THE CROSS BEYOND RELIGION

I have always been in awe of the Cross ever since I was an adolescent for it’s style quotient; thanks to it being taken as a fodder for style of the rock,glam and punk looks of the ’80s. I grew up to rockstars like Madonna and George Michael iconising the Cross and raising it  to a completely far away space than where it rightfully belonged to. The Cross started to appeal to  nominal Christians and to non believers big time and all of them adorned it without ill intent. And so did I.The Cross was available and is still available in the most versatile designs and the raw materials used for making a Cross jewellery is quite interesting and tickles your creative appetite.

madonna-80s-crucifixgeorge-michael-soshy

PhotoGrid_1438070469419 PhotoGrid_1438070319862

Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, and Pope Francis  share very little wardrobe-wise, apart from a very important , very trendy item: the Cross. It has featured on Popular celebrities and the collections of eminent designers like Versace and Dolce and Gabbana sans the religious relevance. Influential Internet style stars and bloggers  have been wearing the Cross with attitude which has transcended into huge street styles  that the mainstream retailers have to follow their leads as they  always turn to such street styles for inspiration.

rihanna_givenchy_layered_cross_necklace images (3) - Copy

‘A crucifix is now just a fashion statement and has lost religious meaning’
Justin Welby says the purpose of wearing a cross has been lost
Archbishop of Canterbury says the sign has been trivialised
He said it was once a ‘badge of shame’ which is now popular
Christian leader made claims in a foreword of a new book

In celebrity circles and for some big-city fashionistas, inverted or horizontal crosses worn as jewelry or imprinted on clothing are turning heads . This trend has picked up from 2013 onwards and  is still going strong. While some folks view the trend as anti-Christian, others say it’s just the opposite.Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Paris Jackson, daughter of the late Michael Jackson, have been photographed wearing inverted crosses on their clothing.

Rihanna-wearing-an-upside-down-cross-on-her-jacket il_570xN.311776862 - Copy

images (7) images (6) - Copy

Even if there seems to be contrary opinions on the usage of the Cross as a fashion statement, it is going strong and is being used by believers and non believers for their own reasons. The Cross remains on the top as a fashion symbol. Salute to the Cross ; Style and otherwise  for it’s magnanimous iconic status! Stay thus.

Courtesy: MailOnline, Virtue Online, Whitney Bauck(Writer)

UMBRELLAS IN VOGUE

Every monsoon  Umbrellas go through a lot of change in fashion. It is really interesting to watch the new designs coming up on umbrellas. The children’s umbrellas have all kinds of cartoon and comic characters appearing. And also for  little grown up girls , there are style and fashion illustrations appearing on them.

006 007

The first time I observed fashion on Umbrellas was when I travelled to Simla. I bought an umbrella with ruffles at the edges for my mom- in- law. She has a huge fetish for umbrellas which she displays proudly when she goes to the nearby temple every day. And during monsoon in kerala , you have to literally carry an umbrella all the time as you have no clue when the water will hit on you. So i guess for a land like Kerala , umbrella fashion is actually very interesting  to watch.

20150624_094510

Another place where to I travelled and observed  umbrella fashion was Shanghai in China. I was really amused to see the varietal umbrellas that were spotted on the streets carried by everyone who could be going to office or just shopping. And the cutest part was, on a street if you spotted twenty umbrellas , all the twenty were different and had individual designs on them. And there were beautifully embroidered and printed ones on display with unusual designs.

005 007

008 006

And when I visited Beijing, as I went visiting some museums , I spotted women selling beautiful cutworked  hand made umbrellas with wooden handles . The offwhite ones looked quite classy and could have been used as interesting lampshades which could be hung from the ceiling. They were made in cotton fabric and I wondered how much they would protect you from the sun leave alone rain. They looked more ornamental than utilitarian.

In the same context , I have to mention about the most amazing, colourful umbrellas done in fabric and entirely hand embroidered that I saw on the streets of Jaipur(India). Even those I felt were just ornamental but man! they could bring alive a drab room and could completely infuse excitement into a sober setting of a decor! I had brought  all these back to be put at my Lifestyle store in cochin.

Ahom New Ad[1]

images (1) images (3)

images (4) $_35

Even this monsoon I am so much in awe at the designs that have emerged in Umbrella fashion . They sure help in making a dull rainy day bright and cheerful and happy and….ooh la la!

