Category Archives: World of Designing

Runway Leads to India: Marchesa Spring 2013

Designers Keren Craig and Georgina Chapman launched Marchesa only in 2004 and today they are one of the top choices for the red carpet. They use delicate, sheer fabrics, flowy silhouettes, a wide array of colors and often global inspired designs that give their dresses a boho touch.

Did you know that Marchesa was launched on the red carpet by Renee Z during the London premier of Bridget Jones: Edge of Reason in 2004. This dress used Indian silks in the typical maroon-red color and was embellished heavily with golden threads and beads.

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Not a fan of this dress but hats off to Renee for choosing it and carrying it so well

Some other stars who wore Indian inspired gowns on the red carpet:

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Mary J Blige at Cannes, 2008. I really like this one.

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Diane Kruger at the Golden Globes, 2005. This is SO perfect for a Bollywood item song!

For their Spring 2013 runway collection, they looked at India for inspiration again. And they sure did an amazing job.

They used characteristic Indian colors like Maroon, Gold, Orange, Fuchsia and Deep Blue. They used silhouettes that remind you of the epic Indian sari with lots of embellishment, of course. There were also simpler, but elegant outfits that comprised of a tunic top and cropped pants, much similar to our Salwar/Churidar-Kameez.

I find the collection very wearable. If you look at the cuts, fabrics, colors and embellishments, you will be amazed to see how smoothly Indian embroidery and silhouettes have been conjured to create an overall non-Indian look. By using fabrics like brocade and silk and by incorporating embroidery and embellishments that are very typical of traditional Indian outfits, they pretty much covered what Indian fashion stands for.

I would love to see more of such pieces on the Red Carpet in the coming years.

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(This is the first of the ‘India Inspired Designer Collection’ series).

Oscar De La Renta–Favorite Red Carpet Dresses

Oscar De La Renta has been a favourite for Red Carpet goers. He was known for his glorious, feminine dresses that have gorgeous textures, soft colors, delicate fall and of course, those pretty ruffles. This Dominican designer has dressed famous celebrities, including Jackie Kennedy, Sarah Jessica Parker and Tina Fey. His evening dresses and red carpet gowns are an easy choice.

His death due to cancer is dismaying. This legend is leaving behind a big black hole in the high fashion and couture industry.

Looking back at Red Carpet sightings, it is amazing to see how many of the best looks have been Oscar De La Renta.

Here are some of my favorite looks.

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Amy Adams – Oscars 2013

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Taylor Swift – MET Gala 2014

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Anne Hathaway – Tony Awards 2009

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Jennifer Lawrence – Screen Actors Guild Awards, 2011

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Jennifer Garner – Oscars 2014

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Nina Dobrev – Instyle Golden Globe Awards After Party, 2013

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Emma Watson – Harry Potter & Deathly Hallows Part 2 World Premiere, 2011

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Cameron Diaz – Oscars 2010

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Sarah Jessica Parker – MET Gala 2014

All pictures from Internet

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History and Fashion

If you look back into history, really back into history, you will find interesting styles – hairstyles, dressing styles and concepts. What is even more interesting is to see why people dressed the way they did. There were rules, hierarchies, obnoxious beliefs and interesting stories. History is a very interesting topic. It is so fascinating to know how people lived in olden times. And just think of it, there was a time when there were kings-queens, not a world of normal, working adults. How did the queens live? They wore elaborate dresses and actually had helpers help them sit and stand because their dresses were so heavy. What did the Kings do whole day? Address courts and fight on horses? How did man survive when he did not have a safe place to live and had to wander through forests having experimental food and fighting for life every day? How did he really invent shoes?

For me, all of it is really fascinating. And magical, to some extent.

We can trace back clothing and accessories way back to 3100 BC to Ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilizations. Ancient Greek, Rome, Early and Late Middle Ages, Northern Renaissance – all of these eras are superbly charming. Clothing gets richer, more elaborate and ornate.

But guess what, history repeats. And how! Designers have taken inspiration regularly from olden time’s art and costumes. Some influences are blatant, while some are subtle. I like both of them. For my first assignment in the History of Fashion class, I was allotted Medieval Ages (300 – 1500 BC); so the costumes are not ornate. Just interesting.

