Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Reinventing the OOTD in style

It leaves me part abashed and equal parts proud that I am a part of this OOTD generation. For the uninitiated, OOTD stands for Outfit of the Day. And if you are still around and have not fallen off your perch out of shock/amazement/hilarity et al, then I recognise a true blue millennial in you. Just kidding, you could be as archaic as me but still love a good dose of millennial vocabulary now and then. As usual, there are two sides to the story and trust me to put a good debate into words right here served up for your weekly consumption. The idea of documenting style germinated from something a lot more editorial than an OOTD. It was simple: it could not be basic. But over time we saw an incredible evolution of style and how it was documented and now we are at a point where literally, anything goes. It takes someone like me to appreciate the kind of freedom and creativity this allows fashion lovers like myself. I could want to go all guns blazing with my accessories one day (read Annie Leibovitz's legendary Dior shoot for Vogue) or I might want to stick to my minimal yet emphatic roots the other (read the wave of fashion Seinfeld ushered in). It allows me the sense of privilege to create a diary of sorts that not only documents my whims but it also marks my evolution as a fashion person. So yes, an #OOTD is an uber quick way to serve up your most mundane look with style. An OOTD is the fast food for fashion bloggers and yes, you may quote me on that. Here is the catch though. I have begun to strongly see a pattern here, i.e. the downfall of a well thought out shoot or a well written piece. A phone camera is such a powerful tool in this day and age (what with a snazzier camera out every single day), that all it takes is a phone and an instagram account to create an OOTD. You and I can have a judgement about what qualifies as a good OOTD but that again remains subjective. What on the face of it could appear as trashy styling could strike a chord with a niche audience and that is just how powerfully this OOTD can impact the fashion social clout. But that again leads me to an upside. The fact that the diversity of edits, personal style, geographical locations, type of OOTD creates such a colourful fabric of fashion that there is space for nearly everybody to do their thing and find an audience for it. There are accounts that do not claim to be fashion bloggers but work on an OOTD format and do a bloody fine job of it. In the end it boils down to the authenticity of your content and how you use OOTDs to your advantage. I hope you enjoyed this little lecture on fashion gabbing with Shreya and that would be Rs. 1 lac for one lecture. Just kidding. Or not.
Here's a recap of some of my OOTDs that were just too good to be left only on instagram.

Photography by: Saumya and Shiva of The Open Art Project


Thursday, June 1, 2017

FTLOFAOT takes on Westin Pushkar

It wasn't too hard to make the connect. Pushkar: a beautiful (yet holy) city known to amass thousands of tourists every year for it's intrinsic sightseeing value, coupled with the embodiment of luxury and hospitality; The Westin group finding themselves a spot there. What I did not however anticipate, is that this particular property under the Westin umbrella would find itself a niche of being one of it's kind (read: Resort and Spa). If you're in Rajasthan or any other state, north of the Vindhyas, getting here is easy peezy. Train to Jaipur and then a three hour drive. Flight to Jaipur and then drive down. If you're coming from Delhi like we did, a Shatabdi to Ajmer and then a drive is advisable but if, like me, long car drives are your jam then an 8 hours long car drive is not a bad option either. Now that I have the technical stuff out of the way, I wish to wade right into the fabulous details of this property, you know the G-life (good life). 
This sprawling large property, i.e. The Westin Pushkar Resort and Spa is literally, and I mean literally everything you want to pack into a holiday. I wouldn't deny that it serves as a great business hotel too but with 36 Premier Villas, 24 luxury villas and 20 Royal villas, you really could do with the princely treatment on a holiday or otherwise. In a style which is patently mine, let me take you through the top 10 things that you would not want to miss at this splendid property:
  • Breakfast in the pool: I know what you're thinking. Is something as frivolous as a breakfast in pool really unmissable in life. But you know what, you wouldn't know till you try it! Granted, now my normal breakfast in bed will pale in comparison everyday but this luxurious spread of the best continental breakfast on a floating table while you dip away in your private pool (mind you, we stayed in the Royal villa), is definitely what dreams are made of.

  • The sprawling greenery: Believe it or not, the hotel is like an oasis in the middle of the barren desert. While not so barren in season (where it is supposed to be covered by rose bushes on all sides), most parts are the real sandy dunes of Pushkar. In the middle of it all, the most beautiful manicured bushes, palm trees, hedges and patterns that make you think endless lush greenery are definite components of a beautiful, green getaway.

