Chic 2011: 3 fresh fashion labels for an exciting 2012

Chic 2011: 3 fresh fashion labels for an exciting 2012

We kick off our year-ending series (Chic 2011) with three new fashion labels and designers that show plenty of promise for 2012 and many more years to come.

Applied Arts Alliance

A collaboration between three very interesting people, Applied Arts Alliance has created what the trio like to call a “Westo-Indian collection”. The collection comprises mini kurtas with French and Austrian collars that are accessorized with Japanese obi belts, shirts, corsets and waistcoats. Their cotton prints are born from the “love marriage” between Anokhi and Versace.

Applied Arts Alliance blue printed dress Applied Arts Alliance black printed dress

The three people behind Applied Arts Alliance are Praline- a Parisian costume designer, Harri- a Viennese print maker and Payal- the Mumbai-based photographer. If you are looking for unique prints and garments with a classy touch, the AAA might just be perfect for you.

To view their collection, email Payal on payal.appliedartsalliance (at) gmail (dot) com.

Papa Don’t Preach

While Shubhika Sharma launched her fashion label Papa Don’t Preach in 2010, it’s only recently that the label’s website came to life. Papa Don’t Preach is for young women who like edgy dressing, individualistic styles, and affordable high street wear. The label has two distinct lines: one for daily wear with jersey dresses, play suits and tops and tees and the other for the times you need to doll up (structured drape dresses, impish skirts, dramatic lowers and jumpsuits). There are several saris and accessories as well.

Papa Don't Preach

Visit the Papa Don’t Preach website to view and buy their collection.

Neha Sahai

Neha Sahai, a NIFT graduate, has crawled through malls and plundered Delhi’s Sarojini Market to mix the edgy with the classical for her jewellery. Using plenty of Indian elements and bright colours, Neha has dared to use unusual objects like wooden toys. The jewellery can be worn to college or a fancy party, and have the right dose of eccentricity and boldness.


Neha Sahai will showcase her collection at BMB Art Gallery in Fort, Mumbai on December 9-10, 2011. Her jewellery is also available at designer stores across India. Visit Neha Sahai’s Facebook page for more information.

Bollywood Fashion: Chammak challo Kareena Kapoor shows us how to be a Diwali phataka

Bollywood Fashion: Chammak challo Kareena Kapoor shows us how to be a Diwali phataka

Happy Diwali, lovely readers! May you be as chic as Kareena Kapoor (or your favourite fashion icon)!

Ra.One releases today, and there’s no doubt that Kareena Kapoor’s Chammak Challo will be as big a draw as G.One’s superpowers. I’ve spent weeks trying to understand the secret behind Kareena’s gorgeousness in the song, and I think I’ve finally cracked the code. It’s all about the fashion!

Kareena Kapoor in RaOne

Kareena’s mindboggling curves have no doubt added a major oomph to her look, but let’s not underestimate the power of fashion to make you sexy. Especially when Manish Malhotra is the man behind the clothes.

After hours of painstaking notes, I’ve drawn some fashion tips from the Diwali phataka. Use these easy-to-follow fashion tips to show off your sexy side!

Fashion tip 1: Wear red

Manish Malhotra has dressed Kareena in an attention-grabbing colour and it’s a colour that suits her. The colour that suits you could be deep blue, purple or hot pink.

Fashion tip 2: The outfit is simple yet chic

The pre-stitched sari (or shall I say half-sari?) designed by Manish Malhotra has minimal embellishment, along the border. The focus is on enhancing Kareena’s body shape rather than making her look like an OTT diva or queen.

Fashion tip 3: Cover up, but only so much

The semi-sheer blouse Kareena wears is only half the story. As the song begins, Kareena’s wafer-thin pallu is firmly in place, till she decides to tuck it into her sari. You don’t need to go all-sheer to show off your figure, but just peek-a-boo at the right places could work wonders.

Fashion tip 4: Accessorise to your advantage

Kareena Kapoor’s sex appeal is enhanced with the choice of jewellery. The absence of a necklace draws attention to her collarbones, and the dangling earrings and nose ring pull you toward her face which is absolutely gorgeous. (Intensely-lined eyes, light lips).

