Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Avant Garde Tribe, Andhra Pradesh

For lack of a better name (or actual information) I call this Andhra Pradesh tribe the Avant Garde tribe. Why? Find out for yourself -

With that kind of costume, you could inspire super heroes... Look at those Power Shoulders (and you thought only Lady Gaga could pull them off!) The insanely oversized necklaces and those ear masks?! The blue and white layered tunic/maxi looks perfect for summers.

The Drum chest brace! I dont think thats really part of the outfit but it could be an interesting styling accesory for a runway look! 

I know its hard to focus away from the lady's cracked heels but the simplicity of a single strand Rope and bells (Ghungroos) anklets is rather gorgeous. Remind me again why did we stop wearing anklets. Such a discreet little understated accessory!

The Tribe's men wear the three strand anklets. Well since they are performers, the extra sound must come handy! I think they are gorgeous.. Somebody please use them for shoes... Its such a delight to see men wearing accessories!

This brings me to the final and most inspiring sighting of the tribal attire... The Bell shorts. Dude, Look at those. I want one of each. the colors, the contrasting fabric strips, the tiers of oversised bells. I waant them SO bad. If these men understood any hindi or English I would have asked them about their village but no such luck.

Also do you notice that fringe thing hanging from the crotch? These guys are so awesome.

Anybody who knows where this Tribe is from exactly in A.P. or anything else about them, please do lemme know!

Have a killer day!

Much Love,

Sunday, February 13, 2011

When Italy married India

Catch this post on Vogue India website here

“You can either frustrate a woman by making her aware of all her flaws or you can make her feel absolutely beautiful, I choose latter as designer,” remarks Rosenda Meer. “Size is an aberration; we have massified all of world’s women in sizes of 2, 4, 16... everybody is a different shape. “

“High Heels are like Burkhas for the modern day woman. Both are societal obligations that women wore over themselves. Its unnecessary. Some may find a woman in high heels very attractive but I just find them utterly uncomfortable and even insecure sometimes. It’s attractive when you are comfortable, when you laugh, when you look great in what you wear. “

“I hate fashion. Fashion is about cycles, about quick disposal. Works of art and luxury need time to conceive and last beyond a lifetime. This is exactly what India is good at. It saddens me to see that most Indian designers are taking the western route to fashion instead of learning from the Japanese. They embraced their heritage and showcased a new dimension to the world.”

Rosenda is an Italian origin and Parisian boutique owner who found love and her life’s objective in India. She runs a label Le Cashmirian on Paris’s Rue de Tournen, housing products handcrafted in India. Her love affair with India has lasted over 2 decades, blame it on her chance meeting with her charming Srinagar born husband or the love of Indian crafts. Rosenda is a highly celebrated designer back home for her love for refined, unadulterated and innovative luxury.

“Fab India is fantastic start for Indian retail but how long can people wear those shapeless clothes. We need to take the step further and add more details, more draping to the gorgeous Indian textiles to make the world sit up and take notice.” Rosenda is also the author of the book, Memoirs – A Textile Journey to India.

“India and Italy have similar culture. We’re both blessed with deep cultural roots, great food and an undying love for our Ma’s. I would hate for India to lose its crafts and textile treasure to cheap modern fabrics like Italy did. Italy once had the nicest knitted laces and fabrics in all of world, look how we lost it all. Its extremely rare to sight those fabrics anymore. If all of Indian youth were to start patronizing Zara and Forever21, what will happen to the Benarasi Silks and Orrisa Ikats?”

Rosenda is also sick of Pop India movement – the loud kitschy patterns and bright Fuschia colors. “For me, India is Ochre. Its the colour of mother earth itself. India has soul to offer. Let the west offer the arrogance and disposability, India can offer timelessness and soulfulness. I love the Abraham and Thakore collections. They make India very proud.”

I met Rosenda in Auroville on our way to the Matri Mandir for mediation. Its amazing how she looks so Indian and yet like a foreigner. She tells me she worked very hard to retain her Italian roots and yet looking appropriate in India.

Isn’t it amazing to see one’s country from foreign eyes every once in a while.

Happy Valentines Day!

Much Love,

Friday, February 11, 2011

Biker Chicks, Pondicherry

There's nothing quite like feeling the wind in one's hair, balancing the two wheels, gushing past the rest of the world - there's nothink quiet like riding a bike. Its places like Pondicherry and Goa that make you realise that how much of world do you miss sitting inside a car with your windows rolled up, breathing the artificially cooled and recirculated air.

