LFW Finale: Malini goes gypsy-otic

Lakme Fashion Week’s Winter/Festive 2010 season was expected to end with a fashionable bang. A bang it was, but not very fashionable.

There was plenty of drama and theatrics: starting more than an hour late, an acrobatics act, a contortionist, a tacky AV about Malini’s “journey as a gypsy” and Diandra Soares in a horrendous one-shouldered maxi, on the verge of a wardrobe malfunction.

Diandra Soares at LFW

Divided into four parts (Mystery, Bliss, Cosmic and Nirvana), each sub-collection had a distinct mood, theme, colour palette and set of embellishments. While the Mystery collection comprised mostly sarongs, waist coats, Jodhpur pants, and even smocks, the beach-themed Bliss included some colourful dresses, gowns, tubes and minis. Batiks ruled the first two parts.

Malini Ramani outfit at LFW  Model in Malini Ramani outfit

Kaftans and feathers appeared in the Cosmic part, and plenty of mirror work marked the Nirvana stage.

We wonder why Malini stuck mostly to black in her gypsy interpretation, and why she chose to present a collection that was so predictable, and reinforced every gypsy-costume stereotype. Mirror work, check. Shells, check. No defined silhouette, check.

Model at Malini Ramani show  Malini Ramani's show at LFW- model  

The good thing is that Malini remained true to her bohemian, free-spirited self. After a break and with a more open mind, perhaps Malini can get her creative juices flowing again. Let me ask my tarot cards. 😉

Dance: Amazing acrobatics, bad fashion

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Speaking Chic recently headed out to a Chinese acrobatics show, expecting to be enthralled by the mind-numbing movements. And while the young Chinese acrobats from the China National Acrobatic Troupe performed well (though they weren’t flawless), we left the show with mixed reactions.

We liked some of the balancing, juggling, spinning, and even athletic acts the troupe did, but a couple of glaring mistakes left us feeling the show was far from a true glimpse of the Great Chinese Culture.

Firstly, the music was far from the sweet, melodious Chinese tunes that I’d have loved to hear. Instead the acts were performed to loud, throbbing techno-pop-electronica you hear in a bad night club. And the garish costumes just drew attention away from the talent on display. No flowing silks, none of the Chinese prints and embroidery patterns. There were sequins everywhere, bejewelled leotards and similar—the kind you see dancing starlets wear at a Bollywood awards night.

And here’s the fashion disaster of the evening—a Chinese teenage boy dressed head to toe in leather! The teenager juggled shimmering hats while sporting a leather jacket, tight leather shorts, and thigh-high leather boots, blingy all over. Eeeeeesh! Take a look:

 leather all over 

The performance was organised by the Indian Council of Cultural Relations, Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China and India-China Chamber of Commerce & Industry, to mark the 60th anniversary of India-China “diplomatic relations” (the less said about that, the better—Speaking Chic does not discuss politics ;-)).

Meanwhile, check out some of the other body- and mind-bending acts below: straw hat juggling, skipping giant ropes as a pyramid, a rotating human pyramid, umbrella kicking while balancing on someone else’s feet and a really young contortionist. Some of them made me go Wowwwww!

straw hats juggling       rope skipping

contortionist_candles   umbrella kicking

                         human pyramid

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Advice: It’s raining sales!

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It’s the Independence Day weekend, and even after a long month of sales, it’s raining sales all around. (Is it just me or has the monsoon sales run lasted longer than usual?)

I’m sure there are plenty of us who are in the mood to empty their pockets this weekend, what with the apparently irresistible offers by our favourite stores. But here’s the big question—with so many awesome great deals and bargain prices, what’s a girl (or guy) to do?

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Speaking Chic has put together some simple questions pointers to help you go easy on the sales shopping so that you don’t regret your purchases later.

  • What do I need? Make a mental note of what you really need before you head to the mall. Check your wardrobe, shoe rack and jewellery box; and assess your life. Maybe you’re being invited to lots of parties, so you need an LBD. Or you don’t have the very trendy statement rings.
  • Will I wear this in the next three months? Ok, so an awesome tee’s on sales for Rs 300 only! Ask yourself: will I wear this t-shirt? If your cupboard is bursting with unworn tees, then keep it back on the rack. 
  • Who else is wearing this? When I was shopping a few months ago, my friend pointed out a great Zara bejewelled tshirt at a great price. Wearable, comfortable, convenient, the works. But did I buy it? No! Why not? Because every Pooja, Priyanka and Payal is wearing it! Do you really want to wear exactly what everyone else is wearing?
  • Can I experiment with this? Always look for one garment or accessory that can overhaul your wardrobe, something you’ve never worn before. It could be a new silhouette (slouchy pants), colour (electric blue) or garment (pencil skirt). Word of caution: Experiment, but don’t look like a clown.
  • Can this item replace something in my wardrobe? If you’re throwing away your office shirts, you need new ones. If your favourite office bag is in tatters, you need a replacement. Look specifically for these about-to-be-discarded garments and shoes while sale-shopping.
  • Does it fit/ suit me? Get real, everyone has a different shape and size. You don’t want to look like you’re wearing someone else’s tunic, or get painful blisters, do you? If it’s not in your size, or it makes you uncomfortable, move on. You’ll find something better.

