Chic Invite: Bachelor Cheers!

My cousin KK is getting married soon, and to celebrate his last few days of singledom (read: freedom), he and his lovely fiancée are throwing a grand bash for close friends and family (singles and doubles both invited).

So KK did the expected thing—he invited us on Facebook. And then caught us off guard when he followed it up with a very cool invite – a cocktail glass, all dressed up for a party!

DSC00976The little silver scroll on the stem, held together with ribbon, doubles up as a brief invite.

So why is this chic? For starters, it comes as a surprise to those invited (the glass came in an inconspicuous maroon paper bag with a personalised tag), it’s fun and it’s completely in tune with the idea behind the party!

So here’s a toast to KK and his lovely bride-to-be P! Wish you both a happy, fulfilling and fun life together! :-) 

2009’s biggest fashion lessons

Bling it on!

Naeem Khan_Michelle Obama (1)As they say in the west, “Keep it simple, stupid!” They like to keep the bling factor very low. But back home, we just loooove to pile it on. Luckily for us, 2009 brought with it a licence to bling. From the ubiquitous shimmery lamé to fully-sequinned mini dresses, and  Naeem Khan’s gown for Michelle Obama, it was all about bling. And who could miss the handful of gold chains women threw around their neck. Thrilling times for Indian women. I couldn’t be happier!

2010 prediction:

Keep shining, all through the year! (And anyways, bling is never out of fashion in India). 

Why match, when you can clash?

The bolder fashionistas dared to experiment with mismatched colours, textures and prints. Before we knew it, everyone was doing it. You could wear a green shirt and offset it with a pink bag. Or a carefully mismatched sari blouse. In a nutshell, No one matched their clothes and accessories. I made the most of my bright red H&M bag, carrying it with anything and everything. I loved this trend because I could finally wear garments that were a few shades apart. So my sky blue shirt with bold silver buttons and my favourite pair of blue jeans didn’t look funny at all!

2010 prediction:

This one’s for keeps, at least for all of 2010. Make the most of it!

Belts are not just to hold up your trousers

Belt-Lanvin Spring 2009Turns out that belts are not so boring after all. From the runways to the streets, women wore belts to accentuate their figures, define their waistline and to make a statement. On the runways, Lanvin  used belts extensively in his Spring 2009 RTW collection, while closer home, Tarun Tahiliani used our own Indian belt – the cummerbund – extensively in his S/S 2010 LFW collection.

2010 prediction:

Keep the belts on, ladies, at least for the first half of 2010.

Saris are not just for our moms

I have always avoided saris like the plague—they were difficult to wear, uncomfy to dance in, and were meant for Kareena Kapoor in Green Sarimom and aunties. Circa late-2009: I insisted on wearing a sari for a family wedding, sorry, no lehengas for me. I even wore a kanjeevaram for the pre-Diwali office lunch. Maybe Manish Malhotra’s lovely saris for Kareena Kapoor at red carpet events did the trick. Us girls realised how a sari can actually make you look gorgeous, not an aunty at all.

2010 prediction:

Let’s go sari-hunting!

2009: Bollywood round up

Best on-screen wardrobe

It wasn’t Kareena nor Katrina, but Sushmita Sen’s outfits in Do Knot Disturb that were tres chic! She donned the right clothes for the role of a rich woman being cheated on by her husband — high-fashion and luxe.

The movie was a real drag, but Sush’s clothes made me look forward to her next screen appearance. The final scene in which she wore a white dress, statement chain-link necklace and hat? Fantastic end to an otherwise boring movie.

Weirdest on-screen wardrobe

Kareena Kapoor’s outfits in Kurbaan gets a thumbs down from us. In Delhi, she tried the Indo-Bohemian look, with a fitted V-neck tee, shawl draped round her neck, flowing ghagra skirt, AND a churidar. How’s that for too much? Sorry, but it just doesn’t work. When she shifted to NY, she apparently forgot her clothes in India, and stuck to body-hugging tees with tight jeans and leggings. Great body, girl, but excite us, we’ve seen enough of bodycon!

Most disappointing wardrobe

Skirts are a girl’s new best friend, agreed. But did we have to see Katrina Kaif in skirts and sleeveless tops and dresses in almost every frame of Ajab Prem ki Ghazab Kahani? Ranbir Kapoor’s thin long ties and crazy prints were more exciting than Katrina’s bare arms, frankly.

