Films in Fashion – 2015 – Bollywood edition

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Sabyasachi Mukherjee once said that the costumes should never overpower the character and actor. It should meld in so seamlessly that you should hardly notice the clothes. And if the actors are not present, the clothes should be able to tell that narrative within a scene. While many bollywood movies do employ designers, sometimes it is important to have the character take centrestage than the designer. There were some gems in 2015 that did just that. Read the rest of this entry »


17. Links à la Mode Feature

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Always a good feeling when your writing is noticed 🙂


‘I have a picture in my mind. An entire scenario. And sometimes dialog. Yes, even that. For what? Gift giving. After the brainstorming, shopping, purchasing, but then to get a puzzled face in return. Where did I go wrong?

IFB bloggers continued to share some of their favorite gift guides, which I clearly need.  Useful gifts, festive gifts, gifts under $15, neutral gifts, some with a bit of glitz, and for our domestic animal friends, gifts for furbabies. I’ve certainly heard and seen it all now.

Fashion trend themes are about dressing in neutrals for the holidays, layering with a kimono, leather pants, and glam oxfords or retro wedges. Also included in this roundup is a DIY project, a beauty care review, a bloggers social media dilemma and a no holds barred review of the Pakistan Fashion Week. Helpful advice is given on purchasing and authenticating second hand handbags, and what it means to be ethical in fashion. Now, those are gifts unto themselves.

May all your gifts be received with joyous expression, excitement, and the words, “nailed it!” be heard.’

Links à la Mode, December 17

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Fashion Pakistan Week – Winter Festive 2015 Day 3

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It was a mixed bag of fashion week with many veterans and experienced designer stumbling onto finding a contemporary footing with some traditions that are ingrained within their audience. The final and Day 3 was no different either with designers putting on a show. With Zaheer coming out on trumps with his succinct collection and Nilofer Shahid showcasing her technical finesse, balancing the interpretation and tribute facets within her collection, the concluding day rounded off with an interesting note of sorts; with a lesson for designers for the need to step up their game seriously instead of mediocre offerings.
FPW15 - Day 3

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A good designer knows how to push boundaries and veteran like Anamika Khanna knows exactly that, the reason she is in Sonam Kapoor’s closet. Not defining her clothes within a certain eastern-western debate category, she attempts to explore what is at her disposal. The clothes that were to be showcased at a museum sadly had to have the change of venue. But all is not lost for good design and good clothes will and are good no matter where they are shown and that is what happened with Anamika Khanna.

With her love for Ivory and black, Khanna’s love for embroidered work was evident within the collection. Her usual attempt to blur the lines between couture and luxury pret are always interesting within her showcase that display such a variety and range that you cannot be but overwhelmed with the sheer sight of it. The silhouettes predominantly featured her signature style of hybrid silhouettes and shapes along with a few traditional ones thrown in for good measure. Jackets, boleros, dhoti pants, saris, shararas all and more was present at the showing that concluded the fashion week. Her love for draped silhouettes combined with embroidered details led to quite an interesting weight shifting effect, one that she plays off as her strength masterfully. Loved the contemporary jewellery pieces on some of the white dresses and particulary what was impressive was the collection had such a range even with a simple color palette.

Easy and versatile pieces, Khanna explores the roles of surface treatement by combining contemporary silhouettes with the use of traditional embroidery techniques – a signature that she is now more notoriously famous for. Cutting, deconstructing and re-constructing, Khanna had fun with fashion and it showed.

Such a sheer delight!!

*Images by Sagar Ahuja

The Organics

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While I do have a certain affinity towards an organic and deconstructed sensibility, seeing it over and over and over again so much so that it dilutes the whole charm of it, is rather a turn off. While some of them did go the usual route, some definitely stood out.

Vaishali done better
A big part of me had a deja vu of sorts seeing this collection, possibly because of the use of organic fabrics that was very similar in language compared to Vaishali S. However Ujjawal in his possible debut outing, did a much better capsule that showed restraint and control with a distinct voice that is going to be interesting to see how it evolves. Like most debuts who go for this sort of fabric, Ujjawal too opted for a blue and grey palatte, nothing surprising, but what he did with them was rather commendable. The loose silhouette espescially some interesting menswear, especially the slouched suits and some crossover womenswear options it is his silhouette that oscillates between masculinity and femininity that is worth the interest. A couple of bit oversized pieces did seem odd amongst a much more relaxed but controlled outing but it is to be seen how he comes back with a full fledged and his second collection.


