Monday, 30 May 2011

An Indian Wedding in 90210 and Naomi's Beautiful Sari Dress

The season finale on US teen show 90210 aired in the UK this week and what a fab way to end - with an Indian wedding!
The whole thing was a little bit too cliche in my opinion, without ruining the plot for anyone who hasn't seen it yet, there was the scene where the groom says to his parents something that went along the lines of "I know you wanted me to have an arranged marriage like you did...", there were "typical" asian characters like the crazy overly excited male cousin who seemed like he'd never been to a party before and the prudish female cousin who was evidently very uncomfortable being at a raunchy bachelorette party.

But all that aside, I still really enjoyed watching and of course I had my eye on all the asian fashion!

Here's the bride!
The character Ivy is a bit of a tomboy and usually has a very skater/surfer look her everyday wardrobe, so it was a big surprise to see her dressed as an asian bride in very traditional red.
The photo above perhaps doesn't show her outfit off properly but I think she pulled off the look whilst staying true to her character with her hair loose and minimal make-up (aside from those red lips!)

Now onto the wedding guests...or rather just the one wedding guest that by far outshone anything else I saw in the show!
This character, Naomi, is the resident fashionista of the show, and of course she has the most amazing fusion sari dress. Again, I don't think the photo does this dress justice at all, you have to watch the show itself to see how beautiful it looks from all angles and I'm sure I'm not the only person who watched and thought "I want that dress!"

Straight after watching I went off in search of where I could find such a dress, and I found myself on the blog of Kime Buzzelli who is the costume designer for 90210. It turns out this beautiful creation was custom-made just for this episode. You can read about the inspiration and make of this dress here.

Photo credits go to The Moldy Doily and Planning Elegance.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

An Asian Bride's Shopping Experience - Summaya Darr, Imani Studio, Burooj and Je Roche

I often receive emails from brides-to-be and fashion fans wanting advice on where to go in search of their dream wedding outfits. I try to be as helpful as possible, but sometimes I find it difficult to advice because I've only ever bought the one bridal dress and that was three years ago!! One blog reader, who is getting married this year, has very kindly let me share her wedding shopping experience with you:

I am getting married and like every bride is focusing on buying the perfect dress to fit the type of wedding and budget. Everyone has an idea but it's putting that into action and committing to something.

Where to start
Firstly I did some research online, first stop was the Asian Fashion Blog which I always use to see what is currently happening in the world of Asian fashion. From here I found out about the Asian Wedding Exhibition in London and decided that as everything would be under one roof I would give it a try. The exhibition on its own was not worth it for me personally as majority of the exhibitors were from down south (although some would travel) for example wedding cakes – you wouldn’t order a cake from London if you live 3 hours away, when there are plenty of quality cake shops in your own city! Anyway the catwalk was very useful and gave me a chance to speak to the designers as well as get to see the clothes up close and personal, and how they would look when moving in them as well as when light hits them etc. I went away with useful ideas and designs.

I also found the Asiana.tv e-magazine very useful (and free to use) to find out the latest looks and designs and get a feel of whats “in” and what I want including the addresses for the boutiques etc. I also started sketching styles that I liked and took cuttings from magazines of outfits that I narrowed down.

Lastly I Googled "Asian designers in the UK" but unfortunately this produced the least quality research as most Asian designers haven’t mastered online yet, although I understand designers dont want to put their outfits for everyone to copy, sometimes they should try and hit the right balance between hiding them so they aren’t copied VS showing them to potential buyers that dont want to travel to 3- 4 hours only to realise the designers style is not what they are looking for!

Summaya Dar
I had some luck and found a new designer who I had seen in the Asiana Magazine called Summaya Darr. Her outfits seemed original and reasonably priced so I contacted her initially by web and then by phone. She responded promptly and professionally which is always a good sign.

We arranged to meet up in Manchester as she was up here for a meeting, Summaya bought along some of her samples – she was really friendly and down to earth, and the clothes were nice, she said that the material can change as these were sample pieces. The embroidery on all the samples was pretty much the same and unfortunately not what I was looking for although I could suggest changes to this as well. She was helpful in suggesting changes and colours etc so I went away with a positive vibe from her.

I think she does have original ideas and can work with the client, but I also think that she is new and will need to gain more experience. She has got a new collection coming out (all red) so I think she will definitely improve and only get better and better with each collection. Since my first visit I have since seen her new collection and really liked it, I personally wasn’t looking for red so it wasn’t for me but she is evolving!

