Chic Holiday Guide (Part 1): 15 simple packing tips for a stylish vacation

Chic Holiday Guide (Part 1): 15 simple packing tips for a stylish vacation

If you’re packing for a vacation now, you’re probably confused and your room is a mess. What should you take and what should you leave behind? While I’m not the perfect packer, I’ve put together a list of tips to make the most of your space (and weight!) restrictions. Some of these tips I’ve picked up from reading travel blogs and websites, but most of them are my own. Let me know what you think!

Packing tips for holiday

(Picture courtesy: Arrow)

  1. Make light tops and tees the building blocks of your vacay wardrobe and try to plan the rest of your things around them.
  2. Try sticking to solids, light prints or tops with light detailing.
  3. Prints can be tricky to style. So if you’re carrying any, make sure you have the right pants / jacket or top to pair with the print.
  4. Skip the jeans, pack coloured trousers instead (or very light denim). They weigh less, occupy less space and are way more stylish.
  5. Make sure your trousers are matched with your tops before you pack. You don’t want to look mismatched, even if you’re on holiday!
  6. Linens are great as tops, shirts and pants!
  7. And so are maxi dresses.
  8. Light cotton and linen fabrics are best for all-day wear. Keep the synthetics at home.
  9. For footwear, you will need sneakers if you will be walking a lot, and comfy loafers that go with everything. Open flat sandals are great too.
  10. If you plan to party, carry an LBD or black sequinned/ embellished top.
  11. There should always be scope for interchanging looks and garments in case something gets soiled or damp. So make sure you carry a pair of neutral pants and a white or beige top.
  12. If you’re going to a shopping destination, travel light. You can always shop there, and plan your itinerary accordingly.
  13. The only accessories you need are a spacious bag, couple of cuffs and tiny studs. And a watch so you don’t miss your flight.
  14. I always carry a couple of tops or pants that I need to discard. So I wear them out and get rid of them while travelling.  This way, I have space for my shopping, and a reason to shop! 🙂
  15. No makeup please! Just a light compact powder, lip colour and mascara will do. Eye liner, if you must.
  16. Don’t miss the the sunblock and moisturiser. You will always need them.

Coming Soon: Chic Holiday Guide (Part 2): The old and new vacation essentials

Chic First Look: Vero Moda Spring / Summer 2013

Chic First Look: Vero Moda Spring / Summer 2013

What to Expect from Vero Moda’s Spring/ Summer 2013 collection

Get stylish casuals to dressy club wear at Vero Moda this Spring / Summer. They’ve got a wide colour palette (bright fuchsia, mint green, white) in simple easy-to-wear silhouettes. The prints include two-tone bold stripes, ombre effects, tie and dye and the ever-popular florals.


Detailing includes beading, with lace and neon hints on lightweight and sheer fabrics like silk, satin and organza.

PS—British model Poppy Delevingne is the face of Vero Moda for 2013, chosen for her fresh look and easy elegance.

Poppy Delivigne - new face of VERO MODA 2013

Bang on Trend

The “True Summer Look”: Lots of soft hues in pinks, whites and washed blues, seen on light fabrics.

Vero Moda BALCONY SL TOP IN RS 1695 (2)


Updated Florals: They’re on dresses, tops, pants and shorts—but get a 2013 summery twist with the new colour palette.

Black and White:  This classic combo gets a bold edge at Vero Moda from Spring/ Summer 2013, with larger-than-life stripes and prints.


What to Buy

Floral printed pants and shorts

Vero Moda printed pants GAMBLER LW CURVED YOKE FLOWER rs 2695

Black-and-white pieces (as stripes or colour blocked dresses)


Feminine white tops (the basics for the season)

Vero Moda AMELIA LACE 34 TOP- NFSC2 rs 3495

Chic Looks for AW 12: Is the Indian man ready for Van Heusen’s World Traveller?

Chic Looks for AW 12: Is the Indian man ready for Van Heusen’s World Traveller?

