New York, London, Milan, Paris: Favorites from Fashion Month

This month saw the showcase of some brilliant designs at the (in)famous Fashion Weeks in New York, London, and Paris (Milan, too).  For those of you who don’t know, Fashion Week happens twice a year:  Autumn/Winter collections are from in January-April, while Spring/Summer collections are exhibited in September-October.  New York usually kicks off with its fashion week first, with Paris bringing up the rear, and London and Milan occurring between those two.  Did you know the very first NY fashion week happened in 1943 to distract the public from French fashion during World War II?

I’ve been obsessively following the fashion weeks for a while now, and this year seemed a little more interesting than the previous few.  The trends are awe-inspiring and, for the most part, wearable!  Some of these include the return of the hairband in Louis Vuitton, the pointed toe style in footwear, and the re-vamping of the jacket in Chanel.  Here’s a look:

PARIS

Jacket and pearls – definitive Chanel look. But check this out: big, statement pearls and slouchy tailoring add a contemporary twist to classic style.

Erm, this looks to me a bit like an old bedsheet. Not loving this but can SO imagine Diane Kruger pulling off this look even better than Lagerfeld imagined.

Think dresses, the Sixties, and lots and LOTS of checkers! I personally would think twice before sporting this print, but it certainly made for a good show. Oh and, welcome back, hairband!

This Dior dress takes my breath away. So simple yet so well-structured! Loving the high-low hemline, the corset bodice, the beautifully pleated midnight-blue skirt and the out-there eyes.  Look, pointed toe heels!

Strong, confident, precisely tailored! New creative director Raf Simons (ex-Jil Sander) packs a punch with the Dior Spring 2012 RTW collection. How awesome are the satin lapels?

NEW YORK

Slicked back hair, leather, lace and sharp, grown-up cuts: this defined Jason Wu’s Spring 2013 RTW collection. No wonder the First Lady is a huge fan!

Katy Perry hair, chambray leggings, grandma’s old denim shirt over Mom’s maternity blouse – Sorry, Anna Sui, your models just look like hipsters who got a bit too excited at the Salvation Army!

Holmes and Yang is Katie Homes’ collaboration with Jeanne Yang. The debut collection is stoic, indifferent and resolute, with a few pieces of evening wear, lots of trousers and prints, and some tough jackets. Swooning for the military trench!

MILAN

Clockwise from top: volume and fullness at Marni, Moschino teaches us geometry, and cool greys and icy blues dominate at Giorgio Armani. When it comes to excess and opulence, Milan never disappoints!

LONDON

Look at the lace! Burberry Prorsum’s RTW Spring 2013 collection was abound with lots of color, well-controlled color – more like a dieter, rather than a kid, at the candy store. Refined, well-cut, yet still vibrant. Burberry never fails!

Postage stamps and banknotes on white backgrounds formed the main course of Mary Kartrantzou’s RTW Spring 2013 collection. Neat silhouettes with lots of A-line infused in between, these pieces are understated but definitely eye-catching!

Twinsets and cashmere, Pringle of Scotland’s RTW Spring 2013 collection exudes a luxe and retro style. Patch-pockets and belts were staples. My personal fave from this collection is the blue pants and black shirt combo. #mustnotdrool.

That’s all for now, folks.  Of course there were plenty more shows throughout the season, and I could go on for about 10 more posts gushing about them.  For now, check out this funny video from the Ellen Show.

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“My clothes are not hot. Never. Never.” – MARC JACOBS

It’s been wayyyyy too long since I wrote about what I love on here. I’ve felt like a junkie who’s been going through cold turkey and now just desperately NEEDS that one hit to keep going again. So I am back with a bang to talk in a superior hoity-toity way about my all-time favourite topic: FASHION!

Creative director at Louis Vuitton, an award-winning graduate of The New School (which happens to be one of my dream schools!), one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world, the youngest designer to have ever been awarded the fashion industry’s highest tribute, The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) Perry Ellis Award for New Fashion Talent, and the sassiest, most-daring and charmingly gay man EVER: that’s right ladies and well-informed gentlemen, I’m talking about Marc Jacobs. I’ve been in love with his designs and his work for so long, it’s really a wonder I haven’t dedicated an entire blog post to him before (although, of course, I had to do god of fashion, Karl Lagerfeld, first before anyone else). From handbags and fragrances (‘Daisy’ is currently my favourite perfume!) to shades and shoes, this man has done it all, and done it all spectacularly well.