I would have actually commissioned a design from her if a few factors were on our side (mainly her location – she is from London so it's going a bit far to place my orders) I do think I will get something made by her in the near future and wish her luck :)

Imani Studio
Whilst in Manchester I decided to make the best use of my time and arranged to have a look at what else this city had to offer. I made a trip to Imani Studio – it is amazing and you can tell the quality in the work and the material but to be fair the prices reflected this!
Whatever price I thought would be reasonable for an outfit, the actual cost ended up being much much more. For example if I saw something that I thought at the most would be £2000-£2500, the actual price was something like £3500!

I didn’t leave my heart in that shop as I liked some outfits but they were more classic pieces that other shops are now imitating (if you compared the designer versions with the copies you could tell the difference) but on their own the imitations would still look nice at half the price. I think the only thing that makes me sway to designers rather than “shops ” pretending to do the same thing is the cut of the outfit. I would buy a classic party piece from Imani as I would see it as an investment and could wear it more than once (so definitely will go there again!)

Burooj
Afterwards we went to Wilmslow road. I was surprised as I thought they would have more clothes shops in Manchester especially on this road but there were only a handful (maybe im so used to Birmingham and their end to end stores). Anyway I went into Burooj and picked up a couple of reasonably prices party outfits within 5 minutes of being in the store (so that’s always a good sign).
We asked to see the bridal outfits but was told that it was appointment only...however they said if we waited they might fit us between clients. We waited about 30 minutes and would have given up if it wasn’t for the outfits in the window display that interested me. A tip for for brides to be: if there is a boutique you want to check out, especially if you are travelling far, book an appointment so that you get to see the collection and have their undivided attention. If there are a couple of places you want to go to in the same city then always give yourself 2 hours between appointments, but do take into account travel time from one place to the next.

So we finally went upstairs into a cosy room that had unique and amazing outfits...opulent is the word I would use, the embroidery, material and designs all were unique. Heavily focused on Pakistani fashion of long tops and flowy ghararas and shararas and full skirts – the entire look was glamour, sophistication, opulent and rich.

Overall I loved nearly every piece that I saw (bearing in mind we were rushing as he had another booked client coming in)...the prices were reasonable for what you are getting – something unique and different as opposed to the over the top bling bling same old lengha, same full on embroidery everywhere else (prices were from £1200 upwards (which is normal everywhere else).
When I first visited Burooj my wedding was planned as a small family affair (in a restaurant no more than 50 guests) so the opulence of the outfits were a bit too much and I was also working within a budget because of it being a small event.

Anyway the guy serving quickly sketched me an outfit design – as I liked something and his sketch showed changes to the neckline, colour, bottoms, scarf etc. I was impressed with this as you can visualise it pretty quickly and know whether they understood what’s in your mind. He gave me a final price and I would have happily ordered there and then if I was having a big wedding.
They need 8 weeks to have your order ready which was also didn't fit in with the timeframes I was working to.

I would recommend this place for outfit choice/uniqueness, quality, prices and designer backing (they are using a famous fashion house in Pakistan Chinyere (I think is what its called). I dont know how they are after you place an order (which is normally where the Asians fall down). I bought an outfit from Jaan southall...bad experience and would never order from him again – would buy off the rack but not risk ordering as quality finish and time it took for outfit to actually arrive was all bad! (that’s another story)

Je Roche
Ok so a week later when the wedding had moved further forward – I found a youtube video of a Je Roche catwalk show. The first time I was in Manchester I went in to Je Roche but it was busy so I didn't speak to assistant. I looked at the party/casual collection and thought this is it...they dont have bridals and left (partly because my friend was about to pass out with hunger).
After I saw the catwalk show I really liked the designs and contacted them to make an appointment the following day. As soon as I told her the type of wedding (small) and budget she said she had the perfect outfit in mind for me. When I arrived she had just popped out (as I was running late) so while I was waiting for her I tried on an outfit (the first green one that opens her collection in the catwalk show) – it is stunning. I would have changed a couple of minor things like added sleeves and a scarf...but the price tag was in the £2k range. It’s really nice seeing outfits close up – hers were definitely beautiful (they are by a designer called Zainab Sajid).
Anyway when Roshi came she showed me the correct outfit which fitted like a glove, however it was wrong colour (navy blue) and not exactly bridal (more party wear although price tag was £850). Anyway for a bit more money I added more work on the scarf, then Roshi suggested a few design changes. I was also changing the colour of the outfit so she also helped me decide this as well. She said it would be ready in 3 weeks so I left excited.

