Monday, September 12, 2011

Fashionably yours: Vogue Fashion's Night Out

Vogue Fashion's Night Out is the fashion community’s chance to indulge. Now when fashion and indulge are put in the same sentence it usually translates to shopping. But strangely enough this is not what the night amounts to. It’s not to suggest that one must not shop, the charity-focused nature of the event almost demands it, but what is delicious about the evening is just to be amongst those with a sartorial concern.

FNO was started with Anna Wintour in 2009 in an attempt to jumpstart an industry that was beaten badly by the recession. What is does in India though, is allow a ‘common’ party. While shopping at a luxury store, at least in India, is usually a serious affair, this is one night where stores will let their hair down, in other words, let the wrong crowd in. On any other day, a certain customer might enter these hallowed environs and slink around the periphery, trying desperately to avoid eye contact lest they betray their limited buying power. The magic of this night somehow grants one the power to walk, nay, stroll into stores and even pull something of the shelf. Innards of bags are inspected, shoes are flipped over and price tags contemplated.

While I tried to maneuver my six inch heels through wired floors, I took a minute to compute that I was pleasantly surrounded by striped jersey maxi dresses, polka dotted blazers and fedoras, all accompanied by champagne and infectious music. The shelves of Vogue Steals were bare, while the Vogue Loves store still had a line outside even though the event was running into its 4th hour. How had we, who saw the light of a Zara only a year ago, become so cool?

There is recent speculation that our reputation as a luxury utopia is beginning to fade with the lack of infrastructure and tough taxes. Also, we're not turning out to be a consumer infected society the world expected us to be. Well, what this night gave evidence to is that while maybe a generation or two behind would frown at this blatant hedonism, there was a crop being brewed that had different aspirations. Give us a decade and we won’t want to slink so much.

There is one point of interest to note though. Just adjacent to this mall, was another that sat calmly, in a Saturday late night buzz of family dinner-and-a-movie. It brings to point that fashion exists within a bubble, which is actually quite reassuring. Not so much the fact that everyone’s life doesn’t revolve around the colour of the season, but by the fact that they aren’t even concerned by it. In fact I take a quiet pleasure in noting that somewhere my fashion wired frame I have a gene that connects me to a Phd toting sister who is uncertain of whether grey pants can be accompanied by a lemon yellow top.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

When you're Happy and you know it

There’s only one thing I love better than attending a Zubin Mehta concert, and that’s attending a Zubin Mehta rehearsal. One reason for this is of course is listening to the maestro deconstruct a piece. The way he breaks it down to its bare bones and then packs it all together again, strings, winds, percussion and all, it’s magic. Now while this remains my official excuse for getting out of work on a Tuesday morning, what truly fascinates me is looking at people’s socks.

Before you think me perverse, you must understand that the general rule of an orchestra is uniformity. Classical music is a rigid affair when it comes to dressing and unless a soloist, it’s hard to break away from the black and white. When you watch an orchestra on performance day, there’s a clear difference between the audience and the performers. For one, they place themselves above you, about five feet actually and for another, for that hour and a half or so, being part of the orchestra is just greater than being part of the audience. But now this is all on performance day. Catch them on rehearsal day, and it’s a whole other ball game.

At rehearsals, the tailcoats are replaced by jeans and t-shirts, and even slippers. For a moment, looking at the Hawaiian shirts and floaters, you can actually deem to think that you could be one of them. What’s most interesting is how their sense of dressing gives away their character. And it’s here that the socks play a pivotal role. The little piece of their character that they can carry into the monochromatic sea, is their socks. Let’s face, men have it fairly tough when it comes to formal dressing. Everything must remain sober and well, dull. But there is one aspect of their dressing where they do they to play around, and that’s the socks. It’s sort of a guilty pleasure, white shirt, black blazer and trousers, and red and black striped socks.

That’s why I was thrilled when I found I always have more respect for a man with coloured socks. And respect can always grow to something more when it’s a chiseled faced, six-foot-one double bassist.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

They do it with heels

Give a person two fingers and a piano and they play Chopsticks.

Give them a pair of heels and they make a French Connection Spring Summer 2011 campaign.

The campaign centres around ‘Are you woman?’ and ‘Are you man’, attempting to bring each sex back to their roots. The collection has for men, Nehru-collar shirts, nautical stripes and chinos. For women, lace dresses, breezy printed tops, summer ideals. What I like about this campaign is that they’ve gotten over the whole ‘FCUK’ is almost ‘fuck’ and are now concentrating on creating their own style. Formal, but still casual. Perfect for the weather we’re in for.