For Autumn Winter 2012, the Van Heusen man travels across the world through his fashion choices. He takes his pick from Milan’s creative sensibility, Costa Brava’s party spirit and New York’s work ethic.

Van Heusen lookbook AW 12

So how and where does the Van Heusen man fit into the Indian man’s fashion aspirations?

Can the Indian man mix dusty pinks with steel greys like the well-styled Milan man? Not really. Does he have the charisma to carry off evening wear with engineering patterns, and matt and sheen contrasts? To some extent, maybe. And what about the no-nonsense New Yorker’s sharp and minimalistic look? Hmmm… unlikely.

Van Heusen suit AW 12

Van Heusen shirt AW 12

Yet- I think the Indian guy is ready to learn. India’s the land of travellers (ask the travel agencies) and armchair travelers, and the man in the cubicle is enjoying the new Mad Men season, looking forward to James Bond in Skyfall, buffing up at the local gym, and dreaming of a holiday in France with a special someone. Why then should he not relish and adopt sophisticated global fashion?

Yes, Indian men are gearing up for international fashion. Hopefully retaining their local styles.

This post is the first in a series discussing the AW 12 campaigns/ collections of various fashion brands.

Chic Report: Know Your Sarees workshop at Kala Ghoda Arts Festival

Chic Report: Know Your Sarees workshop at Kala Ghoda Arts Festival

Some say the best way to spend a Sunday afternoon is by taking a nap after a satisfying meal (I agree!). But I spent yesterday afternoon much more fruitfully at a workshop at the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, Mumbai—Know your Sarees (I prefer saris).

Kala Ghoda sari workshop with Bela Shanghavi

Conducted by Bela Shanghavi, it was an intense and engrossing discussion-cum-interaction on understanding saris better—how they are made, the technology used, the skills of the weaver and what to look for when buying one. Bela had brought along several saris as examples which helped me understand her points a lot better.

Starting from the basics (the warp and the weft), Bela began her explanation of saris with a brief on the various stages in the making of a typical Indian sari- yarn, pre-loom, on loom and post-loom. Then she delved into each stage, explaining what kind of saris and fabrics were made through work done during that stage. For instance, at the yarn stage, certain design elements like colours and textures can be introduced.

Kala Ghoda sari workshop with Bela Shanghavi

Some interesting things I learnt at the workshop:

  • Brocades like jamewars, Banarsis, pacholi, kanjeevaram and Balucharis are created in the “on loom” stage.
  • The weavers require a high degree of precision to make saris that have a “corner” and a border.
  • Printing, tinting, dyeing, embroidery, bandhini, hand painting happens in the post-loom stage.
  • While each region has its own type of sari-making technique, boundaries are now getting blurred.
  • A region or state’s culture and natural landscape has defined its fabrics, saris (and therefore fashion sensibilities). For instance, Rajasthan with its desert landscape is rich in coloured fabrics and garments. But in Bengal, the colours of choice are typically a simple white and red.
  • You can mix various textile technologies for a fabulously modern sari!
  • Kala Ghoda sari workshop with Bela Shanghavi
  • Even local mannerisms, etiquette and culture reflects in the textile language of the region. For instance, Gujarati fabrics have “plump” paisleys (they talk loud and to the point), while Kashmirs paisleys are delicate and complex (they communicate their point in a roundabout manner).
  • Saris and fabrics can be therapeutic! Our ancient Indian customs of wearing clothes with certain natural dyes and fabrics has a very scientific basis to it. For instance, the natural indigo dye repels bacteria and certain diseases, while vermilion boosts blood circulation.
  • The fabrics you see the royals wearing in Mughal paintings are not brocades but “ashawar”, which differs from brocade in the fall and feel.
  • Sari making is akin to the idea of the pixels on a computer screen, and Indian artisans and weavers understood this concept Indians as early as the third century!
  • With shifting boundaries you can now get a Paithani sari made in Benares (really!), and a Kanjeevaram with north Indian motifs.

Other than this, I learnt about the concept of “repeats” in a sari, the beauty and cultural significance of the Patola sari and how to identify certain types of saris such as jamewars.