I was just looking through the Spring/Summer 2011 collection of ‘Marc by Marc Jacobs’ (a diffusion line) and it’s all about emphasizing what a pop of bright colour can do to transform an outfit. Its full of lots of upbeat, breezy daywear accessorised with military touches and bonnet-style hats with bold stripes and splashes of colour being the main fixture of almost every piece.

Military-cut top, slim waist belt, beige bonnet and a tan satchel. Notice how the red hue of the slouchy shorts really adds the softness that would otherwise be lacking from the severity of the navy-blue and black in the outfit

Loving the patterned jumpsuit. Despite it already being a vivid outfit, notice how the electric blue strap of the satchel still makes the outfit pop a little more.

There really is no better way to tame down a busy outfit. Nude shoes. Every woman should own a pair!

Because nautical will ALWAYS be in style.

High-waisted patterned skirt with a flowy hemline, teamed brilliantly with a structured white blouse. Accessoried with must-have chocolate wedges, electric blue tote, black bonnet, fiercely frizzy hair and neon lips. Genius.

Again the 'pop of colour' I keep mentioning. The sunshine-yellow satchel brightens up an otherwise dull beige floral jumpsuit.

Loose and flowy really was the order of the day. The lack of strict tailoring and rigid structuring really makes this outfit perfect for summer days. Also seriously coveting those copper wedges. Not sure about the yellow-gold belt though.

The man himself. Squared jaw, just the right amount of stubble, seriously sick calves, a tailored Nehru jacket and an Hermes tote. Only HE could pull this off!

Plenty of calf-skimming hemlines and florals in this collection, it reminded me of the one he had designed for Louis Vuitton for Paris FW last Spring (I talked about that here: https://primadonnab.wordpress.com/2010/03/12/another-bomb-blast-in-lahore-and-louis-vuitton-at-paris-fw/ ). However the LV collection was more 50s whereas this has a more 70s vibe to it. It’s certainly more playful; I love that its just so utterly asimplistic, no fancy-shmancy McQueen type heels or outlandish Lady Gaga-esque creations. Fundamentally, everything in the collection is wearable; sadly just not quite yet affordable for the likes of me. *Sigh*

Fashion Orgasm: Trying on Karl Lagerfeld

Those who follow this blog regularly or who know me personally are aware of the fact that I am pretty damn passionate about fashion. It goes without saying then that I think Karl Lagerfeld has been the best thing to happen to the world. Without him. we wouldn’t have the brilliance of Chanel, the hundreds of trends that he’s started, the eccentric ideas that he’s brought into the industry and, of course, the whole shock of white hair with mysterious dark-sunglasses-and-finger-gloves combo that he is never seen without.

White hair, check. Dark glasses, check. Gloves, super check. I'm also loving the rebelliously slacky bow-tie.

The other day, I did something that pretty much made up for all the crappiness that’s been in my life lately. It cheered me up liek nothing ever did before and I felt terrific. I tried on KARL LAGERFELD dress. Yes, indeed. I was at Dubai Mall with nothing to do and too much time to kill, so I strolled on over to Galeries Lafayette, fully aware that everything in there would be way beyond my price range but still determined to go inside. I though, Hey if nothing else, atleast I’ll get to see up-close and touch all those fab creations I’m always ogling at in the magazines.

Lo and behold, as soon as i entered and looked around, my eyes widened as they saw the bold, black letters of his brand on the wall on the far right corner of the store. Trying to appear calm and sophisticated, and not like some burglar who was about to grab a dress and run off, I walked casually over to that side, passing by collections of Missoni and Elie Saab on the way, and started running my hands over the rack of clothes hanging there. They were almost all black, all dresses. Dream come true! I started going through them as if leafing through a book, searching for the perfect one, until I stumbled across one that took my breath away. It wasn’t because it was ultra-glam or crazily ostentatious. No, definitely not. This is the Chanel man we’re talking about, minimalism pumps through his veins. It was all black and short, but not skankishly so, and oh-so-structured, with mega sleeves and a v-neckline and a defined waist. I loved its simplicity, and its fierceness both. It made a statement and yet it could be demure at the same time. I checked the tag, but found no dress size number (what was I thinking, its Karl Lagerfeld, not New Look!) but since it looked like I could squeeze into it somehow, I crossed my fingers, gingerly pulled the dress off the rack and walked determinedly towards the changing rooms.

