Ring in the old, ring out the new

Interview with Nayantara Kilachand, founder and editor Mumbai Boss

“What was I thinking?” – a question women ask themselves often, about the men we date, desserts we consume, exercise classes we sign up for and well, the clothes we buy. Nayantara Kilachand asked herself a similar question when she went home and tried on the pleated peach skirt she had just purchased from Zara. “Every now and then when I decide to experiment with my look I end up with clothes I don’t wear,” she laughs. And a habit of buying things without trying them doesn’t help.

Peach pleated skirt, Zara

Peach pleated skirt with slanting hemline, Zara

‘Making sense of the city’ for the people of Mumbai, at work the busy editor is most comfortable in her now almost uniform of a T-shirt/ shirt and jeans. Even with the dresses and skirts for evenings out, she likes to keep it simple and classic. “I would much rather have one Chloe jacket that is ‘seasonless’ than buy trendy clothes every week,” she says. As an occasional shopper, she is quite unlike the stereotype of the impulsive, shopaholic woman – she knows exactly what she wants and only buys that!

New York is her favourite for the variety and value for money, while Paris for the boutiques and vintage. Nayantara shops for everything she needs once in a year from her favourite brands – Cos, Uniqlo and J Crew for basics and Topshop for denim. “But when I am travelling I actually don’t like to spend too much time shopping,” she says. Back in India, online stores with easy delivery and return policies are favoured.

Purchased in 2013; Number of times worn: 0

Purchased in 2013; Number of times worn: 0

A lover of all things vintage, Paris is much-loved for the jewellery and New York for those special finds like a jacket from Chloe from the house’s Phoebe Philo days. “I still use my mum’s bag from the 70s,” she says. The small brown leather Hermes bag after being repaired by the company is now in mint condition. “Since I mostly have classic pieces in my wardrobe, I don’t throw away things quickly.” Otherwise she purges her wardrobe twice a year and the clothes go to charity.


For UK sizes 8-10, the cute pleated skirt with a slanting hemline is perfect for summer and a fun look to style easy or dressed up.

Model friend: Kadambari Sadekar; Location: Worli seaface; Styling: Rachana Nakra and Radhika Dhawan; Accessories: Radhika Dhawan and Rachana Nakra; Photographs: Karan Nevatia (karan1981@outlook.com)


Beauty-cool Product Pick

Benefit That Gal

The name doesn’t say much, but this product is a primer. With their cutesy, bright packaging and fantastic, easy-to-use products Benefit is one of my favourite cosmetic brands. On one shopping outing I received a little tester tube of this silken, pink cream when I purchased this eye-contour kit.


I used a little bit under my foundation for a wedding and at least five people commented on the ‘glow’ of my skin as soon as they saw me. It is light, subtle and smooths out the skin, brightens it and the difference is for you to see immediately. It can just as easily be used on its own  if you are going for the fresh, dewy look (avoid wearing if you have oily skin or outdoors in humid weather). I am a fan and now own a proper full-sized tube!

When shopping is an addiction (Fuffabulous is rehab)

Interview with Radhika Dhawan, fashion entrepreneur and consultant

Founding one of India’s first fashion e-commerce portals was a gift and a curse for Radhika Dhawan. As an entrepreneur it was a dream come true, as a shopaholic it was a nightmare (OK maybe also a dream) to have so much great fashion so easily accessible to her. She eventually became one of her own best customers.


Green crepe-silk shirt with neon and metal detailing by Rajat Tangri

“I think I have an actual shopping problem,” she acknowledges, laughing. Having sold off her company First Row a year ago, she doesn’t have as easy an access any more, but since she “almost lives” in Palladium, it isn’t too difficult either. As someone who first buys and then thinks about it, a conversation about her shopping habits is like Confessions of a Shopaholic. It doesn’t matter whether she needs it or not, if she will use it or not, if Radhika likes something it almost always ends up in her shopping bag.

