Memories, cupcakes and first dates

Interview with Pooja Dhingra, pastry chef, Le 15 Patisserie

I am a sucker for nostalgia, for trips down memory lane. And through my interview with ace pastry chef Pooja Dhingra I proved my theory that women, clothes and nostalgia are a strong connect. As she brought out the purple ruffled tunic to give me, Pooja’s first words were ‘I remember…’ And what followed is a story full of excitement, action and adrenaline. I only exaggerate a little bit. Pooja especially bought the New Look top to wear for new year’s eve in Paris in 2009. After celebrations with friends at her flat, at midnight they stepped out to watch the fireworks at the Eiffel Tower. “These men started bothering my girl friends and it soon started to go a bit out of hand. I had no choice but to whack them hard and get them to apologize,” she says grinning.

New Look top, EUR 30; Number of times worn- 1

New Look purple top with ruffles, Number of times worn- 1

Pooja didn’t get to wear the top or whack misbehaving men again, but she recalls that night as clearly as the opening of her new stand-alone store in Bandra two weeks ago. And I am not surprised she remembers what she wore for every memorable occasion in her life, including her first date in 2005 with her now ex-boyfriend. “It was a cute black top with a bow,” she smiles. And she still has that top. The Fendi sunglasses were a gift from her parents on a family trip in Milan in 2006. “I used them a bit but later bought other sunglasses so they have not been used in a while.” Memories associated with the things are enough to hold on to them.


Fendi sunglasses, Number of times worn – few

Between running her kitchen, stores at Palladium, Good Earth and Bandra, Pooja doesn’t find time to shop at leisure. So she leaves it for holidays abroad. She likes clothes but loves handbags. “The first bag I bought from my own money was a Dior after I completed my internship in Switzerland,” she says. The bags are still around but she purges her clothes every year before Diwali. “I give away the clothes to Cancer Foundation.” The top and sunglasses will be sold to someone who will love them as much as her and the proceeds will go to charity.


The top is a UK size 12 – 14 and can be paired with printed tights, leggings or jeans. The sunglasses are in perfect condition.
Model friend: Kadambari Sadekar; Photos and styling: Rachana Nakra; Accessories: Stylist’s own; Instagram @poojadhingra

The brilliant Namrata Joshipura at Lakme Fashion Week

Laser lights and neon colours set the perfect mood for the Namrata’s signature sequins. I love sequins, ahem, just in case you couldn’t tell by the large header on this blog.

Easily wearable, yet striking. Fabulous collection.

Namrata Joshipura_ Grand Finale of LFW SR 2013 - 9

Namrata Joshipura_ Grand Finale of LFW SR 2013 - 6


If you haven’t already, get hold of this week’s Mint Lounge for a brilliant issue about vintage edited by Shefalee Vasudev.

Here are links to my articles in this issue:

From jutti wedges by Abraham and Thakore to lehenga gowns by Gaurav Gupta — On timeless styles that are perpetually in fashion.

From a vintage bath-tub couch (re-purposed with Italian red leather and ergonomics) to vintage Chanel pearls from Paris now available in Mumbai — A buyer’s guide to vintage shopping.

In the meanwhile I am spending some time at Lakme Fashion Week. Did I mention I got to watch Naeem Khan‘s wonderful show yesterday?!

Naeem Khan at LFW

Naeem Khan at LFW

A closet under construction

Interview with Nishka Lulla, Fashion designer and stylist

Nude lace dress, Zara

Nude lace dress, Zara

As a young fashion designer, stylist and celebrity Nishka Lulla’s wardrobe cycle is like any of ours…. but on drugs. Occasion-wear is used no more than once or twice, clothes and accessories are purchased whenever there is a chance and then discarded ever so often – Nishka’s wardrobe is like under constant renovation. She is young enough to still be in the process of identifying her sense of style, and clothes are something to be played with than get attached to. “I used to like pink and girly styles earlier, but not any more,” she says.