Only he could carry that raggedy tote and make it look like a fashion must-have!

I was actually nervous! I eased into it and was giddy and delighted to realise it fit me perfectly. I usually feel insecure and paranoid when trying on new clothes and always have to scrutinise myself harshly in the mirror to make sure it looks good from every single angle, but with this magnificent creation, I didn’t have to! It clung nicely to all the right places, flaunted my body in a way no other dress had and was just so damn comfy at the same time (this was the best part because, usually, dresses that LOOK good actually feel really uncomfortable). I felt confident, and snazzy, like I could conquer just about any obstacle. I felt like a million bucks. It’s a shame the price tag had about the same amount on it though.

Yes, Karl dressed Barbie too, for her 50th birthday! Anyways, the dress I tried on was not exactly like this, but very similar in its structure and design. It looks so NORMAL here but it really was quite a masterpiece.

The Curse of Fashion

As published in the first issue of ‘Smudge- The Social Nudge’

Today, I stepped out wearing a men’s pinstripe dress shirt tucked into high-waisted ankle trousers, underneath which fierce purple gladiators stood their ground. A pair of oversized shades reminiscent of the 70s and a canvas Louis Vuitton tote acted as loyal companions while a single white champa flower added that extra oomph to my updo. Even just visualizing this outfit gives me the warm fuzzies but for most people, it makes them want to scratch their heads and wonder if I dressed in the dark today. They say that being a woman in Pakistan is one of the toughest things to be, I am here to tell you that being a fashionista is even harder.

As I walked across campus, a score of varying reactions greeted me. Puzzled, bewildered looks accompanied by a slight tilt of the head was the most common one; some looked at me with curiousity and intrigue, while most just seemed confused. It was only a rare few who expressed appreciation and a hint of admiration. I was used to such feedback, it was not unusual for me, and I actually enjoy it for the most part. Fashion comprises a huge chunk of my life, I love looking at clothes and imagining different combinations with them. I could spend hours going through collections online and probably about a week in just one shop. I change my outfits around 4 times everyday before finally settling on one, and I have a habit of making sure nothing I wear looks too ‘common’ or ‘ordinary’. It sounds crazy to a lot of people, and maybe it is, but looking good is directly related to feeling good. I dress the way I want to, in the fashion I prefer, because it’s a passion I like to indulge in. I enjoy the creative process involved, but for the majority of people, being ‘fashionable’ means to ‘fit in’. In salons all across Pakistan, aunties flock in for their weekly manicures, monthly botox shots, and almost daily blow dries. I doubt this happens because Nabila’s is suddenly charging cheap-as-chips rates, but more likely because that is just what they need to do to be able to host next month’s much-awaited kitty party.

Women throughout the ages have rallied for more rights, greater recognition and fair treatment irrespective of their gender. They have fought to escape from the cage of a patriarchal society, such as that of Pakistan, yet by their very need to belong and fit in, they chain themselves to a stereotype. The Islamization ruling that women must always have their heads covered on television has simply transformed into another one which dictates that women must always look glamorous, meticulous and gorgeous. Women’s empowerment seems to now be coming from the prestige of the spa they go to and the designer they prefer rather than the university degree they hold or the career goals they have accomplished. Fashion is just another platform now for women to grapple over, rather than one which they can use to further express their independence. I suppose I am not an exception to this rule. On the ‘liberal’ campus of LUMS, I feel relatively comfortable walking around with my calves bare, and my waist heavily emphasized with a cinch belt, but if I were to roam around the streets of Liberty market in the very same outfit, my comfort level would be decimated. I would think twice, not about the fact that I should be able to wear what I want despite being a woman, but that perhaps because I am a woman, I am required to be demure and modest.

