Archive for November, 2011|Monthly archive page

On the Evolution of Personal Style

In On Entertainment, On Fashion, On Style on November 29, 2011 at 6:58 pm

Prepare to laugh, and perhaps enjoy yourselves. Because I have decided that I’d like to share a secret with you all today.

Due to my background in medicine, I was never much interested in fashion or design until my second year at NIFT. In my first semester at fashion school, I learned that my mom’s red Burberry raincoat was actually a renowned classic. And that the bag she was excited about that she had to coerce me to carry was Dior’s iconic saddle.

I was, quite literally, fashion-stupid.

I spent the next few years religiously soaking up information about fashion and style from classes, books, experience, shopping, and the people/friends around me.

I realized that fashion isn’t baseless. Still, fashion and its “rules” still eluded me. Even today, I question the existence of these so-called “rules”. I’ve come to the conclusion that people have to make their own rules to a certain extent. There’s such a variance that there is no concrete definition of what’s fashionable, or stylish, or ‘classy’.

Victoria Beckham’s taste is different from Edith Head, who is different from Blake Lively, who is different from Patricia Fields, who is different from everyone else. And yet, these are all stylish women who style themselves and others very well. And the men. Have you seen the constant reinvention that is Andre Benjamin, and how different he is from George Clooney, who is different from Tom Ford? And what about the variation geographically? What’s ‘elegant’ in Paris will not be be as perfectlly ‘elegant’ for Los Angeles.

It’s enough to make one’s head spin.

Anyway, the secret? Have you ever taken a look at celebrities’ style evolution? Ever seen witnessed how wrong many well-dressed people today can be – even when on the red carpet? Take a look.

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I took an immense amount of comfort in seeing the style evolution of celebrities. People seem to be most glamorous in their early 30s. That’s when they figure out what really works for them. I was 18 when I thought this, at the beginning of my second year in fashion school.

I figured I have time to experiment. If Anne Hathaway, Eva Longoria, and Tyra Banks could look like that and decide to wear those dresses, I’m only human.

That’s the secret.

So what if I paired the wrong shoes with the wrong tshirt? Or looked completely laughable because I matched my green shoes to a blue bag? Trial-and-error was the only way I’d learn. And people had looked funnier in the past, on-camera! Obviously, even the Greats have had their questionable days.

My friends could tell you stories for hours (but they won’t because they’re good friends) about my more than questionable fashion choices. So far I’ve decided that I like the word ‘classy’ more than ‘experimental’, and have slowly found myself becoming more and more so. This “secret”, this decision I made has helped me immensely in slowly, but surely, finding my style. I hope it might help you.


On Nonsense in the Name of ‘Fashion’

In On Entertainment on November 20, 2011 at 4:06 am

Is it just me, or has entertainment gotten more risqué with time?

I feel that in searching for clothes (or lack thereof), effects, and moves to ‘thrill’ the audience, entertainers have forgotten that there are boundaries. In this world where there is very little boundary, Lady Gaga, whilst only half dressed, holds children at a promotional event at Best Buy, and Rihanna appears naked on Esquire (nothing new for Esquire covers) covered in seaweed. Since when is being covered in seaweed sexy?!

^ (Btw, this is the happier video where Rihanna’s actually more woman than object.)

I understand that ‘being yourself’ is important, and that freedom is the goal. But how much is too much? I can’t find it in myself to blame the entertainers while on stage, because they want to sell to a tough audience. But I do feel there is a problem with the “anything to garner audience attention” approach.

And the problem is the effect that this kind of media is having on the generation. The Olsen twins used to make news, and we thought “look what too much fame and money do at a young age”. But they made news for eating disorders! Not for nudity and inappropriate gestures on stage. The Olsen twins didn’t even always go shopping for their own clothes (even for their nights on the red carpets) until they were 16 or 17. They sometimes used to wear the same thing in different colors. They’ve actually become successful now. And rightly so…

Need I mention the current “teen sensations” and their public appearances?

