Monthly Archives: June 2012

Retarded Velvet: Diary of a collection S/s 12

22nd June 2012

Retarded Velvet Aka Theresa James and Roger Prince hit my radar in March when their stunning collection hit the Lakme Fashion Week catwalk. Their prints just blew me away. They used iconic Indian imagery from the Thumbs Up logo to the Amul girl and reworked them into these fresh, innovative statement prints. Retarded Velvet is exactly what makes the emerging designer category in LFW so exciting. I asked Theresa if she could put together a diary of that collection to get an insight into how they work and what inspires them. T’s been fab and sent through an amazing write up and images! So ENJOY!

August 2011 – Having just returned from showcasing at Lakme Fashion Week (LFW) in Mumbai, our head’s are swimming with explosive Indian inspiration and we’ve decided, for the first time, to develop our own prints. We’ve never attempted to design our digital prints before but it feels like the only way to fully express ourselves, rather than relying on commercial fabric and textiles we have no connection to. Among a multitude, we have compiled a bunch of pix that have really stuck with us and that make up our mood board as it evolves. ‘Iconic India’ is our inspiration and we plan on taking common items from the subcontinent and transforming them into pop art prints for our style.

September 2011 – Success! We’ve found a digital textile print supplier in Delhi through a designer friend in Mumbai, and we’ve decided to apply for Lakme Fashion Week again – next season’s show is in March 2012. Applications are due in October(!), so we have a heap of work to do to get our samples ready. Since we’re applicants from Canada, we feel like the pressure is on – we really have to impress the advisory board to demonstrate that we are as deserving as aspiring design talent from within India. For now, it’s back to sketching. The way things are shaping up is that we’re leaning towards easy, comfortable silhouettes that involve soft draping with a casual, relaxed sensibility. Our last collection was unisex and referenced different cultural items like Navajo Indian motifs, Ghanaian batik, South Indian lunghi cotton, and printed Ikat. We tend to be drawn to global elements and this collection will add to that continuum, though the focus will be on women’s ready-to-wear

October 2011 – We still haven’t found a factory to actually produce our collection but we’ve been researching workshops in Canada as well as in India. We’re sure something will fall into place. We just found a new jobber to sew our samples but we’ve never worked together before, so we’re counting on her having some mad skills. Since we moved to St. John’s from Vancouver in July 2011, we’ve had to basically start fresh when it comes to sourcing fabric and contractors, which has been a bit challenging. Our LFW application is nearly complete – we have to include images from last season and we’re just putting the final touches on it and our samples for inclusion. Fingers-crossed.

November 2011 – Flight booked! We haven’t been able to find the right kind of fabric for this collection and it’s difficult to approve digital print samples when we’re oceans away. So, Roger and I have decided that I should make a trip to Delhi to meet with the digital printer, approve samples, source trims and bring back sample yardage. It’s an expense but meeting face-to-face makes things more personal and if we’re going to be participating in LFW again and manufacturing over there, it makes sense for us to source materials locally. The digital print designs are finished and now we have far too many – time to start editing.

December 2011 – Rad, we did it! We’ve been accepted to present at LFW next season! It’s suddenly very real and with the holidays on the horizon and family commitments we have to seriously manage our tasks in order to get our patterns finalized, so there’s enough time for our sewer to get everything ready by mid-February. I was able to bring back the sample yardage only to find that some of it was defective (boooo!) – holes in the fabric and ink smudges. But, we have no time no complain. We just have to work around the fabric issues and motor on because it’s the only yardage we have for the time being. I’m documenting all of the problems though, so that I can take it up with the supplier when we return to Delhi in March.

January 2012 – The patterns are almost finished but it’s totally crunch time and we just lost our sample sewer! She gave birth over the holidays and really doesn’t have the time or energy to devote to our garments. We have about two weeks tops to find a replacement or else we won’t have any pieces to take to LFW. Time to kick it into high gear and contact anyone and everyone who might be able to hook us up. Besides that, we have to organize a photoshoot before the end of February, so we have a proper lookbook to offer the media and buyers. We also need to organize flights, get our travel visas, immunizations, find a place to stay, design a press kit, oh, and contract a factory for production. No big deal, right?

February 2012 – It’s midnight before our 3am flight to Mumbai and we’re waiting for our (new) sample sewer to bring the last of our finished garments over. Talk about getting down to the wire. Itinerary: St John’s  Toronto  Vienna  Mumbai – more than 35 hours of travel, including layovers. We’ve saved just enough room in our bags for the final pieces, and we had to accommodate our press kits, business cards, RV-branded labels, hang tags, and a poster for our trade show booth. That doesn’t leave very much room for clothes of our own, which means we’re going to have to do some creative styling and accessorizing if we don’t want to look like we’re wearing the same thing to every event! We’re nervous with anticipation for what the next few days has in store for us and are anxious to get on the plane. Roger and I are taking our entire collection carry-on in two cabin bags because what would we do if one of our check-in bags was lost in transit?

