Sunday, February 5, 2017

Summer fashion with Benetton

Don’t get me wrong. I love trends. But there is something to be said about classic, timeless sensibility of choosing what you put on your back. For instance, an effortless mixing of prints. Christopher Kane did it, Emilio Pucci runs a design house with this, Mary Katrantzou does not shy away from it and United Colors of Benetton SS,17 definitely encourages it. The nautical stripes, the maritime colours, the cotton and linen pants in easy breezy silhouettes and dresses that scream comfort with a side of chic. I could see these traits from the Benetton SS,17 collection becoming a way of life, not just a hip trend. And for all those who like to add that one trendy piece to an otherwise effortlessly stylish outfit, the collection marks the revival of the canvas bags. Not just any canvas bags but those with splashes of paint that make for a very ‘Summer in Arizona’ theme. Style comes easy while trends require study and efforts is very easily embodied by Benetton as a design identity. They give you comfortable, relaxed silhouettes with a side of funk and that alone makes me think that some brands find a place in your wardrobe no matter what your age and style.
Diving headfirst into this trope, let me take you through a little skit of fashion where I give you a preview of some of my favourite pieces from Benetton SS,17, with a moody twist.

All pieces c/o United Colors of Benetton


Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Bringing sexy back

I walked into a party once and found myself deeply embroiled in a controversy, two minutes into a conversation with a man. "You're a fashion person, you should know. More the skin, sexier the outfit.", I was told. But precisely because of the fact that I came from the fashion industry could I say with the utmost confidence (sexy confidence, if I might add) that being sexy, since time immemorial has had to do with so much more than skin. I like to lead with example. Not my own at this point, but Courtney Love to me, is the epitome of all sexy ironies. Unruly hair, peter pan collars, slip dresses with ripped stockings, even Mary Janes and somehow I also find fascinators in the weird mix. That, on paper does not spell sexy but when you throw in Courtney's rock-n-roll persona into that mix, it's a yelping winner. 2013 saw Hedi Slimane's YSL campaign headlined by Love and her contemporaries, and was it sexy or what.
A white over-sized shirt is sexy. So is a leather (or pleather if you may) miniskirt, a la 60s. Bare skin is sexy. But so are oversized clothes. A fresh blow dry is sexy but so is the sweat and elbow grease of a work out.
I have been begging to understand why should the two ideas be mutually exclusive anyway. But the good side that surfaces through these comparisons is that while the world might claim that fashion is for the superficial, fashion has through ages redefined sexiness in various terms of its own; be it conservative, nerdy, hot or basic. In an industry where I am finally at peace with being more than just clothes and shoes, I find heaving respite in the company of people like myself. Aien or AJ as she is fondly known of Fashion & I has been one of my favourite indian fashion bloggers for a long time now. We have been friends for a while now but fashion's self proclaimed Olsen Twins for even longer. We have been intrigued on numerous occasions by what we find stylish or even sexy in terms of our sartorial representation. Oversized coats, bralettes and corsets and wide legged pants were the common denominators. We thought about what defined sexy as sexy is. Should it not be just anything that transcends your body and brings out your soul? Wearing your soul in the form of your fashion statement is sexy to me. Channeling your art and creativity to give it a voice in the form of a statement, day in and day out while being completely truthful to yourself is sexy. Patti Smith is sexy to me. Fashion can be very sexy and if you scratch beneath the surface, you just might like it.

Styled and modelled by: Aien Jamir and yours truly
Photography by: Saumya and Shiva of The Open Art Project
Location c/o: Parallel
Make up and hair by: Awon R Vashum


