Tag Archive: Fashion


The silver lining

 

The sterling metal can be your style statement for every occasion. For young and old alike, it’s the new gold

 

Supreeta Singh

 

 
Like every woman, actress Koneenica Banerjee loves to dress up in traditional wear and resplendent silver jewellery is her favourite pick. Wrapped in a classic black saree, her delicate bangles and earrings generate lilting melody as she shares her fashion mantra. “I love authentic silver ornaments. I used to have a huge bag of jewellery worth `12,000 which I would carry to the set every day. Since I have many friends in Delhi and Jaipur, I prefer getting it from there since the designes are exquisite,” says Koneenica.
Silver jewellery is fast gaining popularity among women and men alike as more functional and practical piece of ornament that can give gold diggers a run for their money. “Affordable and fashionable, silver has been in fashion for quite some time now. But more and more designers are experimenting with the metal in the way it is crafted in terms of designs and polish. And customers are more than eager to try different looks,” says Anargha Chowdhury of Anjali Jewellers.
At present, jewellery designers are captivated by floral and geometric designs. Green is the colour of the season and the use of precious and semi-precious stones embedded in silver is the latest trend. Globally, the demand is more for light-weight and delicate pieces that can be worn at both informal and formal occasions. Designer Manas Ghorai says, “Gold and platinum are expensive. So silver could be a good substitute. Currently, silver jewellery is combined with materials like wood, beads and glass to make it more contemporary. I also use enamels and stones like agate which has a remarkable variety of colours and texture.”
Unlike gold, which is shiny and bright, silver is known for its subtle charm. Its beauty lies in its simplicity. In a bid to enhance or combine that subdued elegance with art, Manas has recently launched a collection based on Pat paintings. Manas has done a course from Gemology Institute of America. “I was always fascinated by Orissa’s folk art. Because silver is enriched with tribal connotations, I decided to use Patachitra encasing them in silver pendants and earrings,” informs Manas. His workshop at Howrah employs 10 craftsmen from the surrounding areas. Priced between `500 and `15,000, each piece is handcrafted and exclusive.
Silver is also popular because of its affinity with the Indian skin tone. Jewellery designer Nilaanjana Chakraborty says, “Indian women look gorgeous in silver. I get orders for both light-weight and heavy jewellery. But most often, women want a single chunky piece, like a statement necklace or chandelier earrings or a chunky bracelet. Abstract shapes in brushed silver that look neither golden nor silvery are in vogue.” The designer has her craftsmen in Jaipur who chisel out the designs sent by her.
According to Nilanjana, the enthusiasm for silver began to gain momentum when socialites and celebrities flaunted the chic metal. She reflects, “I have experienced that the demand for silver increased when it became more visible in the media. Whenever a celebrity sports a certain piece of jewellery which is nice and exciting, people flock to the shops and it becomes a trend.” For example, in a recently concluded television series called Gaaner Opare, the protagonist only wore silver jewellery supplied by Anjali Jewellers.
Earlier, silver didn’t have as much re-sale value as gold, but now buying siver has become a good investment policy. “The price has increased from `56 to `65 per gram in the last few days. So hoarding silver accessories isn’t a bad idea after all,” says Manas.
Manas adds that most of his clients are high-profile. The age bracket hovers somewhere between 16 and 60 years, reveals Anargha. This means that silver can go beyond age factor and make anyone look attractive, trendy and stylish. No wonder, women are donning silver jewellery with Western wear like dresses and trousers too.

POWER DRESSING

 

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In today’s corporate world, one shouldn’t feel trapped in a basic-black-and-pearls dress code. There are too  many options now. Power dressing at work is emerging as a key factor in climbing the ladder of success

 

 