Here are the old pictures and their modern day influences.

Wimple: A garment worn around the neck and chin, and which usually covers the head.

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Portrait of a Young Woman in a Pinned Hat (1435) painted by Rogier van der Weyden

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Modern day wimple. Shot by Mario Testino for Vogue UK Sept 2011

Bliaut: a women’s and also a men’s overgarment worn from the eleventh to the thirteenth century in Western Europe, featuring voluminous skirts and horizontal puckering or pleating across a snugly fitted under bust abdomen. The sleeves fit closely from the shoulder to approximately the elbow, and then widen from the elbow to drape to floor- or nearly floor-length.

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Terence’s Comedies, St. Albans Abbey, mid 12th century, Folio 10 recto

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Gareth Pugh Sprint 2013. May not be a perfect adaptation of the original concept but I just loved the ruffles and fall on this outfit!

Hennin: A headdress in the shape of a cone or “steeple”, or truncated cone worn in the late Middle Ages by European women of the nobility.

Philosophy Presenting the Seven Liberal Arts to Boethius (Paris, French, about 1460 – 1470) attributed to Coëtivy Master, in the Consolation of Philosophy

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Jean Paul Gaultier Haute Couture Fall-Winter 2013/2014, Paris

Houppelande: An outer garment, with a long, full body and flaring sleeves, that was worn by both men and women in Europe in the late Middle Ages.

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A panel painting, part of Ghent Altarpiece, Belgium

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Dance Maestro Astad Deboo showcasing ‘Jade’ by Monica and Karishma at Lakme Fashion Week India 2014

Segmentae: Square or round decorative medallions that were placed in different areas of the tunic for decoration.

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Mosaic of Archangel Michael from Church of Santa Maria dell Ammiraglio, Palermo, Italy

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Anuj Sharma’s ‘Button Masala’ at Lakme Fashion Week India 2014

Clavi: Vertical stripes which decorate the front and back of a tunic.

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A historic piece in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

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Chanel Pre-Fall 2011

And I can just go on and on. There are so many beautiful costumes and their modern day designs that it is really inspiring. Check out pictures of Dolce & Gabbana Fall 2013 collection on this lovely blog. Their collection, also inspired by medieval times, is mesmerizing. All their models look like Princesses.

If History, Art and Fashion interest you, check out Byzantine, Italian Renaissance, Medieval Times, Ancient Greek and Roman Empires costumes. You will be surprised with what you find.

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This post features on Blogadda’s Spicy Saturday’s Picks (4th Oct ‘14)

Step Dance On Runway

I recently posted an interesting video on my Facebook page. It was Rick Owen’s Spring 2014 collection fashion show from Sept 2013. Interestingly, his models weren’t slim, tall and fair. They were black and had real bodies. They did not do the regular catwalk. They were not required to look pretty. They had their faces angry and gritty. They bared their teeth and looked ferocious while they performed the step-dance. Their energy was violent. It is indeed a captivating video.

Stepping is an old form of dance that originated in Africa. It is an aggressive dance in which the dancer’s entire body is used to create rhythms through footsteps and hand clapping. This dance is usually performed in groups.

African tribal men used this dance to attract and impress women. Their step-dance involved rolling their eyes and baring their teeth. More aggressiveness was considered more attractive.

Step-dance was very popular in American Universities amongst African-American students. Today, there are stepping dance groups and competitions.

The point of all this is that fashion picks up lot of things from history. History repeats itself. We see how trends of sixties and seventies keep coming back; how vintage is totally in suddenly. If you go back and look at how people dressed in 3000 BC in various dynasties, you will see familiar designs. Many of today’s styles have been picked up from there.

Rick Owen’s Spring 2014 sportswear collection is called ‘Vicious’. His way of presenting his collection through vicious step-dance has been very innovative and made everyone sit up and watch.

You MUST watch the video. It is spectacular.

We were shown this video in our History of Fashion class.

The Story of Block Prints

Block printing originated in China about 2000 years ago. In India, this art became popular in the 12th century in Rajasthan (a western state of India). The royals wore rich costumes featuring intricate motifs. Textile printing later flowed into the neighbouring state of Gujarat (the state immediately south of Rajasthan and also my home state). Indigo seeds have been discovered at the ancient archaeological sites of Mohenjodaro and Harappa. Even today, indigo and white is the most common and popular color combination in block printed fabric.