DRAPES SO SENSUAL

All people from Kerala(India) know the allure of this drape called”Mundum Neriyathe” or MundumVeshti or “Settum Mundum”.Although  this beautiful drape which consists of two pieces of fabric ; one which is draped around the lower torso  called” Munde”and the other which goes as a drape around the lower and upper torso of a woman called the”Neriyathe”, typically belongs to the Hindu religion,now a days women from all religions wear it as it is looked upon as a traditional wear of Kerala.And during a main festival of Kerala ,”Onam”, all  malayali women wear it to some function over the span of these ten days .And so we can actually say that it does not anymore belong to any religion but to the beautiful women of “God’s own country”!

104 IMG_8412

This is such a beautiful dress and will actually appeal to anyone around the world who loves drapes as this is typically in a offwhite colour with Gold Zari border which looks extremely classy and has an aura of royalty. Any woman wearing this dress has a beauty of her own and looks complete with generally some gold jewellery and jasmine flowers on her hair and a red “bindi”(round spot) on her forehead.

The typical ” Mundum Neriyathe” comes in Off white and a flat gold Zari border called “Kasavu”, or the border will be in a flat colour or stripe called “Kara”and was always woven.But as in any other dress , this drape also has evolved over the ages and now a days come in all sorts of designs. The main change happens with the border mainly; it has gone from printed to embroidered to attached brocade borders. And the “Zari” also has changed from Gold to Silver or a mix of both. The body essentially remains off-white. But now a days, experiment is happening with the colour of the body too. And typically this drape is found in Cotton only ; but now  a days it is done in Silk as well ,due to demand for a more expensive look for weddings.

This drape is used by a lot of Hindus for a part of their weddings. Both the traditional and modern styles of the mundum neryathum are depicted in the paintings of the Indian painter Raja Ravi Verma. In olden times,the attire was worn with the “Neriyathu”wrapped around the bust and also a blouse was not worn . Women of Kerala also wear the drape for a traditional folk dance called “ Kaikottikalli” and “Thiruvathirakali”.

   Collage 2015-07-07 19_53_44 Collage 2015-07-07 13_23_15

kaikottikali

 I have always been fascinated with this drape from a very young age. The best image that has been stuck in my mind is of my mother wearing this drape in the mornings after her bath and with “Sindooram on her forehead on her hair parting ! She would even wear a basal leaf on her long hair which sort of completed the look( both practices being done by Hindu women of this region). When I woke up in the mornings ,it was such a positive image to see…..for me she looked so beautiful like a goddess of love! And yes she was one, in her nature too.

035

I grew up having this fascination for the drape and till date it is more alluring to me than a “sari”! I feel it is more sensual in look and very feminine too. It is extremely simple to drape it unlike the “Sari”! And thus convenient to move about as well as airy and breathable  in the humid climate of Kerala.

046 063

When I talk about Mundum Neriyathe , another drape which comes to my mind and which has struck me is “Meghela Chador of Assam”. I came across this drape accidentally through a friend who was assamese and I saw her wearing this for my brother’s wedding. I was really surprised to see something so similar to our own drape of Kerala. Then I really got to know about this drape.There are two main pieces of cloth that are draped around the body. The bottom portion, draped from the waist downwards is called the mekhela (Assamese: মেখেলা). It is in the form of a sarong—very wide cylinder of cloth—that is folded into pleats to fit around the waist and tucked in. The folds are to the right, as opposed to the pleats in the Nivi style of the saree, which are folded to the left.The top portion of the two-piece dress, called the chador, is a long length of cloth that has one end tucked into the upper portion of the Mekhela and the rest draped over and around the rest of the body.

Ornamental designs on the Mekhela chadors are traditionally woven, never printed. Sometimes a woven pattern, called the pari is stitched along the sides of a chador, or along the bottom of a mekhela. These drapes come in Cotton as well silk traditionally but now a day are also produced as blends of Cotton and Silk with Synthetic Fabrics.

Collage 2015-07-07 20_21_35

I saw a huge collection of these beautiful drapes in my friend’s collection. And there is even an antique one which her grandma had woven by herself and handed it down. And surprisingly for their weddings also just like in Kerala , they wear the traditional colour of off-white and Gold. I was flabbergasted; how can two regions so far away from each other have the same kind of drape and follow the same colour scheme? Such is life!…..I conclude.