Miley Cyrus was dancing with a pole wearing leather barely-somethings and gracing the covers of magazines seemingly only draped in a sheet. Taylor Momsen is wearing black leather garters and holding guns. Selena Gomez, who is the most decent of them all, is also performing wearing the barely minimal and seen wrapped around the Bieber at the beach.

These are our teen icons?

Where is the differentiation between teenagers and adults?! What happened to that boundary? Has it disappeared also, in the name of ‘fashion’? Does anyone even want to fathom what these teens might do in future performances and appearances?

But you know…It’s become acceptable, because it’s “fashionable”. Read: It’s what all the cool kids are doing. It’s become “fashionable” for kids to wear heels and use iPads before they can walk. It’s become “fashionable” for 18-month-old boys to recite Lady Gaga song lyrics before they can read. It’s become “fashionable” for people to do many things that I can with certainty say are not healthy.

And the most troublesome fact is: It is what it is, and there is only so much you can do about it.


On the Hermes Sari

In On Luxury, On the Sari on November 16, 2011 at 5:10 am

I read today in the Economic Times and on Forbes.com that Hermes has launched its saris again. Last time Hermes launched saris, it was a limited edition for it’s Millenia collection. Recently it expanded in China with leather goods and opened a flagship store in Mumbai.

Clearly, luxury and fashion are moving East.

To me, this brought further clarity to what Amitabh Bacchan said on the the Lead India campaign regarding the two Indias. One India has come so far, that there are 27 story private homes, and printed saris for $6000-$8000 – 3 to 4 lakhs.

The other side of me recognizes that it’s not just any printed sari. There’s value in the Hermes print and logo on 6 yards of beautiful fabric. It also fills me with pride, that the Indian sari has become such an icon, that Hermes recognizes its importance and value. There have already been rich Indian prints on many Hermes scarves. But now Hermes is going one step further to pay homage to the Indian tradition.

And it’s true. That while Indian women and girls wear Western clothing very commonly now, there is definitely a strong pull towards the traditional and graceful sari. For formal occasions and weddings, most women still prefer to wear the sari.

There’s definitely a graceful elegance that is inherent in the sari, and the Hermes prints will no doubt add to this. There are a total of 28 saris, created in Paris, in fabrics varying from cashmere to twill silk. One line of saris is priced at 3 lakhs, while the other is at 4 lakhs. Obviously, only the wealthy can afford this gorgeous luxury.  Two of Forbes top-ten billionaires reside in India, though (Lakshmi Mittal and Mukesh Ambani). It’s not hard to imagine the French couturier’s target clientele.

^Mumbai flagship

Did you also know that a recent global affluence study show that India has more wealthy households than many European nations, including Germany and France. Of course the West is coming back to India as soon as India is getting rich again.

Can you predict what the celebrities or Ambani women will be wearing at their next event? I can!

Speaking of which…It’ll be interesting to see what kind of impact this has on the top Indian designers, who until now, were the only creators of designer saris around the world. Hermes’s foray into this niche market isn’t very surprising. Hermes adds a layer of chic luxury to the already sophisticated, elegant sari. I’m hopeful that the price tag and lack of traditional quality inherent in Hermes will keep a large percentage of the wealthy from having or wanting wardrobes of Hermes saris.

But, this is a note to Indian designers. You must now do more than splatter paint, dye, and/or Swarovski crystals all over the sari to charge over 3 lakhs now. Step it up!


On Bond a la Tom Ford

In On Menswear, On Tom Ford on November 13, 2011 at 6:02 pm

This post is dedicated to my dear friend Riley.

Not only has the upcoming Bond film title been announced – Skyfall – but so has it’s designer! Have you heard?!

Tom Ford, the designer of all things sexy chic, has been chosen to dress Daniel Craig for Skyfall, the new James Bond movie. (just as he did in the Quantam of Solace). I’m not sure if I can emphasize the kind of eye-candy that will likely result from this.