Thursday, January 26, 2017

Part Deux: am:pm for FTLOFAOT Bride

My occupational hazards including living the digital life and being clued into almost every interesting and not-so interesting moment that makes it to the internet. This includes the hordes of bridal photographs that make it to your instagram, Facebook and pinterest, day in and day out. If you thought I was cribbing, I must clarify that I am not. If anything, for a year now, it has been serving as a constant source on inspiration/perspiration (I am definitely going to hell) for a bride-to-be like myself. A few months short, I still don't have enough clarity on what I want to wear for my wedding. Honestly, it does not peeve me so. At the risk of sounding like a lovelorn romantic, when it's the right one, you just know. And if my personal taste is anything to go by, a lehenga with substance and the charm of a gazillion centuries bygone and my love for modern renditions will make the cut. Over time and time again, my incessant browsing has led me to the conclusion that meaningless bling or trendy designs just do not cut it for me. It's like when I put on this lehenga by am:pm by Ankur & Priyanka Modi, I instantly felt the character of the lehenga uplift my personality. The blouse is designed to be the perfect modern addition to the dreamy lehenga. I choose that particular adjective to describe it because that is what it succinctly is. The delicate contrasting coloured embroidery in romantic floral patterns brings out the rich velvet surface of the lehenga. The embroidery is accentuated with tiny mirrors and in my mind, this little fiesta of craft and minimalistic charm definitely ticks all the boxes on my list of lehenga expectations. I tried to do justice to this celebration of design and old-world glamour in a dark over-cast night with only the golden glimmer of these statuesque light fixtures.

Photography by: Saumya and Shiva of The Open Art Project
Location c/o: Qla, Mehrauli
Make up and hair by: Makeup by Supreet Dhillon

For any other queries regarding the FTLOFAOT Bride series, do leave me a comment here or instagram or Facebook.


Monday, January 16, 2017

Part Un: am:pm for FTLOFAOT Bride

Starting a piece with a disclaimer is never really a good sign because it gives your readers the idea that you are treading carefully and probably playing it a little too safe. However, I would rather save you that precious fifteen minutes that you might spend reading my piece and realising that you did not sign up for this. I have never been the little girl who always dreamt of getting married and what it would be like to. My wedding and fashion posts will take you closer to making smart choices and to remember celebrating the love, above all other things. 
Somewhere along the way, I picked up this really important piece of advice that continues to guide me along. As I write this piece, here in January, nine months away from my wedding, I hear Carrie Bradshaw's voice distinctly ring in my ears. "I let the wedding become bigger than us. I let the wedding become bigger than Big." Before you roll your eyes at the fact that I sometimes pick fictitious characters' heads for life advice, let me give you a moment to really think of all that it stands for. So in this first FTLOFAOT Bride story, in collaboration with the fabulous designers at am:pm by Ankur & Priyanka Modi, we will decode a few style secrets to keeping your wedding and trousseau looks fuss free and eternally stylish.
When I first heard about the first ever festive line by am:pm by Ankur & Priyanka Modi being unveiled, I knew I had wanted it a long time coming. Harmonious, intricate and understated, those are the words I would particularly choose to describe their design aesthetics. The festive line is no different and it is no mean feat for a designer to translate a vision that they hold for their label into the mould of any clothing that they choose to design. Their festive line is for the effortless dresser with a side of adventure. For the understated bride and the brides friends who make that job look easy peezy, yet glamorous. Cutting to the chase, a dresser like me who enjoys the craft of design and yet believes in timeless glamour coupled with a sartorial adventure. The velvet bandhgala with the embroidery and 'mukaish' work and the ivory dhoti pants and the 'bidri' inspired printed cape with the pencil pants make for a the perfect accoutrements to the girl-on-the-go's Indian wardrobe (and incidentally my trousseau). Minimal yet artistic, find me attempting to do justice to these versatile garments in this story.

Photography by: Saumya and Shiva of The Open Art Project
Location c/o: Qla, Mehrauli
Make up and hair by: Makeup by Supreet Dhillon

Stay tuned for Part Deux.


Monday, December 26, 2016

FTLOFAOT with Aeropostale and POPxo

Over years I have gotten around to growing a thick skin towards winter. Every season I vent and go back to figuring out ways to battle a myriad of issues like a perpetually triggered off sinus, my urge to eat everything in sight and the most important of them all, the need to find innovative ways to layer my clothes. 2016 has been the year of a multitude of international clothing mammoths making their way into the Indian markets (and our hearts *hyuk hyuk*) and I was positively thrilled about Aeropostale headlining that act. And as we move towards a more digitally adept future, I love the fact that I can just hop online and buy me some Aeropostale. This winter I am all about the boyfriend and the mother jeans (yes, these are legit styles of jeans and not something I made up) and while you won't see me wear light blue denims often, these pair definitely felt right. I tried two looks with a total of six pieces and this should give you an insight on how to find a perfect balance of a sexy winter look alongside a more relaxed, languid sort. This is a piece in collaboration with POPxo along with Aeropostale for Amazon. Their caps and their logo jerseys are such a failsafe option but the real game changer for me are their cosy knits. Knits are the hot pants of winter. They are effortless and so so cozy and in the kind of silhouettes that make you think of the Swiss Alps. Fine maybe not the Alps but you get the point. They are warm, yet light so they are ideal for layering and people like me who are always on the go (gives me more room to pack in more shoes). The snoods and infinity scarves left me doing mental math, trying to figure out how I would accommodate all of them in my pint sized apartment/walk in closet. I could start living in the middle of all the clothes, that was always an option. Shamelessly plugging Aeropostale, I must admit that I feel very vehemently about shopping for my winter essentials with them and maybe pick a few more plaid shirts too while I'm at it. Just spreading the festive cheer (and monetary woes) guys. You're welcome.