SS'12 collection

SS’12 collection

“I used to be bad and then, I went to UK,” she says about her year away for a Masters where she bought clothes, accessories or shoes every day. Maintaining an exceptionally active social life only adds to her shopaholic ways. Today she owns 109 pairs of shoes, 13 plain white shirts and a wardrobe full of clothes and accessories that she may or may not have worn even once. It includes skirts and waistcoats passed on by her mum and nani, which she used to recycle in her college days.

Number of times worn: 0

Number of times worn: 0

A purging exercise that she undertakes every three months usually starts off well. But since she finds herself very emotionally attached to her things, “the next day when I re-asses the pile, I just end up keeping back most of the clothes”.

Metal and thread embroidery

Metal and thread embroidery around the collar and cuffs

A perfect candidate for the Fuffabulous project, Radhika detaches emotionally from a Rajat Tangri shirt that she bought off the runway last year while she attended the shows at Lakme Fashion Week. “If I don’t wear something I buy within a week, I don’t end up wearing it at all.” A year later, having gained a few inches it has become further impossible for her to use the shirt. The necklace is something she bought from her own merchandise at First Row. The Periwinkle neck piece, though gorgeous, has never been on any of her social outings. “Hopefully someone who loves fashion as much as me but will actually use these things will be able to buy the stuff.”


Metal and bead necklace by Periwinkle

The fabric of the shirt is beautiful and colours striking. It is perfect for a UK size 8-10.

Model friend: Kadambari Sadekar; Location: Worli seaface; Styling: Rachana Nakra; Accessories: Radhika Dhawan and Rachana Nakra; Photographs: Karan Nevatia karan1981@outlook.com

It’s all in the past

What with The Great Gatsby being the movie of the moment and Nicole Kidman promoting her turn as Grace Kelly at Cannes 2013 for her upcoming big ticket film, period themes and vintage fashion are making a comeback once again. As is prone to happen every few years (Mad Men and Downton Abbey are still people’s most watched TV shows). From the fascinating stories of the 20s to the exciting fashion of the 60s, the themes are strong enough to never really get boring as often as they might be repeated.

The three bloggers who form the Vintage Mafia

The three bloggers who form the Vintage Mafia

Our fascination with the past continues to inspire our present. But there are people who prefer to actually live in the past, at least sartorially speaking. Heard of The Vintage Mafia? No, it’s not a posse dedicated to committing old-fashioned crime, these are women who prefer dresses to skinny denim and red lipstick to bronzer. Their nefarious activities include organising events and sales for other vintage aficionados and drinking lots of gin. If you like flip flops and studded totes, don’t sign up. Updos with back rolls, Lucile Ball lips and retro dresses, these women notch up the glamour quotient every time they step out. From 20s to the 60s their love of everything vintage has become the theme of their lives which they document on their individual blogs – Yesterday Girl and Diary of a Vintage Girl.

Fleur de Guerre of the Diary of a Vintage Girl

Fleur de Guerre of the Diary of a Vintage Girl

Besides shopping at vintage stores and going for afternoon teas, they have made a career out of their love for the past as stylists, writers, event organisers and even in fashion design. The Vintage Mafia group includes only three of the many vintage loving bloggers around the world, although not all of them go to the extreme of adopting the style of the past on a regular basis. Just a Google search for vintage blogs will lead you many, many more. So if you want inspiration for your vintage look (or just have fun), read these women who have dedicated their lives to it in an entirely creative way.

Yesterday Girl chanelling Joan Holloway of Mad Men

Yesterday Girl chanelling Joan Holloway of Mad Men

Rocking the cradle, adding to cart

Interview with Meenakshi Nair, food blogger and mom

As a producer at Bloomberg TV until three years ago to now as a full-time mother Meenakshi’s shopping and dressing habits have seen a dramatic change. From haunting the malls buying skinny jeans and summer dresses as a single fashionista about town, to now shopping for Storksak at Hopscotch, she is today as much an expert at maternity wear as she is about high fashion. Meenakshi burns through fashion glossies as quickly as her 2-year-old does with the cupcakes she bakes, and with biting sarcasm and insight can discuss everything from Kim Kardashian’s red carpet choices to Chanel’s legacy.