Kareena Kapoor in Ra.One song

Tip 5: Set a trend

It’s been ages since I saw a young woman (who is not a bride) wear a bindi, and someone even told me that bindis are “out of fashion”. We hope Kareena’s bindi will make the humble red dot popular again!

Stay chic!

Five chic things to do before Diwali

Five chic things to do before Diwali

It’s Dhanteras today, ladies! And if you are as unprepared as I am for Diwali, here’s a quick checklist of things to do in the next two days.

One: Get your outfit ready

If you’ve bought a new outfit for Diwali, it’s time to get off the packaging and figure out the best way to wear it. How will you drape your sari or pin up the dupatta of your lehenga? Does your blouse or choli fit you perfectly?

Chic tip: Stock up on safety pins and carry some in your clutch for emergencies.

Below: Anita Dongre at LFW W/F 2011; Payal Kapoor at LFW W/F 2011

Anita Dongre at LFW W/F 2011 Payal Kapoor at LFW W/F 2011

Two: Choose your jewellery

Polkis are a big trend and they’re here to stay—choose a traditional piece for Diwali. “Indian” designs like flowers, petals and peacocks are fantastic for Diwali.

Chic tip: Younger women could opt for trendier pieces which they can club with jeans and blouses after the festivities.

Below: Earrings from Sia Art Jewellery; Mor-Peacock ring from Toniq


Sia Rasrawa earrings  Toniq Mor- Peacock Ring

Three: Grab a clutch

If your outfit goes easy on the embellishment, you can choose a blingy clutch with it. Brocade clutches go wonderfully well with Indian ethnic wear.

Chic tip: If you prefer dangling a bag from your wrist or bangle, choose a cute potli.

Below: Nizam clutch from Holii, clutch  from Esbeda, potli from Shagufta Quamar at LFW W/F 2011.

Holii accessories Nizam clutch Esbeda Clutch

shagufta quamar-potli

Four: Embellish your feet

If you haven’t got a luxurious pedicure done yet, get one immediately. Then step out to buy bejewelled footwear that will you will wear for the entire festive and wedding season.

Chic tip: Can’t find shoes that match your outfit? Don’t worry, shoes need not always be matchy-matchy! Just make sure they go with your ‘look’.

Below: Groom Multi from Steve Madden, sandal from Mochi

Steve Madden Groom Multi


Five: Last-minute gifts

Some fashionable gift ideas that suit all budgets (depending on the brand):

  • Beauty/ skin care hampers
  • Perfumes
  • Set of candles/ diyas
  • Watches

Below: Juicy Couture light moisturising lotion, perfume: Guerlain Shalimar, men’s watch from Fossil.

Juicy Couture light body lotionperfume Guerlain Shalimar_plumesFossil watch


Chic tip: I’ve recently turned into an advocate of gift cards or vouchers (giving my cousins gift vouchers for Bhai Dooj). Most well-known stores have gift vouchers, and we stumbled across a site called Gift Cards India, where you can shop for vouchers from an amazing number of brands!

Bonus: Shopping for the festive season

Diwali shopping is a great time to get wonderful options and offers on clothes, accessories, makeup and tonnes of others things. So for fashion lovers, it’s ideal to gear up for the upcoming wedding season NOW!

Chic tip: has some excellent festive pieces. Type in the code bcNVoFAH2I when shopping to get a discount. (Valid till October 26, 2011).

Pret-amoda Diwali promotion

Happy Diwali, everyone!

LFW W/F 2011 Day 5: Digvijay Singh stays true to organic Bhu:sattva, Vivek Kumar prepares for inner battle

From ethical fashion to fashion designed for a revolution, Digvijay Singh for Bhu:sattva and Vivek Kumar presented collections that gave us plenty of food for thought on Day 5 of Lakme Fashion Week Winter/Festive 2011.

Digvijay Singh for Bhu:sattva
With its certified organic fabrics, Bhu:sattva stands for ethical fashion and for the brand’s Geometrees collection at LFW W/F 2011, designer Digvijay Singh used natural vegetable dyes and block prints on saris and drapes.