Supreeta Singh
Corporate culture in India is fast evolving. There is increasing demand for competent professionals triggering competition between the many deserving candidates. It’s important to set yourself apart from the crowd and you have to dress sharply to make your presence felt in office. While intelligence and efficiency are essential, what really clinches the deal is power dressing. If clothes communicate your aura, then you can imagine what a sloppily dressed person declares to the world. A well-groomed man or woman sends a subtle message that he or she means business.
Moushumi B Ghosh, a senior marketing professional, agrees, “Power dressing conveys that you are serious about your work and careful about details.”
Possible clients and employers are as impressed by an extraordinary CV as a neat outfit. In boardroom politics, a well-turned out person can dominate  proceedings. Ranju Alex, general manager, Courtyard by Marriott, Pune Hinjewadi observes, “We need to portray professionalism and yet be comfortable enough to be in those clothes for the entire day.”
When it comes to choosing what to wear, care must be taken of the occasion, because an employee represents his company and its image. Vipin Bhatia, marketing executive, McCain Foods India Pvt Ltd says, “On some occasions like formal functions or meetings, formal dressing is required, otherwise smart casuals or business casuals work.”
While Ranju loves to drape sarees at work, Moushumi is comfortable in dresses and salwar kameez.
Pushpesh Baid, managing director, Baid Group, reflects more sartorial styling. “My clothes range from formal to semi-formal, according to the day and the occasion. You have to look your best so that your employees and co-workers take you seriously. With split-second decisions in vogue, your appearance is critical,” he says.
Fashion designer Nida Mahmood has a few suggestions about power dressing. Sharp silhouettes, deep sombre colours, the right kind of footwear, matching accessories can do the trick. She recommends, “Bold and strong are the key words. Look for checks or solid colors for suits. For women it is a good idea to throw in colour with a scarf. Androgyny works well for women in terms of sporting jackets with pants. It is a good idea to team it with coloured blouses to bring in the strong and yet feminine feel. Men can play with ties. Slim fit jackets and trousers, button down shirts and the perfectly suited ties make a striking combination.”

Film: Khichdi

Director: Aatish Kapadia

Cast: Supriya Pathak, Anang Desai, Nimisha Vakharia, Rajeev Mehta, JD Majethia, Kesar Majethia, Markhand Soni

Rating: Good

 

Supreeta Singh

It’s a laugh riot. Even if you are not a huge fan of Khichdi the television series, the endearing and funny Parekh family in the film will win your heart. Their outrageous characteristics, hilarious conversations and crazy shenanigans will crack you up every minute of the two-hour long movie. This is the first time that a popular television sit-com has been adapted for the big screen and producer and actor JD Majethia must be applauded for accomplishing it without many hiccups. Khichdi: The Movie is a clean family entertainer rarely seen on Indian screens. Although it does not have a strong storyline to recommend it, what makes the film work is the way it is executed. It is a twisted tale of romance where all that goes well is turned into a mess. Himanshu (JD Majethia) wants to get married but his wants that his should be a legendary love story that has all ingredients of a masala film, like family objection, separation and final union of the two lovers. Unfortunately for him, when he meets the girl of his dreams everything falls into place smoothly. There is no family feud, their marriage gets fixed and everyone is happy. How Himanshu fulfills his dream of a dramatic love story with the help of his family is the film’s main story. The strongest points of the film are its script and acting. Director-writer Aatish Kapadia has enough one-liners and jokes that will keep the audience rocking in their chairs. There are no obscene dialogues, no sexual puns or innuendoes that are liberally used in some of the recent Bollywood comedy films. Even Gujaratis and Punjabis who are the butt of many of the jokes, will enjoy the film immensely too. Supriya Pathak as Hansa and Rajeev Mehta as Prafull share a chemistry that will give many established couples a run for their money. Anang Desai as the frustrated Babuji and Nimisha Vakharia as the comparatively more sensible Jaysree are perfect in their acts. Kesar Majethia and Markhand Soni (as Jacky and Chukki) who narrate the story are delightful. Watch out for the 50 Parminders, one of whom (Kirti Kulhari) becomes the beau of Himanshu. Their romantic exchanges consist of food and masala while the background music plays typical Bollywood strains. It is very cleverly done. Two incidents that stand out are when Satish Shah’s Ishwar arrives at the Parekh family’s house and the court scene where Hansa defends Himanshu. The most interesting thing about the film is that it does not have a single big star who supposedly draws big money. The film rides entirely on the shoulder of all the actors who are character artists. Cameo appearance by Farah Khan, Deven Bhojani and Paresh Ganatra are noteworthy. In any other mainstream Bollywood film they would have been relegated to secondary positions but here they prove their mettle with aplomb.