Photography by: Saumya and Shiva of The Open Art Project

Monday, December 12, 2016

FTLOFAOT takes on Seoul with Korean Air

You remember that bucket list you made last New Year’s after a fair few number of drinks when you decided that this was your year of travel? It’s like God wanted me to most definitely strike out South Korea off mine before the end of this year. My trip to Seoul, South Korea has been nothing short of a magical ride; beginning with finding myself on Korean Air on the second day of its commencement of flights from Delhi to Seoul. 
Korean Air has been around for 47 years and connects 129 destinations in 46 countries. Factual overloading aside, the hospitality of Korean Air would definitely be something I would cherish for a long time to come. With plush interiors and a more than fabulous First Class, Korean Air's A330-200 was every bit worth the wait to begin operations from Delhi. The leisure flyer (and mind you, mostly on a budget) has a great economy seating where I especially love the fact that tall people like me still get ample of leg space.

For business travellers and holidayers alike, I cannot think of a better news that you can now fly directly from Delhi to Seoul, all at such well timed flights that you never end up wasting a day travelling. We also had the privilege of visiting the Korean Air hangar in Seoul during the course of the trip and for an aviation noob like myself, it was quite an eye opener to see all that went into smooth, seamless operations of such a vastly successful airline.
The new aircraft
So thrilled to share with you the top 10 things you should definitely do and not miss out on, on a holiday to Seoul, South Korea. Luckily for me, Acumen Overseas- GSA for Korean Air in India and Korean Air ensured that most of these things were covered in an itinerary chalked out for me. The remaining came out of my own research and trial and error.

  • Gyeonbokgung Palace: Gyeonbok palace as it is more popularly known is the largest and most magnificent of the five palaces in Korea and is the perfect place to get an insight into the architecture, design and life of the Joseon Dynasty. This is where the guard changing ceremony takes place which holds its own grandeur of course. The palace is beyond stunning and if you had a guide as thorough with his history as ours, well you’re in luck. You can book your tickets online in advance or even book at the spot.

  • National Palace Museum of Korea: I have to admit that I’m a bit of a history buff and a museum geek but that shouldn’t come as a surprise to you given my old travelogues. The National Palace Museum of Korea is a no miss for two big reasons: FREE entry and the fact that it is right next to the Gyeonbokgung palace. Everything from historical texts to scriptures and artifacts of the many Korean empires is housed here. I had quite a few moments of revelation and since the museum is not too big, a few hours would suffice to cover this and the National Folk Museum located next to it too. 
  • DMZ or the Demilitarized zone between North Korea and South Korea: This little beacon of peace and hope between North Korea and South Korea is a must visit. The disturbed relations between the north and south are documented in the form of an AV followed by the visit to the third secret tunnel which was dug by NK to attack the south and is now a part of the demilitarized zone. By the means of a mono rail, going down the cold, harsh tunnel definitely gives you gooseflesh. The Korean war of 1950 was incidentally something that left the South of Korea indebted to India for their military medical support offered. Many a mines have been uncovered as a means for North Korea to attack South Korea and as a part of this tour, they arrange for a stop at the Dora Observatory from where on you get a glimpse of a village which is a part of the DMZ with a lot of flora and fauna and people residing alike. It also includes a trip to the station wherein hopefully the Unification train from South Korea to North Korea would ferry people one day.
Important to remember that the visit to the DMZ requires a special permit and a compulsory ID proof (preferably passport) on you at all times when you visit it. 