We live in an age that thrives on an obsession with perfection. It is fueled by a game of perception and perspective, where the former almost always supersedes the latter. I started expressing myself through the clothes I wear, but in doing so, I’ve created an image for myself that I sometimes feel forced to follow. I adore couture and all its bizarre trends, but sometimes I just want to go out wearing granny slacks and my brother’s old t-shirt. But that nagging idea of perception comes into play, and my perspective shifts so that I start rummaging through my closet for vintage wear again. Similarly, a person often just follow trends and adopt fads because it’s the ‘in’ thing to do; fashion is about communicating your distinct personality, but in following it, many people just end up looking the same. Fashion is not about doing what everyone else is, it is about wearing and liking what appeals just to your own eclectic soul. So go ahead, banish those long, flowing kameezes from your wardrobe which you’ve been wearing even though you hate the expansive hemline, and wear the knee-length shirts again which you’ve been craving for.

‘Aisha’ – A Fashion-Savvy Watch

I went to watch ‘Aisha’ the same day it released in the UAE. Now I am not much of a movie buff when it comes to Bollywood, but after watching the trailer for this movie, I just could not resist! I’m not crazy about Sonam Kapoor, nor did I go for the fact that ‘Aisha’ is supposed to be an adaptation of Jane Austen’s ‘Emma’. (Austen is Austen, how much better could a Bollywood version of it be better than the original? I mean, come on!) I went for the fashion, the amazing wardrobe, the gorgeous styling, and to see whether a Bollywood movie could actually pull off Dior!

Let’s just talk about the movie here, without going to the styling yet, which is hard to do since the clothes were SUCH a huge part of every single scene. It’s not Stratford-upon-Avon stuff but it was a light watch without any garish dancing-around-trees song sequences or any melodramatic and exaggerated dialogue. Sonam Kapoor was alright, it was an average sort of role that did not require any tremendous display of actings kills and she was so-so; it was the supporting cast that stole the show, the three friends, Abhay Deol, and even the super-hot Lisa Haydon acted better than what their character required.

Back to the clothes.

Formalwear that oozes casual, who wouldn't want to go to work in these?

Abhay’s wardrobe in the entire movie screamed Wall Street, just look at that slick skinny tie!  From Valentino to Hugo Boss, he stayed suited up the whole time, and my, what a sight for sore eyes he was! Each and every piece was cut to perfection, and suited his lean frame incredibly well. Sigh.  Now let’s get to what Sonam’s wearing.  The first thing you notice is how the bright blue of the linen shorts contrasts with the white, and this is a great way to add a splash of colour to a typically dull formal-white-shirt-and-trousers combo. Is that a pink snakeskin belt I see? The comb hairband looks neat and can cure any bad hair day, and what’s NOT to love about that Chanel bag!

I just can't get enough of Abhay in a suit, and lookie there, I own that very same headband!

How amazing does that suit look? Wow. The dull beige of the suit should clash with the darker beige of the tie, but they both complement each other surprisingly well, and those dimples could melt a glacier. Sonam’s wearing a vintage Chanel suit here, which according to Pernia Qureshi (the stylist of the movie), was rather difficult to obtain; hanging blissfully off her shoulder is, once again, a classic Chanel bag. On her head is an adorable black-bow headband, one of which I own as well; not many people can do headbands but Sonam is one of the lucky few and throughout the movie, her headbands look uber chic. The monochrome Chanel suit actually looks a lot like a modern Marc Jacobs creation, but nonetheless, I went green with envy went Sonam strutted across the screen in this. Chanel + vintage + headband = MY DREAM COME TRUE!

This looks like a still out of Gossip Girl!

Black and white, always a winning combination! Is it just me or is Sonam Kapoor dressed up a lot like Leighton Meester’s on-screen persona, Blair Waldorf? Even so, I think Sonam does justice to the look: the dress is just the right length and the shoulder detail of black ruffles is bang on trend, the black beret is quite Parisienne, and the big black shades and are the perfect accessory. The black Lady Dior bag is a collector’s item, on top of my list along with the Birkin bag, and I honestly wish I had Anil Kapoor as a dad to produce my film JUST so I could have this bag! The only problem I have with Sonam’s outfit are the black pumps, a pair of black Loubs would have looked soooo much better, but nonetheless, the overall look is still top-notch. Her friend on the side is also pretty trendy: she’s wearing a Manish Arora Mickey Mouse warrior top and those fierce shoulders remind me of Balmain’s 2009 fall collection. It’s been paired here with short shorts and knee high boots, and looks like something I’d see in a couture show. Nice!