Block printed fabric is very visible in Gujarat in the form of home decor products like table cloth, bedsheets, cushion covers, wall hangings as well as clothing like saris. A very typical motif used is paisley. It is known as ‘keri’ in India, which means raw mango. Indeed, paisley looks like raw mango and that’s how the motif originated. Other popular motifs were peacocks, horses, birds and flowers. Now, of course, prints have become wilder and quirkier. There are abstract prints, geometric designs and even pop art.

Block printing was originally done using wooden blocks. You will be amazed to know that in many parts of India, even now this method is used. It is what gives the print a rustic, ancient look.

Wooden block printing is a very time-consuming method and requires a lot of precision and skill. Motifs, patterns and border designs are manually printed on using wooden blocks. The colors cannot overlap, motifs cannot be unevenly placed and there cannot be strike-offs. One has to wait for a section to dry before the next one can be printed (to avoid overlap or rubbing off of colors). But this is what makes the art so unique and valuable.

Nowadays, chemical dyes are very common but originally vegetable and plant dyes were used. They were organic and very natural. Even today, most of Rajasthan and Gujarat printed textiles use organic colors. This is the reason why colors tend to run off when washed. But again, the beauty of these fabrics comes from use of earthy colors like indigo, dark green, rust, red and mustard. These are the colors of the royals of the past and Indian art.

I have been greatly smitten by the motifs and patterns of block printing because I have grown up seeing and wearing them. When I worked in Maharashtra (another western state of India) and was always decked up in pretty block print Indian wear, my female colleagues were all in awe. I used to take tons of stuff for them every time I returned from a vacation at home.

Block print may have shied away from the dynamic and modern fashion world but I feel it is evergreen. We do see it here and there; it stands out from the rest of the swarm.

My clothing line is all about printed cottons – some of them are very typical ethnic block prints and some are contemporary. You can totally wear them with today’s fashion pieces because I think blocks prints are here to stay.

Presenting my favourite printed skirt from my line. Hope you like it.

Available for sale on my Etsy shop or Facebook page.

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Something’s Cooking

I have pondered over this idea over a long time now. Lot of contemplations went behind whether it would work or not; whether I was doing the right thing or not. But finally it is here. Because this has been my dream for such a long time. This is what I wanted to do even though my chosen path seemed to be leading me elsewhere.

In fact, this dream, idea had been in my subconscious mind throughout my growing years.

I chose a ‘good girl’s’ path for my career. I did my graduation in Commerce, went ahead to get a MBA and then worked in the world of Corporate for a pretty long time. Corporate made me slog. But it also gave me comforts I had only imagined. Clothes and shoes every week, eating out almost every day, a gadget every now and then, a foreign vacation every year. Ah! What luxury!

But somewhere, there was this huge empty space. I had the money and luxury. Still, all the hard work never really paid off. Even if it did, it did not satisfy me. There were other things that I was passionate about; things that tried to grab my energy and attention. And were often successful. Fashion, for example. I have always loved dressing up. After I got the power of money in my hands, I turned into a shopaholic. If I look back at my growing years, it explains a lot. I have always been fond of dressing up – shoes, bangles, earrings and sarees, to be more exact.

And when I did not have money, I recycled. I re-used and recycled clothes (like patialas and dupattas) belonging to my Mother and Aunts.

My creative side was bursting to surface. Corporate didn’t give much scope for that. I wanted to play with colors. I wanted to take splendid photographs. I wanted to travel. I wanted to look good.

That’s when the idea of designing clothes first took birth. I thought, someday, I will turn designer and have my own line of clothes. And even that time I knew I wanted to work on Indian prints, colors and textures.

Since the last 1.5 years, I have been studying Fashion. It is another world altogether, believe me. It has been so interesting and so challenging.

So.. that someday has arrived. It’s here, finally. My own label.

MY. OWN. LABEL.

Oh My God!

I am dying to share it with you guys but for start, here is the sneak peek.