  • Korean Food: There is absolutely no point of making a trip to a beautiful country like Korea and missing out on the incredible local food it has to offer. An immense amount of sea food, great meat and fabulous desserts are a must have. Bibimbap is a hot stone pot that includes rice, veggies, eggs and meat that I personally love. Get one of those table tops where you can barbeque your own meat and try all kinds of kimchi and don’t forget to have it with a drink or two of Soju (the most popular alcoholic beverage made from rice traditionally and now possibly potatoes, that locals drink). There is honestly not one particular place I would tell you to look out for since almost every locality has its own small restaurants and little hole in the wall style places that serve some immaculate local food. 
  • Meoyong Dong: Korea is a land of beauty and skincare junkies and their love for plastic surgery aside, Meoyong Dong is the best place to shop all your crazy masks and haircare products from. Every big Asian brand from the Face Shop to Etude House has a store here (at great prices too) and they have all kinds of discounts and deals on at all points of time. Plus they give you tons of free samples and that is a big up from a shopper's perspective. This market also has an entire row of street vendors and food hawkers set right in the middle for people to eat and walk and shop, all at the same time. You can get anything from oysters to lobsters to a special kind of potatos on a stick and baked sweet potato here. Don’t miss the ’32 cms’ ice cream and the beautifully lit up trees during the festive season. It also has a beautiful cathedral that I could not take my eyes off. Psssst…the shops and vendors are open almost till 10 pm or 11 pm on most weekdays! 

  • Itaewon: A serious popular spot with the expats, Itaewon was the most ‘happening’ area in Seoul that I came across in my time in Seoul. I would accredit it to the fact that I went there over the weekend and it had almost everything you could imagine. From a street, leading into alleys full of bars and restaurants that were filled to the brim with crowds spilling over to the streets to ample of shopping. The market stays open till late too and gives you enough opportunity to do street shopping and shop at the regular stores there till late. Love the fact that it has every kind of international food joint and some seriously adorable bars here. 
  • Lotte World: If you are the Walt Disney World kind of a person then the world’s largest indoor amusement park should obviously be high on your list of priority. Lotte World is just as magical with a gazillion rides, shopping arcades, larger-than-life stage performances, magic island and a large ice-skating rink. While the rides on a normal day have a waiting queue for at least 20 minutes, the restaurants, shopping arcades and some of the rides outside have relatively shorter queues. 
  • Insadong: There is no trip really complete without a whole bunch of souvenirs and artfully curated set of gifts for back home. While most things are slightly expensive here, Insadong happens to be the one stop shop for all things art and porcelain in Korea. If you follow my personal facebook page, you would have caught my live session from Insadong wherein I interacted with quite a few of you while showing you the sights and sounds of the souvenir shops, antique collections and art galleries of Insadong. All in all, worth the few extra thousand wons to buy a set of nice take-backs from here. Also, a great place for some seriously good Korean street food.
  • Hongdae: The area around Hongik University in Seoul is called Hongdae and is definitely on the radar of the tourists and locals alike when it comes to partying. While we made the mistake of heading there on a Sunday (Sunday is quite dead in the city), we still managed to find a few bars that were living up the acclaimed indie-music and hipster crowd scene.  We went to one such underground bar and apparently the place also holds a lot of underground live gigs on other days. Make sure you head there on a Friday or Saturday. 
  • N-Tower: N-Tower or Namsan Tower as the full name goes is the highest point of Seoul. It is a communication tower built over a mountain and offers some of the best views of the city. Unfortunately, we didn’t find the best views on the day we went because of the thick fog so we hung around at the bottom and saw the love-lock bridge (much like the one in Paris, just smaller). The top of the tower also has a restaurant and a few souvenir shops. All in all, a great experience and one that offers a lot of opportunities for photography and if you happen to make your trip in the last week of March and first week of April, then the cherry blossom views with dots of pink everywhere will greet you. Definitely something to keep in mind while planning your trip. 

There are a ton of other things that I packed into my 3 day trip to South Korea and yet another few that I could not in this trip. But hopefully now with Korean Air’s direct flight from Delhi, I’m going to be heading there again sometime.
A special mention to Mr. Pukhraj S. Chug, Managing Director of Acumen Overseas- GSA, Korean Air and Mr. Sang Wook Han, Regional Manager, Korean Air for all the courtesies extended and a fabulous visit to Seoul.
For any questions, queries, ideas on South Korea, Korean Air, my itinerary, don’t forget to get in touch.



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