This is SO Blair

Okay I included this picture of Sonam JUST to prove a point. In interviews, she’s denied that the styling of Blair Waldorf had anything to do with her look in Aisha, and I find that reallyyyyyy hard to believe. Here, she’s dressed in what looks like a gunmetal March Jacobs dress, paired with a white bow waist belt (which I own in purple, thank you very much), heart-shaped sunnies and a bright pink chain bag. Does anyone recall Blair and Serena’s photoshoot at the very beginning of the show for Eleanor Waldorf’s collection? I think it was in Season 1 (Episode 4) and the two girls decided to model the outfits together. This pose is SO similar to one of Blair’s that I was taken aback that it wasn’t actually her, but Sonam Kapoor, so kudos to Sonam for perfecting the look so well.

All in all, this was a Bollywood movie that stands apart from all others, simply because this is one of the very first of its kinds: an Indian movie that actually takes the importance of good styling into account! It features clothes not just from established fashion houses such as Chanel and Dior but also relatively new ones like Acme and Marc Jacobs; lace, ruffles, pearls, suits, sarees, the movie has it all! Of course, I loved it a lil bit more just because so many of the clothes are of the sort that are in my own closet downstairs, hehe. A little heads up to the rest of the over-the-top producers in Bollywood: watch and learn from ‘Aisha’, and use more of your production budget when it comes to wardrobe! I definitely got my money’s worth from it: the couture, the headbands, the designer bags and of course, Abhay’s cute-as-buttons dimples.

P.S: This movie is a statement for the amazing style make-over Sonam Kapoor has had over the years. When she started off with ‘Saawariya’, she was a nobody who dressed in Anarkalis and lehenga-cholis. A couple of years later, she discovered personal stylist and TA-DA! She is now a fashion force to be reckoned with; just goes to show you that clothes do make the person.

Shoe Love

I love shoes. I know they’re common objects of affection for women but it’s hardly surprising.  The right pair of shoes can make or break an outfit and all of us, yes even the guys, crave to have a walk-in closet solely for the sake of housing our unlimited pairs of designer foot candy. 

Giuseppe Zanotti, Jimmy Choo, Manolo Blahnik, Christian Louboutin, Alexander Birman, the list truly is endless, just as the number of zeros in the price tags.  Although each and every show creation is fabulous and oh so fashion savvy, here are some of my favourites:

Heels made to kill by Christian Louboutin

Lets start with a pair that’s really out there.  These fierce heels designed by Christian Louboutin were actually part of the Rodarte Fall collection in 2008.  Here they are worn by Victoria Bekham, the ultimate queen of super-high heels, who actually looks quite calm walking in these despite the fact that her toes are all squished.  I love these because they are outlandish and they scream aggression, just look at how the bright crimson sole clashes with the shine of metallic gold!  They are definitely not a pair that just anyone would want to wear, let alone carry off or even afford to buy!

Stunning an sophisticated, the rose pump by Valentino.

After the previous shoe, this one looks quite sober in comparison.  Yet, it’s not dull or boring, but rather elegant, classy and still quite stylish.  Designed by the house of Valentino, this sleek heel is the perfect evening companion; wear it with an LBD or a startling red taffeta gown, and you’ve got yourself an outfit that will wow them all.  The look of the shoe is modern yet also undeniably classic and sophisticated, and the trademark rose of Valentino gives it an extra oomph.

The shoe that's captured many hearts, the satin blue pump by Manolo Blahnik

 I am sure all the girls, and maybe some of the menfolk, will recognise this shoe right away.  It’s the one that Mr Big proposed to Carrie with in the SATC movie, the shoe that brilliantly lit up the whole all-white custom-made shoe closet that Carrie had gotten built.  Sigh, I was so full of envy during that scene.  Sarah Jessica Parker, and her on-screen persona, Carrie Bradshaw, is known for her love of Manolo Blahniks and it’s easy to see why.  I just adore the colour of this, the electric blue is blight but not hurtful to the eye, and the intricate embellishment adds sophistication and baances out the bright bue.  Wear it with a dressed down outfit in pale colours, or better yet, make it your ‘something blue’ on your wedding day, and your feet will be a sight for sore eyes.