Do you have any more sales shopping tips? Share them with us! Have a great Independence Day!

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Shocking Chic: Oil spills into fashion

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For the fashion world, the word shocking is usually reserved for an anorexic model or heavily photoshopped images. But Vogue Italia recently gave shocking a new meaning when it published a fashion photospread inspired by the recent BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Here’s the cover: 

vogue_italia_cover_oilspill

What you see inside are some stark images, some close to being very disturbing. The photos (shot by Steven Meisel) project a poisonous atmosphere, and in one picture, model Kristen McMenamy is seen regurgitating contaminated water. Not for the faint-hearted.

vogue_italia_photos1_oilspill

Speaking Chic tracked down a friend in the US who feels passionately about the oil spill and its cover-up. “The images are truly haunting,” she said over email. “But it’s a good thing, because this is going to put the oil spill on a world stage for everyone to see. Some of the pictures make you feel the anger that most of us environment-lovers felt in the aftermath of the spill.”

We also also asked Mumbai-based photography buff Pradnya for her reactions. “Most of the pictures are in low key which well describe the mood. Unfortunately, the repetitive long shots sometimes lose focus. Yet, some of the photos do justice to the seriousness of the issue. The close-up picture of the model is a great capture, with a nice blend of fear and shock. I think some of the pictures hit hard, but all of them capture the essence of the disaster.”

vogue_italia_photos2_oilspill

For those who still want to know about the fashion in the shoot, check out the Vogue Italia site or watch this behind-the-scenes video.

Speaking Chic says: The next time someone says “fashion is frivolous”, please show them this photo feature. While these photographs will not reverse the damage caused, they make a poignant statement on the environmental and human impact of the spill. By showing a human in such a toxic setting, the magazine has brought to the fore what several upper-class people (Vogue readers) may have brushed under the carpet. We wonder what Tony Hayward would have to say about this one.

What do you think of Vogue Italia’s BP oil spill-inspired photo shoot? Tell us!

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Aisha: A Fashion Primer

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You’ve heard from Aisha’s costume designer Kunal Rawal on how he worked on the guys’ looks. To make it easier for all fashion and film lovers, here’s a mini-guide on Aisha’s fashion, so when you watch the movie, you don’t miss out on the fashion!

We’ve prepared this mini-guide with a little help from both of Aisha’s costume designers—Pernia Qureshi and Kunal Rawal. (Thanks!)

Key Looks

Sonam Kapoor as Aisha: Fun, feminine, high fashion

Abhay Deol as Arjun: Understated, bespoke, corporate

Amrita Puri as Shefali: Sweet behenji (later goes mod)

Ira Dubey as Pinky: Quirky

Lisa Haydon as Aarti: Tailored, glamourous

Arunoday Singh as Dhruv: Outdoorsy, casual

Aisha poster

Clothes: Who’s wearing what?

Aisha: Designer clothes—Chanel, Vivienne Westwood, Christian Lacroix… the works! “I shopped everywhere in New York city,” says Pernia. “Thrift stores, vintage stores, department stores, the street…” (Speaking Chic has learnt that Frock was one of the stores)

Shefali: Anamika Khanna churidar-kurtas

Arjun: Bespoke Kunal Rawal suits

Statement accessories

Aisha: “The Lady Dior is Aisha’s go-to bag, it goes with everything!” says Pernia.

Arjun: Vintage YSL belt, Cartier watch, tie clips

Colours

Sonam: Pastels, whites, some pop colours

Abhay: Lots of colour blocking (such as two-tone ties); off colours like powder and sky blue, ice blue, tones of maroons and tobacco browns

abhay_sonam_aisha

What to steal from Aisha

Pernia: “Everything is wearable. That was something I kept in mind while styling.”

Kunal: “Learn to block your colours well, and adopt an understated style.”

Costume designer favourites

Pernia’s favourite: Pink Christian Lacroix vintage top and skirt

Kunal’s favourites: Abhay’s metallic blazer in denim in the party scene; Arunoday’s sherwani in Gal meethi, Cyrus’s black Dior leather jacket with white t-shirt

Watch out for

Pernia says: The first wedding sequence, salsa song and Sonam’s purple climax dress

Kunal says: Salsa song, detailing on Abhay’s suits

Last word

You will spot both Pernia and Kunal in the film, and Kunal’s roasting marshmallows! “To my defence, everyone was styled in that shot except me!” Kunal exclaims.