So Not the Drama
Ikai’s designer Ragini Ahuja has her distinctions clear. Marching to her own tune and with her quite the interestingly part unisex, part modern power women collection last time, this one was a much more feminine outing. Gathering inspiration from Japanese culture, Ragini’s latest outing steered clear from all the cliches and stereotypes that are associated with Japanese interpretations within fashion shows. No geisha references, no buns not even kimonos, no literal interpretations. Polka dots woven in and mixed and matched with prints was inspired by local women’s knack of mixing prints. Playing with textures, appliqued flowers and frayed hems made an appearance in the collection. With motifs like paper cranes, rising sun and hand fans were done in Japanese Shashiko stitching. Going the non literal way, Ragini’s colections exuded a certain oriental charm that wasn’t overdone fusing perfectly within the easy separates that she presented.


Great were-Expectations
Ah! The expectations I had from ILK after their last outing of hand holding men prints!! Shattered.. As brilliant as the last collection was, this one was as much confused palette of different sensibilities. The collection was a mish mash of 3 different things that did not sort of come together… the sketchy floral print, the 3d embroidery and the text print. While some of them worked as complete but individual pieces, my favorites being the black and white sari and the peachy text printed ensemble, the whole presentation lacked a certain cohesiveness in terms of prints. The collection did have some fun use of sheer and the textured 3d embroidery was impressive but it lacked the charm that impressed us with their debut outing


Blue is the Warmest Color
[Ka].[Sha] debut outing, like Ujjawal consisted of elements that this ‘organic group’ has sort of a signature developed within. The anti fit silhouette, use of hand woven/ handwoven looking fabric and cottons, blue, woven elements has become synonymous with this sort of outing, still waiting to see how far this anti fit deconstruction can be taken further by Indian designers without going too much into a Miyake territory. The collection by [Ka].[Sha] checked all the points and the common threads that run through the organics but she interjected the collection with accents of reddish orange and pale mustards. What I liked about the collection was the overlap of prints within a certain anti fit silhouettes and how she smartly played up the accents within the whole look. A balance within always catches attention. While I felt the spaced out print was rather a bit kids nightwear, the rest of the prints and fabric techniques could have been explored much more. The blue suit, the big tie and dye ensemble with orange scarves, now those were two fab statement pieces that stood out in this collection. Brownie points for fun footwear.


The Love Hate Relationship
Sailex is one of those brands that has a distinct voice, one that is very necessary, but one that personally doesn’t sit or rather sort of challenges my sense of aesthetics as a designer. And that is a good thing. You don’t have to please everyone, but rather have a distinct voice, that will find an audience of its own. I may not like it but the thing is, it is not bad. The part laid back, part beachy and part nightwear vibe of the collection had me on the fence if I like it or not. I like the few menswear pieces, the printed pants, the cherry blossom jackets and all. The dresses, the swimwear, the layering over those silk swimwear, have seen the brand do it so many times it can probably do that in sleep. The dresses while they lack a certain ‘innovative-ness’ they had the retail and cohesive to the collection card working for them. So it is a pretty much the love hate relationship that I have with Sailex that causes me to try to look things from a different angle.


Same Same but Different
Vaishali S while goes for her usual comfort zone of using organic and handwoven cottons and fabrics with an aesthetic to match, it is to her credit that she tries to experiment within what she has as her signature. While she is known to go overboard with her ensembles dousing them with layers and layers of fabrics, I was pleasantly surprised to see a certain minimalism at play within dresses, jackets, tops and separates. While the saris seemed all the same, the contemporary take of shift and easy dresses was rather commendable. While her drapery did make its appearance, it was though in small doses rather than going the whole 9 yards (pun totally intended). Oscillating her palette around greys, blues, whites and madder – albiet a very organic one, I was surprised to see magenta thrown infor a good measure in a few pieces… interesting choice. Layering, another feature that comes to her, was also evident within the ensembles playing with the textures and visuals of solids and sheer.