Lace has made it big the past couple of seasons and this Jimmy Choo shoe proves that.

 Think vintage.  Think gothic.  What do you picture?  I am sure this shoe will not be first on your list, and it’s for that reason that it’s on mine.  The Faye Lace Pump by Jimmy Choo is not an ordinary buy; for one thing, it’s definitely not something you can pair with any old outfit.  This is a shoe that must be worn with care, after great reflection on the outfit so that it doesn’t overpower the shoe.  I love this for the burlesque feel it has to it; Ican easily imagine someone like Dita von Teese wearing this with a pomegranate-red corset dress and pulling it off with great flair. The lace is extremely feminine, and only the truly daring would combine it with a masculine outfit of cropped pants and a boyfriend blazer.

These were just a handful of some of my favourite shoes, I haven’t even gotten to boots or flats yet!

Coco before Chanel

I watched a great movie over the weekend – Coco avant Chanel.

Audrey Tatou as Coco Chanel

The title is pretty self-explanatory, its obviously about the life of Coco Chanel (whose name was actually Gabrielle btw) and how she became the trailblazing designer and founder of THE brand of the world. 

I love fashion, and for me, Chanel is right at the top.  It beats every other fashion house in terms of elegance, sophistication and history.  It’s creations have always been timelessly classic, uber elegant and oh so chic (barring, of course, the latest few fiascos of full-body fur suits and what not). 

The movie depicts Coco’s rise to the top, but its not as cliched as it sounds.  She is an orphan who works as a seamstress during the day and sings at a cabaret bar/parlour with her sister to earn money, and even then she’s extremely picky about who to take it from and the line between singing and selling your body.  The song that she performs is extremely catchy and about a a little puppy called Coco who is lost: Qui qu’a vu Coco dans l’Trocadéro? (Who’s seen Coco in the Trocadero?) This is how Gabrielle earned the nickname of Coco.

She catches the eye of a baron by the name of Balson and it is through this liaison that she makes her entrance into the high society.  Balsan himself is a character who I, as a viewer, both despised, pitied and even empathised with; his multifacetedness is depicted brilliantly.  As much as she desperately wants to go to Paris and become rich and famous, she is equally disdainful of the opulence that she witnesses in the social circle of the creme de la creme.  Hers is a paradoxical nature, and though she knows she was destined for greatness, she’s also puzzled about where it is that she belongs or what her place in the world really is. 

She starts designing hats for the society women and begins to make a name for herself for having a minimalistic and chic approach to accessorizing.  This is emphasized immensely in the movie by the way Coco prefers to dress up in men’s trousers and vests instead of soft, pink and lacey gowns.  She refuses to wear a corset, preferring instead that the fabric fall naturally on the body, and she continuously mocks the other women under her breath for their excessive display of jewels and use of rich fabrics.

The movie also shows Coco’s affair with the English businessman Arthur Capel, and its tragic end was so beautifully depicted that anyone who’s ever had a love story cut short will definitely be able to relate.  It also offers an explanation for why Coco never married, as she herself says in the movie that she is not the type of woman to marry.  I think there’s a direct quote from her regarding why she never married a certain Duke, and she just said that there are many Duchesses but only one Chanel.  Sigh.  She was a woman ahead of her time and exasperatingly independent, truly deserving of the being the icon she became.

The REAL Coco in 1938, oozing with oomph

Audrey Tatou does a fantastic job at playing the role of Coco, she lives and breathes the character through every nuance and every gesture.  She embodies the essence of Coco, and bears a startling resemblance to the icon.  It may not be a subject of interest for many, but for anyone who has even the slightest inclination towards or passion for fashion, this movie is a must-watch.  There were so many instances that inspired me, and I was just in awe of it all.  The outfits are all amazing, and it’s really fascinating to watch the origins of the simplistic, demure and ultra chic designs that the fashion house of Chanel is so renowned for creating.

Note:  The movie is entirely in French so if you are flunet in the language, it’s a rela treat to watch.  Otherwise, keep your English subtitles on and the experience is just as gratifying.