Kala Ghoda sari workshop with Bela Shanghavi

Bela’s discussion was interspersed with several historical and geographical references which have shaped our sari tradition today. I’m already curious to know more about Indian fabrics, textiles and hope to explore our culture deeper.

I came back enlightened this Sunday afternoon, with some useful and interesting insights into Indian fashion! Now how many can say that about a Sunday? 🙂

Bollywood Fashion: Shahrukh Khan, Amitabh Bachchan wear velvet on KBC

Bollywood Fashion: Shahrukh Khan, Amitabh Bachchan wear velvet on KBC

Now here’s a Bollywood and TV fashion trend we didn’t see coming: Shahrukh Khan and Amitabh Bachchan wearing velvet on consecutive episodes of Panchkoti Mahamani Kaun Banega Crorepati!

On Thursday October 20, Shahrukh Khan played KBC with Big B wearing a black velvet waistcoat over a classic white shirt and black trousers, along with his oversized watch and still-cute dimples. We couldn’t help but be charmed with his self-deprecating humour and the ease with which he wore velvet.

ShahRukh Khan in KBC5

The following Monday (October 24), host Amitabh Bachchan appeared in velvet, though wearing it in a completely different way. While the shirt’s yoke had horizontal pleat detailing, the rest of the shirt was completely velvet. Take a look:

Amitabh Bachchan in KBC 5

FYI, Mr Bachchan’s wardrobe designer for KBC 5 is by Delhi-based designer Rohit Bal.

This is not the first time Amitabh Bachcan has worn velvet on KBC. We spotted him in the premiere of KBC 4 in a velvet suit designed by Vikram Phadnis.

The inevitable question here is: will velvet become a larger trend among men, or will it remain restricted to ramp shows and Bollywood stars?

What do you think of the velvet trend, especially for men?

WLIFW S/S 2012: Day 4 highlights

WLIFW S/S 2012: Day 4 highlights

The highlights of Day 4 at Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2012:

White and blue make for a fabulous summer combo

While white was all over the WLIFW S/S 2012 runway on Day 4, the non-colour found an unlikely colour complement in blue. Mynah’s Reynu Taandon used white and blue prints in her resort wear collection, while Rahul Singh used splashes of blue (literally!) on garments for a dreamy abstract look  to his collection.

Below: Mynah’s Reynu Taandon, Rahul Singh

Myna'h Reynu Taandon at WLIFW S/S 2012 Rahul Singh at WLIFW S/S 2012

Material Mix

Mixing materials has not been as rampant as it has been in the past few months on Indian ramps. After Swapnil Shinde used acrylic and PVC at LFW W/F 2011, Alpana-Neeraj used transparent plastic with flowy chiffon and drapes to create an unlikely world dominated by body-hugging non-fabric shapes. Meanwhile, at James Ferreira I loved his use of khadi with fabrics like crepes and silk for a modern Indian look. And BTW, Anand Bhushan used feathers on his dresses!

Below: Alpana-Neeraj, James Ferreira, Anand Bhushan

Alpana-Neeraj at WLIFW S/S 2012 James Ferreira at WLIFW S/S 2012 Anand Bhushan at WLIFW S/S 2012

East meets West… again!

In something as universal as fashion, east and west are mere labels. And like most trends, fusion is fun! So when Dev r Nil combines batik with pop art (think Indian-style rosettes as funky prints) and Anita Dongre uses Indian embroidery on western silhouettes, there’s reason to cheer. And how can we forget James Ferreira’s contribution to nationalism—khadi worn in contemporary styles?

Below: Dev r Nil, Anita Dongre, James Ferreira

Dev  r Nil at WLIFW S/S 2012 Anita Dongre at WLIFW S/S 2012 James Ferreira at WLIFW S/S 2012

Fabric detailing

Pin tucks and applique have been around for a while, but their use has now evolved into being the centrepiece of a garment, creating shapes or effects  that showcase the designers’ skill. Since we now see entire collections based on detailing like pleats, ruffles, gathers, twists and rolls, we know designers have better command over fabrics than ever before. Atsu Sekhose highlighted the neck and waist, Rahul Mishra created soft rainbow bands all over with pin tucks, and at Saaj by Ankita made rope by twisting fabric.

