ARE FASHION WEEKS SEEING THE MCDONALDISATION OF FASHION IN INDIA? - The Daily Guardian
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ARE FASHION WEEKS SEEING THE MCDONALDISATION OF FASHION IN INDIA?

Why Fashion Weeks have rendered Indian fashion pale and predictable.

Anshu Khanna

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Having travelled avidly across the globe, I never tire of walking into a McDonald eatery wherever I go. Not because I am trying to cut corners or because I like eating a Big Mac. My quest is to admire the precision with which this global conglomerate has made the burger eating experience such an assembly line production. You will get the same number of napkins, sauce sachets, fries wherever you might be, from Auckland to New York! With a few tweaks in seasoning and add on flavours.

Now what if I say that Indian high fashion and couture as presented at fashion weeks is the newest example of straight-line productions. With all the design zest flattened out.

Couture, as we all know, is a realm that emerges from an aesthetic process. Creating a collection is as intense as pouring your soul into a canvas, singing to your heart’s content or rustling up a gourmet meal. Each collection that walks out on to the ramp links back to an idea, a thought, an emotion and a design bastion that is rooted in history and heritage. What a designer puts on the ramp are not just clothes but also a bit of himself. Besides the stunning work of a battery of artisans, beaders and weavers who together construct a piece of clothing.

It is against this backdrop that I was woken up from my stupor by the genius commentator and content creator Freddy Birdy when he, in one of his well followed posts, signed off the recent alliance of FDCI and LIFW with a simple mathematical equation of 0+0=0! Many must have laughed, many shown anger and disdain. For old fogeys like me however it was a sad moment. For, before our eyes we have seen a dream disintegrate into the mundane. Seen a collection launch get reduced to a source of entertainment. And the ritual of ‘showing’ your collection a twice a year regular affair.

A fact that has made the real aficionados quietly duck out of this world, leaving the arenas free for wannabes to conquer and in the bargain rustle up an inflated image of themselves. Needless to say, PLUs (People Like Us) are totally out of place in one of these circuses. I have possibly not visited one for the past five seasons. Can’t see myself juggling, robot-like, between MSA I and II, or amble for the VIP enclosure where all you see are pronounced dressers, half my size and age.

I began reporting on fashion in 1989, the same year when the brilliant couturier Rohit Khosla got off the flight from London and brought couture to New Delhi. When Tarun Tahiliani, a graduate from Wharton, founded Ensemble, India’s first multi-brand store for couture. And the year when Indians realised that Ritu Kumar was not a boutique but India’s first handmade couture label.

We were one of the few who were sitting in the Director General’s room in NIFT when a visionary like Rathi Vinay Jha proposed institutionalising fashion by creating a week of fashion where the underlying motive would be to not just structure the industry into creating two collections each year, but also have the vision to present them a season ahead so as to allow large groups like Selfridges, Browns and Neiman Marcus to book them in advance for the coming season.

It worked only for a few years after which fragile egos caused in fighting, mediocrity of vision diluted the quality, and the mushrooming of design schools and designers caused a mad rush to the ramp. Every incoming government compelled state-run design institutes to open more and more colleges, often with little to write home about in the name of quality of faculty. And in response fashion weeks grew in all directions to accommodate an army of designers who came out of these schools and used all kinds of territorial tactics to get in. Add to that the tendency to play favourites and what you had was the Waterloo of fashion, the end of well thought out shows that above all reflect the designer’s individual genius.

Yes, the arrival of straight-lined, predictable, fashion weeks have become like assembly-line productions. Run by event conglomerates or self-consumed councils who at the end of the day want to push their own wares, be it the image of the management or the bottom line of the group. In short, it is 0+0=0 moment for fashion and full marks to dear Freddy for daring to say that.

Fashion Weeks have rendered Indian fashion pale and predictable. Gone are the days when each designer got engaged in presenting his collection with as much attention to detail as he could.