March 2012 – One word. Whirlwind. We arrive, and as is Roger’s ritual, he got a haircut straight away to clean himself up before the festivities. We get swept away in model fittings, runway choreography, selecting the right music, approving hair and make-up, setting up the trade show booth, doing press interviews, and catching up with old friends, all the while spending hoards of time rickshaw-ing between appointments. The day of the show is intense but goes off without a hitch and everything is perfection. After all the glitz and glam of the opening party comes the work of negotiating with buyers and selling ourselves and our collection. When it’s all said and done, we’ve secured stockists in Delhi, Mumbai, Dubai and online, and after some searching, we find a small workshop to handle our production and manufacture our first run of styles. It’s time to return home and start the process all over again with a fresh collection, a new season, and reinvigorated inspiration. But first, sleeeeeeeep

HUGE thanks to T & Roger and can’t wait to see the next collection

To find your nearest stockist or to buy on-line go to Retarded Velvet

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Spotlight: Mona Vora Couture

15th June 2012

Last week I went to meet Mona Vora, the Grande Dame of U.K Asian Bridal Couture. For a while now, I’ve been keen to add a new category of posts where I meet experts in the Asian Fashion & Beauty industry and ask them to impart some expert knowledge and tips. So, having Mona agree to be my first meet feels like a wonderful way to start!

As soon as I arrived Mona was incredibly welcoming and I warmed to her immediately. I loved her passion and enthusiasm for Bridal Couture and I equally loved her fearlessness and self-confidence. It’s those last two qualities that turned a natural flair for design into a successful business. So, not only did I get to meet a talented designer I got to meet an inspiring Asian business woman too.

Mona originally completed a degree in Business Management and started working outside of fashion first. She enjoyed designing her own outfits and friends and family admiring her work started commissioning pieces from her. This soon led to orders from friends of friends and that’s when her hobby turned into a full time career. Sixteen years on, she has a beautiful showroom in Barnet as well as a workshop in India. All dyeing, designing, embroidery and embellishment are done in house so she has the utmost control on quality and time.

A warning to all brides this is the area when the nightmare can occur- we all know brides that have been let down by poor workmanship or bad fitting. It’s imperative to choose a reputable designer like Mona.

As for her designs, the pictures say it all – her show room really is a candy shop of all things delicious and sparkly. There’s every style imaginable and you can tell Mona gets a real buzz from making each and every bride feel like a Queen on her special day. Currently, she designs on average for THREE HUNDRED Brides a year (yep, I almost fell off my chair when I heard that number too). So, to say Mona’s more than qualified to give some tips is an understatement. Here are her top five tips.

DO YOUR RESEARCH.. Going into Bridal showrooms can be intimidating and the endless choices of colours, embroideries and styles can be overwhelming. Mona encourages brides to do some homework, collect a handful of magazine tears or pictures of things you like so it acts as a starting point on your first appointment. Make sure it’s a handful though! A big book of images will just confuse everyone!

BE OPEN MINDED.. Just because you’ve fallen in love with say Aishwarya Rai’s wedding lengha, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll suit you. Mona gave the example of a top heavy bride that was insistent on an empire line gown that wouldn’t have suited her body shape. Mona found a similar sample gown (that was designed as a maternity wear example) made the bride try it on and then only was she able to see how unflattering the style was for her body shape.

DON’T FOLLOW TRENDS . I loved Mona’s reasoning for this, something I hadn’t thought of. She explained if purple’s the colour of the season that will mean at least ten or more of the guests will be wearing purple and as she says her job is to always make the bride stand out above everyone else.

DON’T BUY READY MADE.. Mona explains ready made outfits rarely fit anyone properly as we are all different shapes and that a well fitted custom piece can make all the difference in a making a pretty outfit into a showstopper. She also adds that people presume a custom made piece is always more expensive that’s not always true. So, do your research and where possible get custom made.

BE ORIGINAL AND ADVENTUROUS. She says rightly so, why copy someone else’s outfit. It’s your big day, your outfit should be adventurous, classy, original and lastly make you look and feel even more amazing then you ever thought you could.

Big thanks to Mona Vora, for taking the time to meet me!