Below: Atsu by Atsu Sekhose, Rahul Mishra, Saaj by Ankita

Atsu at WLIFW S/S 2012 Rahul Mishra at WLIFW S/S 2012 saaj by ankita at WLIFW S/S 2012

Trend of the day: Sheer

Below: Atsu by Atsu Sekhose, Niket & Jainee, Anita Dongre

Atsu at WLIFW S/S 2012 Niket & Jainee at WLIFW S/S 2012 Anita Donegre at WLIFW S/S 2012

Prints of the day

Sunglasses on pants at Dev r Nil, animal print at Mynah’s Reynu Taandon.

Dev r Nil at WLIFW S/S 2012 Mynah's Reynu Taandon at WLIFW S/S 2012

WTFashion Moment of the Day

Dress that outlines your twin assets, an oddly-placed oversized rose with a trail, tulle wrapped around a dress, mismatching colours… sigh!

Saaj by Ankita at WLIFW S/S 2012

Look of the day

Feminine, formal and flattering shape at Atsu.

Atsu at WLIFW S/S 2012

Makeup of the day

Thick blue eyeliner at Mynah’s Reynu Taandon. Super like!

Reynu Taandon at WLIFW S/S 2012

Accessory of the day

Gandhi cap at James Ferreira—a political statement, perhaps?

James Ferreira at WLIFW S/S 2012

Celeb appearance of the day

Gauhar Khan for Rahul Mishra.

Gauhar Khan for Rahul Mishra at WLIFW S/S 2012

WLIFW SS 2012: Day 2 highlights

WLIFW SS 2012: Day 2 highlights

What we saw on the ramp on Day 2 of Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2012:

Colours were neutral, muted and then mixed

From ivory to white to beige,  we noted a hint of neutrals, mixed cleverly with vibrant colours for a quintessential summery look.

Below: Manoj Dubey, Urvashi Kaur, Manish Gupta

manoj 4 Urvashi 5

MG 5

Fabrics, textures and surfaces ruled

Indian designers showcased their skill and adeptness with fabrics through a variety of techniques. There was patchwork at Kavita Bhartia,  Japanese structures at Sanchita, and wide variety of materials at Morphe by Amit Aggarwal. Shipra Gupta opted for layering and tiers to add quirkiness to her garments. We also enjoyed the innovative cutwork at Bhanuni by Jyoti Sharma.

Below: Shipra Gupta, Sanchita, Morphe by Amit Aggarwal, Bhanuni by Jyoti Sharma

1 1 - Copy

IMG_6447 Jyoti 6

Embellishments got a new meaning

Embellishments ranged from thread embroidery to metallic, even as WLIFW designers experimented with other materials to bring a special touch to their collections. At Bhanuni by Jyoti Sharma, embroidery motifs were used in a 3-dimensional manner using threadwork and beads. Manoj Gupta used bead work, buttons, laces, tapes, silk threads  to make diagonal stripes, swirls and circles, while Namrata Joshipura brought her garments to life with metallic embellishments on textured surfaces.

Below: Bhanuni by Jyoti Sharma, Manoj Gupta, Namrata Joshipura

Jyoti 4 MG 1 

Sheer is here

Sheer has been a rising trend on the international fashion scene for a while now, and it’s now on Indian ramps as well. The bold sheer-ness at Label by Ritu Kumar, see-throughs at Samant Chuahan, and mix of transparent and opaque fabrics at Taurus by Dhruv & Pallavi are wonderful excuses to wear see-through six months down the line.

Below: Label by Ritu Kumar, Samant Chauhan

Ritu Kumar 6 SC 2

Look of the day:

The sophisticated woman at am: pm (Ankur and Priyanka Modi) draped in rich fabric for a glam evening out on town—and chooses not to wear a dress or gown.


