Fashion hits & disasters from the Obama visit

US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama bid India farewell yesterday after a three-day visit. Everyone talked about the renewed N-deal, the R-day parade and the town hall, but of course I’ll be talking about fashion. 🙂 Here’s my take on the fashion hits and disasters of the Obamas’ India visit. (More disasters than hits).

Disaster #1: Michelle Obama’s arrival dress

As her “arrival” dress, First Lady Michelle Obama wore a printed dress made by Indian-origin designer Bibhu Mohapatra. My take: not impressive! The floral print on the dress was too big, even for someone of her height and frame. Plus the lines across the dress added more confusion to the outfit. Maybe she could have skipped the matching jacket for a plain one.

Michelle Obama floral dres Bibhu Mohapatra

Disaster #2: President Obama names PM Modi a “style icon”

At the state banquet Sunday evening, President Obama stated, “The Prime Minister [Narendra Modi] is a style icon. I would also like to wear a Modi kurta.” Sure, while the Modi kurta is perhaps Indian politics’ latest contribution to fashion (remember Nehru jacket?), I don’t think PM Modi is a style icon. Yes, his wardrobe his carefully selected and he ensures he is well-groomed, but style icon? Nope! (one good reason below).

Disaster #3: Narendra Modi’s “selfie” suit

What looked like a pinstripe suit from afar at the chai pe charcha (evening tea), was actually lines and lines of the PM’s name all over. Take a look:

PM Modi suit tea with Obama

PM Modi suit tea with Obama

Now you know why PM Modi isn’t a style icon.

Disaster #4: … And the grey one

In the 1980s I remember all the male members of my family wearing grey “safari” suits, but the truth is that grey is not a flattering colour for most Indian men. But PM Modi wore light grey at the state banquet and well, didn’t carry it off. A darker grey or a navy blue would have looked so much better. And the tan shoes with the grey bandhgala? Oh no, no, no! :-O

Obamas PM Modi banquet

Hit #1: Michelle Obama’s state banquet dress

Ms Obama’s navy blue billowy dress with a gold and red print looked fantastic. She was a picture of poise and elegance as she greeted Indian VIPs. It was the right touch of colour, a pleasing print and totally appropriate.

Hit #2: Indian First Lady gifts FLOTUS a pashmina shawl

Awww… sweet gesture from Indian First Lady Suvra Mukherjee. I’m sure Michelle Obama receives plenty of gifts wherever she goes, but an authentic pashmina shawl is always special. I wonder if she will ever use it though? (No, don’t answer that).


Hollywood Fashion: Key looks and lessons from Skyfall

Hollywood Fashion: Key looks and lessons from Skyfall

James Bond (Daniel Craig) in The O’Connor suit

The two-buttoned, peak lapelled suit that you see Daniel Craig wearing in Skyfall is called The O’Connor and is designed by designer and film-maker Tom Ford. Yep, in the 23rd Bond film, James Bond has been dressed by an American designer, a surprising choice since the Brits are best known for their tailoring skills.

Danien Craig in Skyfall

The Tom Ford suits “move” with Daniel Craig, enabling him to fight on top of trains and run through the London underground unhindered. What they don’t help with is alcoholism and poor marksmanship (there’s only so much a suit can do, after all).

Nevertheless, James Bond never misses a fashion beat, wearing a classic timepiece (Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean 600M Skyfall Limited Edition watch) and adjusting his cufflinks in the midst of serious action. 🙂

Daniel Craig in Skyfall

Fashion Lesson:

Well-built man + smart suit = Handsome! The right fit and attention to detail are an added bonus.

Javier Bardem (Silva) in printed shirt

Javier Bardem in Skyfall

That printed shirt is a Prada– a first for a Bond villain! Silva’s OTT blondness and false teeth mask his battle scars (physical and emotional), and because he’s Latino, his style’s a bit more flamboyant than Bond. Hence he’s dressed in lighter colours and prints, and dyes his hair blond.

Fashion Lesson:

Men can wear prints without looking like they’re in Hawaii. Wear a printed shirt below a jacket, blazer or waistcoat, and you’re set to go.

Berenice Marlohe (Severine) in embellished cocktail gown

Berenice Marlohe’s Swarovski-studded gown for the casino scene reportedly took six months to create, and it’s GORGEOUS!

