve’s Weekly, Femina’s only other rival women’s magazine and older than Femina in years.

 

Luckily, as a model, my association with Gulshan continued for many years after ’64. The Eve’s Weekly Miss India pageants for the Miss World Contest competed with the Miss India Contest all-India Tours for Miss Universe contest by Femina. Both the rival magazines had the franchise for the two biggest beauty pageants in the world and there was a constant annual ‘battle’ to check the winners and how they performed at the international contests.

 

Jeannie Naoroji and Hilla Divecha were the designers and choreographers of the Eve’s Weekly shows. The first year Eve’s Weekly held the Miss India Contest in 1966, the show was a revolutionary concept when Jeannie and Hilla introduced taped music instead of a live band, which Femina had been doing from 1965. In addition, Gulshan and Eve’s Weekly both scored a bull’s eye when Reita Faria, Miss India 1966 was crowned Miss World 1966. It was a great beauty and glamour victory for Gulshan and Eve’s Weekly’s popularity soared on the circulation charts.

 

Gulshan was my ideal career woman. Her entry was as dramatic as her persona but her nature and behaviour were quite the opposite. There was no artificial attitude and incommunicado stance that some of today’s editors feel they have to project.

 

I can never forget her elegance. Cigarette attached to a long stylish filter in one hand, clad in beautiful, printed, chiffon saris, elegantly styled décolleté cholis and perfectly coiffured hair, Gulshan would float into a room enveloped in the most exotic perfume. She was the ultimate style Diva of the days and in a coterie of male editors she was a breath of fresh air.

 

I made many visits to see Gulshan in her office, as I was featured on the covers of Eve’s Weekly often, modelled for the fashion pages regularly, contributed designs for knitted garments and generally felt quite at home in Eve’s Weekly.

 

Every visit of mine had to include a chat with Gulshan. We talked about fashion, style, modelling, the latest tends. She was never too busy to meet me.  Over a cup of tea, we spent hours just talking, at times in Gujerati since we are both Parsis. I also had the pleasure of meeting Gulshan’s husband Guy Ewing when I worked in the PR department of British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC, now British Airways) in 1965 and he was as friendly as Gulshan.

 

Gulshan had a knack of spotting talent. Whether it was a model or a writer, she knew who had what it takes to succeed. Many young journalists who are seasoned writers and editors today owe their careers to Gulshan and so do I.

 

It was in in 1974 at the tail end of my modelling career of 14 years that I did a humorous piece on travelling by a BEST bus called ‘The BEST Way to Travel’. I showed it to Gulshan who promptly published it in the December 14, 1974 issue of Eve’s Weekly.

 

That was the turning point of my life and start of my journalistic career when The Current, a popular weekly, offered me a weekly column called ‘The Women’. I also did numerous articles for Eve’s Weekly on various subjects like fashion, health, fitness, beauty, lifestyle and interviewed personalities.  Eve’s Weekly’s special editions, along with the very daring topics that were covered were all concepts that Gulshan visualised.

 

Gulshan Ewing was decades before her time. The subjects magazines cover now were visualised by her along with fashion features years ago. For me, Gulshan Ewing will always be the ultimate editor who had elegance, style, grace and above all a personality, which was not only friendly warm and memorable but also unforgettable.

 

Meher Castelino is a former Miss India (way back in 1964) and one of India’s seniormost fashion writers and columnists. In between tracking fashion shows, teaching and adjudicating fashion events, she lives in Mumbai.

 

 

Remembering, Gulshan

 

Many of the fashion greats who interacted with Gulshan remember her fondly.

 

Maureen Wadia

Editor-in-Chief and President, Glad Rags

“I remember Gulshan very well. I interacted with her a few times. She was a woman to reckon with in those days. They don’t make that many memorable women like her. RIP”


 

Salome Roy Kapur

Dancer, Model, Choreographer

“I can never forget how she called and in her beautifully modulated voice and said, “Salome, Eve’s Weekly has selected you to represent India at a beauty contest in Bangkok.” She always had such a flair about her which was unforgetable. She was gentle and firm and was always impeccably dressed. She was someone we all looked up to. God rest her soul and may she be in ethereal peace and light. Lots of love and thanks to you, dear Gulshan.”


 

Jay Ramrakhiani

Textile Restorer and Fashion Designer

“I remember in the 1970s, Gulshan Ewing used to visit our multi product store Raj Kamal at Fountain, which was near Akbarally’s. Her office was behind our store and she dropped in regularly as she was very fond of my father and me while we had coffee from Welcome Restaurant. She was very stylish, very forthright and you couldn’t fool her with stories. She knew her job, knew her substance. She loved chiffon saris in florals and plains as well as exotic perfumes. She knew the exact weight of the saris too.  She had beautiful hands and feet always manicured and pedicured. I remember one day Rekha the actress and she were in the store at the same time and Rekha loved Mary Quant’s lipstick shade Choosey Cherry. Gulshan too thought of buying it but I told her that with her complexion Cerise Pink by Mary Quant would suit her better and she bought that. When it comes to elegance in a sari no one could beat Gulshan Ewing.


 

Lakshmi Narayan

Author, Journalist, Editor

Lakshmi Narayan started as a trainee journalist in Eve’s Weekly moved to Senior Assistant Editor and was later Editor of the magazine.

 

“Gulshan Ewing, the person who brought a young 20-year- old saucer eyed, naïve, girl just out of college to the exciting world of Journalism is no more. Gulshan Ewing, the elegant Editor of Femina, Eve’s Weekly and Star & Style gave scores of young people a chance to express themselves. She guided them through the minefields of active journalism, taught us when to go all out and when to rein ourselves in; all the while keeping a strict eye on the English used by us and the facts we were peddling. After retirement, she had moved to London with her British husband Guy and children Anjali and Roy. The last time I bumped into her was on a street in London. She had exchanged her elegant saris for natty slacks and was as warm and friendly as ever and asked me a hundred questions about people in Mumbai.”

 

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