By Jaya Biswas

In the last scene in Lagaan the British cantonment leaves on horse carriages. The scene is telling in many ways and one of them is the link between the horse carriages and the British! Horse-drawn carriages, laced with flowers and bells producing a lilting melody, bring to our mind the legacies of the British Raj. “We have heard from our grandfathers that these horse carriages came to Kolkata during the reign of Lord Hastings. It was supposed to be the mode of conveyance for the elite class, like zamindars and British lords,” informs Shafi-ul-Rehman, a carriage driver who can be seen waiting for passengers by the Victoria Memorial with his fragile horse in tow. For students of English literature who have grown up on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice or Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes (who summons the Victorian taxi cabs all the time, especially those cabbies who double as his informants), seeing horse carriages strutting around the lush green expanse of the Maidan and the majestic Fort William is a treat. Over the years, the City of Joy has assimilated strong European influences and overcome the limitations of its colonial legacy in order to find its unique identity. Within their restricted area for movement, today horse-drawn carriages can be found only around the periphery of the Victoria Memorial. On normal days they charge around Rs 50 to Rs 60 for a short ride round the Memorial. The fare rises to Rs 100-200 or more during festivals like Christmas and New Year’s eve. Local residents are no longer their main clientle, forcing the tongawallahs to charge exorbitant amounts from foreigners who vie for that exotic little ride. Horse carriages in the India subcontinent trace their lineage to the British period. The roads were developed by the British and renovated from brick-dust to cement and finally to pitch covered specifically so that these carriages could ply. Taking a cue from the British, local zamindars and the entrenched elite started to use horse carriages as their mode of transport too. Though the carriages seen in Kolkata currently are open-hooded, the structure and name of carriages differed from place to place. A coach could be two-wheeled or four-wheeled; with coloured-glass windows or open seated. Generally, the wheels are large and made of wood. Horse carriages came into vogue as one of the most indigenous modes of transport across the country. Sometimes referred to as buggies or tongas, they are also called tumtum, jurigari or ekka in various parts of India. The drivers of such horse carriages are known as kochwans, sahis or tongawallahs. The tongawallahs of Kolkata do brisk business only during winter. “Earlier business used to be lucrative, but now there is little scope for us among the flashy cars and bikes,” rues Rehman. “The number of carriages in Kolkata which once surpassed 3000 has now been reduced to 20 or so,” he informs. And these tongawallahs may soon disappear too if People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has its way. In May 2010, PETA launched a characteristically eye-catching campaign with Bollywood starlet Nargis Bagheri of Garam Masala. The photograph shows the sexy actress on a horse dummy with only her long hair covering her modesty. Even as this outrageous image still circulates on the internet, PETA hopes to grab eyeballs and draw attention to the condition of horses used to pull tongas, carts and carry heavy loads. “Horse carriages are cruel and outdated and should be relegated to history books … in the city, a mixture of horses and traffic can make for a fatal combo for horses and passengers,” reads the PETA release, stating Nargis’s opinion on the same. However, the tongawallahs beg to differ. An angry Rafique, who has been in the profession for the last 25 years, lashes out, “We treat our horses well. We give them enough to eat and let them rest in shades while we sleep in the scorching sun. Most of us are emotionally tied to this profession. Though police harassment has made our lives miserable, we cherish it as the legacy of our forefathers.” Due to lack of mechanics in the city, the carriage drivers often face lots of problems in the maintenance of their carriages too. Many drivers are not the owners of the carriages. They work for others. The owners keep most of the earnings and the rest is distributed among the staff. The carriage drivers are not paid a salary but are given a commission of the earnings of the day. “The problems are all the same everywhere. One of my cousins who drive his tonga in a city like New Delhi is also facing the same problem. But the only difference is that irrespective of all hurdles, being the owner of the tonga, he does not have to give away all the earnings like us,” states Mehmood Miyan. Supporting Mehmood, a morose Rafique joins, “Now that we want to educate our children so that they fare better in life and upgrade their status, the meagre income does not even allow us to send our children to schools, leave alone arranging for proper fodder for my horse. Jobless for almost the whole year, we dare not hope for a better future. Acquiring a license is a tough job too.” At the end of the day, most tongas are parked at the Rajabazar stand. Some are kept on the Maidan while others sleep in the stables of Alipore and Park Circus. The horses can often be seen wandering on the grounds opposite Academy of Fine Arts. The other PETA pique is the traffic threat to horses. With the number of vehicles on the road increasing every day, horses are out of place on congested streets. Horse-drawn carriages have already been banned in Paris, London and several US cities. Almost three decades after her role of Basanti, the horse-carriage driver with her mare Dhanno in the iconic film Sholay, actress Hema Malini last year went against horses and espoused a ban on horse carriages in Mumbai. The Bollywood actress wrote to the Mumbai municipal commissioner on behalf of PETA. The letter read: “In Sholay, I had a terrific co-star named Dhanno. Luckily, this affable character will never know the misery that her cousins, who are forced to pull joy-carts, endure.” She said that “her heart breaks” whenever she sees the condition of the horses who are forced to give joyrides on beaches, parks and certain other areas of Mumbai. Back home, Kolkata remains an enigma to Indians and foreigners alike. It continues to puzzle newcomers and arouses an abiding nostalgia in the minds of those who have lived here. It will be heartbreaking if due to lack of patronisation, handful of beautiful carriages disappear from the streets in the coming years.