James Bond epitomizes the Tom Ford man. Tom Ford’s love for luxury and elegance, coupled with his style is perfect for developing the iconic Bond character.

Tom Ford is working with costume designer Jany Temime (of Harry Potter films) to create the superspy’s wardrobe. There’s going to definitely be eyewear that will be Bond exclusive, and amazing accessories to accent the evening wear, suits, knitwear, and ties. They’re going to be handmade in Italy. *sigh*

It’ll be interesting to see what Tom Ford will do differently for this film (relative to the Quantum of Solace). I learned recently from “The Cut” that there’s a method to Ford’s genius: the suits must be cut so that Daniel Craig can be “Bond”. The skirt of the suit must be roomy enough so that he can run after villains, climb up a variety of structures, leap from buildings, jump into water, and/or blow things up – all while looking dashing.

The Skyfall press conference is probably indicative of how fabulous this movie will be…

Take a look at what Daniel Craig was wearing – all Tom Ford, of course. His gray two-piece notch lapel suit with a classic collar shirt and the beautiful silk (jacquard?) tie just oozes Bond.

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Sam Mendes is directing. The extraordinary cast? Daniel Craig, of course. and Javier Barden is playing the villain’s role. Judi Dench is back as M!! Berenice Marlohe, a French actress, is rumored to be the next Bond Girl, “Severine”. There’s Ralph Fiennes, Albert Finney, Naomi Harris, and maybe Helen McCrory and Ola Rapace from the Harry Potter films. I’m so excited to see this come alive on screen. There is so much potential here!

“Bond’s loyalty to M [Dench] is tested as her past comes back to haunt her. As M16 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost.”

dun, dun, dun…


On Coats a la Carrie Bradshaw

In On Coats, On Fall/Winter on November 9, 2011 at 1:11 am

There’s a kind of magic that Carrie brings to Paris. In the last two episodes of the show finale (Season 6 was the last SaTC season before the two movies), she wears a number of spectacular outfits. I cannot even attempt to pick favorites, because each of them was fabulous. There’s a different appeal that Carrie has in Paris, in her relationship with the Russian. She is classier and  more chic relative to her more daring look during the earlier seasons. The styling of Patricia Field and the “Carrie” style is still existent, but there’s a layer of sophistication.

What inspired me today is what she wears when she goes shopping into Dior. The umbrella, the boots, the coat.

Lesson 1: If you don’t want to embarrass or hurt yourself, do not wear stiletto heel leather boots out when it’s raining. The water makes any surface slippery and unsafe to walk on. Especially find alternative chic footwear to places where you know the floor has the possibility of becoming extra slippery with water, such as places with marble/granite/tiled flooring. (Doi?) I guess that was the comedic dose of reality that SaTC needed.


I really draw inspiration from the way Carrie balances the volume of the heavy coats. (Picture to left) She tucks her sweetheart neckline tube top into a black pencil skirt to create a fitted silhouette underneath the coat. There are many woolen skirts available now at retailers such as J.Crew and Zara, and in all department stores. It’s a great alternative that will still keep you warm.

Winter coats add a definite bulk, but another example of how Carrie balance this is in the center picture. The signature red umbrella stays. Her beautiful polka dot dress has tulle underneath. To balance this volume on the bottom, Patricia Fields draws the eye upward to the brooch/button at the neckline, and has a very fitted upper half.


I would like to add that my approach to these pictures is an example of the fact that not only does everyone see fashion differently, but the same person will see fashion differently over time. The last time I saw the show was over a year ago, and I distinctly remember that my focus during this episode was not on the belts or the volume. I don’t even think I necessarily noticed those things as much; I was more taken by elements such as color and tulle. As we change, so does our take on style and inspiration.