As a stylist she is out scouring stores at least twice a week and so shopping for herself on the side is a temptation hard to resist. The advantage is that sometimes she can fish into her own wardrobe for her styling assignments. The extra clothes and accessories are, therefore, an occupational hazard. Nishka might be an impulsive buyer, but doesn’t  really regret her shopping decisions – when she gets bored or the outfits seem “out-of-style”, she gives them away to her friends or staff members.

Purchased in 2011; Number of times worn: 2

Purchased in 2011; Number of times worn: 2

For Nishka and her friends, there aren’t too many boundaries when it comes to their wardrobes and they swap clothes all the time. “I get bored really fast, so this works well for me,” she says. When I tell her about my project, without much thought, she “knows just the thing to give”. And it is love at first sight, the long nude lace dress she pulls out. She purchased the dress from Zara on a trip to Turkey. “I think it is extremely classy and feminine,” she says. Nishka wore the dress once for an evening out. It would have most likely never seen the light of day again, but for a friend who borrowed the dress before it went back into the darkness of her closet again. And now the gorgeous dress is with us to be fuffabulous!

photo (1)

The dress is in perfect condition and fits a size 8. It has a beautiful back and because of its neutral colour, is very easy to wear.   


Model friend: Kadambari Sadekar; Photos and Styling: Rachana Nakra; Accessories: Stylist’s own

Anything could happen

Not only because I’m listening to Ellie Goulding as I type this.

My experience with fuffa:

I recently got back home from London, after more than a year spent studying, travelling, making friends, shopping and receiving a Masters in Fashion Management. Many of you might be familiar with that particular brand of feeling when you come back home after a stint abroad – the confusion, the vacuum.

But then that’s the only downside to going to London. As a resident of the fashion capital of the world, I learnt more about fashion in a year spent shopping and people watching on Oxford Street, trekking to Bricklane market over weekends, visiting pop-up stores in Shoreditch, working at Paul & Joe on Sloane Street and reading my free copy of Stylist magazine on the tube, than I did in the same time spent as a fashion journalist here.


Pop-up mall at Shoreditch

Wait, there was another downside. You shop so much that when you start packing up your life in two suitcases and a cabin bag, you realise you will be leaving behind more than just your friends.

My wardrobe had to be culled, and mercilessly. I had to choose only the clothes I couldn’t absolutely do without. And if you have been in this position, you know how hard it is to even leave your favourite cosy bathrobe behind. But I was brutal. The bathrobe went and along with it many of my favourite clothes and boots – clothes I hadn’t had enough of a chance to wear, and really, how often can you wear boots in Mumbai? (Unless you are an actor, then you wear boots and leather jackets everywhere.)

I made two piles. One went to Oxfam. The other pile became a party invitation – eat, drink and try on clothes. And when I saw my friends twirl in the dresses and coats and fall in love with them, it was all fine. I was leaving behind my clothes with my friends.

15-year-old denims and other stories

With Maria Goretti, Mom and TV host

Gavin Miguel emerald green dress

Gavin Miguel emerald green dress

“I still don’t know what to give you!” Maria Goretti’s impassioned text message to me as I navigate the streets of Andheri to her home is no deterrent  She had been extremely excited about this project over the phone and had made a solemn promise to handover something lovely from her wardrobe. This was classic cold feet. I replied, “I’m sure you will find something, don’t worry.” And she did – a beautiful emerald gown.

But it was an emotional parting – in her words.

A warm and extremely affable person, it is a pleasure meeting Maria and discussing her wardrobe. Now a mom and a cookery show host, she has come a long way from her MTV VJing days. But her closet hadn’t, till very recently.

How long back, would you say, does the oldest garment in your wardrobe go? Maria’s goes 15 years! She still had some denims from when she was a VJ. “I loved those jeans but had to discard them because they were out of style,” she says. Otherwise Maria is quite regular with discarding unwanted and unused clothes. “Every six months I call my close friends over to take whatever they like. The rest I pass on to an orphanage,” she says.