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HEMA SARDESAI SINGS FOR MARGAOTHECLOSEDFILE

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PANAJI : Renowned playback singer Hema Sardesai on Tuesday said that she is back to work with Music Director Nikhil Kamath of Nikhil-Vinay fame and well known bollywood film director Kapil Kaustubh Sharma . In a post on Facebook, she said, ‘’Back to working with Nikhil Kamath of Nikhil-Vinay fame..and Kapil Kaustubh Sharma well known bollywood film director. God’s Will. Thank you for your kind support. God bless you.’’

Nikhil Kamath said,’’Proud to compose a new song for Kapil Kaustubh Sharma sung and lyrics by Hema Sardesai. It was great working with Hema Sardesai.’’ Director Kapil Kaustubh Sharma said, ‘’Who can forget mesmerizing voice of Hema Sardesai in Awara Bhawre Jo Hole Hole Gaye or Badal Pe Paon Hai from Chak De India or San Sana San or Gupt and many more…Glad to share she sings a fun filled song for MargaoTheClosedFile. She also pens it and the fabulous composition is by Nikhil Kamath. It stars Kittu Gidwani, Pallavi Joshi.”

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SWARA BHASKER’S NEXT WILL BE A MURDER MYSTERY

Uday Pratap Singh

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NEW DELHI: Murder mystery as a genre has always been something that grabs a lot of attention, and well, donning the role of an investigating officer once again is Swara Bhasker.

Produced by Moffy Production and co-produced by K.P production the film titled Mimamsa promises to keep you on the edge and will be directed by Gagan Puri. After receiving rave reviews for Flesh, this will be the second time Swara will be seen as a cop. She will take on the role of Adhira Dixit in the movie that is based in Bhopal.

Talking about the same, Swara said, ‘’The experience of shooting for the movie was one of its kind as it kept me invested throughout the shoot and I am sure that the viewers will be too when they get to watch it. This was also the first film I shot for after lockdown last year, and that makes the movie extremely special to me, and it helped me have a sense of gratitude for the work I do. Without revealing much, I am just going to say that the movie will take you on a journey that is layered, is mysterious, and thought-provoking.’’

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AYUSHMANN SHARES HIS EXPERIENCE ON DOCTOR G

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NEW DELHI: Bollywood actor Ayushmann Khurrana said that he is lucky that he chose acting as his profession because it has not only enabled him to live so many remarkable characters but has also taken him to so many incredible destinations.

The actor added that this is the first time in his career that he has shot in Bhopal. He said: “For Doctor G, I’m fortunate to be visiting the heart of India and seeing it in its full glory. I’m shooting in Bhopal for the first time in my career and the city of lakes is a beautiful place. I’m bowled over by the warmth of the people and they have won my heart forever.”

Ayushmann feels he is blessed to be born in a beautiful country like India.

“Earlier this year, I was in the North East for Anek and experienced the spectacular Kaziranga National Park. India is the most beautiful place on the planet. I’m blessed to be born in this country which gives me the opportunity to cherish so much in my lifetime,” he added.

Ayushmann has a big lineup of films including “Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui” directed by Abhishek Kapoor, “Anek” by Anubhav Sinha and “Doctor G” helmed by Anubhuti Kashyap.

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ENTER UNIQUE BESPOKE FURNITURE MADE IN INDIA

Noor Anand Chawla

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An innate appreciation for one’s abode has been a welcome effect of the pandemic. Finding themselves spending more time at home than ever before, people have begun to re-do their interiors, making their dwellings comfortable yet stylish reflections of themselves. Homegrown furniture brands are doing particularly well due to their ease of access, affordable prices and unique designs. One such brand is Mangrove Collective, co-founded by Suman Sharma in 2015, that witnessed tremendous growth over the last year.

This award-winning collaborative design and build studio, which crafts customised furniture and millwork, is an offshoot of the multidisciplinary architecture and design practice called Studio Lotus. When the studio found it challenging to translate design concepts into reality, they decided to begin making their own pieces. “It’s easy to find people who specialize in a particular material like wood, metal, etc., but to strike a balance between different materials and assimilate regional craft into the work, was a difficult task,” shares Sharma, the Principal and Head of Business at the firm. Mangrove Collective was launched with a vision to use indigenous and largely forgotten crafts, by combining traditional know-how with aspects of engineering.