Its fantastic to experience a place on two wheels. Take some inspiration from the women in pondicherry who seem so comfortable riding their two-wheelers in their elegantly wrapped sarees and the garland adorned hair. Its liberating to see a woman ride a bike. Either that or I'm really missing my Auroville moped(gearless bike.) Maybe both.

Much Love,

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Sartorialist's world

Neo Village - Surajkund

Every year just around springtime, Delhites flock to the suburban village of Surajkund, which comes alive only for a fortnight to bring together all india craftsmen and some of the neighbourng international craftsmen too. How could I miss all this fun? I cut my travel around South India short and came running back home to capture my favourite village festivities!

The fair is on till 15th Feb. Do visit the fair if you're around or plan a delhi trip around the same time next year. With delish food and crafts from accross india.... Its a feast for the eyes and taste buds alike!

Here are some of the pics I took a couple of days back:

With my last month of city-hopping across Southern India... you can be sure of more 'cultural' posts!
Hope you enjoy them....
Much Love,

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Style Quickie : Uma Haimavati

How often do u hear fashion and social responsibility used in the same sentence. Not very often, I’m assuming. Well then its about time you were acquainted with Upasana, a design studio founded in 1997 by Uma Haimavati in Auroville, Tamil Nadu. Upasana was created with an idea of bringing alive the traditional Indian textiles to translate into a tool of strong cultural communication. Every Indian state possesses its unique personality expressed through its specific textiles and Upasana has emerged as an inspiring design house that’s set out to bring together this diverse range under one roof, with a global sensibility.

The minute you enter the Upasana campus, you realise that its atmosphere itself is almost catalytic to generate creativity. With a huge windchime hanging by a lush tree and a lotus pond right in middle of the pebble lined garden, Upasana is the antidote to the mass-production factories around the world.

Uma, the founder and master-mind behind this revolutionary design studio, invites me to join her for a hot cup of green tea to discuss her design sensibilities, her plans for the studio and the present fashion scenario. While it was rather pleasant to sit with some of her family members, colleagues and friends on the chatai under a huge shady tree, what surprised me most was the sudden appearance of a peacock. Uma tells me that the gorgeous bird is part of the Upasana family and visits often to meet and greet and loves being fed some freshly baked auroville cookies.

While the distraction was rather fortunate, I focus back on our cheerful, determined lady in question and begin the rapid fire round of questions.

How would you define your personal style?

I think one thing that defines my style is my fascination with the color white. I can wear just about anything as long as its in white.

The pendant around my neck is the symbol of Auroville – the lotus flower motif. I always wear it.

How did Upasana happen?

I visited Auroville 14 years back for a short 2week exploration trip and ended up staying back with the inception of Upasana. Auroville is just the kind of place that encourages you to take up your passion and make a career out of it. One of our initial successes came in the form of Tsunamika (A waste-fabric doll named Tsunamika which was widely sold around the country to collect funds for Tsunami Relief) After that, there was no looking back.

Who are the people behind Upasana?

Its a huge team of young, inspired and creative people. Upasana has become a platform where students and volunteers from different parts of India and abroad come to learn and contribute to ongoing projects. They learn through real life engagements and creative exploration of Socially Responsible Design. At any point of time, we have a long list of young designers waiting to intern with Upasana. We really encourage this.

What is the work culture at Upasana?

Its very friendly but focussed. We are a family of like-minded, mixed-cultural people dedicated to Socially responsible design by intention. We give a very customised and unique design brief to every designer. It s based on their choice of field of work and their individual capabilities. There are no restrictions on creative thought in this studio.

What is Upasana’s USP?

In Upasana, the scope of design has been enlarged to be integral so that it touches all the facets of a product’s life-cycle - those who design and produce it, those who use it, the larger socio-cultural context and the environment.

What projects besides Tsunamika have you taken up?

We have successfully started 5 projects in 5 years. Tsunamika being our first project gave us the right launch, Another project we’ve been doing over last few years is with Benaras Weavers, An organic cotton project called ‘Kapas’, and the most recent being Small Steps. Small Steps is envisioned to be the full stop to plastic bags. We are making nearly 10 million fabric bags using waste fabric and employing village ladies. We also plenty of other

Does Upasana follow fashion trends?

We don’t make a conscious effort to follow any trends but intuitively we do follow market trends. Between innovation and social responsibility, style just blossoms on its own at Upasana.

If you wish to contribute to the socially conscious design process at Upasana, do contact me to put you in touch with Uma.

Much Love,