The emerald dress is made by Gavin Miguel, one of Maria’s favourite designers. She bought the gown for a portfolio shoot about 5 years ago, but didn’t end up wearing it either for the shoot or otherwise. “I love the dress and how it moves, but I just never got the chance to wear it. I have never again been in that same shape,” she says.

Purchased in 2007; Number of times worn: 0

Purchased in 2007; Number of times worn: 0

Maria isn’t an impulsive or a random shopper, and buys only what she really likes regardless of label or brand. She likes to dress unique and mostly shops while travelling abroad. This makes it harder for her to part with stuff. “Can’t believe I have never worn it,” she tells me, making a sad face. The dress has been resting at the back of her closet since then and she hadn’t been able to give it away, for the cost and for her love for it. “But I think I can part with it for someone who will appreciate it and actually use it,” she smiles, and finally let’s go.

The dress is indeed beautiful and will get you tons of compliments, it fits a size 8 perfectly and the lightweight fabric moves just as well as Maria described. 


Model friend: Kadamabari Sadekar; Photos and styling: Rachana Nakra; Accessories: Stylist’s own

Things I learned while working on this…

  1. I was expecting some fun and insightful stories about women and their love for clothes. I got just that.
  2. Women develop very real attachments to their clothes. Words like psychological trauma, emotional experience, guilt etc were liberally used during the interviews.
  3. If you give them a good reason, those very women will generously give away something they have been holding on to for years. Even though we may not admit it out loud, we all know the clothes we will never wear again.
  4. The ciders in London need to come with a statutory warning. I was supposed to style these clothes on myself, but my new size 10-12 formed a hindrance to the plan. So my friend will be the clothes horse. It also makes the process of styling the look and taking pictures much easier for me.
  5. Travelling to Versova is a bloody pain

The clothes and accessories are coming out of hibernation and going where they belong – on a person. Since I am responsible for styling the looks, I went with my personal aesthetic. So don’t be surprised to see brogues paired with an emerald evening dress or leather and animal print with lace. Hope you enjoy that element of ‘surprise’ in a look, that masculine or grungy touch to a soft, feminine ensemble.

First interview soon!

From fuffa to fabulous

If you know of Anna Dello Russo, then you know she is aptly described as a “fashion maniac.” I don’t know what her house looks like, but I imagine she lives in a baroque mansion with a rhinestone studded sunbed and a gilded wardrobe. When her top five fashion tips include the below, what else can you think?!

1. ACCESSORIZE ME, Color me, Shock me!

2. Choose only OFF-scale, HUGE, OVER-size, accessories.

3. Flashy jewels personalize your STYLE!

4. Amazing accessories‘ll renew your ASLEEP closet: Your old, so beloved, little black dress‘ll be reawakened by the impact of a chunky GOLDEN necklace.

5. Don’t want to give up your old consumed, shabby black coat? At least shake it with a THIGH-HIGH leather boots and a MASSIVE METAL clutch.

Not many could follow the sort of counsel on a day-to-day basis but I mean c’mon, you gotta love the woman.

AdR and her fuffa-free closet

AdR and her fuffa-free closet

But how did she inspire the name of my blog, you ask? Because we really can trust the Italians to solve any fashion dilemma. On a sunny morning, while I was taking in her  ‘Top 10 rules for the closet’, number 1 rang a gong in my head:

“Elimina tutta la FUFFA. perchè fuffa genera fuffa! I say this in Italian cause the word “FUFFA” is difficult to translate in English, but I try. Remove all RUBBISH because rubbish generates rubbish!”

Eliminate fuffa and be free – of guilt in your heart and a mess in your wardrobe. And the best part about that is, one girl’s fuffa could be another girl’s shopping spree. So much joy in the entire process isn’t it?

Till the next post, I’ll leave you with this:

Whether you know it or not, in AdR’s words, you need a fashion shower: