How an editor christened a Pierre Cardin model

27 June 2010

Dileep Padgaonkar, The Times of India‘s former editor who made the revealing claim that he held the “second-most important job in the country” after the prime minister, is back in the paper, handling the opinion page.

Padgaonkar writes in The Sunday Times of India of the small role he played (as the paper’s Paris correspondent in 1971) in giving France’s first coloured model—the Bombay girl Phyllis Mendes who dazzled Pierre Cardin enough to become his muse and business manager—her stage name.

“The day after dinner [with the Padgaonkars] Phyllis reported for work at Cardin’s plush offices on the elegant rue du Faubourg St Honore. That afternoon she called me to say that her bosses were unhappy with her first name since it did not sound Indian enough.

“Would I suggest one?

“I suggested ‘Geetanjali‘ — Rabindranath Tagore‘s work was known in France thanks to a fine translation by Andre Gide —but Phyllis thought it was too long. Besides, the French might not be able to pronounce it correctly.

“So I shortened ‘Geetanjali’ to ‘Anjali’ and told her that the worst they could do was to call her ‘en jolie‘ and ‘jolie‘, in French, meant ‘lovely’. From then on the world knew her as Anjali Mendes though for me, as for those who had known her in Bombay, she would always be Phyllis.

Anjali Mendes, passed away alone and abadoned in her home in the south of France last week at the age of 64.

Photograph: courtesy Goan Voice

Also read: How Padgaonkar‘s Sakaal Times dream became a nightmare

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