Born and raised in Lutyen’s-era Delhi, Sharma was greatly inspired by its colonial architecture of bungalows adorned with tall ceilings, fireplaces, and verandahs. She also took inspiration from her father who was a photographer. Pursuing a Master’s degree in Furniture Design from the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, cemented this love further. Over the years, she has worked with leading lifestyle brands such as Good Earth, Samir Wheaton Design, and Krea, and has also dabbled in her own entrepreneurial ventures such as Viva Design through which she exported furniture, and Sotomoto, where she retailed a range of furniture and lifestyle accessories for children. Sharma also taught at Pearl Academy, New Delhi.

Its identity as a collective sets Mangrove apart from other brands. The team follows a conscious process of celebrating local resources and traditional craftsmanship, by ensuring that designers, craftsmen and clients are equal partners. Sharma explains, “for us, design, art, craft and technology go hand in hand. When we say our work is craft-based it doesn’t mean that our products look ‘hand-crafted’. Depending on the nature of the commission, the requirements, and the function, either handiwork or technology can take precedence over the design of the products. We are constantly challenging ourselves to look at products and processes in a unique manner by combining traditional craftsmanship with state-of-the-art technology.”

Designing high-quality furniture requires a balance between ergonomics, joinery details, functionality and aesthetics. The natural synergy between their furniture designers and artisans enables them to create one-of-a-kind products. “Each product for us is a journey where all stakeholders – the craftsmen, the designers, the technicians, and the consumers have a takeaway – a memory that lasts a lifetime. With every product and commission, we try to feed into the vision and aspirations of the user. We aim to breathe life into spaces and narrate stories by reinterpreting indigenous and largely-forgotten crafts, uniting traditional know-how with engineering to develop exceptional products,” shares Sharma with a smile.

The pandemic induced lockdown and subsequent supply chain disruptions compelled homeowners to look at local brands that are capable of producing furniture at par with international standards. And a homegrown furniture brand can offer a high level of customisation – representative of and suited to the client’s personality and lifestyle. Quite interestingly, the pandemic has resulted in a renewed appreciation for local artisanal skills that allowed furniture brands to incorporate age-old craft forms into furniture, giving them a new meaning in this era.

“Space optimisation has been a top priority during the lockdown, and homeowners have spent a considerable amount of time sprucing up nooks and corners, creating spaces for rest, rejuvenation and recreation. Specifically, when it comes to living areas, we have observed a massive demand for sofas and lounge chairs that strike a fine balance between ergonomics and durability,” shares Sharma.

As a bespoke furniture studio, Mangrove makes pieces mainly on order. However, their experience centre setup in their design studio allows clients to visit and feel the products as they would in real-life. International shipping is available and they have clients in countries like Mauritius, Dubai and London. Each piece is unique and the process of making it depends on the complexity of the product—roughly between twelve to sixteen weeks. Their most popular products are the ones integrated with crafted elements or those whose design reflects the context of the space, in turn resonating with the clients on a deeper level.

At Mangrove, the team attempts to develop pieces that are inspired by traditional crafts interpreted in a unique manner, making this brand one to watch for.

The writer is a lawyer who pens lifestyle articles for various publications and her blog www.nooranandchawla.com. She can be reached on nooranand@gmail.com.

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THE GREAT INDIAN SALAD FEST

We bring to you some binge worthy, guilt free salads that are bound to cheer you up, especially amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

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With monsoon in its full bloom and the dreadful pandemic threatening to make a comeback with its third wave, our focus on health and nutrition has doubled. Fresh foods, greens, and a wholesome diet is important for building our immunity and at the same time giving us the energy and zing to cope with stressful work from home routines, which can make us lethargic after a heavy afternoon meal. The pandemic has also been a little heavy on families in terms of both cooking and eating because it is natural for a lot of us to consume more when families are around all the time. It is important to get hooked on to salads at this point for people of all ages to get those essential nutrients, micronutrients and minerals, which our regular meals cannot fulfill.

