Friday 18 April 2014

Indian Bridal Wear: Is Traditional Out?

The other day I found myself in a state of disbelief as I had spent a whole 45 minutes browsing Google for the latest Indian bridal wear. Knowing me, this is entirely unbelievable as I've never taken an interest in Indian clothing or bridal wear, for that matter. I've always been the one to despise wearing anything Indian. Firstly, most of the local RTW shops never have anything that fits me, especially around the bust. It's like everything is made for a size 8 with no curves. However,  I actually surprised myself and I did enjoy dressing up quite traditionally in a shalwar kameez for an event celebrating the Indian Republic Day:

It's pretty fun to dress up traditionally once in a while. The process of picking something that fits can be a bit iffy if you're shopping in a reasonably small store but after you've found something, the rest is just fun. From picking matching bangles and shoes, you feel a lot more dolled up than wearing a bodycon clubbing.

Whilst I was browsing as though I was on a quest to find my nonexistent daughter her perfect sari, I became appreciative of the sheer beauty in some of the latest designs.

Indian bridal wear takes a lot of work, especially embroidery. From my knowledge, saris and lenghas are the most prominent forms of bridal wear. I've always imagined a traditional Indian wedding to have the bride in a deep red sari with rich gold embroidery. Long gone are the days of that!

Shelley Chhabra

I came across a very talented designer, Shelley Chhabra. She designs heavily embroidered pieces in a variety of colours such as baby pink, deep red and fuchsia.

Shelley Chhabra.
Red lengha with detailed gold embroidery.

Shelley Chhabra.
Pastel pink lengha with gold embroidery.

Shelley Chhabra.
Maroon lengha with gold embroidery.

What I like about Shelley Chhabra is that there is a clear sense of tradition in the designs, yet they appeal to the modern, westernised Indian woman who wants to feel sexy at her wedding, but also wants to maintain her roots.

Manish Malhotra

Now for seriously upscale looks, the most renowned designer would have to be Manish Malhotra. He designs extremely elaborate designs for India's elite. I was seriously in awe at his couture collection. The amount of work going into each design is incredible.

Manish Malhotra Couture.
: Red raw silk lengha intricately hand-embroidered zardozi motifs all around. Densely embroidered contrasting black velvet border on the hemline. Accentuations with peals, Swarovski’s and kundan stones. 

Blouse: Short raw silk U-neck choli with embroidery on the borders and deep overlap back. 

I actually took the exact description for the silk lengha above as I wanted to truly show the incredible work in the design. To use Swarovski crystals on a lengha takes Indian couture to a new length.

Manish Malhotra Couture.
Pink georgette sari with hand-embroidered zardozi motifs, booties and hand-sewn Nakshi embroidery on the borders. 

Blouse: Contrasting blue velvet blouse piece with heavy embroidery and tassels. 
Petticoat: Matching unstitched butter crepe petticoat.

The above may me a bit too bright for a bride but I could definitely see pieces like this becoming the norm for those who want glamour and glitz. I personally adore this design because I love the combination of black and neon pink. It's something incredibly original and unique, in terms of Indian wear.

So overall, I actually don't think traditional is out at all. Yes, things are changing and weddings in India are being taken to a whole new level but the designers out there are getting things right by keeping some traditional roots in the designs but integrating new colours, fabrics and even crystals. Although Indian clothing is something I really do have little knowledge of, I'd love to see where the future of Indian fashion will go!

Photo credits:,

Sunday 13 April 2014

Alexander Wang x H&M: A Genius Collaboration

Versace. Margiela. Isabel Marant. Matthew Williamson. H&M has collaborated with some of the world's most prestigious designers but I could not be more excited for the Alexander Wang collection.

The news couldn't have been broken in a more dramatic way either. A video was released on Wang's official Instagram page which showed a countdown to one of fashion's most epic synergies:

Mass Sales on the Horizon 

I actually believe that this could become H&M's top selling designer collaboration of all time, surpassing Karl Lagerfeld and Donatella Versace. Why?

Well, for one, when you announce a collaboration as huge as this via the designer's social media, as opposed to the store's website, you are bound to receive a hell of a lot more publicity. This campaign almost has shock value. Nobody saw it coming. All of a sudden, there's an Alexander Wang x H&M Coachella event, featuring Iggy Azalea? Woah. Where were the press releases or leaked sources?

From this Instagram picture of Iggy, we can see definite leather and graphic print influences. More than anything, those high-leg boots are insanely gorgeous.

Wang is all about the youth. He's a designer that understands streetwise aesthetics very well and embraces the concept of using modern, innovative fabric techniques. Previous collaborations, such as Matthew Williamson's, for instance, have a narrower target audience. It's fair to say that whilst Williamson is an incredible designer, his designs are very feminine and colourful, whilst Wang is edgy and limitless in his work. This well definitely sell to H&M's young demographic and I'm confident of that, even though we've seen no design previews yet!

90s graphic logo on mesh sweatshirt at Spring RTW 2014.

I credit H&M for continuing to collaborate with such high-end designers. It's wonderful to be able to have affordable designer pieces out there for the everyday shoppers who simply can't afford to have NET-A-PORTER as their homepage. This is definitely a venture that I will be continually following up on.

Leather cut-outs at Spring RTW 2013. 

H&M x Alexander Wang will release on November 6th.