Wardrobe revival

You can never go wrong with Sabyasachi saris, so that was a safe bet. But Vidya Balan going boho-chic in Paa flashbacks definitely wasn’t. The talented actor brightened the silver screen with a) the saris and b) earthy colours and long skirts, complemented by messed up and crimped long hair.

Both looks totally worked for Ms Balan, and methinks it’s partly due to with the newfound confidence thanks to her weight loss. Well done!

Saddest beauty trend

Yes, size zero is always troublesome, but that’s so 2008. The last month of the year threw a new bouncer at us: two lovely dusky women in TV commercials looking completely whitewashed! We mean Kajol and Deepika Padukone endorsing Olay and Neutrogena respectively. There was good money for sure, but why did they appear so pale? God help us!

Great expectations of 2010

A sneak peek into the sets of Aisha has Sonam Kapoor looking casual, well-dressed and fresh, while Abhay Deol is just as dapper.

Based on Jane Austen’s Emma, it’s the movie to watch out for in 2010.

Best of LFW: Part 2

Tarun Tahiliani

Summer 2009’s collections heralded the beginning of Grecian and draped dresses on the international ramp. Tarun Tahiliani took this trend forward with his LFW collection. But while the international designers chose pristine white and fiery reds, Tahiliani opted for black and gold, wine and champagne. Despite the similarities, he Indianised his clothes with his magical touch. Once again, Tahiliani proved why he’s called the master of drapes in the Indian fashion scene. Throughout the show, the designer’s partiality toward gold and earth colours was clearly visible, right from the copper lace sari to his shimmery togas.

Black and gold sari with low-cut blouse

Even with the drapes, the designer sought to complement the hourglass figure. He created faux waistlines with cummerbunds and belts, and buckles and brooches on gathers. And it weren’t just the dresses that were glamourous. Tahiliani’s jackets and sequinned pants oozed evening glamour for those who wanted to keep it casual for a Saturday night in the city.

His collection may come as good news to well-endowed women, as he highlighted the sari blouses of the season — decollete and pave necklines. And just when we thought we had kissed Yash Chopra’s shaded saris goodbye, Tahiliani brought them back, though sans the chiffon. Colour graduation was spotted everywhere — on tunics, kameezes, sherwani coats and saris.

Tahiliani’s showstopper saris were a pleasant surprise — made of lace, they stood out from the rest of the collection. Indrani Dasgupta’s six-yard was encrusted with Swarowski crystallized rubies, pearls and diamonds even as the other three looked extremely wearable, subtle and sophisticated. He paired the lace saris with sequined corsets and bustiers. And that was not all — lace earlier appeared as a thick dupatta and ghagra border and sleeves.

Vipasha Agarwal in a lemon and gold lace sari

How to wear it: It’s always the right time to experiment with your sari draping. If not the adventurous kind, then opt for saris in cream, beige or peach lace with daring blouses. Or the simplest of all — get ‘shaded’!

Best of LFW: Part 1

Vikram Phadnis

In fashion, we all seek the avant garde, the cutting edge. But great fashion isn’t always cutting edge or avant garde. Great fashion is clothes that are given a fresh appeal, looks that alter your perceptions of a garment, and those make you think twice about what you’ve been wearing. Vikram Phadnis did all this and more.

Phadnis played with colours, silhouettes and fabrics to create a stunning bridal collection. The dazzling colours were put together in unusual combinations — unexpected even in the era of colour contrasts. He mixed purple and blue, maroon and cream, sky blue with sea blue… Imagine the stunning effect of a long green kurta and an indigo textured ghagra teamed with an orange net dupatta.

Green kurta with indigo ghagra and an orange dupatta

The luxurious fabrics became richer with zardosi embriodery and crystal work, and the added length of kameezes. In contrast to the elongated kurtas were the very short and sexy cholis, designed to make men at a wedding drool.

The oft-neglected dupatta of a bridal outfit, usually just a slightly modified version of the lehenga itself, was reborn with a new personality. Phadnis showed the world how a dupatta can transform an outfit, like a whole new layer to your clothing. It isn’t just an accessory, it’s a garment — he seemed to be saying. There was variety in draping, embroidery and colours. His dupattas are something I would want to carry, despite the heavy lehengas. The best dupattas were those of net, complete with exquisite borders and sprays of crystal or embroidery work.

Purple dupatta

Phadnis mixed silhouettes using fabrics and patterns — like brocade and velvet; or like the modern wave pattern blouse with zardosi on a velvet maroon lehenga. And then there were voluminous ghagras with sherwanis and saris with sherwani-style blouses. Who thought that Indian garments could be layered like this?

