Cecilia Morelli Parikh on Cece, Her Alter Ego on New Girl, and More
Cecilia Morelli Parikh hardly needs an introduction. A former buyer at Bergdorf Goodman, she moved to Mumbai in 2007 to start a new chapter with husband, Rohan Parikh. Le Mill was born out of that fresh start and since then Cecilia has been a spokesperson for curating a space, along with partner Julie Leymarie, which represents her Italian, French and Indian roots. What’s more – she loves to travel, collect art and champion the Made in India label. Before you mistake any of this as conventional, make no mistake – there is only one Cecilia. Honest to a fault, sharp as a whip and funny enough to inspire the hit show New Girl’s character, Cece… without further ado, Cecilia’s original and notoriously precise point of view, anecdotes from a life less ordinary!
Name: Cecilia Morelli Parikh
Profession: Co-founder, Le Mill
Born: Chicago, February 25, 1982
On her introduction to fashion: “My mother. Like many little girls I enjoyed watching her dress up for business with my father. I was enraptured, especially by how she painted her nails at the dinner table while my sister and I ate our supper. This was the ’90s in Paris so there was a lot of Christian Lacroix for night and Kenzo for daywear. My mother has always dressed a little against the grain, possibly a reaction to my grandmother’s more conservative choices of Ferragamo and Valentino. Until a few years ago, my mother almost never dressed in black; there was a lot of colour and prints. What my mother taught me most was to own what you wear. She has never looked like anyone else because her style is completely her own.”
On her big fat Indian wedding: “Ha. Well, I had a pretty long wedding. In total, we had friends and family celebrating for 10 days. It was four years ago, starting New Years Eve of 2009-10. The first six days were in Mumbai and the last four in Goa. The celebrations in Mumbai were full Indian and in Goa we did a Christian wedding. We had over 350 foreigners come to India to celebrate with us.
I think my favourite outfit was the one I wore to my Christian wedding: flowing white pants and a beaded waistcoat made in India by Anne Demeulemeester. I picked the outfit from an image in the office at Bergdorf Goodman where I was working before moving to India. I had never tried the outfit on, which was a little stupid. On the day of the wedding I realized the top was completely see-through. Thankfully, my brilliant friend Anaita Shroff Adajania saved the day by finding me a nude top to wear under.”
Beaded waistcoat by Anne Demeulemeester, photo courtesy: Border&Fall
On why art makes her tick: “They make me happy. They also serve as bookmarks for important milestones for Rohan and I. Each piece has to speak to us and say something about where we are and how we are thinking at that time. We don’t buy because it’s an important ‘investment’ but because the artwork is saying something to us and we like the dialogue it is engendering. Later we can think back to that dialogue and expand on it with other works or simply appreciate the work. Living with art is truly a privilege. Because art is completely organic, reacting to us and to the elements – and evolving over time.”
On her treasured possessions: “An old coin necklace from De Vera in NYC that my mother gave me for my 30th. My engagement ring from my husband, which he designed, and is still the item I get the most compliments about. My camel skin men’s coat from The Row. A vintage Alaia dress I inherited from my mother’s Paris days. And although a new possession, I am mad about my Proenza PS11 in camel as well. Does furniture count? If so, my Valentin Loellmann bench, Carl Hansen lounge chair in oak and vintage Danish sideboard at home.”
Old coin necklace from De Vera, photo courtesy: Border&Fall
On her alter ego, Cece from New Girl: “Ha. Really. That’s funny. Liz Meriwether and I have been friends since we met the first week of college at Yale in New Haven. We were both theater geeks. She was a playwright and I liked to boss people around, so I was a director. Liz has always been one of the funniest and most brilliant people I ever met. We always knew she would go on to great things. After college she and I and another friend from Yale, Shira, shared a tiny two bedroom flat in Chelsea. We were all pretty poor and Liz lived behind a screen in our living room. The flat was always a mess.
When I got fired from my first job working on an indie film set for a hyperactive director, Liz and Shira comforted me by leaving a trail of expletives around the apartment. I got fired for bringing coffee that was too cold. Liz got fired a few months later from her PA job to a rich Upper East Side family for miscounting the almonds served in small plastic bags to the children. I just went on to another job but Liz wrote a play about her experience working for the rich family that played off Broadway for a few months and accelerated her career. I can proudly say that I am semi-famous because Liz named one of the characters Cecilia Parekh on the show. But they spelt Parekh differently to my name. My nickname in school was Cece.”
Cecilia and Rohan in their home, photo courtesy: Prabuddha Dasgupta
On the three words that describe her best: “Ambitious. Loyal. Impatient.”
On what she wishes she knew when she was 18: “That you really will never get another chance at learning the way you do inside a classroom at college. So don’t miss class and relish every book you read. Learning is a true luxury.”
On her signature perfume: “Santal by Le Labo.”
On her dream dinner party guest list: “My best friends from across the world reunited at our dining table in Mumbai. This is about as likely to happen as if I wrote Charlie Chaplin and Hillary Clinton.”