2 weeks later: I receive a call saying my outfit had arrived, I was shocked and impressed as normally this does not happen; whatever time the boutique says, you usually have to put in a buffer of a couple of weeks in case of delivery issues, but this is the first time I have had an outfit commissioned that arrived before the delivery date! I wasn’t expecting it to arrive so soon I couldn’t go and pick it up until the following week, I was so excited and was just thinking what an amazing service...and then it all went down-hill!

1 week later: I went to collect the outfit and like every bride you feel excited and nervous and just hope it's everything you want it to be. The first time I saw the outfit I could breathe a sigh of relief it was beautiful and looked amazing and glamorous. I tried it on and loved it so I was happy. However through my excitement I didn’t realise a few things with it (luckily I had taken my sister and friend). Another tip for any brides-to-be: I would recommend you take people that will voice what they think. My sister and friend pointed out a few things, such as the sharara that went with it was wrong shade and wrong material, the sleeves were baggy and the scarf had a red piping which you could see underneath the border of the white duppatta.

The shop assistant tried to fob off these points in a very causal way by saying things like they must have used this material instead for the Sharara due to not finding the correct colour in that material (jamavar) and they wanted to give a clean finish and the scarf is meant to look like that...I initially also brushed off these "small" things until my sister noticed that the lining used underneath the scarf was a different shade compared to the duppatta and top! The assistant realised she couldn’t brush such an obvious difference therefore she contacted the boutique owner Roshi, who immediately said it was the wrong bottoms (first question – do they not check the deliveries against the order form, have they never heard of quality control?)
The owner arrived and said it would be sent back, at which point I mentioned the sleeves also needing lining and fitting. I Waited another 2 weeks and was contacted to say that the outfit had arrived. I have to say I did like the idea of having Roshi's mobile number, so I could text her, and feel like she was at the other side of the phone, and she did respond within reasonable time. At this point I asked her to make sure there were no problems with the outfit as I didn't have time to keep returning, she said this would be done. (Another point to remember is make sure where you decide to purchase your dress from is within reasonable travelling distance because you most likely will have to make several trips and if you take into account time and travel expenses and sometimes relying on other people to go with you then it all adds up and may not be worth the stress VS something else closer to home!)

So I went again last week and this time the top had marks on it! The trousers were STILL not the correct material (although they were in the correct shade) and the sleeves were still loose!! I wasn’t happy, and again I was being fobbed off by the assistant until I asked to speak to Roshi (who wasn’t there at the time). I mentioned over the phone about the problems, and she said they would get the outfit dry cleaned but I would have to come back for it! (it's things like this that a bride to be does not need, you are already stressed out about the rest of the arrangements, and the dress – most important thing is still not right). They then suggested to the assistant to use a damp cloth to check whether the marks could be removed (later on said they were only dust marks – again ever heard of quality control and checking the item before the customer arrives ESPECIALLY when I made a point of asking them to do this).
They said they could send the trousers back again, but at this point I had had enough, I gave in and said I would keep them as I had no time left, but I told them I would not be paying for the trousers, they discounted £30 which personally I didn’t think was good enough but I was so stressed out that all I wanted to do was leave (this is normal which is why you should give yourself as much time as possible so that if mistakes occur you are not accepting them due to time constraints. I sometimes get an impression that the shopkeepers use things like this against you knowing you don't have the time).

Sadly, it doesn’t finish there, after I paid I didn’t even receive a protective cover for the outfit, they had run out so instead I got a stripey market stall bag that not even my local fabric shop uses anymore and the worst thing was how the outfit was packed. At this point I was so angry, it just spoilt the entire experience and even though no one else will notice the few glitches with the outfit – I will and that’s what counts and is annoying.

I’m sure other people have nice experiences, but it takes YOUR bad experience for you to form an opinion about a place and I am just disappointed that it ended the way it did and I didn’t feel any effort was being put into fixing the problem. It started off really good and Roshi seems really nice, unfortunately being nice does not change my experience with them.

I think my final piece of advice for brides to be is where possible is use people and places that you have personal recommendations for as the risk of things going wrong will be lower than picking a place from a magazine. The ideal end result is for you to be happy on your very special day in an outfit that you are comfortable in and you are happy with. It’s YOUR day and its going to give you life long memories. The experience of buying that perfect dress should be fun and exciting and amazing from the start (when you look through magazines) to the end when you are finally wearing your dream dress to mark the beginning of a new chapter in your life.