Model at Digvijay Singh for Bhusattva at LFW W/F 2011 Model at Digvijay Singh for Bhusattva at LFW W/F 2011

Digvijay Singh combined botanical and floral embroidery with Mughal geometry to create gorgeous, yet simple saris. Gujarat’s khatla embroidery was extensively used with detailing on on shoulders, sleeves and back. Small beads, applique and cutwork broke the monotony, as did the two-toned checks and saris in colours like brown, black, blue and green.

Model at Digvijay Singh for Bhusattva at LFW W/F 2011 Model at Digvijay Singh for Bhusattva at LFW W/F 2011

We enjoyed the collection for its immense wearability and versatility.

Vivek Kumar
My thoughts as the first outfit of the show appeared on the ramp: “The designer’s got to have a creatively twitsted mind!”

Model at Vivek Kumar LFW W/F 2011 Model at Vivek Kumar LFW W/F 2011

It isn’t easy to describe Vivek Kumar’s collection. There were dresses and gowns, but it wasn’t just about the outfits. Nor was it about the knitted bonnets with spiky studded projections. It was about all the small things that made Antarkranti (inner revolution) an astounding collection. Model at Vivek Kumar LFW W/F 2011 Model at Vivek Kumar LFW W/F 2011

The models were geared up for battle in fluid silhouettes in sombre colours like black, grey and steel that made way for green, orange and rust. Steel studs, zippers and sprays of sequins adorned the nets, knits and batik fabrics. The detached long sleeves, knee high stockings, hand knitting and inserted stitches added to the drama on the ramp.

Model at Vivek Kumar LFW W/F 2011

The clothes weren’t meant for immediate retail, but Vivek Kumar’s innovative approach is bound to be loved by fashion lovers everywhere.

LFW W/F 2011 Day 3: Debarun goes B&W, Shyamal & Bhumika play with rich colours and crafts

The 5.30pm show on Day 3 of Lakme Fashion Week Winter/Festive 2011 was easily the most contrasting dual-designer show of the season. While Debarun Mukerjee kicked off the show with a starkly black-and-white collection, bridal wear experts Shyamal and Bhumika Shodhan’s clothes were rich in colour and embellishment.

Debarun Mukerjee
Aptly called Kohl, Debarun’s creations ranged from saris, lehengas, churidar-kurta sets, dresses and gowns for women and sherwanis, kurtas, bundgalas for men.

Model for Debarun at LFW W/F 2011 Model for Debarun at LFW W/F 2011

Using applique throughout the line, Debarun made the most of the two-colour palette with clever use of fabrics (net, Chanderi, raw silk, silk), accessories (scarves, bags, flat chappals) and detail (floral motifs on yokes, dupattas and across the front).

Model for Debarun at LFW W/F 2011 Model for Debarun at LFW W/F 2011

Model for Debarun at LFW W/F 2011 Model for Debarun at LFW W/F 2011

Shyamal & Bhumika
Trust Shyamal & Bhumika Shodhan to sweep the audience away with their luxurious and opulent festive wear, apt for brides and guests at grand weddings alike. The designer duo presented traditional garments like jamas, chogas, peshwaz, achkan, panelled lehengas and cholis in velvet, net, brocade, matka silk, tissue and shot silk georgettes. Jewel tones like wine, honey gold, aurora and beet red, burnt orange, gold, copper, and peacock green, added to the richness.

Model for Shyamal & Bhumika at LFW W/F 2011 Model for Shyamal & Bhumika at LFW W/F 2011

Shyamal & Bhumika re-introduced flared shararas with floor-length anarkalis, and dressed women in slim sherwanis with diaphanous skirts. Sexy cholis were paired with panelled lehengas. As for the embellishments, we could write pages! They played with zardozi motifs and jaals, wire Marodi embroidery, washed gold, copper, peeta and gota work, along with precious jadau stones.