* Images by Sagar Ahuja

Bohemian Luxury

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Do yourself a favor and just look at the collection…

There is a reason I am a fan of Sabyasachi’s much more contemporary looks and interpretations and Sabyasachi’s pret line Sabyasachi by Sabyasachi is a testament to that why. This people is what looks like a retro boho chic collection done right to pitch perfection looks like. Sabyasachi opened the Lakme fashion week with a bang that only he can. The scale, the setting at the mill and the disco laser lights all contributed to a somewhat an epic saga to the seventies.

The boho luxe collection was one of the best I have seen from the man and one can see why. The striped crop tops, the floral prints, the full skirts, the jumpsuits,even the menswear all came together for a seventies collection that paid ode to the bollywood queens of seventies Parveen Babi and Zeenat aman. The slinky sequined dresses, the floaty boho dresses, print-on-print flared pants and shirts, crystallized louche tunics, the bling was definitely on a high note playing tribute to the nightclubs and party scene of the seventies. The leather belts with lion motif on saris and dresses, the retro shades, the slick back hair, the collection that was styled to perfection also threw in a couple of sporty references within with numbered dresses that surprisingly did not look out of place (and reminded me of Tom Ford). The print on print menswear was one I have been lusting after since last season and this year he amped up the quotient with suits, bandhgalas, waistcoats worn over print on print churidar and tunic (I have tried that but not with the same prints). Many (read each) piece was bang on nailed perfectly and added to the whole colllection be it the basic seperates of the whole dress. One of the black dresses with red lining and paired up with printed pants, the gold shoes and accenting shoes on men, the mint green sequined dress are definitely worth the mention. The half and half pants, the fiery red floral pieces all just were literally effing good. Though I hated the slipper effect on men but just a minor glitch. Aiming at the younger audience, this has to be Sabyasachi’s most commercial pret collection ever.

While I still do miss the artsy Sabya from the heydays of his Frida Kahlo sensibilities, (it is still there), fashion ultimately is a business and he has grown as a designer by leaps and bounds becoming a movement towards textiles within his own right. While this collection is more closer to his earlier works than his traditional couture endeavors, one would definitely make comparasions. But obviously the evolution is going to spill over to the artsy him but the amalgamation of the two is what was presented here. Even within his va va voom glam outing there is a certain quirk of sensibilities that does shine through (more so than his recent outings) and that is what I was so happy about!! the return of the earlier Sabyasachi.

And even more why I love the collection, check out the Harpers Bazaar Shoot by Tarun Khiwal

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*Show Images by Sagar Ahuja

Swan Song

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Maheen Khan’s swan song show warranted atleast a post of its own. The doyenne of pakistani fashion, while will remain head of Gulabo, presented the last collection from her eponymous label (all the more sad moment for me coz I wasn’t present there). To Karachi with love was her inspiration and ode to the women of Karachi from the sixties and seventies and how the city was back then. The finale collection was an ode to Karachi with hopes of it reverting back as glorious as its past.

The collection started off with a cloaked model who revealed a hand woven liquid matte gold sari worn over shalwars to Hira Tareen’s mix starting off with Baby shot me down. The contemporary take of the weavers from banarasi colony is an initiative taken up by Maheen and to no surprise she included the luxurious hand woven silks within her collection. The silhouettes were simple, sleek and chic with understated glamour and form quintessentially Maheen that is sans any crutches of unnecessary dramatic surface treatment. It was about form, refinement and the simple and clean faultless details that are usually overlooked within the drama. Maheen however thrives on perfecting those and bringing them forth establishing ground rules need to be stronger to build up anything. Her silhouettes were fluid but not drowning the female form of the models. She showcased saris worn over shalwars, kurtas, capes, layered ensembles and some fun shalwars. Maheen has always been an advocate of the shalwar kameez and how it can be altered within changing times with contemporary versions and twists. She certainly showcased that in her collection that was contemporary and fresh with her draped and structured forms, so chic that I would not be surprised if she would present this anywhere in the world and it would not strike a chord, that is how barrier breaking her approach is. With sheer and silk fabrics, her seams were faultless and the ensembles luxe without being overbearing under embellishments. There were woven organzas, golds and rich tones of silks that she worked with in a collection that was classic in taste, contemporary in approach and nothing but Pakistani in its vibe. The veteran showed off why she is with some brilliant finishes (one very few people can boast of) with no threads and her control over fabrics. They moved as if every move was choreographed and Maheen knew exactly how it would react when walked in. I for one loved the striped gold fabric which was draped in a sari.