Enjoy the movie and tell us what you think of the fashion in the film!

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Interview: The man behind Aisha’s men

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In the past few weeks, Abhay Deol in shirtsleeves, looking absolutely dishy in Aisha promos, is giving a whole new meaning to corporate-cool. A modern-day take on Jane Austen’s Emma, Aisha is perhaps India’s first truly fashion film, with Sonam Kapoor in designer wear throughout, and Abhay Deol looking dapper in bespoke suits. (Psst.. last December, we had touted Aisha as the film to watch out for in 2010).

Speaking Chic talks to the costume designer behind the Aisha men—Kunal Rawal. Kunal_Rawal_LFWKunal is a young Mumbai-based designer known for his casual wear label D.stress. His clothes have been worn by ShahRukh Khan and Abhishek Bachchan, among others.

You have worked with Anil Kapoor’s production house earlier—doing some outfits for Akshaye Khanna and Arshad Warsi in Shortkut. What led you to Aisha?

After Shortkut, I wanted to experiment with different fields, and decided to dedicate some time to fashion weeks and films. I took up Aisha because I knew the producers understood fashion and its importance completely.

To what extent do you think films need to pay attention to costumes?

The young Indian audience wants to see something real in films. At the same time, a movie is about actors, the characters they portray and their performances. If a costume doesn’t work, the character breaks down. If an actor gives a brilliant performance wearing a garish shirt, but the garish shirt will be more talked about than his performance.

In Aisha, Abhay Deol plays Arjun Burman, an investment banker; how much do you relate to that?

I’m poles apart from a banker! And that’s what excited me about working on this film.

How did you arrive on a look for Arjun Burman?

As a contemporary banker, Arjun would have a certain taste—opting for comfort and practicality, while still being stylish. Keeping this in mind, we looked for the right fabric and cut for Arjun. The fabric we chose was a good cotton blend, not too woolly and not too limp either. We created mood boards for him, and I designed custom-made suits for Arjun.  What resulted was at least a dozen custom-made suits for Abhay, each of an optimum cut and fit.

How would you define Abhay’s suits in the film?

The suits are simple, yet unique because of the subtle detailing—slim, single-vented, single breasted, with small lapels.

abhay_deol_aisha1

What is Arjun’s style statement?

Arjun doesn’t try too hard to look great, though he has a sophisticated style. For example, he blocks his colours well—you will see two-tone ties, in which the knot is one colour, while the tie is another.

And how would Arjun dress casually?

Arjun will wear a suit casually, without a belt. Check out the denim shirt in the posters, that’s in Arjun’s favourite fit, not what a typical banker would wear, but it works for him. He also loves crewneck t-shirts. 

As Aisha, Sonam Kapoor’s Lady Dior bag is her statement accessory. What is Abhay’s statement accessory?

His vintage YSL belt and Cartier watch—the Santos 100. He’s also wearing vintage tie-pins.

Where did you shop for the movie?

Even though Abhay’s look is mostly bespoke, I shopped a lot in London and New York for accessories, especially at thrift and vintage stores.

Let’s talk about Arunoday Singh, who plays Dhruv. How different is he from Arjun?

Dhruv is the complete antithesis of Arjun—he’s an outdoorsy Marlboro man.  So he’s wearing free-falling fabrics like linens and mulls.

Bollywood influences fashion—take the example of Shahrukh Khan’s Polo t-shirt in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. In what way will Abhay Deol’s clothes influence men’s fashion on the streets?

All the looks are very relatable and achievable. I’m sure understated fashion will come back to the fore. So will colour blocking for men—it’s as simple as choosing your colours right. Also overshirts, like the one Arunoday Singh wears, could be a rage.

 

What did you think of this interview? Do you have any questions for Kunal Rawal? Tell us!

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Chic Leggings: Going graphic

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I see graphic t-shirts everywhere I go. Girls wearing them, their moms wearing them, on the racks (including at Zara recently), in window displays… And then I came across a pair of graphic-printed leggings, at a high street store abroad. They were certainly eye-catching, though I found them a bit daring for me. I didn’t think I had the panache and confidence to carry it off.

Then I saw Sonam Kapoor sporting a similar pair in a recent interview. Yes, the same Sonam Kapoor who wore badly-fitted anarkali-churidar not too long ago. Surprisingly (or perhaps not), she carried off the graphic tights really well. Paired with a long black tee, it was a deadly combo that elongated Sonam’s super long legs. Check out the TV grab below and don’t miss Sonam’s bejewelled clutch.

sonam_kapoor_graphic_tights

Needless to say, I’m giving these tights a second thought, but I think I’ll wear them only when I’m on TV. 😉 Would you wear graphic-print leggings? Tell us!

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Monsoon mini-guide: Must-haves and must-gags

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The rain gods have arrived, and they’re showering their love on us. It’s time to show some R.E.S.P.E.C.T. to them and to ourselves, overhauling our wardrobes for the next coupla months.

