Friday, June 26, 2015

Woodland Belle

The current weather in Delhi is mildly reminiscent of a sweaty armpit. Humid, sweaty and hot and needless to say, not extremely pleasant. Now that I have put this wildly vivid image in your head, I shall get on with my work. This shoot was not easy. Not just because of the aforementioned reasons but because the lighting becomes an issue when you live in the armpit. It's either too harsh or just not enough. Let's not forget how the sweat impacts your face in the photographs. I don't mind my make up melting off my face. There aren't five layers anyway. What I do however mind is looking like I stepped right out of the gym or splashed my face with water. It's not the sexy, sultry kind of a wet look, if you know what I mean. This look was specially hard given that we were shooting in a woodland and trying to create a blushing belle with the brambles and yellow flowers kind of a mood. It helps that the most exciting part of the outfit for me were the large gold jhumkas with the chunky domes at the bottom. Never one to shy away from a little masala tadka to your Parisian street style, I wouldn't wear my culottes without a beautiful piece of jewellery this season. How are you wearing yours? 
P.S: I might have broken a record for dabbing my face in order to rid it of the excessive sweat this shoot. Yay for small feats.
















Wearing:
White crop top: Zara
Striped culottes: C/O Stalk buy love
Earrings: Amethyst by Rahul Popli
Bracelet: C/O Miss Flurrty
Nude wedges: Random shoe store (Australia)

Photography by: Sohail Singh. Instagram (@sohailsingh)


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Thursday, June 4, 2015

Less is more

If less is more, what is more? You could pose this quasi-philosophical question to yourself and still receive no clear answer because there clearly isn't one. One day we are all about the emblazoned jackets and the other, it's all about trading everything dressy in your wardrobe for the 'homeless but has money for pizza' look, a.k.a the wave of normcore. The other day I read a tweet by Bryanboy about how normcore was dead and I am all like, is it time to fish out my sequins and fish nets yet?
But keeping up with the trends is becoming harder than keeping up with the Kardashians (and Jenners, if I might add). So I do what I do best. Cool, airy linen jacket and shorts co-ordinates with a side of flatforms and a slightly risqué crop top to show off those pizza-base with toppings, abs. 
Take a cue from this look: Less is more. Air as much of yourself as you can while the sun shines. I don't want too many long, heavy things to wear this summer. Unless it's a perfectly good man-repelling summer trench.









Wearing:
Linen jacket and shorts: C/O Stalk Buy Love
Crop top: Nasty Gal
Flatforms: Charles & Keith
All jewellery: C/O Miss Flurrty

Photography Courtesy: Riddhima Arora Behance or reach her on email at riddhimarora17@gmail.com

Monday, June 1, 2015

The style divide

Continuing from where I left, regaling you with my tales from the holy and sightly town of Banaras, I shot a blog post with the locals of the city. Travel is pointless if you do not come back with memories of strangers and experiences of how the unknown is not always strange. It is only befitting to sit by the Ghats, talk to the local sadhus who perform holy ceremonies and all kinds of Hindu rites there to see life from another spectrum. A city bustling with diversity in human life, everybody has a unique story to tell. I donned my comfortable white Gap India tee and swiped my red lipstick to get ready for a 'style divide' shoot with the locals. India has not always been a country that has seen too kindly over allowing FDI in the retail sector. We are lucky that as of today, the Indian Government allows for FDI in the retail sector up to 51%. While the debate still rages on about what opening up the FDI does to the Indian market and its retailers, I am of the opinion that allowing foreign players only exposes the market to healthy competition, more employment opportunities and more options for the people at large. It is not such a bad idea after all to make it a largely organised sector. Given how the Indian market has taken to foreign brands like Zara et al, it was only some time before Gap found its way here, soon to be followed by the likes of H & M and Massimo Dutti, I hear. From long before I took off on this soliloquy, I had thought about what the real street style heroes of India wore. I possibly cannot emphasise it enough but style to me will always be as style does. I spoke to four starkly diverse individuals in Banaras and took a crack at their story here. The real street style of India remains unfettered by the FDI policy and there in lies the beauty. The style divide as is highlighted by the images, shines through as I create the 360 degrees effect while my muse stays put.