The need of the hour is to add in freshness and seasonal produce and that can help in many ways and o add in that dollop of health so as to keep other issues at bay. Immunity has been the operative word since 2020 and it is showing even more heavily today with so many Covid related diseases cropping up, making I even more important to focus on our health. Here are some binge worthy, guilt free salads that are bound to cheer you up!

Let’s start with a Mango and Grilled Tofu Salad, which is perfect for the summers. I’m not a tofu fan, so I prefer to replace that with either chicken or paneer.

MANGO AND GRILLED TOFU SALAD BY TARUN SIBAL OF TITLIE

Ingredients (salad) 

• Mangoes (ripe) – 2 

• Carrots – 2  

• Cucumbers -2 

• Mixed Greens – 1 bowl (arugula, mixed lettuce, mint, sweet basil, fresh coriander)

• Tofu – 80 gm (or chicken/paneer)

• Sweet Paprika powder – 1 tsp

• Fresh ground pepper – 1 tsp 

• Salt – ½ tsp 

Ingredients (dressing) 

• Zest of 1 lime

• 1/4 cup lime juice freshly squeezed (about 2 limes)

• Sweet Paprika Powder – 1 tsp 

• 1 tsp salt

• 2 tbsp olive oil 

• Freshly ground pepper

• 1 tsp honey 

Method

• Cut the mangoes into wedges

• Cut the tofu into wedges, season it with salt and paprika

• Grill the tofu on both sides with some olive oil on medium heat and keep it aside 

• Take out carrot and cucumber ribbons and add them to cold water so that they remain crisp 

• Add the mixed greens to the ice-cold water 

• Mix all the ingredients of the dressing in a jar and shake well  

• Pat dry the leaves, carrots and cucumber ribbons and mix together

• Add salt, pepper, paprika, mangoes and tofu. Add 3/4th dressing to the mix 

• Arrange it on a plate with tofu and mangoes on top 

• Garnish with mint leaves and paprika powder 

• Drizzle some of the remaining dressing on top

Voila! Your Gourmet Casual Summer Salad is good to go! The best part about this salad is that it is a full meal in itself. There are no cravings after a portion of this. It also rids me of the guilt about the ice cream and mango shake binges that are on at this time of the year!

KOSAMBARI BY CHEF AROKIYADOSS AT THE APPUMM HOUSE

Kosambari is a simple moong dal salad popular in Karnataka. It is a delicious, protein-packed lentil salad that is an integral part of Kannada cuisine. It is my go-to recipe during these sultry months because it is easy to make and uses the bare minimum ingredients. Chef Arokiyadoss adds, “It is also popular as kosumalli or hesarubele kosambari and is part of every festive meal or wedding feast. In Andhra, it goes by the name vadapappu. Vadapappu is nothing but soaked moong dal while Kosambari is a salad comprising of soaked moong dal, cucumber, fresh coconut and coriander leaves. Undoubtedly festive, yet simple. It is a light yet filling salad that can be eaten as a meal by itself along with a glass of neer mor or South Indian buttermilk. It is quick to make and very versatile in terms of the ingredients used. Basic moong dal salad recipe calls for soaked moong dal and cucumber. You can add grated carrot and raw mango too for variation. Soaking of moong dal makes it easily digestible and more nutritious. A perfect protein rich salad for those looking to lose weight!”

Ingredients

• 1 cup yellow moong dal

• 2 teaspoon lemon juice

• 2 tablespoon coriander leaves

• 2 medium cucumber

• 1 teaspoon ginger

• 4 medium carrot

• Salt as required

For Tempering

• 1 pinch asafoetida

• 2 teaspoon vegetable oil

• 4 green chilli

• 1 teaspoon mustard seeds

Method

• Soak the moong dal in water for 2 hours and then, drain the water and keep the dal aside. Now, peel and chop the cucumber, carrots, ginger and keep them in different bowls.