Eye candy

 Paa is one film that has had people talking for more reasons than one

 

Nasreen Khan

 Abhishek looks hot and how! He is one daddy that the whole country has been going gaga over. His look in Paa, which recently won four National Awards, still has women drooling. Pray what makes Abhishek so desirable? “Look at him in Paa. He looks sweet and sexy at the same time. Every woman wants to take him home to mummy,” exclaims 38-year-old Nakhat Sultana, a lawyer at Kolkata High Court. “I had felt like rushing into his arms just from watching the promos of the film,” declares college-goer Shruti Jaiswal. “He’s really come of age I must say and looks dashing with those glasses,” agrees Gita Baral, mother of a teenage son. Yes, you got it! It’s those glasses. No doubt Abhishek’s performed well, but it’s the glasses that have women of all ages drooling over him. Glasses were always an important fashion accessory. Be it the glamorous or the nerdy, retro or chic there are numerous frames and styles available in the market. And it is no longer “guys don’t make passes at girls who wear glasses”. Look at Alaska governor Sarah Palin. Her signature rimless glasses are hot fashion accessory. It’s not that glasses have suddenly appeared from nowhere. They have always been around. Remember the pogo glasses and the black square frames? It was only in the 90’s when contact lenses and especially coloured lenses came in that they went out of vogue. The old grandmother frames have always sat pretty on those who wanted to stand out in the crowd. Even actors started experimenting with eyewear and we had Preity Zinta sporting glasses in Kal Ho Na Ho and before her Hrithik Roshan sported a pair in Kaho Na Pyar Hai. But right now eye wear is the most ‘in’ thing. “To be honest I always liked my man with glasses. Even tried to make my boyfriend wear them even though the poor fellow didn’t need them!” chuckles Mita Banerjee, Bangalore based travel professional. “Strangely I didn’t like it when my husband took off glasses after his vision correction surgery,” confesses Mumbai based Sucheta Bhattacharya. And why should you go off your glasses when there are all kinds of options available? There are coloured frames, thick frames, narrow frames, rimless glasses, changeable frames and so much more. Today glasses are no more just for vision. They are much like the goggles that you select on the basis of your facial contours, your personality and lifestyle. “Glasses are more defined now,” shares designer and stylist Tejas Gandhi. A lot of people wear plain powerless glasses just to be fashionable. And with affluence being visible one gets to see frames, that are anything but cheap (albeit Chinese products making everything within everyone’s reach) being changed quite frequently. Seems like glasses are sitting pretty on almost everyone’s nose and calling for a change at the way we look. What with an over dose of sexuality all around the nerdy intelligent look is definitely what is appealing to everyone now. For designer Nil of Dev r Nil glasses are a style statement which the duo change every six months. “It’s the easiest way to change your facial look and go with the times,” he shares. Metrosexual look is passe says the designer and the androgenous look with lanky, unkempt guys with glasses turning the heat on. No wonder then that Abhishek has the women asking for more even though his look is anything but unkempt! n If you are the experimental types and use a lot of colour you can still go for coloured frames. Stress on the design and look for frames with interesting sidearms. n Wide rectangular frames look best on thin and oblong faces and are always in fashion. n Angular narrow eyeglass frames make a round face appear thinner and longer. n To keep the oval face’s natural balance, look for eyeglass frames that are wide. n A square face will look longer with narrow frame and it also softens the angles. n Those with dark skin tones should go for silver frames or even black with a bit of colour for a touch of contrast for a chic and sophisticated look. n Camel, khaki, gold, copper, peach, orange, coral, off-white, fire-engine red, warm blue and blond tortoise are good colour for those with peaches and cream complexion. n Those with olive skin tones the best eyeglass frame hues are black, rose-brown, blue-gray, plum, magenta, pink, jade, blue and darker tortoise.