IMG_62838626505548

For folks around the world who would like to see how a “Mundum Neriyathum ” is draped, here it is.

For folks who are interested to watch how a “Mekhala Chador” is worn, here it is.

Courtesy: Sameera Dipshikha Dowerah

CLOTHES VERSUS RELATIONSHIP

Do Clothes regulate a relationship or does a relationship regulate clothes?

Tricky question nha?

It is indeed a question which is

  1. Dicy
  2. Delicate
  3. Unnecessary
  4. Uncomfortable
  5. Lame
  6. Sick etc etc when asked directly on your face.

In my part of the world, this question would be faced not so comfortably by many especially (I am sorry guys but) by the men because dressing up is almost always associated with women. And dressing up sexy is always and only associated with women. They claim there is no question of a man looking sexy after dressing up.Now…just in case some of you could be confused; I say sexy not in a literal sense though at times it could be too. When I use a word as “sexy”, I am trying to convey of a state of “looking really good by dressing up and accessorising”! It could also mean appealing! Anyway I personally don’t agree to this arguement as I fiercely defend the concept of men looking terribly good after wearing appropriate and stylish clothes. In fact some of them even look damn sexy …in the literal sense!

c4672196eaf0165bf5ba7996ad92463c

So coming back to the question….do clothes regulate a relationship?

I will speak from what I have seen around. Clothes do and has the power to regulate a relationship. The same person could be appealing or repulsive depending on the clothes she or he is wearing. Especially many a time a first impression is made based on the clothes that the person is wearing. Unconsciously , in our minds ,we feel attracted or abhorrent looking at the clothes the person is wearing. We will never admit it openly though. But nothing to worry…it’s just plain human!  This way, clothes regulate if a relationship has to even begin or not!

Amusing…isn’t it? Truth!

Secondly ,in case a relationship begins, the wearing of certain kind of clothes regulate the relationship. If a girl is her innate self and sometimes wears certain sort of clothes which are considered sexy, there could be a shift in the way the guy looks at her and feels about her. He could be intimidated and even feel  insecure taking her to certain places .

Lame!

That does change the relationship in many ways. He could change the way he feels about her if she continues to dress the way she wants or feels happy about!

de80568a2c5fd9b52b1a19c88dfddeff

Now does a relationship regulate clothes ?

yes ,it could! If you were to have a relationship; be it a love relationship or a marriage, wouldn’t your partner influence the way you dress? Don’t we all change the way we dress to look good for our partners or spouses? We all do as we want to look appealing to our mates.So in case you were a girl who used to dress traditional and then realise that your partner loves western style of clothing,  wouldn’t you try wearing such? You would defenitly give it a try. Same way for guys too.

Now how does it actually reflect on a person’s confidence and self esteem levels? If the partner is liberating in thought and encouraging to wear what the person likes or would like to experiment, it’s a great boost to your personality; whereas if your partner cripples or limits your horizons on the choice of your already existing style and wardrobe ,then it becomes highly critical as far as your confidence is concerned. Your sense of well being and pride nosedives and hits rock bottom. You would be forced to feel bad about who you are and even worse you are made to feel like an object and your intentions to wear the so called “sexy” clothes could also be questioned. Not to highlight that it’s always women who are targeted. Your morality could even be at stake! It takes absolute maturity and confidence for a guy to let her dress the way she fancies He has to primarily have total trust in the relationship.

fa9cc8259df178de55424f91ccffa571

Clothes form an integral part of any relationship; be it for good  or bad! So for people like me for whom clothes are like part of your soul…..good luck for a kewwl partner….or your life and personality could be screwed for ever! And if you are a very flexible person and don’t mind changing your entire wardrobe and style for someone…well!so be it; life could be easy.But choose black or white. Grey isn’t a great place to live for a long time though Grey as opposed to what majority thinks , is a strong and independent colour and like Black and White can be mixed with any colour brilliantly. Never choose to live in the grey though!

Live happy. Live Fashion!