On Dancing Fingers

In On Nails on November 6, 2011 at 8:00 pm


This Chicago inspired Chanel video got me thinking about the huge industry that surrounds nail color. There are blogs for nail polish fanatics with details about colors, types, seasons, product, etc. There are hundreds of manicure techniques, style tips for occasions and seasons, niche brands, and even trade shows. Nails have a life of their own.

Personally, the rows of bottles to pick from at the salon, or at the store for a DIY manicure are a delight. Choosing one, however, definitely causes issues for me. There is so much choice! OPI, OPI for Sephora, butter, Essie, Sally Hensen, NARS…the list is endless, and that is just the brands. I’ve had a different color on every finger trying to choose “The One” a countless number of times. I felt inspired to try something new this time around. This month, I’m wearing “Keep Me On My Mistletoes” (Sephora by OPI). It’s silvery with a touch of gold, and just a touch of shimmer (shimmer, not glitter).

Anyway, back to the advertisement.

The House of Chanel brings the glamour of theatre to nails in true off-beat Chanel style. Fingers, emulating legs, are dancing on a mirrored stage. They are seen sashaying up and down steps and spiraling stairs, swinging on strands of chains and pearls (because a Chanel video is incomplete without pearls) in true musical fashion. Chanel attaches a personality to each of the colors, where Dragon, Black Pearl, Inattendu, and Orange Fizz are like the divas of Moulin Rouge. The line up of chorus girls is made up by Blue Satin, Pearl Drop, Rouge Noir, etc.

They made me consider what colors I might wear later this fall. Though I may not immediately splurge for a Chanel nail color, I’m definitely inspired. My favorites are the Dragon, the Black Pearl, and the Orange Fizz. They sound like so much fun don’t they?

Lastly, I’d like to point out that the brilliant Chanel minds got really talented hand models to move so that consumers can see how the nail color moves and see it in different lights and angles. How will a still picture advertisement ever be enough again?!


On Fashion and Style.

In Uncategorized on November 3, 2011 at 1:13 pm

It would  definitely be an interesting study if someone were to give a hundred women $500 each to go into a specific store and find an outfit that they want to wear. The only restriction would be that they may not wear anything that they owned prior to this shopping spree.

My guess is that there will be a difference in each woman’s outfit. This is despite the fact that the same merchandise and spending amount was available to all of them, and that they were all dressing for the same weather.

The basis for my guess is that style is a visual expression. Very rarely will you find two people who dress exactly the same way. There will always be differences in the way people see fashion, and express themselves.

Mademoiselle Coco Chanel had a belief that while “fashion fades”, “[…] style remains the same.” Circa 1960, Yves Saint Laurent of French fashion said,“Fashions fade. Style is eternal”.

These famous designers were directional forces in modern fashion. Their ideas have stood the test of time. While Coco Chanel revolutionized women dressing with concepts such as the Little Black Dress, the tweed suit, and, jersey as a fabric, Yves Saint Laurent is renowned for creating the Le Smoking Tuxedo for women all around the world.

They were both onto something, and that is what I plan to explore here.

Whether it’s the Hermes Birkin or Anna Piaggi, Chanel’s two tone pumps or fringed hobo chic, the Olsen twins or Lady Gaga, whatever or whoever inspires me will be featured here. What I write here won’t always be about the current “it” bag or fashion. And even if it is, the idea is to explore the eternal quality of it rather than the fad. I want to know about people and styles, and perhaps understand how to integrate what’s current and “what’s in” into my forever.

Can the new cerulean booties be paired with the black dress in the closet? What about the white dress? Or how can the long necklace fad be incorporated? What is so special about the way Madonna or Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City dress?

Having become an image consultant, and having interacted with many well-dressed people, I have learned that there is a science behind the way well-dressed people style themselves. It is not just happenstance and never is it sheer good luck.

Style icons like Audrey Hepburn, David Beckham, Mary Kate Olsen, Sarah Jessica Parker, George Clooney, Jackie O, and Catherine Middleton inspire me; or sometimes there is a really interesting way a person on the public transit has dressed. I hope that these features about them will inspire you too.


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