This is Shanti. Clad in her polka dotted saree, I saw her at her make-shift shop set up under a tarpaulin cover of not a very large surface area. She sells trinkets, arms and amulets by the Dashashwamedha ghat of the river Ganga and has been working hard at her job for forty years now. It's no mean feat given the blazing sun and the soaring temperatures of Varanasi but she was still a sport and even smiled for us. I also told her I had her name tattooed at the nape of my neck. She smiled in response, hopefully not thinking that I was cuckoo for cocoa puffs.



Just by the way he poses you can tell that the man is a natural in front of the camera. Rajesh is a devout priest who has taken to this as his calling for five years now. We caught him right between his work and the myriad shades of saffron in the picture just speak to me as the colours of Banaras.



One of the brains behind the widely popular, 'Baba Lassi', Akash Yadav runs the place with his uncle. To claim that the lassi he hand makes each time is magical would be putting it mildly. An entrepreneurial drive that has made this joint hugely popular with international tourists makes Akash one of our street style heroes. He ensures that you scribble a message or a note for Baba Lassi on the large yellow walls which are already covered to every inch in ink by tourists from all across the world. We sat and had long chats with him over lassi.



This emerald green dhoti, amongst other things is what sets Lachhu Sahni apart from all the other boat owners and oarsmen at the ghats. He has his hands full with two fool proof business models of Banaras; a paan shop and the ownership of a boat. He was sporting enough to tether his boat to where we were so that we could shoot with him on it. The next day he also waved to us when we crossed the ghat yet again.


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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

FTLOFAOT x LetterNote

Back in the day when Hauz Khas Village was on the verge of a cool hipster break out and hanging in its by-lanes wasn't as common as owning a Gucci bag in the city of Delhi, I enjoyed my occasional trips there. It helped that I lived close by and was always on the look out for niche boutiques and small labels that created interesting products. Not just to admire but to well, shop from since I self-diagnosed a serious case of a shopping disorder. Amongst my precious finds was the little boutique called LetterNote where I could spend countless hours just soaking in the the cool and aesthetically pleasing designs and their fun, inspiring design messages. It helped that I have and will for the foreseeable future be a stationery buff and obsessively collect notebooks. It was then, a delightful surprise to hear from them a few years later now to work with them on this post and shoot. I could not have been more pleased, and to have Jagrati Marwaha on board to do the photos just made my life easier. Breaking down the vibe of the concept and photography for you in common parlance would in my opinion, break the spirit of it all. Take a moment and savour this.



















Wearing:
Black bodysuit: C/O Stalk buy love
Denim cut offs: Forever 21
Oxford platforms: C/O Clarks
Oversized coat: H & M , France.

Find all the LetterNote goodness right here on their website and also on facebook.

Photography courtesy of Jagrati Marwaha, more of whose work you can also find on winterynights.tumblr.com and jagrati-marwaha.tumblr.com


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Friday, May 22, 2015

Grace Kelly in the times of the Myntra app

There isn’t exactly a lot that can go wrong with you if you’re born into royalty. But that’s the thing with style, it isn’t your birthright simply by being born with a silver spoon. However, privileged are those who are born with the utmost understanding of fashion and style and not mentioning Grace Kelly in the same sentence would do her injustice. This Princess of Monaco definitely wrote her own fairytale with her impeccable acting career graph and her innate sense of style.