Accessories of the day:

Neckpieces at Samant Chauhan; forehead jewellery at Kavita Bhartia.

SC 4

Kavita 2

Makeup and hair of the day:

Bright pink lipstick at Manoj Dubey; side updos at Manish Gupta.

Below: Manoj Dubey, Manish Gupta

manoj 4

MG 2

WTFashion moment of the day:

That moment when model walked down the ramp by Sanchita wearing supersized headgear and minimal clothing. Wonder what the model was thinking. Any guesses?


What did you like from Day 2 at WLIFW S/S 2012?

LFW W/F 2011 Day 4: Wendell Rodricks brings pristine to the ramp

Ethereal. Sensual. Organic. Three words to describe Goan designer Wendell Rodricks’ collection at Lakme Fashion Week Winter/Festive 2011. Designed with Himalayan mineral water in mind, Wendell played with soft pastels and splashes of fuchsia in natural fabrics like natural dyed cotton linen and pure silk.

The collection was divided into four segments, each with a distinct approach. The first segment, Naturally Yours, had linen as the base with natural flowers and bark, in colours like pristine white, yellow and wood.

Model at Wendell Rodricks LFW W/F 2011

Model at Wendell Rodricks LFW W/F 2011 Model at Wendell Rodricks LFW W/F 2011

The second, “Indian Water”, would have been great as evening wear. Silk was used in tunic dresses, pin tucked and layered kurtas; and sunray pleats for tunics.

In Mountain Brooks with Sparkling Water, Wendell used ripple pleated fabric to achieve sparkling water detailing in gowns, ponchos, and a pre-stitched sari. The final segment (Raani Pink Carpet Glam) was dedicated to glamourous evening wear like katftans and sari gowns with hints of shimmer and sparkle on the waist, straps and back.

Model at Wendell Rodricks LFW W/F 2011 Model at Wendell Rodricks LFW W/F 2011

While there were minimal accessories, we loved the specially-made footwear and the odd statement necklace and cuff, some made of nature-inspired materials.

Model at Wendell Rodricks LFW W/F 2011

What do you think of Wendell Rodricks’ purity-inspired collection?

LFW W/F 2011: GenNext designer Urmi Ghosh brings art to fashion

Urmi Ghosh is an artistic young woman from Kolkata, and has just taken her first steps into the Indian fashion scene. A NIFT graduate, Urmi presented her first collection as designer at Lakme Fashion Week Winter/Festive 2011’s GenNext show last week  in Mumbai.

Urmi Ghosh GenNext designer at LFW W/F 2011Urmi’s collection, called “Maar and Moumoune”, depicted the tale of Pablo Picasso’s lover, Dora Maar. (Moumoune was Dora Maar’s cat). Using heavy fabrics for cold climes, Urmi fused layers, textures and motifs like a veteran for dresses, jumpsuits, tunics and smocks with asymmetric cuts. Despite the muted colour palette, the imagery of cats, boots, birds, and a little girl was striking.

Even though Speaking Chic sat down for a formal interview with Urmi, it later turned into a freewheeling conversation on art, architecture, travel and photography. 🙂 Here’s some of the things we spoke about:

Urmi, what have you conveyed through your first collection?
I’ve envisioned my first collection specifically for the Delhi clientele. What I wanted to communicate is my design aesthetic to buyers. Every piece in the collection can be toned down into something very wearable in a number of ways, like by using lighter fabrics. Fortunately, I have been able to communicate my aesthetic in just the way I wanted.

So what is your design aesthetic?
Developing a design aesthetic is an evolutionary process. But I’m a more silhouette- than embroidery-centric person, so you can see that it is very minimally used in my garments. I’m quite form-oriented and like I anti-fits. I don’t go for skin show. As for colours, I prefer dull and neutral colours like greys, which I’ve used. Though I do like to break greys with a bit of colour.