  • The dome: It never suffices to say 'the dome'. But it might suffice if you saw this magnificent structure created right in the middle of the main swimming pool with a little bridge that carries you across to it. Straight out of a Yash Raj movie set, the dome plays a key role in a lot of weddings that take place here and I would think so too! Having my little dramatic moment right in front of the dome myself.

  • Gastronomical delights: It didn't take me too long to dive right into the real stuff. I honestly would not ever recommend or venture out myself to a destination where I wasn't sure I was going to be fed with utmost sincerity. Westin Pushkar, like all other fabulous Westin properties across the world does just that. We had the good fortune of experimenting with different cuisines at every meal but the clincher for me would have to the Asian lunch at Seasonal Tastes, their restaurant.

  • The 'Crafted at Westin' Experience: If you follow me on instagram, you obviously already know about my sojourn behind the bar with Chef Ajay where I made two kick ass cocktails in one night. Its nice and dandy to have make-your-own-cocktail nights once in a blue moon but here's the important bit: here at Westin Pushkar, this is a daily feature at Mix, their bar. Permanent. For good. Whenever. You get the point. And that to me is extremely impressive. It helps that they have an immaculate presentation of the whole concept at their bar with the chalk boards and signages that help you get cracking on your own potent concoction. An accompaniment of the world's finest cheese (again, with names scribbled alongside) did not hurt.

  • Recreational offerings: I usually do not do extensively vegetational holidays but when I really want to vegetate, spas, yoga classes and the likes are high on my agenda. A great spa with their Signature Balinese massage (the spa is new so it's not exactly free of hiccups but they are definitely getting there) was all that I needed to culminate this fabulous vacation. It helps that there is the option of a movie hall (on the property, yes!) for private movie viewing and the option of ordering in all your favourite food and drinks right to your seats all at Westin Pushkar. Next time though, I'd love to take one of the yoga classes that they offer.

  • The comfort of the villa: Safe to say, that nothing apart from a suite is going to cut it for me after my stay at the Royal villa at Westin Pushkar. From the most thoughtful welcome snacks to my own private plunge pool and a treadmill right inside my villa along with the heavenly bed, there really wasn't much left to my imagination (in this case, a brilliant thing that was!).

  • Entertaining the idea of this being your next corporate offsite and/or large scale party set up destination: I know I know, this sounds a little pushy. But let me tell you exactly why I feel like this is a value addition and how I verified it. Over the weekend that I spent there, I saw at least two huge groups of corporates who were there for a conference and it seemed to go off seamlessly for them. Given how the property is, it is not hard to imagine why they would be comfortable bringing their families along. The structure and architecture of the property itself provided a fillip to its business customers. Away from the city yet, in the middle of it all. Quite clever, if I might add.
  • The peace and the quiet: There really is no alternative to a peaceful getaway even when you're in the plains. With only the sounds of pool splashes and the birds twittering away, I could picture why a family looking to get away for a weekend would want to head here. Or a couple looking to just spend some quality time with an uber luxurious set of options for treatment would choose to be at the Westin Pushkar. The construct of the property is such that it transports you to an ideal sort of a holiday spot. See for yourself.

  • The added advantage of being in Pushkar: My relationship with Pushkar goes a long way back. Almost from the time I was in high school I have harboured a special sort of a connect with this town of sand dunes, camels and magic carpets. A trip around this cornucopia of history, spiritual relevance (like the only Brahma temple in the world) and just the sheer amount of colour and food is perfect to complete that holiday reverie. Who says you cannot step out of the property on a holiday if you so wish.

If I haven't told you enough, there is always the website to find out more about The Westin Pushkar Resort and Spa.
Find them on faceboook and instagram. If you do end up visiting, do share your experience with me (so that I may gloat!) and also more seriously, if you have any questions, feel free to ask away. 


Friday, May 26, 2017

Reimagining effortless with Anuj Bhutani

I've observed Anuj Bhutani's garments ever since he debuted at Lakme. They struck a chord with me from the word go, simply because effortlessness always does. And it never goes out of style either. From the construct of the garments to the use of the Indian textiles, there is hardly an aspect of design where Anuj goes overboard. What is the idea behind effortless anyway? In my humble opinion, effortlessness comes from an idea of self-sufficiency. The idea is to create a garment that conveys an absolute thought by itself. Self accessorising if you may. For me effortlessness goes hand in hand with minimalism, in the modern sense and that is exactly what Anuj's label delivers. Fine cotton, linen, jute, khadi, I've seen him tap into a vast repository of fabrics that the Indian subcontinent has to offer, and the finest ones at that. And mind you, the garments make optimal use of the same. Take the simple Kimono wrap jacket for instance. I honestly cannot explain how much the design resounds with my personal style. Could I wear a tee shirt inside and ace my layering game? Sure. Could I keep it a little mysterious and sexy with nothing inside? Hell yes. I decided to style them with co-ordinated pieces but the fashion police ain't coming for you if you pair them with a different style of pants.