IMG-20150629-WA0012

EARRINGS EXTENDED

There seems to be a sudden enthusiasm in the extended earrings now a days .These are very similar to the ear cuffs. I live in one of the most fashionable and trend following cities in India (Mumbai).This is one of the hubs where fashion gets released first and then trickles down to the other cities.
When I check out stores and bazaars , there is a rush of these earrings. And they are quite captivating and alternate. When you wear one of these, that kind of becomes the highlight and you don’t have to wear anything else in your ears.

849fdbf8a39310db9983dacd03ac083e 1ea549005ec391df3100af6f0ef9f031
And also another tip for girls who would be using it is that it is best to put up your hair in some style than to let it loose for two reasons ; one being when you let your hair loose , it tends to get tangled with the earring. And secondly the earring tends to get covered and lost. The minimum that has to be done is pin-up one side of your hair or take a style where your ears are exposed totally.

281b461943ce0c0201d632a15e47ff9d 27c635ffb23a29e6c59db0298fa3dbc8
This style of earrings is such a value add for women with boy cuts, crew cuts and women with shaven heads. I wish I had these when I had shaved my head and dawned that look for some time.

9bee35d24a4c6faea0482efcfbb0e9db e5466d821ca533aab27a384a5f40ade4

20150118_193830-1                     20150118_193928-1
When I see these earrings,I am reminded of my earrings what I wore as a bride. It was a typical “Jumkka” or “Jimkki”(which is a very popular earring in all of India). And there was an extension piece like a Peacock design which extended up to my ear lobes and had to be clipped there. These earrings have been there from olden times. And it has been a Classic from time immemorial. So it’s just that the new earrings that we use now are a new “Avatar” of an old design.

2015-02-20-13-14-42_deco
Amusingly there is also a collection of earrings that come as a single piece; in the sense only on one ear and nothing on the other. These are also severely attractive but the only thing I disagree on is that, there could have been a tiny piece for the other ear which will complete the whole dramatic look. Now, the other ear is lying vacant as there is only one earring and that kind of gives a little lost look. So what I suggest to women opting for these singular pieces is that just browse around and shop a tiny earring in the same colour scheme as the main one and team it. And voilà!…you have a killer look!

IMG-20150220-WA0001-1

The singular earringIMG-20150220-WA0002-1

JUDGED BY CLOTHES…ARE YOU?

Do you get judged by the clothes that you wear?
All the time.
Who are you?
No one wants to know.
Your clothes speak… sweetheart!
You are only the clothes that you wear.
To a stranger.
To many.
To majority.
So beware! What you wear….where.
No matter how liberated you are,
Choose wisely my dear,
The destination,
The crowd.
For you are being judged every minute
By your second skin!

It’s not easy in my country, in many places, in societies, to wear what you just feel like. There is a culture, especially in my part of the world (Kerala, India). You are expected to confine to the limits of a diagram drawn by the society with the label “decent clothing”! If you dare step out, even a single step, you are tarnished, maybe for a lifetime even. You could lose everything; the minimum being your reputation which would have cost you a couple of years to build.
I blame none! The societal layout is such that it looks like we promote hypocrisy. The same folks who could wear clothes (daringly; that’s what they call you) which could show a little bit of skin , change their wardrobe entirely as they step into their native place(that includes me too; I admit). And it’s a known secret that we can and we may dress as we like, when we are on a holiday outside our state or living elsewhere.

033 20121221_112444

Do I see this as obnoxious? Well! I am confused to answer. I want to say yes when I think rationally. The answer becomes all the more a sound yes when I think radically! It is especially so, because as a society, we are not so closed to showing a decent amount of skin. The woman actually looks mighty sensual wearing a sari (a stretch of fabric draped around the body). When a sari is adorned, the woman’s body is portrayed in an aesthetically sensual manner. This drape shows off ample amount of skin or helps to accentuate the most beautiful parts of the woman’s anatomy. But no one even bats an eyelid; leave alone speak filth about it, where as when it comes to switching over to western clothes, we do have a highly volatile situation here.

Why are we like this?

The only answer could be that when we are used to something by birth, we do not have a problem; whereas, when we are exposed to change, then we rebel, we revolt, we ridicule!