 “Eyewear has a very strong intellectual, nerdy trend quotient and what it does for men is that it gives you that little bit of edge and you start looking very matured and responsible. It is almost like a man who you can take home to your mother. I think somewhere down the line it has a huge frivolous-control quotient. A man wearing glasses looks like someone who is educated, has studied, who thinks and probably takes responsibilities. There is certain amount of aura which is associated with it. Today if a woman is given a choice between choosing a reckless and daredevil kind of motorbike guy and someone who wears glasses and has a nine to five job and is responsible a lot of women will go for the latter. It is the security that comes with it and I think the look personifies that very strongly. A woman with glasses looks like someone who has a mind of her own. Fashion is about aspiration. And aspiration has a very psychological quotient. Whatever you don’t have you are willing to aspire to get that and so if a woman who is beautiful and yet wears glasses looks like someone who is independent and has a mind of her own. A classic example would be Jennifer Cavelleri from Love Story. She is the iconic girl who was young, poor, educated, independent, brilliant mind and she wore glasses! For Indian skin you should stick to dark brown and black. Tortoise shell looks very nice. Choose the frames depending on the length and width of your face. As for the colours, for example, someone with very dark eyebrows or someone like me who has a lot of facial hair covering half his face should refrain from wearing overtly dark glasses because then the face will become one black mask. Often pale people who wear dark glasses look very nice. Also dark glasses can compensate for very fine eyebrows as well. Depending on the width of your eyes and spacing between your brows and the length and breadth of your face glasses should be chosen” — Sabyasachi Mukherjee (Designer)

 “I liked Abhishek’s look in the film. It is normal and without any effect. It is how the role demanded it should be. I think he modelled it after two of his friends in politics — Mr Pilot and Mr Deora. I am no style icon and for me glasses are a personal choice. To me they are a necessary requirement for better vision. As a father I feel very proud to see my son not just excel in his acting but set a fashion trend as well. — Amitabh Bachchan

“My look was styled by Falguni Tha­kore. Both of us spent a lot of time with Balki working on the look. I am very happy with it. I personally love eyewear. Chrome hearts is a personal favourite.” — Abhishek Bachchan

“Geek look is in and spectacles are the new sunglasses. Solid blacks suit most faces but try whatever you fancy. Strangeness is considered cool so go ahead and be cool” — Anaita Adajania Shroff (Stylist)

“I started teaching a bit too young and my hair and eyewear became my identity so I couldn’t leave it. At a young age you try various things which are a little fancy and they have carried on with me. I enjoy them and they are more of a personal excitement than anything else. I like some very few designers and I like Cavalli and I wear them. I let myself have the luxury of wearing these geeky and sexy glasses if I may say so” — Arindam Choudhury (management guru)

Fashion designers Shantanu and Nikhil will complete 10 years in the fashion industry this year. A tete-a-tete with the designer duo…

Supreeta Singh

Say Kolkata and they blurt out Rosogolla! On a more serious note, they are bowled over by the city’s commitment to heritage and traditional art. Fashion designers Shantanu and Nikhil Mehra may be brothers but they are as different as chalk and cheese. If Shantanu is articulate with a subtle sense of humour, Nikhil is playful and fun.

Recently in the city to participate in the Blender’s Pride Fashion Tour 2010, the duo had only appreciation for Kolkata as a fashion conscious city. “Unlike other places in India, here you can really splurge because fashion is cheaper here. We have loads of clients from Kolkata who come to us in Mumbai. The state’s craftsmen and rich bank of embroidery and fabrics is unmatched. But the city is also ready to try out new things. We have done many weddings here where the bride was ready to try out gowns and drapes instead of sarees and lehengas,” said Shantanu.

The collection that they showcased at the tour was called Play Right, which drew its inspiration from heroines of director Woody Allen’s films. The colour palate consisted of black, white and red capturing an element of mystique. Duchesse satins and silk jerseys looked alluring when combined with brilliant jewel-like crystallised Swarovski work. “Our collection is for a woman who wants to experiment with her life. Although she is individualistic, she would not mind bringing exciting changes into her life. She will want to wear our clothes not just now but carry it with aplomb many years later,” said Nikhil.

The brothers are known for their exotic fusion wear. According to them, this is a trend that is here to stay and may become a classic. Nikhil said, “Even six years back, India was more traditional. But now the country is opening up to global influences and thus the concept of fusion was bound to strike a chord. This reflects the amalgamation of various cultures which is inevitable.”