• In a large mixing bowl, add the chopped veggies along with salt, lemon juice, coriander leaves and soaked moong dal. Mix the ingredients well.

• Now, heat oil in a pan over medium flame and add mustard seeds in it and after a minute, add asafoetida and green chillies. Fry them for another minute and turn off the flame.

• Pour the tempering on the salad dish and wait for few minutes before you put it in the refrigerator. Serve chilled!

DUO OF MELON SALAD RECIPE BY CHEF PAWAN BISHT AT THE ONE8 COMMUNE

This is my ultimate favourite, since the melon salad recipe is the simple, delicious, and healthy with a burst of flavours.

Ingredients

• 1 cup scooped watermelon

• 1 cup scooped cantaloupe melon (I use musk melon)

• 2 cups washed and dried aragula (rocket) leaves

• 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

• 2 tablespoons organic honey

• 2 tablespoons olive oil

• 1 cup balsamic vinegar

• 4 tablespoons of roasted pumpkin seeds

• Salt to taste

• Pepper to taste

Method

• Take a bowl and blend olive oil, honey, lemon juice, salt and pepper thoroughly.

• Add balsamic vinegar to it and put it on a low flame.

• Reduce the mixture till it comes to a glaze consistency.

• Scoop watermelon and cantaloupe melon, keep in the fridge to chill.

• Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, add the balsamic glaze and the aragula.

WATERMELON-E-FETA SALAD RECIPE BY CHEF SAHIL SINGH

Even though this recipe needs a slightly elaborate preparation with the different kinds of lettuce and the feta, it is totally worth it. I of course substitute a few ingredients with what is available at the moment, but it turns out best this way. Of course, I do not worry about not finding one variety of lettuce. I use a little more of the ones I have or add spinach or rocket leaves.

Ingredients

• Romaine lettuce – 50 gm                          

• Lolorosso lettuce – 50 gm

• Iceberg lettuce – 50 gm

• Balsamic (Reduction) – 10 gm

• Watermelon cubed

• Greek feta – 15 gm

• Salt as per taste

• Pepper  

• Walnuts – around 15 gm (I add some raisins and roasted almonds, too)

Method:

• Cut the watermelon into cubes and roughly pluck the lettuce.

• Chill watermelon cubes for a few hours. 

• Once ready, marinate the watermelon and lettuce in balsamic dressing separately

• Add salt and pepper.

• Take a fresh bowl and spread lettuce first. Add watermelon on top of salad and sprinkle

The Greek feta cheese and walnut/nuts.

• Serve immediately.

These are simple recipes using seasonal fruits, vegetables and ingredients that are mostly available in our kitchen or the fridge. Eating five portions of fruit each day, greens for the vitamins and to fulfill all the protein requirements per day is all very tedious, and most of us fail at getting the right nutrition, which is the need of the hour. Salads can be boring but with some of these brilliant recipes, it can be a fabulous add on to our meals, as well as something that can be snacked on for those mid-day and evening hunger pangs. Keep safe, keep healthy and keep eating the right stuff this summer!

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THE INCREDIBLE JOURNEY OF HARSHVARDHAN RANE

Uday Pratap Singh

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Actor Harshvardhan Rane has garnered a huge fan base over the years, thanks to his performances in films like Taish and Sanam Teri Kasam. Besides his acting ventures, Rane is also loved for being an adventure enthusiast. While he loves riding motorbikes, he also owns an off-roader, which he’s named Jango. Interestingly, he’s owned the 4×4 for eight years and now he’s become the face of the brand! 

His friends and fans call him ‘the mountain boy’ and they are well aware that Harshvardhan holds Jango very close to his heart. He’s done various adventure trails with it and he’s spent days eating, sleeping and literally staying in it at deserted locations. Now, becoming a face for the brand Mahindra is like life coming a full circle for him.

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