172 20150207_192213

And we have a culture where in, we give respect (or so we claim) to elders. And one solid reason for dressing up moderately is also that we try not to offend our elders who are not exposed to or rather they are closed to anything different from what they have seen. And now if you ask me the same question, I would say “No”; I don’t think it is obnoxious for the simple reason that you don’t have to offend your culture and neither your elders. There is nothing wrong in being sensitive to the communities that we live in. There is nothing wrong in being respectful to the denizens around you. Why would you take the trouble to upset a chosen few when you know you can step out into the vast horizons of the world and wear the same clothes with no fear, no affront, and with élan, in a completely different , mature scenario which can endure it. It could be even that, the same clothes which are offensive in a space could get you appreciation in a different one. So, for me, it’s just a matter of letting go and dressing appropriately in the spaces where we are at a certain point of time.

 082 003

You are judged my dear…. good or bad, depends; but you are always judged by what you wear!

Guys….you must have noticed ;anyway ,for all those who didn’t , that’s the same girl in all the images, wearing both Indian traditional and western clothes! And thank you all for not judging her, on her clothes!

TASSLE SEDUCTION

As far as Indians are concerned , “Cholis” or “Blouses”are an integral part  of  their  wardrobe.  It has  been  ; it is  and it will  be  , I deeply  hope!

Although  I basically  hail from  the  southern  part of India, I have, from  childhood  been inspired  by and been  much  in awe of the  colourful  , bling kind of clothes of the  northern  folks. Never to discount the simple ,elegant, pure  white clothes ,typical of the State( kerala) I hail from. I guess I would definitely have to come back to you guys to explain the aura of our typical clothing!

For the time being , let me just get on with the luxe life that I see around  as I now live in one of the most vibrant cities (Mumbai) of India! Everything in this city is about celebration. Everything you see around is a preparation for celebrating a festival or better ,celebrating life as it is. People do not have to wait for months , for a celebration ,unlike in my part of the world. Folks here are  always buying clothes and accessories ; rearranging their wardrobe ,putting together accessories to have a bash. People here take better care of their bodies, try to maintain it ;one reason for which could be , to flaunt to others  in addition to myriad other reasons.

I have  strayed away from the story I wanted to narrate. Well! It’s about the “Cholis”( colloquially called  “Blouses”) that women wear with a “Sari” and particularly about the strings attached at the back of  the “Choli” with the exotic looking hangings! The hangings or “Ladkand” as they are called colloquially, are an integral part of most of the women’s blouses here. And especially if it is a dressy Sari, then no doubt, there will be these hanging details.

f8d373b81aabf637cd775006a8f67a39

c2280c7e01b508974a133b745c4a214f

So why are these hangings attached to the back of a “Choli”?

 

One , it is there in every Indian’s heart ever since Bollywood  movies(Indian film scene)  took birth. These hangings have been glorified and been given a status  which is  very sensual.It has become a part of a woman’s clothing which makes her look more sultry ….more woman! And perhaps this is the predominant  reason why a woman chooses to attach these hangings to her “Choli”.

8ff7cdb9efe43e1f793af4bf5f57d83a

36c1a58c9de70b796bc31a0ffeeb115a

But actually and technically, these also help in holding the “Choli” in place and in shape if the back is a very low-cut one. And  here ,I see that the women , no matter what strata they come from ,do flaunt their backs a lot.

The upper back  of a woman is indeed a beautiful sight too…..think about it!

 

And we are a country who flaunts “Backless Cholis”and “Cholis” held with just strings.  So it’s also just a  way of life for us in addition to being very sensual. The Gujarati and “Rajasthani” cholis  are known for their backless status.( Gujarat and Rajasthan are the two most colourful states of India as far as garments are concerned.)

2acab635e78fd837e33c44828bfa1a65_original

20141223_155500 20141223_155512

20141223_155419 20141223_155207

But does anyone look at these hangings closely? I doubt! Especially so, because these accessories are at the back ; but people like me who are inclined about nuances would definitely do so. And actually , these ornaments are quite a sight in itself. There is so  much of intricacies in each hanging. And even though we think, what does it matter,let me tell you that ,this one element could uplift a “Choli”to a different level and it could also become the  “Focal point”(centre of attraction) of the entire look.

20141223_154939

20141223_155019

20141223_155026

So men, get going and notice these little details on your women’s choli and probably she is going to fall all over in love with you for the mistaken romance….ha ha ha!

And all of you women out there, get into detailing of your cholis and flaunt them and make a heart skip a beat or two!