Sport is a passion for both brothers. In the field of cricket, they have designed for Mumbai Indians jersey for the Indian Premier League. Interestingly, Shantanu was a tennis player and had represented Delhi at the national level. No wonder sports personalities like Sania Mirza, Zaheer Khan, Irfan Pathan, Glen McGrath, Stephen Fleming and Serena Williams have endorsed the brand. Their penchant has also made them the first ever designers from India and third ones from all over the world to tie-up with sportswear giant Adidas after Stella McCartney and Yohji Yamamoto. Ask them about it, and their faces light up. “Oh yes! It was challenging as well as stimulating to bring together the practicality of sportswear and the finesse of fashion. Our first range was inspired by New York taxis and the garments were in black and white. Our latest collection is inspired by Goth. The theme is adventurous meant for the age group of 16 to 21 years. It’s ready-to-wear affordable luxury. The mainstay is the silhouette which is comfortable and chic,” informed Shantanu.

What’s next for Shantanu and Nikhil? “We are in expansion mode. We plan to open our sixth store in Hyderabad after opening one in Delhi. There is a desire to be more committed to our signature lines and make Shantanu Nikhil a better brand,” signed off Nikhil.

 

Supreeta Singh

Gorgeous fashion designer Nandita Mahtani has legs that can give any professional model a inferiority complex. Tall, blonde, sexy and dressed in a simple black dress, she drew more eyeballs, catcalls and claps than many of her models.
Recently in Kolkata to showcase her resort and evening wear at the Blender’s Pride Fashion Tour 2010, Nandita proudly announced her Kolkata connect. “My father is from Kolkata and we have few relatives here. Jewellery designer Raj Mahtani is one of them. I was here for one of the Indian Premier League (IPL) matches and this is my second visit to the city. I will definitely come back soon,” she says.
Nandita has been travelling for the last few days before landing in Kolkata. Just back from Paris where she went on a business trip, she had been busy with the fashion tour as well. However, she looked relaxed and quiet much like the women she designs for. “My clothes are breezy, feminine and comfortable. I design clothes that I would like to wear myself,” she emphasizes.
Known for her stunning collections, Nandita’s garments cover the two extremes. There are scores of formal evening wear that are ideal for the clubbing and partying. The other range is resort wear that is easy and breathable. She says, “Travelling is a passion. Wherever I go, whether it’s a village, beach, forest or a metropolis I pick up elements that go into the making of my creations. I put them together on the basis of my mood and emotions.”
Apart from her seasonal collections, Nandita caters to a wide base of clients most of whom opt for multi-purpose clothing. The designer loves to mix-and-match her outfits. For example, she says, a tunic dress can be worn as a single piece and teamed up with churidars for an ethnic touch.
“I like clothes that are effortless and can be managed easily. Today, young girls do not mind wearing an off-shoulder dress to a wedding and then move into a nightclub in the same dress. Usually, the older generation sticks to traditional sarees but recently a woman picked up eight heavily embroidered kaftans for a wedding. So you can see there is a shift in what women want to wear,” Nandita reasons.
She also feels women should be careful about what suits them and what does not. “Focus on your best features. Whatever flaws you may have, they can be corrected with the right mix of fabrics, accessories and styling,” she recommends.
Personally, Nandita is addicted to classic colours like white and black. She says that to keep her team happy, she wore a blue dress at one of the fashion shows but now she is again back to black. Her friends have been asking her to wear more colours and she is trying hard to be more adventurous with her own wardrobe.
As a veteran in the profession, Nandita knows all the tricks of her trade. Her designs are available in Paris, London, US, Australia, Italy, Middle East, South Africa and other places. “I am blessed with a wonderful team. I look after the creative part and my team looks after the business. My sister Anu manages everything for me,” she says.
With so much under her belt, Nandita has few words of wisdom for young fashion designers. “Stay true to yourself. It is a very competitive profession. Don’t get too mesmerized by adulation. Focus, instead, on your collection. You are bound to succeed if you have it in you,” she smiles.
One thing that makes Nandita unhappy is the degree of plagiarism in the fashion industry. She fumes, “It’s insane! Step out of my boutique and there are so many small stores that rip off my design and sell it for Rs 200. How can you ever compete with that? My only safeguard is a faithful clientele who value quality.”
Last but not the least, what would recommend for young girls going out on a first date? “Nothing too short or revealing. Even if you are wearing a short dress, then keep the top part covered. For instance wear full sleeves. But if the dress is off-shoulder wear it long. She can put on a blazer also for a classic look. There is a thin line between sexy and cheap, so be careful,” she signs off.