But in this day and age, all your fashion woes are a question away. Just sit back and think, 'what would Grace Kelly do' and the answers would come to you. This absolute looker would definitely have jumped on to the game changer that is the Myntra app for all her sartorial woes. A normal day in the life of this Principessa, would probably go something like this. A day parading around the royal courtyard and tea with the ladies? Worry not, hop on to the Myntra app and your next stylish buy is just a click away. But you cannot possibly compose that perfect Grace Kelly look without the right accompaniments, could you? It’s a good thing then, that the Myntra app takes care of your shoe needs too. But even if Grace needed to get her A-game on for say, something as dynamic as the Academy Awards, there isn’t nothing that a perfectly good shopping app like Myntra couldn’t do, along with her classic string of pearls of course. It’s nigh impossible for Grace to have ever got a foot wrong and in this modern day and age, I feel almost jubilant for the blessing that is technology. Fun, eclectic styles of clothing and accessories that are merely a tap away on your swanky gadgets.

Did I mention, I feel like a modern day Grace Kelly with all these styling options on the cool apps like Myntra, so accessible to me? #ItsPersonal

The cool, minimal Myntra app design totally gets our generation. Definite potential for creating quite a few geek chic princesses. Take a look at a few features I have highlighted for your benefit.









Grace Kelly would be proud of this modern day fairytale.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Sitara by Shalini: Lookbook shoot

The thing with beautiful jewellery, is that it's a joy forever. Much like any other thing of beauty, only more timeless. In a market where every designer, every mammoth of a design house is trying to carve a niche for themselves by creating products to cater to all levels of the market, Sitara by Shalini Bakliwal does the same thing with the utmost ease. When I first met the gorgeous Shalini of Sitara fame, I stopped in my tracks by the amount of knowledge she had amassed about every stone, every string that goes into making her line of precious jewellery. The label caters to the creme de la creme of Delhi city and is already making waves in the exhibition circles within a few years of its birth. I personally am the kind of target market Sitara jewellery is created for. The market who does not just believe in chunky kundan sets. The kind of market who believes in styling versatile looking kundan drop earrings in five different manners, as opposed to predictably wearing them with my handloom saree. In a situation where you are looking to make a huge investment in a stunning pair of say, polki chandelier earrings that you hope to pass on to your children one day, how great is it that you now have the option of reaching out to smaller designers who will ensure every bit of your earrings is customized to your liking, without leaving you to a 'soup kitchen' kind of a life forever. I, for one am sold on all her cocktail pieces that play with the likes of sparkling sapphires and rubies in wonderful modern looking constructs.
It was a pleasure styling and modelling for her first lookbook of the season, with the best team I could ask for. You can satiate all your precious bauble cravings from Sitara here on Sitara.fine jewellery by Shalinibakliwal and on instagram Shalini Chopra Bakliwal.



















Modelled and styled by: Shreya Kalra
Make up by: Sakshi Malik
Photography by: Arjun Mehta Photography

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Friday, May 15, 2015

What to do in Banaras

Not exactly your tropical weather, lounging around aimlessly kind of a holiday but Banaras has been one of my most enriching vacations. A four day trip to the state of Uttar Pradesh, to the holy city of Banaras or Varanasi as it is now known has managed to create for itself a large sketched heart over my virtual travel map. And no, it is not because I belong to the generation which tries too hard to be Indie-cool. I genuinely believe that unearthing the history of your own country and learning about its beautiful people is just as important as jet setting off to another continent. My trip was not propelled by the over simplified 'India is the land of yoga and god's men' belief but it definitely had an element of curiosity about how people who believe that, absorb Banaras. I do believe in the healing powers of yoga. I definitely do believe in a superior omnipotent power that looks over us all. But most importantly, I believe in the beauty of ancient architectural set up along with its mystifying creations. I believe in exploring and tracing my roots while absorbing the wafting aromas of the Indian palette on the way. From the famous Benarasi kachori to the Ganga Aarti by the banks of the River Ganga held at sunset, I managed to scale the entire city in a span of four days and in the the manner which is succinct and easy for you to refer to, I will give you a low down on all the do's and don'ts for your trip to the city of Banaras, whenever you decide to go. It helps that I got you a lot of photographs to incentivise your next holiday in Incredible India.