Photo credits:

Monday 7 April 2014

Black is the New Black: 10 Buys I'll Never Regret

As of late, I've started to consider whether some of my previous purchases have been worth it. I've definitely learnt the hard way when it comes to being sensible, but I was once a self-proclaimed impulse shopper. 

'People who like to shop for fun are more likely to buy on impulse. We all want to experience pleasure, and it can be a lot of fun to go shopping and imagine owning the products we see that we like. Once we start experiencing pleasure as a result of this sense of vicarious ownership, we’re more likely to buy those products so that we can continue to experience that pleasure' - a simple psychological breakdown of impulse shopping (Ian Zimmerman). 

Fashion A.D.H.D.

So does that mean that all impulse shoppers are prone to buying things they will inevitably regret in the future? Probably. If you experience 'vicarious ownership' and you have to purchase a new LBD to receive instant gratification, chances are you will rapidly lose interest in the item after a while. It makes sense when you come to think about it. How many of us can honestly say that we don't get bored of the clothes we buy after a couple of wears?

Personally, I realise now that I hit an extreme when I would buy things to wear once and refuse to wear them again. I still have no idea why I did this, considering I'm in such a privileged position to even have new things to wear every day. I suppose it was an image thing... perhaps I wanted to continuously recreate my image.

Staple Items >>> 

Before I get too psychological, I will move on to talk about some of my own purchases. Everyone's familiar with the saying '____ is the new black', but black will never go out of style in fashion. Wearing all-black is actually a huge trend. It's one of those colours that you can always use as the base of your outfit and then colour block, add white for a monochrome look, or experiment with metallics. It's versatile and it suits everybody so if you're an impulse shopper too, consider whether what you're buying will be worn in a few months time. Is it seasonal? Will it suit day and night looks? If you're unsure, go for something black and you won't have any issues.

I've gathered 10 items that I believe I'll get a lot of wear out of...

Clutch with wrist strap, Jasper Conran at Debenhams. 

Faux leather shorts, New Look.

Lace-up biker boots, Schuh. 

Silicone watch with black dial, Marc by Marc Jacobs.

Cropped blazer, H&M.

Quilted sweatshirt, River Island.

Loafers, Primark. 

Shearling jacket, River Island. (P.S. much cheaper alternative to the Acne jackets). 

Studded leggings, Versace for H&M.

High-waist tuxedo leggings, Topshop. 

Friday 4 April 2014

Fashion Education & Networking: Only for the Elite?

After recently thinking about the state of fashion education in the UK, I think it's fair to say that if you don't have spare thousands lying around, you're probably better off skipping the education part. As someone studying English with Film, I understand the difficulties in having conflicting interests. The pressure to choose a degree which will lead to a highly-paid job is immense. However, in today's economic climate, gaining a first does not automatically equal a good job.

I think people should study what they are genuinely interested in, rather than focusing too much on what is considered a 'hard' or 'soft' subject, although this can be increasingly difficult if you have interests on the opposite ends of the scale. Personally, I chose not to do a fashion degree (e.g. fashion journalism) as I felt it might narrow my career paths in the future, whereas an English degree is undoubtedly more broad. 

So what happens if I complete my three years and still have a burning desire to gain an education in fashion? Well, this is where I've been struggling to find accessible paths to take. When The Condé Nast College of Fashion & Design first opened in April 2013, I was incredibly excited. To have an educational institution created by Condé Nast is huge in itself. 

Students working at the Conde Nast College of Fashion & Design.

The company has founded massively successful publications worldwide, including Vogue, Glamour and GQ. I couldn't think of a better company to teach me the ins and outs of fashion journalism. Clearly, I didn't expect the fees to be cheap but realistically, the prices are probably way too high for me to even consider attending without a scholarship. The Vogue Fashion Certificate, for instance, is £7,920 for a ten-week course! 

In my opinion, if you're looking to educate yourself in the industry but you can't afford such high fees, I would look into The London College of Fashion courses. I've completed a Fashion Media short course in the past and I would recommend doing something similar as you will be taught by an industry expert.  Again, the prices still aren't cheap but you do learn a lot in a span of a few days. 

The LCF BA (Hons) Fashion Design & Technology Show 2009.

You Can't Sit With Us 

As I was researching the education aspect, I also wondered what was out there in terms of fashion networking groups. I came across a popular fashion members group called 'The Industry', which meet regularly to attend events hosted by world-renowned designers including Lulu Guinness. There's also events such as digital conferences, where the likes of Matthew Williamson talk about the future of e-commerce. Sounds incredible right? Well, all looked great until I saw what was required to join... 

Ah, so it's all for professionals. I should have guessed. At this point, I was starting to wonder why there is so much knowledge out there for existing professionals, rather than students or people with less than 2 years of industry experience. I tweeted the company to ask whether there any talks of building a new platform for younger people, yet I haven't quite received a response yet! 

Networking should really be about young people meeting up and sharing contacts so why isn't there more for us? Could it be that our 'student' status implies that we are less knowledgeable about the industry? If so, I would completely disagree as I believe there are many people my age with a vast amount of knowledge about public relations, journalism, styling, trend forecasting, you name it. We're not all giddy teenagers looking to join the industry because we believe it will be full of glamour. Some of us are mature enough to attend conferences and network with experts because we are fully serious about our passions. 

In the end, I did find one event which ticked all the boxes: Boost: London Fashion Networking (Featuring Noelle Reno). Early Bird tickets are available for £7.50. Finally, an event which sees full integration between students and professionals! 

Noelle Reno, fashion entrepreneur and former model.