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Interview With Bangalore Designer, Babita Jaishankar

I was so lucky M mentioned her designer friend Babita Jaishankar when I visited her in Bangalore last month. Meeting Babita was a refreshing experience. She is vivacious, positive and warm. Her optimism rubbed off on me. She is a passionate designer who wears multiple hats. Her story is inspiring to an aspiring fashion designer like me.

If you are in Bangalore, you must check out her collection. Her designs have contemporary silhouettes and yet a vintage feel. They are perfect for women who wish to dress up in a modern but modest way.

Here are some of her designs from her FB page.

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Babita is a well known name in Bangalore. She regularly gives workshops in Corporate and Institutes and has also judged Miss Bangalore contest in the past. No points for guessing, she is always sighted in her own designs. A busy woman, Babita is, apart from being a loving wife and mother, CEO, Founder of Wsol Fashion & Image Makeovers and Create Designer of BAJA and yet, she was gracious enough to give time to my questions. Read more about her and her work in the following interview..

1. Please tell us something about BAJA & WSol.

BAJA The New You’ is a new age women’s clothing brand, headed by me and Amrutha John. BAJA is all about dressing up the contemporary Indian woman.  Our clothing range is as versatile as today’s woman, with the right mix of traditional and western wear. We have the perfect outfits for you, whether you are a high flying corporate executive or an entrepreneur, a bride or a mom to be.

We are unlike any other brand. We are unique, creating remarkable outfits for women of substance. Our western wear is designed with today’s Indian woman in mind, flattering and complementing Indian body types. Our traditional wear has a modern yet classic look, which is achieved by using indigenous textiles and prints with modern cuts and drapes.   At BAJA,  we help you to get a outfit that suits your color and style profile keeping in mind your lifestyle . 

WSol (Wardrobe solutions) is all about transformations; from head to toe and inside out. We offer a comprehensive suite of fashion and image makeover solutions, with an emphasis on customizing packages to individual style, preferences and life goals. We conduct individual consultations and workshops, all aimed at enhancing your self-confidence, with the help of the right image, grooming and attitude. Our goal is to help you reach your highest possible potential, personally and professionally.  

Our services are beneficial to institutions and individuals alike. On one hand, we work with prestigious management schools, corporate organizations and other formal and informal groups. On the other, we work with individuals – men and women, corporate executives, entrepreneurs, authors and artists, brides and moms. There’s no organization or individual who couldn’t possibly benefit from our services. Whether the client is an individual or an organization, we are committed to offering highly customized solutions that are on par with international standards. Our plans and suggestions are always formulated after a thorough analysis of client needs and preferences.

Organizations like Infosys, Wellingkar Management School, CMR School of Management, ITM Business School, Gyms, Ireboot, IWEN and the Rotary Club have engaged our services and reaped the benefits. It’s time you did, too!

2. How did you decide to get into fashion designing?

Designing was always a part of my life, as a child I would never wear any dress without adding personal touch to it. Started designing and stitching by the time I was a teenager. Don’t know exactly when I wanted to be a fashion designer. Guess it was always there in me.

3. What was the inspiration behind your collection?

Inspiration behind my collection is ‘today’s ‘women. Who is pretty confident, plays different roles and knows what she wants .

4. What does a normal day in your life look like?

Normal day – Nah there is nothing like that J

5. What do you enjoy most about designing?

For me it is to play with colors and fabrics and together the stories it creates.

6. What challenges do you face in your work / industry?

The skilled laborer .

7. Anything you wish you had done differently?

Nothing, it is perfect the way it is .

8. What is your favorite brand?

BAJA, ha ha

9. How would you describe your own personal style?

Very unpredictable, no rules and to be a part of a big story …

10. What was the first article of clothing you ever designed?

It was a dress for my doll that I hand stitched .

11. If you weren’t a fashion designer what would you do instead?

A story teller..

12. What advice do you have for aspiring fashion designers?

Follow your heart

13. Where can readers buy your clothes?

www.bajathenewu.com or https://www.facebook.com/bajathenewu

Do not miss checking out her blog (http://babitajaishankar.com) where she writes about style tips, developing your own fashion sense and little tit-bits about her life. (Do read this post. You will be amazed at the results. It is an eye opener)

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