Urmi Ghosh - GenNext designer at LFW W/F 2011  Urmi Ghosh - GenNext designer at LFW W/F 2011

Tell us more about Dora Maar and how her story inspired you.
Dora Maar was an extremely talented lady, but Picasso left her for another woman. Through the collection, I’ve tried to portray the transformation of Dora into a schizophrenic and recluse who needed therapy.

And the little girl we see in the imagery on your garments is Dora?
Yes, I imagined the little girl as Dora Maar. These images are by Japanese surreal artist Naomi Kobayashi and her illustrations depict this young girl and her hallucinations, which could well be those of Dora and do justice to Dora’s story.

Urmi Ghosh - GenNext designer at LFW W/F 2011

In your collection you have fused fabrics and textures in a very artistic manner. What inspired you to do that?
I’ve drawn inspiration from Cubism, which is a style Picasso was known for. For instance, in the painting Dora Maar Au Chat, Picasso has painted Dora by putting together different shapes and fabrics, and her attire in the portrait is intricately done.

It seems art has been a great source of inspiration for you. Do you paint? And which artists have influenced you?
Yes, I do paint—I love exploring poster colour and painting on glass. And both Picasso and Salvador Dali have influenced me immensely.

Aki Narula is your mentor at LFW W/F 2011 along with other GenNext designers.  How was your experience working with him?
Aki has been a rockstar! He’s been like a father figure to all of us, guiding us, being patient, and giving us good advice. When I was working on my fourth or fifth garment, I got very sceptical of my designs. He told me to cover the clothes I’d already done with a sheet and continue with my collection. I did that, and it worked! Before I head back to Kolkata I’m gonna hug him and tell him thanks!

Day 1 at LFW W/F 2011: Rina Dhaka, JJ Valaya dazzle with their Indian wear

Two veteran Delhi designers (Rina Dhaka and JJ Valaya) showcased their collection in Mumbai on the first day of Lakme Fashion Week Winter/Festive 2011 and lived up to their reputation.

Rina Dhaka

Rina Dhaka’s collection of easy-to-wear court couture was completely feminine in colour, silhouette and fabrics. The colour palette included delicate hues like lilac, plum, soft pink and champagne. The fabrics were sheer, and as Rina Dhaka later explained, “from the 1990s”, such as tissue, chiffon and organza. We loved the use of lace and lamé (both contemporary fabrics).

Rina Dhaka at LFW W/F 2011  Rina Dhaka at LFW W/F 2011

The metallic embellishments, however, were modern, with gota, plisse and sequins, along with pewter beads. While most garments were simple straight-cut kurta sets, Rina Dhaka also sent long sheer skirts, lace and cut-out tops and even a pre-stitched sari.

Rina Dhaka at LFW W/F 2011  Rina Dhaka at LFW W/F 2011

JJ Valaya

Meanwhile JJ Valaya, who loves photography almost as much as fashion, showed his collection in a viewfinder-and-lens themed set as giant screens played a series of photographs in black and white, sepia, colour and digital formats. Each theme formed the colour palette and mood of that segment. The garments included saris, lehengas, churidar-kurta sets for women and bandhgalas for men.

Hence there were waistcoats with white motifs, paneled sheer kurta and black churidars, brown and off-white printed saris with crystals, lehengas and cholis with net dupattas and paisleys for men’s Raja coats.

JJ Valaya at LFW W/F 2011  JJ Valaya at LFW W/F 2011

Taking a step forward into colour, Valaya used red and blues in long coats, jackets with saris, bandhgalas and lehengas. Embellished yokes, printed saris and floor-length kurtas decorated with rich crystals, stones and sequins rounded off the Tasveer collection. Embellishments also included precious stones, gold detailing and velvet embroidery. BTW, we especially loved the waist pouches and hair jewellery.

JJ Valaya at LFW W/F 2011  JJ Valaya at LFW W/F 2011

The mainstay of the collection was JJ Valaya’s Alika jacket in raw silk, shot silk, brocade and lame, pairing it with a variety of garments—saris, lehengas and tunics. Can’t wait to get my hands on one!

JJ Valaya at LFW W/F 2011  JJ Valaya at LFW W/F 2011