Transformed: Vintage to Ultramodern!

I still remember the moment I first spotted it. It was late evening and I was in my PJs, rummaging through mom’s cupboard. The beige fabric had perhaps lost some its shimmer, but a good dry clean could restore some of its erstwhile glory. I dug deep for more information on this six-yard fabric, a sari I didn’t remember seeing earlier. The sari was her wedding gift from an American family friend, Mom explained. Unfortunately, she had no idea who the designer was.

Vintage sari

My surprised reaction was, “I didn’t know you had such a lovely sari!” The netted fabric had flowers woven into it, giving it the appearance of lace. Best of all—it was vintage!

Vintage definition It was to be my first family appearance in a sari (a cousin’s wedding reception) and I wanted it to be memorable (for them and for me). Now that I had discovered the perfect sari, I had to face a formidable challenge. Being a vintage garment, my look had to preserve the essence of the sari, but I didn’t want to look an auntie either. I concluded that I needed to drape the sari the traditional way, wear classic jewellery, while creating a look that stated modern, elegant and “quarter-life-crisis-has-just-struck-me” simultaneously.

Blouse hunt

It’s only in the past few seasons that the sari blouse suddenly rose to prominence on and off the ramp. The plain, self-colour blouse was boring; variety in colours, fabrics and embroidery were à la mode. Blouse-hunting turned out to be harrowing process, going from store to store, looking for the right match, comparing materials. The brocades were in the wrong colour, the velvets were too plain. We emerged from a trifle disappointed from all the stores we visited.

At the last store on the list, I pulled out a swathe of orange, sequins-laden georgette. I held it up against the sari, took it out in the sun, and voila! The rows of the little gold embellishments did not just spice up the sari, but also made it super stylish, with a dash of colour and bling.

Vintage is forever, so are diamonds

It was the ultimate fashion conundrum— what do you pair with a vintage outfit? How do you give it your personal signature while paying tribute to the original creator who laboured over it decades ago?

For starters, the accessories had to be timeless. And there’s nothing more timeless than diamonds. I opted for a dangling pair that ensured I looked my age, and teamed it with a simple ring and matching gold-and-diamond cuff.

Plum it up

It was an image of Dita von Teese on a beauty portal that inspired my makeup. Her bright red lips were too hot to handle for me, but I stole her idea of drawing attention to my lips. I followed the natural-looking layer of foundation with muted lilac eyeshadow and pink blush from MAC, but jazzed up the lips much as I could with an intense purple Lancôme lipstick that would stay through the event.

I already had a great haircut, so I just blow dried it the right way—a sideswept fringe across the forehead that had people asking for my stylist’s number!

Hey there, gorgeous!

The compliments that evening ranged from “So who did your makeup?” to “You’re looking sexy!” to “That’s a lovely sari! Which designer?”

But that all didn’t matter. The best compliment came from the original owner of the sari, my mom, who said, “The sari is perfect for you. It’s yours now!”

Wearing an invaluable vintage garment albeit with a contemporary touch is a sartorial experience I’d advise all young women to try. Why? Because it made me feel good, it made me appreciate the real artisans, and because it was one of my biggest style moments. I left the reception as radiant as the bride.

This post is the official entry to Star World Betty of Elle Contest- http://www.starworld.in. Being an ardent fashion follower and blogger (feel free to explore the Speaking Chic blog and the Twitter feed) as well as a word lover, getting a chance to work at Elle would fuel my passion for fashion, style and writing. Elle India’s approach of balancing high-end fashion and spot-on trends with engrossing features and cutting-edge photo shoots is the perfect launchpad for a career in fashion writing and blogging. I hope to make this kind of writing be taken seriously in India, and developing an online Indian fashion destination. With the great insights into the fashion and publishing industry that I get from the internship, I would improve my fashion knowledge and eye for fashion, style, aesthetics and trends. I’d learn about the fashion business, how to identify trends and ideate, the ropes of styling, magazine design and photography, and even what it takes to produce a 200+ page magazine month after month with great content. At the end of the two months, I would be in a better position to combine my journalism and content development background with fashion to develop a distinctive writing style that would make me a better fashion blogger and writer (I aspire to be India’s answer to Cathy Horyn and Suzy Menkes :-)). Above all, the internship will be the experience of a lifetime, and I will emerge enriched in every way possible.

Rohit Bal’s “made up” range for Lancome

When MAC partnered with Manish Arora to create an India-inspired makeup range, the results were fabulous. The dazzling colours of eyeshadows, lip glasses and blush blew away women around the world.

So when I read about Rohit Bal’s Lotus collection for Lancome, I knew I had to check it out. Here’s what I had in mind- new colours, some never-thought-of makeup tools and eccentric packaging, perhaps even guy makeup! Oh boy, was I disappointed. The collection is more or less a glammed up version of a discount scheme.

This is how it works:

  1. You choose your shade from a fixed set of products, such as concealer, blush, lipstick etc from Lancome’s existent range. You can have either 12 products (silver set) or 21 (gold set).
  2. If you choose the silver set, you get 12% discount, which means Rs 15,000. And the gold set comes for Rs 25,000.
  3. This is all put together and wrapped neatly in a cute vanity case.

This is a great idea especially for brides, who want everything handy, customised and coordinated. And even the women who want to indulge themselves.

But why tag Rohit Bal along? The crazy-creative notorious designer has added nothing to the Lancome brand, nor to his own. The only claim being that he “handpicked” the collection. Why would Rohit Bal want to lend his name to something so silly? How does the Delhi designer become anything different from cricketers and actors endorsing brands? (At least they display their acting skills). We would have loved to see Rohit Bal getting creative with something other than fabric.

Speaking Chic’s opinion: It’s a foolish marketing gimmick to draw footfalls to the stores. The concept does have some weight, but I would have pegged it as the “Lotus Bridal” collection or something similar, and kept Mr. Bal out of the equation.