The models sashayed down with a simple styling, red lips and chiffon masks over their eyes. Powerful and evocative, laced with subtle yet strong symbolism.The Maheen Khan woman is a self assured understated glam chick. Iraj, Frieha Altaf and Attiya Khan were showstoppers for the last outing of one of the most senior designer of the country. Do yourselves a favor just play the music above and go through the collection…


*Images courtesy Tapu Javeri and his team


FPW A/W’14 Day2 Part I

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Fierce Fab Fitch
Shehla Chatoor’s Misaki ticked off most of the right notes with her signature luxury aesthetic coming into play within the collection that drew inspiration from japanese folding screens, murals and samurai. The collection though had a bit of a Balmain (another designer who needs to be left alone after DnG) deja vu in terms of similar rope techniques and was hard to ignore, Shehla brought more than that to the table in a collection that was fierce and definitely not for the faint hearted.

The collection apart from the rope twistings, heavily employed lasercut leather that was cut, twisted and woven into the garments, along with that she brought forth some chic ensembles incorporating japanese prints so well that it is safe to say she was actually better than reigning princess of print Sania Maskatiya’s Sakura outing earlier this year at Lakme fashion week. The digital prints were controlled and served up in some serious sultry luxe treatments that everyone would want to get a hold of one in their closet. Shehla Chatoor along with employing all these techniques never lost sight of her usual glam aesthetic that was omnipresent throughout the collection. Her silhouettes ranged from full length skirts, gowns, saris, jackets, seperates and jumpsuits. Loved the set of three different silhouettes all with a single leather slashed sleeve that she sent out in black. That woven top made in leather for that sari…epic..for someone who knows weaving and that technique… its not easy to pull off. The collection is sure to be picked up by celebs for red carpet as well as women who are her regular clientele. A minor gripe was the sporty ensemble that she sent out in black. In a collection that depended a lot of fierce femininity with a charm, that sporty ensemble stuck out… but just a minor gripe. I loved almost everything. My absolute favorites had to be the chic button down with printed skirt with a box clutch… was a perfect example of laid back fiery luxe ensemble, the leather top with one sleeve with black printed skirt and the opening number. Brownie points to the brave styling that complimented the clothes to a T.



State of Stagnant affair
Emraan Rajput’s take on military faltered on quite a few notes giving us a presentation that was hardly variable in terms of silhouettes or color. Staying withing browns and greens, the collection stayed within a limited structure that probably became its own undoing. I, for one, have seen some brilliant military interpretations and this one did not live upto that… not even his last denimology outing. The collection stayed within the parameters of jackets and bandhgalas alll paired with pants, heavy boots and cap (n no that did not give it its tough look). A couple of womenswear were also thrown it, structured and well made but on the whole everything lacked a certain charm even for taking a minimal approach. The only high points that probably came in the collection were a woven vest and a cross over jacket… the rest..sorry! nothing much to talk about there.



Classically Inclined
Sanam Chaudhri’s was one collection was one I was waiting for primarily because of the vintage techniques that it aimed to employ. What I feared was the trap that Sanam might fall into regarding silhouettes, as tending onto an era, designers tend to go costumey in an attempt to display drama on the ramp. However much of it was laid to rest since Sanam avoided such pitfalls from the word go. The vintage inspired collection BANO was demure and subtly nuanced attempt at contemporarizing (yayy new word) while harking onto traditions. This was probably full on desi-gone-luxury pret outing this year…first being Maheen Kardar’s (here), which was much more dramatic but this one was much more relaxed and calmer compared to the former. Think of this one as subtle Rani Mukerji and former one as Kajol (does that analogy even make sense..but I just had to put it)