Tenzin's eye for frames and compositions took the concept of clean and free up another notch. The colours complement the tones and textures create a contrast with the textures of the fabric that just seem to bring the look together. What in my opinion was exceptional about bringing forth an editorial with these three looks was that while we tapped into a very neutral, earthy palette, there is an element of idiosyncrasy in each look which makes them all relatable to different people with different styles or the same person with all these elements of personal style (case in point: me). 

Check out more of Anuj's fabulous line of clothing on instagram and Facebook.
Also check out Tenzin's diverse work in photography here on instagram.


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Gillette Venus Breeze: my experience

There are two parts to this really interesting story I am going to tell you. In Part Un, we talk about the launch of Gillette Venus Breeze, how revolutionary it is as a hair removal product and my favourite bit: myths it claims to bust about shaving. Of course, this is done in style with celebrated names that will definitely make you sit up and take notice.
In Part Deux, I actually take you through my experience and review of using Gillette Venus Breeze and how it fairs on all the bones that the masses have been picking with shaving and the multitude of razors available in the market.

A glitzy yet warm affair, the launch of the Gillette Venus Breeze was nothing short of perfect. Actress Kalki Koechlin, Celebrity Makeup artist Namrata Soni and Celebrity dermatologist Dr. Rashmi Shetty hosted a very interactive session with the audience on what they believed were the myths about shaving and how in their experience with shaving, that has not been the case. Dr Shetty brought in a lot of technical know-how about skin and it's reactions to shaving, Namrata Soni obviously dealt with beauty and healthy skin and Kalki's anecdotes about shaving and how it had eased sticky situations as a filmstar were as informative as they were hilarious. 

I will take a moment to rehash all the myths that we discussed over the session with the trio and debunk them over my experience with Gillette Venus Breeze.
1. Shaving darkens the skin or causes pigmentation: While I have heard that one too, turns out it is completely untrue. If anything, I have come to realise that shaving helps exfoliate the skin by removing the top dead layer which automatically means that your skin looks brighter and clearer. As someone who is on the go almost every day of the month, shaving has definitely made my life and travel easier.

2. Shaving causes the skin to become flaky and dry: This could not have been more untrue especially since the foray of Breeze into the market. Breeze comes with in-built moisture bars and body butters that include Olive, Avocado, Kokum along with glycerin to ensure that exactly that is avoided. I used the razor after a patch of moisturization on my skin and my skin felt soft and hairless immediately after. 

3. Shaving causes a lot of cuts and bruises: This myth while partially true at some point of time does not hold true for the Gillette Venus Breeze at all. The Gillette Venus Breeze has a special grip for your forefinger and the body of the blade and the strips is rounded so as to be able to reach all the curves of the female form without causing any cuts. Honestly, I've received my fair share of shaving cuts in the past but Breeze actually did not give me any. 

Another interesting fact about the Breeze that got me really excited was that as soon as the moisture bars are over, you know it's time to change the blade. As simple as that. And at a price of Rs. 299 (INR) with the two-blade pack at Rs. 350 (INR), I would not be thinking too much before replenishing my shaving stock.

I would be happy to answer any question you may have about the Gillette Venus Breeze that I possibly can, in my experience with the product, right here. So get going. 


Sunday, May 7, 2017

Travelogue: Taking on Ubud and Uluwatu

If you have been around on this blog for a reasonable amount of time, you would definitely know and understand my affinity towards Bali and the yearly bouts of affection that come in the form of trips. This time, however, I decided to get out of my haven and explore the much talked about (and photographed) Ubud and Uluwatu. A little introduction to the two for the uninitiated; Ubud is a few hours from Bali and about 35 kms from the Bali International Airport. It is surrounded by rice paddy fields on all sides and is about 250 mts above sea level. Or easier still, I am sure you recognise it from the popular book by Elizabeth Gilbert, 'Eat Pray Love' and the movie adaptation of the same. Liz met Felippe in the little town of Ubud when she turns to Indonesia for her eat, pray, love experience. Julia Roberts and Javier Bardem, you guys. Uluwatu is a tip on the south western peninsula of Bali, as I gather from the internet and is best known for its beautiful sights and sounds.
As I always do, let me share some of my travel gems from my little tete-a-tete with the beautiful towns of Ubud and Uluwatu. We took a day trip to Ubud and another to Uluwatu. I do, however, wish I had stayed longer in Ubud since the idea of a getaway to Ubud is staying in one of the home stays and having an authentic Ubud experience that is serene and fun in equal parts. Let's talk about some of the things that I did do in both the towns and you definitely should not miss:

  • Cliffs of Uluwatu: The winding steps leading up to the cliffs down which you see the beautiful Indian Ocean lashing against the cliffs from the peninsula, is totally worth the pain. Remember to cover yourself appropriately though, since situated atop the cliffs is the Uluwatu Temple and like all hindu temples, they maintain a strict dress code in so far as the visitors are concerned. Definitely one of the best sights I have ever laid my eyes on.

  • Padang Padang beach: If you have gone all the way, make sure you make that extra effort of clambering down a few hundred steps, all carved out from a rock entrance to the Padang Padang beach. Crystal blue waters here form one of the most popular surfing spots for tourists from all over the world. We decided to skip the surfing adrenaline and just bum around listening to some aboriginal Australian drumming (some fun tourists that were parked right next to us under a large rock) and pig out at the local Warungs and sip some beer. It's a relatively crowded beach but the touristy value is quite high. It helps that the final scene from Eat Pray Love was shot here.

  • El Kabron: I almost feel like I should be rewarded for disclosing the name of this absolute treasure trove of party + scenic experiences. Perched on the cliffs of Uluwatu (you have to drive up a spiralling road for quite a while with fields on the either side till you get to this club), El Kabron is a spanish club. With it's stark white decor and a sparkling blue Infinity Pool that overlooks the Indian ocean, El Kabron is really what holiday dreams are made of. Sip endless glasses of Moet and Chandon while swimming in the pool and wait for the most beautiful sunset of your life. The upbeat music and the options of these exotic looking sheeshas kind of made the experience more surreal. Warning: This place is kind of on the expensive side. Do it for the views and for that rich ass, bad ass life.

  • Rice Fields, Ubud: When you get to Ubud, your first priority (if you are not averse to a little trekking downhill) should be to visit the Tegallaland rice fields of Bali that are located in the centre of Ubud and are beautiful and lush green. You can climb downwards to the inner most point of the fields and the place is dotted with the cutest cafes with the most scenic views and also the most adorable photo ops. A lot of tourism companies (and probably hotels and Air B n Bs) offer a guided tour of the rice fields but we just did it all by ourselves.

  • Coffee plantations and Luwak coffee tasting: If you did not know, a cute little animal (much like a possum) found in Indonesia called a Luwak is responsible (ahem) for this distinctly tasteful coffee that is especially made in Ubud. The Luwak is fed the coffee beans which it umm..for the lack of a better word excretes and that, my friends is cleaned (thank god for that), treated and roasted to make one of the best coffees I've had (honestly!). They take you through the entire plantation with a detailed one-on-one tour with the planters and through all the steps of the coffee processing. You also have the option of tasting a whole diverse range of flavourful coffees the flavours of which are all grown on the plantation itself. Everything, ranging from vanilla to dark chocolate to ginger. 

  • Saraswati Temple, Ubud: One of the most beautiful temples and also one of the most sought after tourist attractions in Ubud is this beautiful temple of the goddess Saraswati and even though Indonesia is known for it's Hindu temples, this really is one of its kind. The beautiful inlay stone work at the entrance and the lotus ponds on the either side make the walk to the temple inside quite enchanting. The main temple requires a permit to enter and you also require  one for the Balinese dance performance that happens at night (warning: Appropriate dress code, again). 

  • Shopping and the Monkey Forest: When they say that the furniture and homeware shopping in Ubud is everything you can dream of, they are definitely not exaggerating. While I did not end up shopping at that street or anything at all in Ubud, I honestly had my eyes peeled out of the car the entire time we were on that stretch of road that led to the rice fields because everything you can imagine to make your house a better, more intimate space can be found right there. From mirrors to artisanal furniture to wicker accessories and everything wooden and handmade and even funky signage and art pieces for your home, everything can be found there. It is the stretch of the Tegallalang highway. The Monkey forest is a great experience too but it requires a great amount of resilience to walk around in the wilderness with monkeys covering every inch of the space around you and the comfort level to enjoy the experience of the interaction with the monkeys who come and perch on you at any given point of time. Not one of my favourite things but I understand why it holds such a high touristy value.
That's all for this one. Now excuse me while I go pack my bags again.

Keep your comments and questions coming in. I would be happy to answer.


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