Of course, if you're Liberace and playing Chopsticks, then you do it with a little help from flamboyance and Liszt.

I don’t know if this is the thought process for any pianist, but the first thing that came to my mind when I saw the FCUK video was a vision of her practicing for the ad. I keep imagining the girl in sweats and a t-shirt, dropping the lid as she opens it with her heels and biting her lip as she fudges the octaves, with no slow-motion breast-heaving jump at the end. Not as enticing is it?

As Ogden Nash aptly put:

'And 'Chopsticks' is their favourite melody,
And if there is one man who I hope his dentist was a sadist
and all his teeth were brittle ones,
It is he who invented 'Chopsticks' for the little ones.
My good wishes are less than frugal
For him who started the little ones going boogie-woogal,
But for him who started the little ones picking out 'Chopsticks'
on the ivories
Well I wish him a thousand harems of a thousand wives apiece,
and a thousand little ones by each wife, and
each little one playing 'Chopsticks' twentyfour hours a day
in all the nurseries of all his harems, or wiveries'.

(excerpt, Piano tuner, untune me that tune, Ogden Nash)

P.S: Did you know?

The French Connection is also the name of a prolific gay porn production company.

French Connection spring-summer 2011 collection: (very '70's vibe, no?)

Available in French Connection stores around the country.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Fashion goes in reverse

I attended a Pablo Bartholomew exhibition this weekend where I caught a presentation by the photographer on his father's work. While making a comparison between son and father, he put on display a picture he had taken of this friends in 1975. When I saw the photograph, I immediately thought of a similar picture my mother had of her friends in the 1970s. I remembered looking at the picture and laughing at the way everyone was dressed in busy prints and bell-bottoms. Unfortunately, I realised there was a need to check that ridicule. You see, in the floral printed jumpsuit that I had chosen for the occasion, I could have stepped right out of that picture, almost four decades later.

If karma ever had its way about anything in my life, it’s fashion. I've inherited part of my mother's ill-fitted nose and dressed in my high-waist jeans and white shirt, I could be her. This worries me. Tremendously. As is befitting any mother-daughter relationship, anything that gives my mother leeway to say, ‘My God, that’s something I used to wear’, frightens me.

Thankfully my redemption came in the form of a pair of high-waist-lemon-yellow-floral pants that my aunt handed down to me. It was an outfit James Ferreira had made for her in the ‘70s and she deigned that I would be the only one in the family who would appreciate it. And she was right. The pants were delicious. But what was interesting was that while my aunt had worn them with a matching peter pan lace collar top—you may take a moment there to visualise that—I went for a more minimalist approach, a white gunji. So the conclusion I reached is that till we actually begin to dress in motorised costumes, as Hussein Chalayan wishes, the same shapes and colours are going to recycle themselves every decade, but with a twist. This time, it’s a more minimalistic approach to ‘70s fashion-less frills, simpler cuts, flatter hair.

There is one thing I do promise myself though. No matter how many bell-bottoms I put on, or how busy my prints get, there’s no way I’m ever doing the hand pounding dance my mother refers to as ‘the popcorn’. As for the picture of her party, I'm sure I wouldn't have been as harsh if she had had Bartholomew's sleight of hand to lessen the blow.

(Pablo Bartholomew, 1975. Catch Pablo Bartholomew, CHRONICLES OF A PAST LIFE - '70s & '80s in Bombay, Sakshi Gallery, Feb 19th- March 17th. It's a collection of photographs he's taken while strolling the streets of Mumbai in the '70s & '80s)

How it began:

(Clockwise from left top: Zeenat Aman in Hare rama, hare krishna, 1971; Bianca Jagger's infamous wedding suit, 1971; 1970s trend setters Farrah Fawcett and David Bowie)

'70s in spring-summer 2011:

(Clockwise from left top: White suit, Thakoon; Printed mini-dress, Dolce & Gabbana; Highwaist trousers, Derek Lam; Polka dot pants with printed top, Rodarte)

Get the look with bright prints, wide leg pants, platforms shoes and minis:

(Clockwise from the top left: Wide leg trousers, Zara, Rs 2,590; Yellow printed dress, Mango, Rs 3,790; Tasseled bag, Mango, Rs 4,690; Polka dot top, FCUK, Rs 1,999; Oversize sunglasses, Fendi at, Rs 6,588; Platform shoes, Mango, 5,990)