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Romanticising maximalism of Indian design

His mentor, Tony Duqutte was an American design legend who created elegant interiors, high jewelry, costumes and sets for Hollywood and Broadway productions, European royalty and the well-heeled. Following suit, Hutton Wilkinson – the grandson of the late Bolivian president Don José Luis Tejada-Sorzano unarguably stepped into the goliath’s shoes.

As a child with a quirky sense of humour his style heroes were Tony Duquette, Cecil Beaton, Oliver Messel, The Baron de Rede, Arturo Lopez Wilshaw, Emelio Terry and Carlos de Beistegui . In 1995, when Wilkinson and his compatriot, Tony Duqutte came up with their first jewelry line for Bergdorf Goodman, Vogue wrote – “After a maximum of minimalism, all of fashion is turning towards Tony Duquette for inspiration,” (cited in Vogue Arabia)

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On reading several interviews given by Wilkinson the design enthusiast in me excitedly connected through email with the owner and creative director of Tony Duquette only to discover his “love for maximalism in Indian design”.

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To ‘serve’ with love

I recently discovered ISTLONDON, founded by  John William Micklethwaite. Its first workshop apparently started operating in 2013 but it began selling in August 2014. Actually the credit goes to my younger sister who bought its blue pastel dessert platter and serve bowls from the main shop in Alcati (a town on Turkey’s Çeşme Peninsula, on the Aegean Sea, known for its beaches, old stone houses and winemaking tradition) recently during her holiday.

So after checking with John I quickly added this too onto my shopping list for London as the porcelain is fine and available at W A Green, Closet & Botts, 181 Delecatessen & Heal’s. They claim to have used only the world’s best porcelain – Limoges (which is from Llmoges, France) and Mount Blanc; even though the latter is not easily malleable in handmade processes, but its sheen reflects the light perfectly.

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Experiments made her better…

If you are fashion forward you sure would have noticed Rimzim Dadu, a young Indian designer in her early thirties. She started off with her own label right after finishing a Fashion Design course from Pearl Academy, Delhi, in 2006. Her sparsely, brightly lit pale yellow basement studio is nestled in the bustling industrial Sector-2, few steps away from Sector 15 Metro Station in Noida.

Glad to have met her since she is celebrating a decade in fashion, this year. On viewing her crafty, experimental body of work one understands her statement of liking to deconstruct and reconstruct a material, bettter. Proclaiming to be known for her signature pieces, last season’s steel wire collection did well commercially.

This year too she has continued with it, wherein, hair-thin metallic yarns are painstakingly sewn together to form a metal wire sculpted dress possibly for Greek goddess Athena herself. It is 100% bedazzling super flexible metal couture.

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Refashioning the Pakistani Peshawari Chappal

Agender or gender fluid footwear or clothing have been a part of the Indian subcontinent’s culture since ancient days. In recent times, closer to home one notices the ubiquitous Kohlapuri slippers, Punjabi juttis/mojaris or now the Peshawari chappal – a worn especially by Pashtuns in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region of Pakistan; have taken over our everyday fashion choices. Eponymous to the city of Peshawar these flip-flops were originally only worn by men, paired with their traditional pathani suit.

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In March 2014, Paul Smith a brit brand staying true to its dry sense of humour came under the scanner for selling slightly quirky Peshawaris without giving due credit to its design influence. After a change.org petition was signed by several they began selling it with a tagline “Men’s high-shine black leather sandals with neon pink trims inspired by the Peshawari chappal.”

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My colonial hangover

As promised, through the month I am going talk shop about niche brands that one needs to pick up during their summer travels. The caveat here is for clients who like ubiquitous high-street and global luxury brands …….less is more!

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I prefer small bags…..

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In the coming month I am going to try and list niche coveted brands in other countries which many of us would be visiting during our summer holidays. They’d be ‘must-haves’ if you like to keep a low profile, yet be wearing the best. Don’t waste your time if you like bling or enjoy logomania. And who better to begin with than Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Sussex, after BOF talked about her becoming unarguably the most powerful fashion influencer in the world, by default, after marrying Harry.

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Escaping this summer with feminine digital prints and flirty hand-embroidery

Noticing closely I realized  how Sneha Arora a 33 yrs old Kolkata based designer was treading carefully on the middle path chosen between modernism and post-modernism. She derived pleasure from technological positivity and traditional expertise. Her fetish for both hand and powerloom textiles were cleverly juxtaposed with digital printing and hand-embroidery to avoid being too predictive. 

So we connected, as I wanted to know more about her clothing line and other things that mattered-

Her childhood memories: Was a studious kid. Had planned to sit for medical entrance, instead randomly took an entrance exam for NIFT and got through their Fashion Design program, Kolkata.

Her creative influences/memories: Through childhood she excitedly made cards on special occasions for both friends and family. Her elder sister is an interior designer.

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“Visual imagery is what I carried forward from Madura where I had designed tee shirts. Bougainvillea and Rhododendron are my favourite flowers. And the use of khadi is for its textured feel further aggrandized with thread and French Knot embroidery.”

– Sneha Arora

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Wearing the mundane as quirky miniatures

The mountains are calling and I must go… for their flora and fauna, clear skies and the relaxed light air sans any pollution – my sanity depends on it! It struck me when I came across LAÏTEworks (spelt as light-works) by Saurabh Banka. Couldn’t stop admiring his quirky embroidered miniatures of the mundane strewn on stoles, shirts and pouches projecting a nonchalant playful attitude. 

His

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Bankas’s design background: I graduated from NIFT, New Delhi in 2007. And started working with Rajesh Pratap Singh. In 2008, I moved to Paris and studied Masters in Fashion Design from IFM (Institut Français de la Mode). Following that, I took up a job as an Embroidery Designer for a French label Rue du Mail by Martine Sitbon. And in 2016, I moved to India to start my own brand LAÏTEworks.

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I fancy age-old Ayurvedic Skincare concoctions in a bottle!

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Today I’m sharing two stories which are sides of the same coin – one of Abida Halstenberg from Berkeley Square, London who is the founder of Samaya which has creams, cleansers, oils and supplements for the skin and hair.

She grew up in Hyderabad, south of India, but her folks belonged to the North, in Uttar Pradesh. She remembers her maternal grandmother from Oudh only prescribing natural or Ayurvedic remedies for any ailment or beauty treatment. From the age of six or seven she found herself inclined towards mixing face packs with Ayurvedic ingredients. After moving abroad life got busier so she looked for off-the-shelf products that were not just natural or Ayurvedic but also easy and pleasant to use. Uninterested with those in the market, she began building her own line based on the knowledge imparted by her grandmother and extended family (whom she had grown up with), while studying the rest.

Continue reading “I fancy age-old Ayurvedic Skincare concoctions in a bottle!”

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