Shyamal & Bhumika 7 Shyamal & Bhumika 5

Shyamal & Bhumika 8 Shyamal & Bhumika 9

The show had two showstoppers, Hema Malini and Esha Deol. Needless to say, Shyamal & Bhumika don’t need Bollywood to wow fashion lovers, their fashion is enough!
Esha Deol for Shyamal & Bhumika at LFW W/F 2011 Hema Malini for Shyamal & Bhumika at LFW W/F 2011

Chic ideas: Monsoon must-haves, rainy day accessories

The moody south-west monsoon seems to have finally settled down, and has promised to bring with it plenty of shower spells. So now that rainy days are here to stay (for a while at least), gear yourself up with Speaking Chic’s monsoon must-haves.

Rain wear

Umbrellas should be your best friends for the next few months. Those who can’t deal with upturned and flyaway umbrellas can opt for stylish windcheaters instead. Stay safe and odour-free with quick-dry fabrics, especially at office.

And if you’re in a fun/ romantic/ playful/ brave mood, don a chiffon sari and dance in the rain with your special someone. 😉

rain wear- umbrella, windcheater

1- Windcheater jacket with biker elements and utility flaps from Kunal Rawal.

2- Stormwear chinos from Marks & Spencer

3- Red umbrella from Zara

4- Animal print umbrella from Marks & Spencer

5- Polka dot umbrella from Zara

6- Kareena Kapoor and Aamir Khan in a still from 3 Idiots

Monsoon accessories

Whether you manage to stay dry or not, your Blackberry needs to be moisture-free at all times. So carry waterproof bags and purses at all times. Glossy finishes are especially trendy this monsoon. Your shoes must be comfy and non-slip, and get into cute gum boots for a few fun splashes.

Monsoon accessories- bags and shoes

1-Frame bag from Esbeda (Color Splash collection)

2- Shoes from Catwalk (Drops of Joy collection)

3- Beach crocs in lime

4- Bag from Marks & Spencer

5- Clutch from Miss Sixty

6- Gum boots from Tresmode

What’s your monsoon must-have?

Chic News: Manish Malhotra & Shaina NC’s charity fashion show; meet Ford’s new Indian supermodel

Two of Mumbai’s leading fashion designers Manish Malhotra and Shaina NC joined hands for the sixth annual Caring with Style fashion show for Cancer Patients’ Aid Association (CPAA) hosted by Pidilite.

What made the fashion shows different was that the “models” were not professional ramp scorchers, but women from various walks of life. There were actors, business persons, doctors and even outstanding students.

I loved both the collections and some outfits were especially gorgeous. Take a look at some of our faves.

From Shaina NC’s show:

Shaina NC with models Divya Dutta, Tisca Chopra

Shaina NC sari Shaina NC pink sari-- Tisca Chopra

From Manish Malhotra’s show:

Simone Singh in Manish Malhotra Manish Malhotra sherwani

Manish Malhotra model

Manish Malhotra lehenga

And we couldn’t help thinking when we saw Sheetal Mafatlal, “Here comes the queen of all pouts!” Check her out and decide!

Sheetal Mafatlal in Manish Malhotra

Meanwhile, Kajol attended the event looking resplendent in a beige sari, while Nita Ambani wore a superlong printed kurta. Vivek Oberoi (CPAA brand ambassador) walked the ramp in a Manish Malhotra outfit.

Kajol in sari, Shaina NC, Manish Malhotra, Nita Ambani, Vivek Oberoi

Vivek Oberoi in Manish Malhotra sherwani

Delhi girl named Ford Supermodel from India

Delhi lass Ninja Singh was named Ford Supermodel of the World—India couple of days ago. The young woman won the contest after she walked the ramp with other finalists. The Indian, evening and swim wear collections for the finalists were designed by Gauri & Nainika, and Shrivan-Narresh.

Here’s Ninja in her winning moment with her father Dr Jagan Singh. Awwwww!

Ford Supermodel winner - Ninja Singh - Supermodel of the World - India

Ninja will now be a part of Ford Supermodel of the World (the prestigious global contest), where she could win a contract of a whopping $250,000. She will also walk the ramp at FDCI’s next Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week.