Looking back it is easy to get emotional and upset and angry like I felt when things were going wrong, but at the end of the day I do have a beautiful dress that overall I am happy with (although it has a few glitches which hopefully no one else will notice lol) but if anything I hope others can learn from my experience and use my advice to make your experience easy, stress-free and enjoyable! :o)

Kind regards

An Asian Bride to Be in 2011

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Asian Wedding Magazines Summer 2011: Asiana Wedding vs Asian Bride

Asian wedding blog "Asian Wedding Ideas" recently posted a poll asking readers to choose their favourite asian wedding magazine cover from recent issues of Asiana Wedding and Asian Bride Magazine (you can view the results of the poll here). I didn't vote, because I couldn't choose...and I don't mean in a good way! Here are my thoughts on the Summer 2011 covers for Asiana Wedding and Asian Bride:

First up Asiana Wedding, you can view the front cover here.
The first word that came to mind when I saw this cover was "boring". Ok you can't go wrong with a red bridal outfit with gold jewellery, but I'd have liked to see something with a bit more of a "summer" feel to it. Perhaps I've been reading these magazines for too long, but this look really doesn't inspire me at all, sure it's a pretty photo of a pretty bride but it's a look I've seen before so many times. The other major thing to point out is the fact that it's a non-asian model (at least she doesn't look asian to me), there's always going to be debates about the use of non-asian models in magazines aimed at an asian audience and we all know the arguments on both sides - the question is, would an asian bride-to-be aspire to the look shown on this front cover?

The things that Asiana Wedding lacked, Asian Bride has plenty of - their magazine has a very summer-y feel to it and there's actual asian people on there too!
There's a new team at Asian Woman Magazine and Asian Bride and overall I'd say they've made an improvement. Recent issues of Asian Woman Mag have featured celebrities like The Sugababes and Alesha Dixon on the covers and now they're trying out the same with Asian Bride. All very good in theory, but sadly I'm not overly impressed by their choice of celebrities - Sunny and Shay from The Family. They're a little bit 2009 for my liking, and besides that, we all saw their wedding on TV - who wants to see them dress up as bride and groom again? Not me!
Now I'm no expert on magazine covers and what sells, but most mainstream magazine covers have the subject facing the camera, inviting the reader in perhaps? In this case they're looking at each other, perhaps to portray a "look of love" but to me as a reader this front cover doesn't look very inviting at all!

What do you think? Do either of these front covers inspire you?

Monday, 16 May 2011

YBQ Yousuf Bashir Qureshi collection at O'Nitaa London

Yousuf Bashir Qureshi (YBQ) is one of the few international designers that I can say I've met in person. I even got the chance to interview him, which was a first for me (you can hear the interview and view his "Holey" collection here).

His latest collection is now available at London designer boutique O'Nitaa and here are some photos from the launch event. A big thanks to Shahid Malik Photography for these photos.

These design are very much in YBQ's usual style of long, loose, flowing outfits, but with the big difference to his usual work being prints instead of block colours.


In addition to clothing, YBQ also has his own jewellery line:

Personally, I'm a big fan of YBQ (and not just because I met him and loved hearing his stories!). I admit, I was a little unsure when I first saw his collection, but having tried a few pieces on and seen how flattering they are on different shapes and sizes I think these outfits would go perfectly in any summer wardrobe, and there's that element of virsatility, you could wear these with jeans or with leggings/churidar pants.

The YBQ collection can be found at O'Nitaa: 16 Glentworth Street, London NW1 5PG

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Shyamal and Bhumika come to Phulkari London


Last weekend it was Nickie and Nina and now another international design duo are coming to the UK: Shyamal and Bhumika.

Based in India, Shyamal and Bhumika have a massive following across the world (their facebook page has close enough to 35,000 fans). Poorna from The Asian Wedding Editor's Guide interviewed them in August last year, you can read the interview here.

Before now, UK fans who wanted to purchase pieces from their collections had to order online, but now they have a UK stockist in Phulkari London, who are hosting a special event to launch the collection. Here are the details

Dates: Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th
Times: 12.00pm to 7:00pm
Location: Phulkari London - 189 Ilford Lane, Ilford, Essex, IG1 2RU
Contact: Telephone - 0203 538 3066 or Phulkari London Facebook page

The designers Shyamal and Bhumika will be in store on both days and there will also be models showcasing the outfits. The outfits will include suits, shararas sarees and lenghas.