Berenice Marlohe in Skyfall

The glittering crystals on the sheer back, sleeves and along Berenice’s legs create a tattoo-like effect. Her dark berry lips and nails are an attempt to hide the sadness in her heavily-lined eyes. This scene is hands down the fashion high point in the movie.

According to costume designer Jany Temine, the embellished gown features 60,000 crystals– all applied by hand. If this wasn’t a Bond film, I’d say the gown was quite a dent on the film’s budget.

Fashion Lesson:

The charming, elegant, mysterious woman is still around in the 21st century, and you can be her. Flaunt your sexiest curves, play with sheer, wear black, opt for striking makeup, and watch heads turn.

Naomie Harris (Eve Moneypenny) in bright colours

Naomie Harris in Skyfall

Eve Moneypenny is a new recruit to the service, still learning the ropes of espionage. She doesn’t ooze sex appeal, but her grace and confidence makes her attractive. Further proof lies in her choice of colours- bright orange, fuschia, mustard– completely unheard-of colours in a staid working environment. Her unusual picks include accessories like a wide brown belt and black booties (my favourite!).

Naomie Harris in Skyfall

Fashion Lesson:

Go ahead, take some risks. Dress bold, but not provocative. Be smart, not sexy. And there- you’ve made an impression!

Judi Dench (M) in tweed jacket

Given the seniority and nature of her job, M power dresses with a difference. Shoulder pads and sharp blazers are not for her. Instead she chooses sensible skirt suits and almost-invisible jewellery for a commanding presence.

Judi Dench in  Skyfall

Fashion Lesson:

If you want to look like your boss’s boss, dress the part by focusing on key separates in black, navy blue and grey. Jackets, textured and subtly-detailed blazers make the right statement at work. And oh, do dress your age!

Bollywood Fashion: Raghavendra Rathore suits up Akshay Kumar in OMG!

Bollywood Fashion: Raghavendra Rathore suits up Akshay Kumar in OMG!

OMG Oh My God is one of those movies you can enjoy with your family, have a good laugh, and come away with an important message or two- this one is about religion and how we practise it.

As a regular movie goer, I wasn’t expecting much from the movie, and as a fashion watcher, I expected even less. Both ways, I was surprised. The movie is worth a one-time watch though the production values could have been better. And as a fashion lover, Akshay Kumar’s dapper look is something worth writing about (hence this post).

Akshay Kumar in OMG Oh My God

Akshay Kumar’s costumes

Akshay Kumar plays God (Lord Krishna) in human form, choosing to play a dude who rides a super bike and works as a “consultant”. He’s always wearing wears a peacock pendant and his laptop is embellished with studs in the same motif.

Akshay Kumar in OMG Oh My God

As Akshay Kumar’s costume designer for OMG- Oh My God, Raghvendra Rathore has used his fine tailoring skills and refined taste to give the actor a polished yet approachable look. It’s a pleasant surprise to see Akshay Kumar dressed like that, given his usual OTT and mediocre on-screen outfits, much like his acting. But in this movie, Akshay is much more restrained and so is his character.

Key outfits

Several pieces in the movie are typical Raghavendra Rathore creations, such as the black single-button achkan in Akshay Kumar’s introductory scene and the military-inspired jacket toward the end of the movie. My favourite is the raw silk purple waistcoat Akshay wears on his first day to court, worn over a checked shirt and with a blue pocket square. The crisp white cotton shirt and linen pants were some of the all-time classics I spotted in the movie. I spotted several separates that would be a great addition to a modern man’s wardrobe.

Akshay Kumar in OMG Oh My God

The most surprising look though, is the suited Lord Krishna. When he introduces himself as God, Akshay dons a brown checked suit and tie worn over a formal blue shirt, with a red square in the breast pocket. That’s a carefully mismatched colour and pattern combination, but it seems to work for Lord Krishna (warning: may not work in real life!).

Akshay Kumar in OMG Oh My God

Contrasts work well- in fashion and films

Given his flamboyant, extroverted, and affectionate character, the choice of clothes isn’t surprising, though Raghavendra Rathore as Akshay’s designer is certainly a surprise choice. The two men have starkly different personalities and takes on fashion (or so it seems). Raghavendra Rathore’s style is dignified, his silhouettes quite fuss-free, and clothes are tailored with minimal embellishments. Akshay, on the other hand, is prone to flamboyance and exuberance. But given his super-fit bod and the height advantage, he carries off Raghevendra Rathore’s clothes with ease.