Among the jury members were Bipasha Basu, Manish Malhotra, photographer Bharat Sikka Leila Alaoui of Ford Models, FDCI’s Sunil Sethi and model Fleur Xavier.

Chic Friday facts: How India’s super rich buy clothes and jewellery

Couple days ago, we stumbled upon a report that had practically nothing to do with fashion. But some parts of the report were interesting enough for us to share with our chic readers. The report, called Top of the Pyramid (TOP India), is all about how ultra HNIs (ultra high net worth individuals) aka super rich Indians spend and invest their money.

Here are the fashionable bits that interested us:

Interesting insight: Though ultra HNIs plan big purchases with family, 58% of their apparel and accessories purchases are impulse buys, while 41% are planned with family.

TOP India spending apparel fashion accessories

We say: Window shopping is never easy—there are temptations galore. Even the higher price tags don’t keep the super rich away from impulse buys. We’re kinda surprised by the proportion of people willing to plan their clothing purchases though. Good planning makes for sensible shopping, what say?

“Although the preference is for well-known brands, the ultra HNI is not averse to bargain purchases.”

So everyone likes good deals aka sale shopping!


Fact: Ultra HNIs in Delhi are relatively the biggest spenders on jewellery.

Jewellery TOP India report

We say: No surprise there! Delhi is all about exuberance and being OTT, right? 😉

Statement: The Inheritors* and the Self-made* spend more on jewellery than the Professionals*. The more
prosperous you are, the more the jewellery on your person.

We say: Do you think this is true for all—what about elegance and the “minimal” look?

Big jewellery brands

The report opines that the major global jewellery brands like Cartier and Tiffany are not as successful as leading family jewellers and independent jewellery designers due to their “limited range, lack of custom-made designs and reluctance of Indians to pay a premium for
designer jewellery.”

True—Indians love jewellery that no one else is wearing.

Apparel and accessories

Interesting insight: The Inheritors are more drawn towards international designer brands and purchase their fave brands on foreign trips.

We say: While I’m not an ultra HNI, I do agree with the respondents who say that the shopping experience, available range, quality and prices are much better abroad.

Meanwhile, Professionals are relatively not very big spenders on clothes.

Ultra HNI TOP India report

The biggest spenders on designer apparel and accessories are from Mumbai.

We say: So while Delhi spends more on jewellery, Mumbai wins the battle of the clothes. Which city dresses better though? Our vote goes to Delhi.

Numbers: The potential market for apparel and accessories in India was estimated at Rs 64 billion as of 2010-11, and its mainstay is Indian traditional wear, saris and designer wear, particularly for weddings and personal collections.

We say: ZOMG! The number caught us by surprise, but we’re happy to note that people love buying (and wearing) traditional wear, despite most of us unable to drape a sari or keep a dupatta in place. Long live the sari!

If you want more such interesting insights, leave your query in the comments below.

* The researchers from Kotak Wealth and CRISIL Research have classified India’s ultra HNIs into three groups: Inheritors are born with a silver spoon, and have inherited high net worth; Self-made are first generation entrepreneurs whose success in business turned them wealthy; and Professionals are qualified, highly skilled professionals who gained wealth because the companies that employed them grew big.

The report Top of the Pyramid (TOP India- Decoding the ultra HNI) is a newly-launched annual report by Kotak Mahindra Bank and CRISIL.

Chic transformation: Story of a brocade sari

Few months ago, I wrote about Priyanka Chopra wearing a sari-inspired Louis Vuitton outfit on the Vogue India cover. In the post, I shared my sari-transformation wishlist. I’m happy I can now say I transformed a gorgeous sari into a wearable and equally gorgeous jacket. Here’s the story of the incredible brocade transformation:

In my mom’s cupboard lay an unworn green-and-purple brocade sari. Despite being at least couple decades old, the fabrics had lost none of its sheen and lustre.