Pernia's Pop-up Shop skirt with pearl detailing

Pernia’s Pop-up Shop skirt with pearl detailing

“I now have an entirely different wardrobe from two years ago,” she says. Besides the fact that the new wardrobe had to accommodate her post pregnancy curves, as a mom her priority is now to dress for comfort. But the one thing that hasn’t changed is her love for mixing ethnic wear into her look. “I love Anokhi and Cottons and the only time I wear prints is when I purchase clothes from these stores,” she says.

Number of times worn: 0

Purchased in 2012; Number of times worn: 0

Online shopping has been a boon for the busy mom. She loves shopping on Asos, Hopscotch, First Row (till a year ago when it closed down) and Freecultr for basics. “They have an easy to follow size chart and their return policy is also convenient,” she says. Otherwise she likes to surf the brands’ websites before heading to her favourite stores so she knows exactly what she wants and just has to quickly try it on and leave. “One thing I don’t have since motherhood is the luxury of time,” she says.

On one such virtual shopping trip to Pernia’s Pop-up Shop she fell in love with a white pencil skirt with pearl detailing around the waist. “It is a classic silhouette and I thought it would be perfect for my best friend’s pre-wedding brunch,” she says. She ordered it hoping to lose weight in time for the wedding, but the inches remained on her and the skirt stayed in the closet. “It is criminal for the beautiful skirt to just stay in my wardrobe! I hope someone else will be able to enjoy wearing it.”

Pearl detailing around the waist

Pearl detailing around the waist

The cotton skirt fits a size 8 and can be as easily worn to work as a brunch.


Model friend: Kadambari Sadekar; Location courtesy: Le 15 Patisserie, Bandra; Styling: Rachana Nakra; Accessories: Stylist’s own; Photographs: Morvarid K.

Going green with love

It has been almost three weeks since the Bangladesh tragedy, where more than 1000 workers in a garment factory were killed. This is the not first horrific incident of this kind to have happened in a garment manufacturing unit in the country, but it is the deadliest disaster to hit the garment industry in Bangladesh that is worth $20 billion annually and supplies global retailers.

The cost of cheap fashion is getting unbearably high and this probably might work as the final trigger for the fashion industry to take the measures necessary to avoid any such tragedies in the future. In fact, as this story reports, H&M, C&A, Primark and Inditex, owner of the Zara chain, said they would sign a five-year contract that requires companies to conduct safety inspections, make factory conditions public and cover the costs for repairs. It also calls for them to stop doing business with any factory that refuses to make safety upgrades.

As the debate about ethics in the industry gains further momentum, it would also be the right time to discuss international brands that have adopted ethical and sustainable practices as a core philosophy for their brands. These are brands and designers that are trying to make a positive difference through fashion, and without any compromise on quality or style. Here are our 5 picks:

1. Stella Mc Cartney: “I design clothes that are meant to last. I believe in creating pieces that aren’t going to get burned, that aren’t going to landfills, that aren’t going to damage the environment,” says Stella Mc Cartney. One of the first designers to adopt the ethical and eco-friendly approach to manufacturing fashion, she made sustainable fashion a serious business. And she made it chic. Mc Cartney’s animal-friendly (no leather, no fur) designs and healthy-living attitude extends into her offices and studios in the UK that are powered by wind energy and abroad, they use renewable energy to power their stores and offices and a large part of their operations are run on 100% renewable, green energy. Read more at www.stellamccartney.com.