Nasreen Khan

Kolkata has suddenly become the cynosure of fashion eye. Those who were lucky enough to get the invites were literally breathless with rushing from one venue to another. There was the sixth edition of the popular Blenders’ Pride fashion show and there was the first Kolkata Couture Week. Thankfully the other show, Indian Fashion Carnival, was postponed at the last minute.
Technically, the Kolkata Couture Week (KCW) was the first such show, but for most it was Kolkata Fashion Week (KFW) in its third edition, albeit with a new organiser. Given the response to the previous KFWs, Kolkata wasn’t really geared up for big business. And the Couture Week too didn’t bring in much for designers. What then is the purpose of such Fashion Weeks and why so many of them?
In terms of glamour, there was only Mugdha Godse and Diana Hayden besides Tollywood’s  Rituparna Sengupta as showstoppers. Among the known names from the fashion fraternity, none of the Kolkata biggies were there.  Agnimitra Paul pulled out and, if reports are to be believed, even Vikram Phadnis nearly backed out at the last minute. Allegations and counter allegations threaten to get murkier. But how does it tell on the city’s image?
“I would not want to say anything against the show since it will not speak well about my own city. All I can say is that the organisers suddenly changed my show date without even informing me. How do you expect me to be there when I was not even been sent an official invite till the last minute?” asks Agnimitra.
Others like Vikram Phadnis would rather brush off the glitches saying, “I wasn’t aware of the infrastructure in Kolkata. But I’m happy with my show and I’m looking forward to doing more shows in the city.” Some like designer Arjun Agarwal were happy with the KCW. “The show was fantastic and I got a lot of new clients as well as good publicity,” he said. He did concede that though it was good for local designers the KCW did not bring a lot of outstation business.
Another designer, Tejas Gandhi, who had showcased at the last KFW was vehement in his rejection of KCW. “I did not participate because I was not interested. It was such a letdown. There are no buyers and there is no business. What is the point in investing money in the collection when I won’t get any buyers?” he asks. It is a known fact that big names in the fashion fraternity get invited to the shows. So they simply showcase a collection for free. Lesser known designers have to shell out big money besides investing in terms of designing the collection as well as the models. So without buyers the whole thing is a waste of time and money. But, as Arjun points out, it is good publicity for the designers and they do manage to get new clients from among the audience if the collection is to their liking. Besides media coverage is the added incentive.
Designer Arnab Sengupta has showcased at various fashion weeks like the Dubai Fashion Week, the Wimbledon Fashion Week and Indian Premiere London Fashion Week recently but he is not willing to invest in the fashion week held in his own city.
“When the first fashion week happened a lot of designers came hoping to find new buyers. But as you can see even the city’s own top rung designers have kept away. It is clear that they do not take it seriously simply because it lacks quality,” he points out.
A well-known Delhi based designer did admit, off the record, that the various fashion weeks suddenly sprouting all over the country are more of con jobs where the organizers are making the money and the designers are merely happy getting the free publicity. It is the lesser known designers, who have to pay to showcase at the fashion weeks, who are losing out. “I’d rather do a good fashion shoot or a fashion show in a different city to get more clients than spend money over such a fashion week,” says Arnab.
“Most fashion weeks lack credibility. Going by the allegations and the mismanagements and waning of interest it is time the FDCI stepped in to curb the circus in the name of fashion,” said another well known designer on condition of anonymity. Nevertheless, the fashion fraternity is definitely providing a lot of fodder to those who can make the best out of it.
The man behind the first KFW, Yudhajit Dutta, brushes aside the allegation and says it is normal to have glitches but alleges that the recently held KCW was not what it could have been because the organizers did not spend the kind of money required for such events. Sayantan Bhattacharya of Idea Weaves, the organizers of the KCW, on his part puts the blame on the previous organizers. “Allegations of nonpayment and other mismanagement by the previous organizers made it difficult for us to get the right people on board. Also we did not get the support from our hospitality partner,” he complains. But he does admit to some issues that need attention and assures that the next KCW to be held in February will be a better organized affair.
Ace city designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee has always maintained that there should be only one Fashion Week in the country. “Having so many fashion weeks will open a Pandora’s box and we will soon have a Jhumritalaiya  Fashion Week, Ahmedabad Fashion week and so on,” he says. Designers like Agnimitra, Arnab and Tejas second him.
“Besides the Delhi and the Mumbai fashion weeks the others are all stunts and you will not have international buyers coming for 15 fashion weeks in the country,” says Tejas. But the various fashion weeks are in no hurry to shut shop.
Yudhajit Dutta is probably having the last laugh. He is now on to greener pasture. Look out for another first from his kitty in October this year. Though Kolkata is not the destination this time he does not give up the idea of the city being a good market for such ventures.

Right Up Fashion Street

Supreeta Singh

Kolkatans will get a fair share of high fashion, style and glamour on September 11 and 12 when the Blender’s Pride Fashion Tour (BPFT) 2010 lands in the city. The extravaganza is expected to bring in a lot of sophistication, colour, and spunk with some of the best designers participating in the show. Ask Wendell Rodricks and he says, “Both fashion weeks and fashion tours are important. There is one big difference though. Fashion weeks are serious business enterprises. A fashion tour can be fun but one can always turn it around and sell special trunk collections in each city one visits.”
Wendell’s collection is called ‘Eye Candy’ which focuses on cocktail lounge mood. Crisp linens, butter soft jerseys and sensual silks create a lineup of resort glamour. “All garments are practical and clients are rushing to buy this collection. Even the mini dresses are making good business as they can be treated as blouses and worn with trousers, jeans or even a salwaar or churidaar,” says Wendell.
Designer Mandira Wirk too is excited about her visit to the city. Inspired by the Hollywood classic Breathless, her collection is an ode to the fun, fearless female. She says, “The heroine of the film Patricia was a woman ahead of her times. My garments bring two generation of women together to showcase her timeless feminine side.”
Resort tunics form the mainstay of Surily Goel’s collection called ‘An Anecdote’. Long ruffled peasant dresses, lace-trimmed tunics, and satin moulded into flowers on burn-out party dresses with flutter sleeves are the highlights. For all three designers the response has been phenomenal.
Talking about Kolkata as a fashion hub, she says, “The city is definitely progressing. Designers like Anamika Khanna and Sabyasachi Mukherjee have made us all proud.”
However, Wendell loves Kolkata for its food and women. “For me Kolkata is the foodie’s destination. I binge on fish dishes and mishti doi. Also, Bengali women are the best in India. I find them very beautiful, curvaceous and sexy,” signs off Wendell.

 

Sudipta Dey and Supreeta Singh
Till now it was Delhi and Mumbai which were known to host fashion weeks back to back, but next week Kolkata beats the two fashion hubs as it gets ready to host three major fashion extravaganzas, starting September 9.
Kolkata was known to be the least fashion conscious city of the country until recently, but somehow the city has woken up to high fashion. Not only nationally acclaimed designers are visiting the city with their individual shows, the city has opened up to the concept of designer stores. Many multi-designer stores are opening up that house both nationally and internationally acclaimed brands. And now three fashion shows are taking place in the city simultaneously — Gitanjali Lifestyle Kolkata Couture Week from September 9 to 12 at Swissotel, Indian Fashion Carnival from September 10 to 12 at the Helipad Ground, Salt Lake and Blenders Pride Fashion Tours on September 11 and 12 at ITC Sonar.
Though the Indian Fashion Carnival was the last to make the announcement Pratik Sen of Mindscape One is unperturbed by the fact that the three shows are overlapping. “We had already planned and decided the dates. So, there is no chance of changing it. Moreover, all the shows have different agendas,” he says.
Different agenda it is. Indian Fashion Carnival will be more about the natural fibre, as they are promoting Khadi through the casual wear collection of the designers. Kolkata Couture Week is a bridal show and Blenders’ Pride will concentrate on evening and party wear.
Playing it safe, Idea Weavers Pvt Ltd, organizers of the Couture Week, say that in India couture is synonymous with elaborate bridal wear, which attracts the maximum number of buyers. Interestingly, they have made a database of boutiques and wedding planners who will serve as resource for reaching out to prospective clients.
While the agenda and the theme have been set aside, the designers’ line up for each of the fashion weeks are pretty impressive. Kolkata is all set to turn into the fashion capital of the city with almost the whole of the country’s fashion fraternity in attendance. Starting from Neeta Lulla, Shantanu Nikhil, Raghavendra Rathore, Wendell Rodricks, Mandira Wirk, to Bibi Russell, James Ferreira, Vikram Phadnis, Archana Kocchar, all will be showing their creations in a span of four days.
Now, what remains to be seen is the number of buyers turning up for the show, although Blenders’ Pride show is not about the buyers. Not only business, the invitees will be divided too. For once Kolkata will be spoilt for choice as to which fashion show to choose.

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