Green brocade sari

The wedding season was coming up, and the invitations were flowing in. Ergo I needed a few new outfits, and this time I wanted to wear something special yet different. That’s when the idea of transforming the old sari struck me. With Mom’s nod, I was ready to give the brocade a new avatar. Mom and I teamed up to make this happen (neither of us have any design-related education or training).

Step 1: What do we do with the brocade sari?

During a visit to designer Ritu Kumar’s store at Phoenix Mills, we saw a couple of long jackets that were absolutely lovely and were perfect to wear during a sangeet, but they were heavy on my pocket. The jacket I tried on was fab, and inspired us to make a knee-length jacket from the fabric.

Step 2: Embellishment

We wanted an elegant look, hence we decided not to add any sequins or crystals to the jacket. But we wanted to give it a contemporary touch and a sophisticated finish, so we went hunting for sari borders (and trouser fabric). The border we selected was sheer and embellished, and its colours complimented the brocade wonderfully. We chose a spun silk purple fabric for my trousers.

brocade sari border

Step 3: Tailoring

My expert tailor sketched for me his vision of the jacket, explaining the silhouette, fit and how he would use the border. I left the rest in his expert hands. 🙂

Step 4: Ta-da!


Final outfit: Long brocade jacket with embellished border and contrasting straight-fit ankle-length trousers.

brocade jacket brocade jacket with border and trousers

I wore this outfit at a sangeet I attended recently, and I felt like a true fashionista. 😉

Have you done something fun with an old sari?

LFW: 5 things we liked on Day 1

The first day at Lakme Fashion Week Summer/Resort 2011 threw up a number of surprises, and we liked them all! Take a look at our top moments from LFW’s Day 1:

Sabyasachi had fun with fashion

Pop colours, fun with fabric, matching unlikely textures… Sabyasachi didn’t leave any creative stone unturned. With every outfit, he stunned me by the sheer wizardry of his craft. Wearable straight off the ramp? Yep, if you’ve got the personality.

Sabyasachi Mukherjee at LFW S/R 2011

Japanese designers: The show must go on

As the world remained glued to TV sets and news sites awaiting news from Japan, Japanese designers took it in their stride and put on the special Tokyoeye show as planned. While the creations were not particularly breathtaking, the designers certainly seemed to have designed for an international sensibility.

(Below left to right: Somarta by Tamae Hirokaro; araisara by Sara Arai)

Somarta by Tamae Hirokaro at LFW S/R 2011 araisara by Sara Arai at LFW

Variety of looks: geeky chic, bright lips, bindis

Strange… the bindi has almost disappeared from young women’s foreheads, whether in Delhi or Ludhiana, so it was a pleasant surprise to see them on the ramp at Myoho. And we also loved the oversized catty glasses (very chic) at Sabyasachi, bright pink and orange lips at Mineral by Priyadarshini Rao (super trendy for summer!).

(Below left to right: Myoho and Mineral by Priyadarshini Rao)

Myoho at LFW S/R 2011 Mineral by Priyadarshini Rao at LFW S/R 2011

Gen Next show: Fresh dose of fashion

Six GenNext designers showcased their debut collection at Lakme Fashion Week Summer/Resort 2011. A couple of them managed to break through the clutter to present some interesting ideas. Manas Dash was one, Miriam Strehlau was another. Interestingly, both had very strong Indian inspiration. Whether they become more popular in a few years, only time will tell.

(Below left to right: Manas Dash, Miriam Strehlau)

Manas Dash GenNext designer at LFW S/R 2011 Miriam Strehlau GenNext designer at LFW S/R 2011

Wearable fashion

If there’s one thing Speaking Chic enjoys, it’s wearable ramp fashion! While Mineral by Priyadarshini Rao’s clothes will be seen on the rack in her new stores at affordable prices, there were copious amount of clothes that we would wear straight off the ramp. Examples: Shivaji Dutta’s dresses, skirts at Chaitanya Rao and several garments at Arpan Vohra.

(Below left to right: Shivaji Dutta, Chaitanya Rao and Arpan Vohra)

Shivaji Dutta dress at LFW S/R 2011 Chaitanya Rao dress at LFW S/R 2011

Arpan Vohra dress at LFW S/R 2011