The final set of looks in OMG- Oh My God is perhaps the outcome of both men meeting halfway – Raghavendra Rathore adding eye-catching colours, buttons and piping, and Akshay Kumar “growing up”.

Van Heusen India Mens Week 2011: Name an occasion, take your pick of clothes

Yesterday Speaking Chic wrote about fashion for all personality types at Van Heusen India Mens Week 2011 (VHIMW 2011) . Today we write about  clothes for all occasions—straight from the VHIMW 2011 ramp.

Clothes for hanging out/ college/ casual Fridays

Cropped pants/ shorts, comfy hat and subtle stripes and checks are great for chilling our with friends.

Below: From Sanchita Ajjampur

Model at Sanchita Ajjampur VHIMW 2011

Clothes for a foreign holiday

For the lucky dudes who are heading for a Mediterranean cruise or a relaxed holiday in Europe, we recommend neutral shades like beige, ivory and grey. Mix classic with the contemporary (like this structured jacket off-set by slinky cowls).

Below: From Karan Johar- Varun Bahl

Model at KAran Johar-Varun Bahl at VHIMW 2011

For festive occasions

The season for celebrations is about to begin—Navratri, weddings, Diwali, and some more weddings. Time for sherwanis, traditional looks, and embellishments on rich fabrics.

Below: From Shantanu-Nikhil

Model at Shantanu-Nikhil at VHIMW 2011

For formal yet fun occasions

Sometimes a guy wants to have fun but would prefer to be classy over casual. Think blazers and jackets in fun prints and colours. Be bold!

Below: From Troy Costa, Manoviraj Khosla

Model at Troy Costa at VHIMW 2011 Model for Manoviraj Khosla at VHIMW 2011

Guys—which of these looks do you wear most often?

LFW W/F 2011 Day 2: Narendra Kumar jazzes up menswear with a swingin’ show

There was live music, dancing and some very polished gentlemen. No, it wasn’t a dance club from the mid 20th century, but Narendra Kumar’s show at Lakme Fashion Week Winter/Festive 2011. The collection, presented to a live rendition of Frank Sinatra’s Fly me to the moon, comprised formal evening wear for men.

It was one of the few shows we girls could swoon, whistle and cheer (it was a virtually all-male show). Each model did a little jig or dance step on head ramp, spreading the joy of music and rhythm.

Narendra Kumar at LFW W/F 2011

The collection’s focus was bespoke suits (especially classy tuxedos). The colours were beyond black—deep sapphire, wine, green, pale pink, midnight blue, along with neutrals. The men looked dapper in single and double breasted jackets, with broad, narrow, peak and notched lapels. The tuxedo lapels were inspired by Japanese kimonos, while we also saw draped and cut away collar jackets and the iconic “smoking”. The trousers were sexily slim with turn-ups.

Namit Khanna at Narendra Kumar LFW W/F 2011 Narendra Kumar at LFW W/F 2011 Narendra Kumar at LFW W/F 2011

The fabrics were just as luxurious with Dupion silks, velvet, smooth Ari silk, patterned and textured handloom silks and brocades. The beautiful jackets had hand and machine embroidery, quilting, appliqués and motifs from the Art Deco and Nouveau periods.

Narendra Kumar at LFW W/F 2011 Narendra Kumar at LFW W/F 2011

We were almost disappointed when the fun show came to an end, though Kabir Bedi in a white brocade tux and some more singing provided some cheer. 🙂

Narendra Kumar at LFW W/F 2011

Bollywood Fashion: SRK wipes us out with his sharp suit and cute dimples

I confess: I love Shahrukh Khan. So if he’s on TV, I have to watch. In the first episode of his just-launched TV show Zor Ka Jhatka Total Wipeout on NDTV Imagine, Shahrukh Khan wore a slim-fitted black suit with a twist.

See it here:

ShahRukh Khan Zor ka jhatka suit Shahrukh Khan Zor ka Jhatka suit

Shahrukh is wearing a white shirt with a black collar, and has paired it with a black tie. That’s an interesting twist to an otherwise classically formal wardrobe.

On Wednesday night, Shahrukh wore a suit, without the tie, and left his collar unbuttoned to show a hint of dual-toned element of his shirt (the row of buttons placed on a strip of black).

So while Zor ka Jhatka is riddled with a poor script, bad puns and a complete waste of Argentina (where it’s being filmed), King Khan’s experimental sartorial choices (and cutesy dimples) add some life. And these might just be the only saving grace of this otherwise dull show.

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.


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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