Here are some of their designs:

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Asian Fashion at the Royal Wedding

Like a lot of people I spent most of last Friday, 29th April, glued to my TV watching the Royal Wedding. As interested as I was in seeing the bride's dress, as a fashion fan I was also really interested to see what the guests would be wearing and seeing as I have a particular interest in asian fashion I was keen to see if there would be any on display!
First up there was Marina Johnson, wife of London Mayor Boris Johnson, who wore a dark blue churidar suit and in my opinion looked as if she didn't make much of an effort! I get that at non-asian weddings, some of your more heavily embroidered asian outfits would look over-the-top and out of place, however I think her of outfit choice was just too plain for such a grand occassion. Then there's the lack of accessorising and styling, most of the other female guests had perfectly-styled hair with matching hats - of course a hat wouldn't quite look right with this outfit, but she could have worn *some* kind of hair accessory or styled her hair in some way? and I know the picture doesn't show her feet but it looks to me like she's wearing flats - a pair of heels could have made this outfit 100 times better!

What do you think?

Aside from Marina Johnson, I spotted a few other non-famous wedding guests in tradition asian attire at the wedding including this woman in a sari which I came across on the britishmonarchy flickr page:
A little more digging and I found some video footage of this lady with her colour-co-ordinated husband, I think a sari is the perfect choice of asian outfit for this occassion:

Finally, there was one other guest that caught my eye, however I've yet to find a full-length photo, so you'll have to make-do with this slightly fuzzy screengrab which I took from ITV Player (which has their coverage from the Royal Wedding available to view online until the end of this month)
I do think the jewellery is a little over the top - heavy necklace, earrings and of course that impossible-not-to-notice nath nose ring, but you've got to give this woman props for going all out and really working her chosen look. In my opinion she looks much better than Marina Johnson.

If were invited to the royal wedding and had to wear an asian outfit, what would you wear?

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

The Asian Fashion Blog guide on how to become a model - part 3: the creative agency view

Following on from my previous posts giving modelling advice (which you can view here: part 1 the fashion spectator's view and part 2 the make-up artist's view) I also spoke to the team at The Model's Portal, a creative agency which represents some of the UK's top asian models, to find out from them what it takes to become a model.

As an agency - what do you look for in a model?
TMP Agency is very keen to on working with models that are various heights and sizes. We look for something unique in a model.
Apart from the obvious; decent height and figure, a model needs to be able to work hard and remain passionate about what they do. They also need to be very versatile and professional as we have a huge range of clients wanting models for fashion, commercial, and beauty.

However we also love our models to be unique, have a personality. All models are different, and even though a lot of the time they will be doing what the client wants, it is important for them to be able to be themselves.

What should model starting out be doing to further their careers?
To start off, a model needs to get some professional shots done to show agencies their range, and how they photograph, etc. Even though it may initially be costly to do this, it is definitely essential to get their foot in the door.
This one of the main reasons we have TMP Studios available for all to come to; we are aware of how much professional photos can cost and therefore do great deals where aspiring models can get high-quality shots for their portfolio. This is done at an affordable rate for aspiring models as our primary concern is getting models out there – making dreams come true.

Tell us a bit more about the services you provide and any of your big success stories
The Models Portal is essentially a creative agency; we provide opportunities for both models and clients. TMP Agency and TMP Studios are wings of the company which run at a great success rate.
For new models, we provide excellent support. Having developed new models over the years we know exactly what will work for you and what won't work.

We also welcome experienced models, especially if they are seeking an agency where they can progress further and feel comfortable.
We aim to have a constant flow of work and opportunities for all our models in a huge variety of media.

For our existing and new clients, it is our ethos to provide them with high-quality creative fashion & event photography. We also provide models for fashion photography, magazines, catwalks. We have provided models for London Fashion Week, Sony BMG, Sony Music, Celador films, Hollywood, etc.
More notably we helped with the casting for Slumdog Millionaire and a large number of our girls have worked with Asiana Magazine & Asian Woman.

Can you give us some insights into the non-glamorous/realistic side to being a model?
The non-glamorous side of the job is the hardwork involved and the rejections you’ll always get. But it’s also rewarding at the same time, because when you overcome these mini mountains you’ll feel even more special when achieving your goals.
Modeling is not easy, you have to make yourself a product.
TMP Agency are fortunate enough to have a personal touch to our agency. We get to know you and know your character and assist you in your decision making within the industry. Meaning we are dedicated to personal development as well as career success. We are the biggest Asian modeling agency in Europe.

How can potential models get in touch with you?
If you think you can model, don’t be scared to approach us. Send us your photos (any photos) and your location/height to: beamodel@tmpagency.com and check out our website: www.tmpagency.com