How to Wear It: When you get dolled up this festive season, carry a dupatta that does not match. Because, as Phadnis has shown, it really does.

Rohit Bal’s “made up” range for Lancome

When MAC partnered with Manish Arora to create an India-inspired makeup range, the results were fabulous. The dazzling colours of eyeshadows, lip glasses and blush blew away women around the world.

So when I read about Rohit Bal’s Lotus collection for Lancome, I knew I had to check it out. Here’s what I had in mind- new colours, some never-thought-of makeup tools and eccentric packaging, perhaps even guy makeup! Oh boy, was I disappointed. The collection is more or less a glammed up version of a discount scheme.

This is how it works:

  1. You choose your shade from a fixed set of products, such as concealer, blush, lipstick etc from Lancome’s existent range. You can have either 12 products (silver set) or 21 (gold set).
  2. If you choose the silver set, you get 12% discount, which means Rs 15,000. And the gold set comes for Rs 25,000.
  3. This is all put together and wrapped neatly in a cute vanity case.

This is a great idea especially for brides, who want everything handy, customised and coordinated. And even the women who want to indulge themselves.

But why tag Rohit Bal along? The crazy-creative notorious designer has added nothing to the Lancome brand, nor to his own. The only claim being that he “handpicked” the collection. Why would Rohit Bal want to lend his name to something so silly? How does the Delhi designer become anything different from cricketers and actors endorsing brands? (At least they display their acting skills). We would have loved to see Rohit Bal getting creative with something other than fabric.

Speaking Chic’s opinion: It’s a foolish marketing gimmick to draw footfalls to the stores. The concept does have some weight, but I would have pegged it as the “Lotus Bridal” collection or something similar, and kept Mr. Bal out of the equation.

Weekend Views: Practical Fashion

Practical Fashion
The few times I’ve seen Latika Khaneja of Collage Sports Management on TV, I’ve noticed her articulateness, her straightforwardness and her commanding yet feminine voice. What I haven’t noticed much are her clothes.

Which is why an interview on her style in this weekend’s Lounge took me by surprise. This smart business woman spoke candidly about the practical side of fashion for working women. And Ms Khaneja definitely doesn’t mince words- she says no to pencil skirts, believes flat shoes at office are perfectly acceptable and has stopped shopping at “children stores”.

Her pragmatic tips make complete sense for those of us who have to run to catch a train, or have to get into the bus with a quick jump.

Next time I’m off for a client meeting, I’ll perhaps give my three-inch black pumps a break and opt for practical comfort instead.

PS- Thanks, Ms Khaneja!

Painting Flushing Meadows Red!

While Sharapova made an unglorious exit from the US Open over the weekend, she didn’t fail to surprise with her choice of dress. Known to work closely with the Nike team, her lilac dress was perfect for her long legs and her tall and lean frame. However, I think the neon green bands across her dress are best left to cyclists, not tennis stars.

Despite the loss to a player ranked 30 spots below her, Sharapova’s creative and entrepreneurial streak continues. The Russian player is now designing accessories for Cole Haan, starting with an over-the-knee boot.

Her opponent was Melanie Oudin, who wore the cutest sneakers– a pleasant mix of dark pink and yellow, with three blue stripes, perfect for her young years (this feisty player is only 17!).

Oudin used her sponsor Adidas’s customisation site for the bespoke shoes. Fellow American Sam Querrey did the same with his shoes- a pair of red with a dash of dark blue.

Speaking of red, this fiery colour is ruling the roost seems to be ruling the roost at this hard court event. World No. 1 Roger Federer is wearing an eye-catching yet elegant red, adding an element of fun to his elegant backhand. Jelena Jankovic, who made an early exit, wore a red dress with ruffles at the waist and on the skirt- oh so feminine, but lacking a good fit. And then there’s Kim Clijsters with her red FILA tee and co-ordinated skirt, and a host of East European players like Kateryna Bondarenko and drama queen Vera Zvonareva.

The bright colours of the summer don’t end with the red. There’s the bright pink (donned by the Williams sistas, Elena Dementieva and Nadia Petrova), and the very summery yellow of Rafael Nadal’s t-shirt. While the t-shirt gives women (and men) a cheeky view of his toned biceps, the blue head and wrist bands are in sync with new fashion mantra- Make contrasts work!

While some players stick to the safe choices (like blue), I love the experimentation with colours at the last Grand Slam of the year. But autumn’s round the corner, and the bright colours of the season will soon fade away… Enjoy them while they last!