Fashion designer Stella Mc Cartney

Fashion designer Stella Mc Cartney

2. Edun:  Launched in 2005 by Ali Hewson and her husband, U2 singer Bono, this brand works to bring about positive change through its trading relationship with Africa. In 2009, LVMH bought a significant stake in EDUN and provides essential support, investment and infrastructure. As a 100 percent African “grow-to-sew initiative”, the brand’s sister line E Live has produced 700,000 African made T-shirts. In 2012, Diesel and Edun joined forces to further apparel trade and development in Africa and Diesel+EDUN was born. Learn more about their work at www.edun.com.

EDUN, Made in Africa

EDUN, Made in Africa

3. Toms: Toms ‘one for one’ concept is one of the most popular charitable initiatives take on by a fashion brand. When Toms sells a pair of shoes a pair of shoes is given to an impoverished child, and when Toms sells a pair of eye-wear, part of the profit is used to save or restore the eyesight for people in developing countries. Gives you a good reason to splurge on their signature espadrilles. Read more about their work at www.toms.com.


4. People Tree: Designer collaborations with Thakoon and Bora Aksu are just some of the highlights, People Tree manages to achieve design excellence and embrace a green ethic with style. The company aims to use only organic and Fairtrade cotton, natural dyes, sources locally where possible and chooses recycled products. Their fairtrade initiatives span 20 developing countries. Learn more at www.peopletree.co.uk.

people tree

5. Marks and Spencer: The brand has been a pioneer in the sustainable approach when it comes to the high street. They introduced the ‘Shwopping’ initiative with Oxfam that allows shoppers to donate an unwanted item of clothing that will go on to be re-sold in Oxfam, re-used or recycled, cutting waste while raising funds for the charity. Their sustainable men’s suit uses components such as linings made from recycled PET bottle polyester from a hi-tech processing plant in Japan, recycled polyester zips, reclaimed pocket linings (surplus from their own production lines) and reclaimed stray buttons which would otherwise end up in landfill. Read more at marksandspencer.com/Shwop

A street transformed using 10,000 items of discarded clothing, during the launch of the Marks & Spencer initiative

A street transformed using 10,000 items of discarded clothing, during the launch of the Marks & Spencer initiative

Shoppinguilt and wardrobe-karma

Interview with Manju Sara Rajan, magazine editor and mom

When is the one time that a brilliant writer, a confident editor and mother of two doubt her choices? When she casts a critical eye over her wardrobe and realises that many of the clothes she bought have not been used more than once. Back from work dressed in a beautiful silver grey tunic and chunky silver necklace, Manju is enjoying time with her kids while we chat sitting in front of her wardrobe. Her closet space is meticulously maintained and not wastefully vast, but “guilt” is a word dropped often. She “feels bad” about not wearing and also not being able to get rid of certain pieces in it.

Morphe by Amit Aggarwal grey dress; Number of times worn: 1

Morphe by Amit Aggarwal grey dress; Number of times worn: 1

Mostly a thoughtful shopper, she does most of her purchasing while travelling overseas. But  certain shopping choices of her own leave her baffled. “I don’t know why I bought this,” she says, picking out a Gucci jacket by the hanger. Some beautiful jackets and dresses were bought on impulse or just because they looked good, but don’t really fit into her style repertoire. Through the years her style has evolved into something that can best be described as ethnic-chic with a western touch, and clothes bought long ago don’t fit into her look any more. Also, pieces bought as occasion-wear can not be used more than a couple of times.

Burberry jacket; Number of times worn: 1

Burberry jacket; Number of times worn: 1

As someone who is not a hoarder, she gives away many of her clothes to friends and colleagues at least twice a year and keeps her wardrobe-karma light. But not surprisingly, it’s sometimes hard to give away certain things of high emotional or monetary value. For Fuffabulous, Manju takes the dry cleaning packaging off her beige Burberry jacket that she has worn only once. The gorgeous Morphe by Amit Aggarwal dress was worn for a party and never saw the front of her closet again. “The jacket is very easy to wear and the dress will look beautiful on someone taller,” she says.

photo (6)

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