Her amazing showroom add is Mona Vora Couture, Unit G, Queen’s Road, Barnet, EN5 4DJ

Tel No: 0208 449 1734

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Vogue India June: Deepika

14th June 2012

I had to share this gorgeous Vogue shoot with Miss Deepika. I love her look in this series. The soft boho styling paired with bed head hair and coral lips really suits her (I sometimes think her stylists over do her look- too much of the bronzer + berry lips and really grown up gowns- she’s so young! she can leave all that for ten years down the line!!!)

The only shot I didn’t like in this series was the one that made it to the cover. It was Deepika in a cut out Agent Provocateur swimsuit I didn’t like it so I’ve decided not to post it! Come on Vogue leave the swimsuit covers to the lads mags!

Images Vogue India

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Blog Crush: Jade Bangle

12th June 2012

I have a HUGE blog crush on Jade Bangle by Nithya Sugumar. A follow by her led me to her blog where my love story with Jade Bangle began! In her own words Nithya started the blog as

“a platform to introduce and appreciate new talents in fashion from around the world and their takes on fashion. I do not believe nor do I follow trends. My inspirations and posts on this blog are quite all over the place. Usually involving colors, prints, patterns and styles of various cultures, ethnic groups and countries, including Congo, Bombay, Kuwait, Barbados, Sri Lanka and many more”

I love the eclectic mix of designers she chooses to feature and the beautiful way she puts together images each post becomes a magical visual treat. I especially enjoy her ‘Just a fix’ category where she selects a topic and creates a mood board around the theme. Here are some lush examples.

Nithya’s Just a Fix // No. 5 ‘Heels’

Nithya’s Just a Fix // No. 6 ‘Neons’

Nithya’s Just a Fix //No. 3 ‘Fascination with print’

Nithya’s Just a Fix // No. 6 ‘African Males’

And kindly Nithya agreed to do a ‘Just a Fix’ post for The Asian Fashion Journal and my brief was India (well, what else did you expect!!!) and yep I LOVEEEEE it! Enjoy and follow the Jade Bangle NOW!

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Vitage Skin Defence SPF 30

7th June 2012


I went for a red light facial last week, it’s brilliant for rejuevenating the skin by increasing collagen production. (It’s especially beneficial for acne prone skin as it calms down the sebum production and helps with the scarring also) So, my therapist was out of my usual sun protector and I bought the Vitage instead and it’s brilliant. It’s a lightweight moisturising cream that is infused with anti-inflammatory PhytoTerra Organic Mate, anti oxidant rich Rosamine Vitamins, Sodium Hyaloronate and Aloe Vera. Ok, so not entirely sure what all of that means apart from the aloe vera and anti-oxidant bit! but it feels great and is importantly protecting my face from harmful rays (i’m not ready for wrinkles yet!)

I used to be a fan of Vitage’s daily cleanser but I got so fed up with the pump breaking so I switched brands! Even though it’s a fab product. They’ve had a re-design of the packaging and although this new pump is sturdier it does get blocked easily but it’s easier to fix- just block the nozzle and pump a few times which will get the cream flowing again.

I’d highly recommend this product and it’s only £22 for a 100ml

You can buy this product at Beauty Bay

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Label Lust: Karishma Shahani

6th June 2012

Ok, so I’m late in discovering the genius that is ‘Yatra’, Karishma Shahani’s GFW 2010 collection but then again I think it just confirms how amazing the collection is -after all I’m still swooning over it two years later! I LOVE it all, the stunning colour palette, the careful dip dyes, the dreamy layering, the contrast of natural and manmade fabrics and the simply gorgeous surface detail. Every element has been carefully considered and comes together harmoniously. Not only do I adore this collection it reminds of how much exciting talent emerges from U.K. design courses (and it also reminds me just how long ago my GFW collection catwalk moment was!)

All images Vogue Italia

Support this year’s Fashion graduates by buying your tickets to Graduate Fashion Week 10th- 13th June 2012

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Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

4th June 2012

Queen Elizabeth II is a wonderful role model to all of us women. Whether you’re a fan of the Royal family or not there’s no denying that she’s an inspiration and she’s STILL working away at the grand old age of 86!

Such a beauty

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip’s wedding

Queen Elizabeth with Prince Andrew

Queen on tour in India (well I had to get an Indian connection in)

With the corgis!

Queen Elizabeth at Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding

The Queen’s official Diamond Jubilee portrait by John Swanell

Enjoy the bank holiday! And if you’re in the mood for a bit of Jubilee baking follow this easy and yum recipe by Oliver Peyton from his British Baking book

Mine might not have looked so pretty but it was light, yum and disappeared in a flash!

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