Sanam’s collection while incorporating various adage surface treatement techniques, managed to give some fun silhouettes that could be broken down as separates  or built up as desired. What she gave us ranged from jackets and crop tops to koti vests, structured cholis and bolero (loved those strong shoulders specifically this one but wasn’t too keen on the gharara skirt that it was paired with) as well as some shalwars, tapered pants and capri izars (wasn’t too sure of those though) and a gorge sari. She managed to experiment with silhouettes of many of the shrugs, incorporating sheer elements too while the last statement piece with that fuller Afghani coat was the perfect build up end the presentation needed.. though the motif and embroidery are not alien to me, but again it is indeed one of the references that I know of. All were minimally styled with a mang tika or a simple earring sans any drama.  This was desi vintage done well. I picked up on some of the references of shorter kurtis, some vintage fabrics and embroideries that she showcased. My favorite ones had to be this white on white ensemble with this exteremely well tailored pants, the shorter black jacket with that crop top and the white sari. Net Saris are hard as it is to pull off and to her credit she actually managed to control it and give it pitch perfect pleating and styling without wanting to go OTT and just let it loose just to display the handwork.

*Images courtesy Tapu Javeri and his team

The crazy ones

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The quirky Masaba opened the LFW with her Wanderess presentation. The sixties influences, and possibly the best complimentary pieces of jewellery that she picked out fit perfectly within the setting. The plates and floral digital prints were a far cry from the usual masaba raw prints that we are used to seeing (Satya Paul rubbing off on her). Nevertheless they carried the vibe of being bold in their character with hints of gold providing the just enough glam. With point on styling, Masaba evoked the free spirited Goan woman as her muse. Masaba with her free spiritedness tends to flare out (pun totally intended) in hybrid silhouettes and this one was no different. F lared minis in beige, slinky gowns with multi prints, long sleeved, thigh length jacket with flared pants and cut-out sari gown, trapeze printed top with bell sleeves, attached dupattas for skirts, bell bottom style shararas, long sleeved tail-coat cholis with printed saris (my fav hybrids) and drop waist will-power maxi, all made it to the presentation. Shilpa Shetty made for the perfect showstopper with that cutout gown draped with dopatta in that killer bod.

Surendri by Yogesh Chaudhry
Surendri by Yogesh Chaudhri, the name still echoes the pac man collection that he did. The designer has yet to cross the benchmark that he set for himself. A curse of sorts, since that collection was so impactful that everything he would ever do would be compared to that unless he crosses it to produce something better. The sunflower collection however was not one of those moments. More misses than hits, using sunflower in various silhouettes, Chaudhry’s latest offering had them go from bold florals to repeat patterns. While there were indeed moments of brilliances like the repeat pattern jumpsuit or the floral pattern on a kimono jacket paired with a shirt and pleated skirt or a bold sunflower on a floorlength, they were few and far in between.


Sayantan Sarkar
Sayantan Sarkar, with a few hurdles earlier in his career has now come into his own. The designer has now kept me intrigued with his organic treatment of prints, maybe it is his Bengali aesthetics, for a few seasons now, and this one was no different. Using doll prints, but with a sort of experimentation that gives these prints an organic outlook, made for me wanting quite a few pieces from the collection (specially the doll prints button down and the brown doll print jacket made it to my lust list). Giving the whole collection a polished bohemian vibe, Sarkar never strayed away from maintaining the whole look of the collection while with bits of experimentation. Keeping his silhouettes relaxed, his presentation included both menswear and womenswear, experimenting with overlapped and contrasting lengths of hemlines. The collection made extensive use of prints, but balanced it out perfectly with earthy solids. While I wasn’t too sure about the use of leafy motifs as it looked forced, on the whole the collection would definitely be something I would want in my wardrobe

Living upto its reputation of being the quirky one, Quirk box presented its second collection after the brilliant debut last season. The collection had all the trappings of being outdated considering we just came out of the color blocked phase, but the brand pulls it off with quite success. Using kitschy and eccentric fun sketched images (I loved the trumpet playing balloon guy) with the collection, it rather made the color block much more interesting. While at points it did remind me of Masaba’s debut kattran collection, but then dismissed it the notion since that was much bohemian in other ways than this. I loved the printed suit for men and the print on print head to toe look. Keeping a lookout on what this brand comes up with next!!

*Images credit: The LFW Team