  1. It is ridiculously obvious that you would want to spend most of your time in the olden part of the city, close to the popular Ghats. Let me still, state the obvious. There are 365 ghats around the river Ganga in the city but only a handful are really significant. Dashashwamedha, Asi, Kedar, Munshi, these should be at the top of your list.
  2. The evening aarti at Dashashwamedha Ghat. No amount of photographs can do justice to the soulful experience of a gazillion temple bells and conch shells going off with the pandits performing the puja with an entire squad of lamps and diyas, in unison. The smell of incense soaks your senses and it is best to just be in the moment, at the evening aarti which starts off at nightfall. Find yourself a good spot and also, don't forget to let off your plate of flowers and a diya in the river to make a wish.
  3. A boat ride across the ghats. If you heard me on instagram then you know how despite the intrinsic touristy value of a boat ride, this one you will not regret. Also, it creates a great wonderful photo op.
  4. Food is beautiful in Benaras but if you do not believe in literally taking to the streets, some of your best bets for the sweets and savoury treats include Ksheer Sagar sweets. I could also dedicate a whole blog post to the amazing guys at Baba Lassi but let me just leave you with the thought that every conceivable lassi flavour to the power awesome infinity can be found here. It also helps that the owner is a chiller who you can have friendly conversations with over *ahem* lassi. You will see more of him in another blog post. 
  5. The hipster experience. I really do enjoy breaking free from the crowds and the social protocols and hanging loose and sometimes walking off the trodden path. It makes me an occasional hipster and I tend to be happy with it. Get lost in the lanes of Munshi Ghat. Take some time to admire the wall art or the beautiful carvings on the tiny colourful doors. Stop to talk to the locals or even buy some local incense. The Mona Lisa Cafe and German bakery is wonderfully nice with great wifi access but the food was not as great. For the great traveller cafe food experience, hit Pizzeria Vatika at Assi Ghat for fresh juices and authentic wood fire pizza. The cafe overlooks the ghats and is right next to a wonderful little bookshop that also sells beautiful postcards. What's not to love.
  6. The silk shopping. The best places and also with the most competitive pricing, to buy your stash of Banarsi silk sarees would have to be at the Chowk. From highly exclusive work that is supplied to the biggest retailers across the metropolitans to the smaller shops that cuts the cost of the middle men, this is your one stop shop for your silk shopping. Of course, shops are dotted across the entire city selling you silk sarees from as little as Rs. 500 (INR) to as much as Rs. 1,00,000(INR) but from our painstaking research and experience, this market should suffice.
  7. Do not trust the auto wallahs and rickshaw wallahs (the public mode of conveyance) in the city, with all your heart. We faced a small incident of petty undue pocketing and were more careful thereon. There are arbitrary rates with the rickshaws but try and establish that you know your way around and you would be less likely to get taken for a ride. Also, these are your best choices for transportation since the culturally rich parts of the city are made up of thin alleyways. 
  8. While a lot of websites point you towards, 'Open Hand cafe' and ' Baba Black Sheep', I would not put them on my list of 'cannot possibly miss' in the city. In one word: overrated. 
  9. Go to Banaras with the understanding that the entire city does not look like a postcard. There are parts of the city which would probably make you feel like you were in any developing city with its sprouting malls and a host of international stand alone stores. 
  10. If you plan to pick souvenirs or even trinkets or artefacts that would serve as constant reminders of your holiday, it is best to try the rows of small shops near the ghats (try Munshi Ghat). The cafes and emporiums will almost always have the same kind of products but with a higher price tag.
Pizzeria Vatika


Street art depicting the 'fearless' woman




The time I attained a little insight into peaceful living


Pizzeria Vatika










The jolly 'ol chap at Baba Lassi



Wearing:
Jumpsuit: C/O Stalk Buy Love

A few blogposts are on their way. Till then, I can't wait to address questions from you guys about this sojourn in Banaras. Ask away in the comments. 

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