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.

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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.

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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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Curves are back, and how!

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I love curves. I heart Crystal Renn, my laptop’s rounded corners are a blessing in disguise, and I prefer dome-shaped structures to unseemly glass buildings any day.

So when I saw some very smooth and sexy curves on the streets over the weekend, I whistled. I lost focus and the model ran through my mind all day.

Stop thinking whatever you are, people! It was a four-wheeled beauty— a Volkswagen Beetle, bathed in red. It’s cute, yet smart. Powerful, but not intimidating. Strong, but curvy. If that isn’t sexy, what is?

As if reading my mind, Volkswagen today announced in a TOI ad: Curves are back.

The timing couldn’t be better. The car’s on my wish list now, and if anyone knows a way to make pots of money very quickly, please contact me offline.

PS—Volkswagen has not paid me for this blog post.

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Chic Reads: South Mumbai gets a Landmark

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South Mumbai bookworms, your book-hunting woes are over. For we have the mother of all bookstores—Landmark— within our reach now.

Located in the heart of Mumbai—the Palladium (Phoenix Mills), I paid a visit to the store soon after it opened.

I expected something a tad better than the unimpressive Crossword, and boy, was I wrong. For Landmark is at least a hundred-and-a-half times better than the puzzling bookstore (pun intended). And it’s not just to do with Landmark’s amazing collection.

There are rows and rows of books, encompassing genres and themes I never thought would find place in an Indian bookstore. And so, there’s something for everyone—kids, teens, music and film lovers, graphic novel fans, and even history and war buffs.

I was quickly lost in the store, as it surprised me with the width and depth of its collection. In the dictionaries and languages section, I discovered phrasebooks in the most unlikely languages, like Turkish!

I especially loved their Travel section, which wasn’t just about Lonely Planet guidebooks, but also travel books that bring a place alive with their words. Their fiction collection is humungous, to say the least. And the staff is helpful too.

So what’s in it for fashion lovers? Well, fashion books I never thought I’d see sharing shelf space in India—fashion marketing and design text books, fun books on fashion design and fashion illustration, books on luxury brands like Bvlgari, and even Scott Schuman’s Sartorialist (my heart leaped with joy on seeing this one). 🙂

A book lover could easily spend a day at Landmark, browsing through the store and unwinding at the gaming consoles. I’m marking such a day for when the rain gods pay a visit. 

Final word: Speaking Chic has a new favourite haunt!

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5 things that ruined the IPL experience

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Cricketainment (noun): A combination of cricket and entertainment.

Example: The IPL is to cricketainment what Burberry is to trench coats.

As a culture blog, we just had to know what the most overused concept this summer was. So we ventured out for a Mumbai Indians match to get a first-hand experience of cricketainment and the IPL.

And oh, what a pleasant surprise it was! It was organised well (we guess it’s to do with the foreign management), there was food aplenty, and the fans were cooperative. Sadly, there were a few things that threatened to ruin our IPL experience (and these need to disappear ASAP):

  1. Too much music: Team song played after every four or six, and between overs. How on earth do the players stay focussed? (No wonder some of the good players are out of form in the IPL!). And there was also some recent trashy hits that made us cringe.
  2. A very irritating emcee talked before and during the match. Between overs, he’d shout out, “Mummmmbaaaaaaaaaaiiiiiiiiii!” And the shrill “horn” that suddenly rings out—URGHH!
  3. EVERYTHING is sponsored—from the timeout to a sixer.  Not so sure about the match results though (ahem).
  4. Cheerleaders were boring (and looked bored).
  5. Parties and after parties? Sorry, is this cricket season or Oscars season?

Nevertheless, we came home a happy bunch, and not just because our team won. It wasn’t the loud music, the cheerleaders or even the thrill of being part of the crowd. It was a good game of cricket. And that’s what we want. Nothing more, nothing less.

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