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*

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.

Another bomb blast in Lahore…and Louis Vuitton at Paris FW

Full calf-length skirts with wide hemlines and narrow bosom-y tops. SO wearable!

It’s going to be quite a dichotomous blog post today.

As the self-explanatory title states, there was indeed another terrorist attack in Lahore today.  Actually there were 2 suicide attacks that occured simultaneously in the same area, RA Bazaar in Cantt (which is basically an army-governed cantonment area that has both residential and commercial districts).  It happened just over an hour ago, at a time when most people were just heading out of their homes to attend the afternoon Friday prayers.  The two bombers were on foot and their main target was a military convoy that was passing through the area.  At least 20 people have been killed, and all main streets in the city have been cordoned off.

What good will it do now to shut down half the city?  The government had received threats that there would be militants entering the city but obviously that threat wasn’t taken too seriously.  The excuse they gave was that they get such threatening messages all the time.  And of course, when a provincial gov’t gets warnings about imminent dangerous events that will harm the populace, the smart thing to do is ignore them right? The result: 2 bomb attacks within 4 days, over 30 estimated lives lost with many more injured, a city under siege and its people numb and wary.  But I am not going to get into the semantics of all this again, it frustrates me; I see red and fail to understand the logic behind all this.  I have already questioned all this in an old blog post (“Pakistan Under Siege: What do you WANT?”) and I don’t want to sound like a broken record.

Time now to concentrate on the pretty stuff!  The Fall RTW collection from Louis Vuitton is GORGEOUSSSSSSSSSSS!  Designed by the one and only Marc Jacobs, the collection defined, in my opinion, the essence of romanticism.  The original concept was the inspirational decade of the 50s but I think all the clothes, with their soft, muted tones, and flirty hemlines, captured an idea that was more romantic that racy.  Calf-length skirts were the main feature, accompanied by cute little coats, and tops that were both conservative and cleavage-bearing.  Printed dresses were accesorized with waist-cinching belts that looked anything but severe and leather gloves in matching tones that added to the overall academic aura of the outfit.  It was almost like looking at the wardrobe for the next season of Mad Men.  The best part about it all was that Marc Jacobs actually used models that have curves!  He didn’t stick to the typical norm of using stick-thin pre-pubescent girls that merely act as hangers for the clothes, but rather used older models with bodies wider than a carrot stick .  From nearly 50 Elle Macpherson to Adriana Lima, who just had a baby a few months ago, the runway was awash with models who actually enhanced the beauty and sensuality of the clothes.

Some might say that the dull palette of the clothes, the matchy-matchy aspect of the accessories and the barefaced look of the models made the collection look a tad bit insipid but I would disagree.  Versace can afford to be va-va-voom and showcase stuff that is far from ordinary; Karl Lagerfeld can produce a whole collection based on full-body fur suits that no sane woman would want to be seen in; but Louis Vuitton is different.  An underlying essence of the romantic and the sensual radiated through each piece in the collection and Marc Jacobs managed to create an overall ensemble that was both subtle and sexy and true to the nature of the French fashion house.

A pleated leather skirt, and a shiny tailored jacket, what more can a girl ask for!

Stuck in a travel-less rut

Le Louvre

I want to travel.  I really, really do!

It’s a sad fact that I haven’t really gone anywhere beyond my comfort zone in the past…7 years!

In 2003, I moved to Dubai with my family after living in Canada for 6 years.  Since then, I’ve only ever been in the UAE or Pakistan.  It’s gotten even worse since I started college in 2008.  Before, I used to live in Dubai and go to Pakistan for a vacation.  Now I live in Pakistan and go back home to Dubai for a vacation.  I left Canada 7 years ago, and still haven’t even gone back there for a visit, unlike the rest of my family. It’s like I am stuck in some sort of never-ending vicious cycle from which I can’t escape! 

Le Tour Eiffel

Le Tour Eiffel

 

Everyone around me is going places.  New York, Bangkok, Paris, London, Montreal, Istanbul, Kuala Lampur.  I am not asking for a world tour or even an all-expense trip to one of those cities.  I just want to get out of the Lahore-Dubai paradigm.  I am not trying to play the ‘poor little rich girl’ card but it’s just frustrating to hear about all these fantastic places but not have any hope of ever visiting them!  And no, telling me that I’ll have plenty of opportunities to travel after I am hitched is really NOT the answer.  Isn’t this the time to realy experience everything life has to offer?  At this age, I am literally at the cusp of adulthood; this is that short window of time that I have to make the most of before I get bogged down with responsibilities that revolve around a career and a mother-in-law. 

What would be truly ideal is if I could just do a semester or a summer term abroad somewhere.  I have always wanted to attend the Cambridge Summer School program but, realistically speaking, it’s a little more than what my poor daddy can afford, that’s IF he ever warms up to the idea of letting me go anywhere at all.  But there are plenty more programmes that are a lot cheaper but still hugely beneficial.  I think LUMS does a student-exchange program as well, but that’s with some university in Austria that I haven’t really heard of. 

I was actually checking out the summer term curriculum at AUP (American University of Paris).  It is heavenly!  First of all, its in PARIS (enough said).  Its the city of Louis Vuitton and where the Revolution went down, of sidewalk bistros and feather-light croissants, wine, cheese and escargots, of Chanel, the Louvre, and the Champs Elysees, of the Eiffel Tower, high fashion, and romantic architecture.  But I digress; its basically a 7 week program from June till mid-July and it’s got all these brilliant courses, and the thought of studying them just made me drool, as nerdy as that sounds.  There’s Intro to Islamic Art and Architecture, The History of Paris and a truly divine-sounding course on comparative literature called Modernist Experiments of Migration: 

Explores the work of Anglo-American modernist writers in Paris, concentrating on the works of Ernest Hemingway, Wyndham Lewis, Gertrude Stein, Djuna Barnes, Jean Rhys, and other writers. Relates their formal experimentation to the visual arts and to the psychic dynamics of exile: the experience of liberation from the constraints of one culture and an alienated relation to the new environment.

Sigh.  One day, I suppose.  One day, I shall go to Paris, show off my high-school French, do everything on this list ( http://matadortrips.com/how-to-be-literary-in-paris/ )  and devour all that makes the city so magical.  One day, I’ll go to all the other places I have listed on a spreadsheet in my mind, thats keeps growing every week.  But I hope that day comes soon, because right now, the book of my life has only has a few chapters that even I wouldn’t be bothered to read.  One day, I’ll travel because like St Augustine wrote, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”

The oh so Parisienne architecture