Here’s a handy tip: Come monsoon, and what you wear is not a question of trends, but of comfort and practicality with a chic factor. After all, no one wants to wade through knee-high water in six-inch stilettos.

So here’s our guide to monsoon wear must-haves and must-gags, with some super chic options marked with an *:

Clothes

Must-haves

  • Capris, foldable jeans for omniscient shallow puddles
  • Comfy blouses and shirts that don’t cling to you
  • Kurtas and churidars in georgettes (minus the dupatta)

Must-gags

  • Extra-long trousers
  • Transparent and translucent tops
  • Loose-flowing skirts (remember the strong winds?)

Don’t forget

  • To carry your windcheater. Umbrellas are useless in gusts of wind.
  • To bring out your boleros  and shrugs. They’re perfect for the now-hot-now-cold weather*
Shoes

Must-haves

Gum boots(if you can!) or non-slippery ballet shoes

Crocs* (not the ones with the holes, but the comfy chic styles; they’re a tad expensive, but worth every paisa)

Crocs for monsoon 

Must-gags

  • High heels
  • Your brand-new or old Jimmy Choos, Manolos etc

Don’t forget

  • You can always do what the New Yorkers do—change into your heels/ formal leather shoes in office*
Hair, Makeup and Accessories

Must-haves

  • Hair clips and pins to keep your hair in place*
  • Moisturiser

Must-gags

  • Layers of makeup
  • Too many hair products

Don’t forget

  • To use a good anti-frizz serum after washing your hair. It works wonders!*
  • To carry a comb with you, to smoothen our messy hair. Wet hair rarely looks good in real life.

What do you think of this mini-guide? Share your suggestions and tips in the comments box, or write to us at speakingchic [at] gmail [dot] com.

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Zara Review (with spy shots)

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I’ve just come back from a wonderful trip to Turkey, which included tonnes of shopping, including at Zara and Mango. So I thought it’d be a perfect time to test the Zara store in Mumbai. Here’s my honest review (with cool spy shots).

I’d heard scary stories the day before I visited Zara’s Mumbai store—there was a queue to go in, it was packed, long lines at the cash counter… you get the drift. But surprise! No lines to get in, enough elbow space, though Zara was a bit crowded for an Indian store.

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Zara is a sprawling two-floor store, with men, kids and women’s casuals on the first floor, and the ground floor dedicated to women’s wear. The men’s section was unexpectedly crowded, which is good news, because it indicates that Indian men are acquiring good fashion taste. I spotted some basic guys’ tees for Rs 895.

Coming to the casuals range (the TRF line), there were basic half-sleeve tees for Rs 445, jeans-like-leggings (Rs 1590; not called jeggings here), graphic tees, leggings, and a couple of really cool jackets. One was a pink cotton ruffle jacket (Rs 1790), and the other a smart short-sleeved blue leather jacket. A lot of the garments reminded me of the Istanbul store, indicating that they from the latest collection.

DSC02096           DSC02097

I brought out my camera, but I’d only taken two pictures before an Oriental-looking guy called Mike said, “Sorry, photo not allowed.” I mumbled a sorry and put it back inside. Moments later, I saw an Oriental-looking girl, and guessed that Zara has sourced staff from other stores in Asia.

On the lower floor, I spotted formal blazers (useful for formal meetings), cocktail dresses, tunics, blouses, jeans and trousers.  

The striking trends in the Zara collection were floral prints in easy, flowing silhouettes, whites, graphic prints, and a bit of lace and cutwork. And then there was the key trend this season—denim. Besides the jeans, there were skirts (Rs 990), shorts, a dress or two and even denim-look slouchy pants (Rs 2190)! The party dress selection was more classic than trendy, but very wearable.

  DSC02100

Among accessories, the stoles and bags didn’t deserve a second glance, but there were plenty of shoes to keep us girls happy, and several were available in my hard-to-get size (a tiny 36). Again, Zara had made an effort to stock the hottest shoes, such as strappy flats and gladiator-style stilettos. Unfortunately, the shoes are priced similar to or bit higher than Charles & Keith and Nine West. I even saw a pink pair for Rs 5000!

BTW, I noticed Zara had tried to give their collection a desi appeal with a FabIndia-like printed skirt on display and several tunics that were clearly India-inspired.

The Verdict:

Will I go to Zara again? Yes. Is it now my favourite store in Phoenix Mills? Nope, that’s still Landmark. Would I recommend the store to others? Yes.

BUT… Zara needs to get its pricing right, since I found prices undeserving, even surprising or just appalling! And if you’re an avid shopper abroad, then you don’t need this store.

Meanwhile, I’m hoping Zara’s mere presence in India spurs Mango to pull up its socks and give us better stuff.

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