The Vogue Around

This is a guest post by Shalina Abhale.She’s a fashion enthusiast from Mumbai and has written for publications like The Education Times. Also,here’s her Twitter handle @mykaleidescope (https://twitter.com/mykaleidescope)

Fashion has always been my one of my ‘Great loves’. Fashion plays the role of that power in my universe which is capacitated to elevate me above all the miseries and troubles of this oh-so ungrateful world. It has this numbing effect on my rational mind, which mind you, is quite the horror for the bank balance, but the equivalent joy for the wardrobe. For instance, say I’m upset over something . So , I try diverting my mind by glancing through the latest vogue . Voila ! There it is ! All those arguments seem so trivial now. There are much larger problems in this world than a mere misunderstanding. Look Look Look !!! Drool Drool Drool ! The much coveted , much adored, much loved – The Lady Dior bag ! How I wish I could come into an inheritance from some 98 year old great-uncle who has been kind enough to leave me with a fortune! How I wish I could get my hands onto some magic lamp with a genie who’d get me that Dior bag in a jify. How I wish I could be the editor in chief of Vogue , the next Amy Vintour! How I wish………. Do you see the magic a a Dior bag or, pair of Luboutins can work ? Yes, this is precisely how fashion comes to the rescue .

‘Coco Avant Chanel’ – One of those movies where English subtitles seem so redundant. Having watched the movie a little more than 6 times, Coco Chanel’s biography reinforces my faith in humanity! How else would a chanteuse go on to become one of the greatest fashion designers, this world has ever seen? Maybe it was her talent; maybe her quick wit; maybe her simplicity; maybe it was everything – I could never figure it out. Coco Chanel’s greatest contribution to the world of fashion happened in an unusual, a rather tantalizing style – Madame Chanel was repulsed by the garish, extravagant gowns, women wore back then. So, she decided to go against the tide. Imagine a high society party with a champagne fountain and ice sculptures, where women are dressed in feathers hats and layered gowns and silk gloves, and then, imagine a bold Coco Chanel taking everyone by storm in a sharply cut, well designed black dress. And thus, came into existence the iconic ‘Little Black Dress’, or as we know it -the ‘LBD’. One of the most potent components of the LBD was it’s color. Yes, Black – the color of mourning, the color of darkness and despair , had now become the color of chic and style.The LBD was a revelation in itself-it was simple, stylish and, stunningly sensuous. It was a wake-up call for all the designers of the 20th Century, whose designs were along along the lines of , ‘the more, the better’. It was a revolt of sorts , a revolt against society’s kitschy idea of beauty.

So, today you have Dolce& Gabanna sprucing up the LBD with a tinge of neon , and there are have Falguni and Shane ‘spiking’ it up in a very goth-meets-punk way , and then, there is Christian Dior’s charming rendition of the same. It is mystical how one woman’s dress has become the world’s sketch board. However, there will be only one Coco Chanel and only one classic ‘ TheLittle Black Dress’. It would be ignorant to say that the LBD was a fashion statement – The LBD was a revolution in the world of fashion; it was one of those heirloom pieces your grandmother presents to you one fine day, one of those pieces which will last an eternity.

Unlike the delightful LBD,which no sane person can go wrong with, there is one concept that very few people seem to get right – The infamous Colour Blocking. Personally, I fear color blocking. I love the concept of color blocking – the fact that a hot pink satchel can break the monotony of an LBD- but when you go wrong with color-blocking it goes beyond the label of a fashion Faux Pas. One becomes a walking , talking fashion disaster! Although, one of the most expressive styles till date , color blocking has been imbibed in a very half-baked manner.A popular notion : Colour blocking is about teaming two contrasting colors together and, watching them work their magic. No! That is just preposterous.Colour blocking is a state of mind – it acts as a facade , provided you play it right. Otherwise, it is just a classic case of colour-gone-mad! Just recently , I was an appalled witness to a rather shocking case of color blocking gone wrong – Zebra print and neon orange. Breathe Breathe breathe…Oh hell, I’d rather not exist at all!

I was terribly disturbed when I looked up ‘fashion’ in the dictionary and, found this – ‘a popular trend, esp. in styles of dress and ornament or manners of behavior’. Fashion is more than a ‘popular trend’ . Fashion is refuge,confidante, a mirror; it is almost an emotion in itself. It opens one up to the various avenues of this one-dimensional world. It is quite the joy, actually!


‘Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only.Fashion is in the sky in the street,Fashion has to do with ideas,the way we live , what is happening.’
-COCO CHANEL

P.S : Congratulations ‘The Standing Coin’ , Siddharth Gupta’s beloved brainchild ! 😀

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From Pakistan, With Love

NOTE: This article was written by me for the newspaper Education Times (http://www.myeducationtimes.com/article/79/201209102012091011592217627a4cd78/From-Pakistan-with-love.html)while I Interned there. Here is the link to the PDF of the actual newspaper article(http://www.4shared.com/office/eyiy0Tub/TOIM_2012_9_10_32.html) 

Sometimes, life leads us down a path which figuratively changes us. I recently embarked on such a journey to Hyderabad which left me amazed as it changed some of my dominant preconceived notions that I had been harbouring since childhood. The impact this experience had on me was even more profound simply due to the current relevance of the matter. 
The purpose of my trip to the City of Nawabs was an international conference with students from over 21 countries participating including those from Pakistan. Unfortunately, this conference occurred around the time of the August 11 protests at Azad Maidan which accentuated the communal and anti-Pakistan sentiments already existent amongst many Indians. However, my interactions with students from our neighbouring country gave me an opportunity to view Pakistanis in a different light contrary to public opinion. During the course of a week, I had multiple conversations with my fellow students from Pakistan about a range of topics varying from terrorism to politics and even cricket! 
I distinctly remember an incident at a mall that made me realise that Pakistanis are similar to us in a number of ways. After a great team lunch, all of us were looking to hire an auto rickshaw back to our hotel. Being the typical Indian city it is, we couldn’t get anyone to agree on a fair price for the ride. After a lot of innate Indian haggling, we finally got into one, still not satisfied with the decided fare. However, I saw my friend from Lahore smiling. She turned to me and said, “We have the exact same tendency to haggle in Pakistan!” That was it! The big moment of realisation! 
I realised that despite being at each other’s throats for years, India and Pakistan are truly like fraternal twins with just different perspectives and ideologies. However hate-filled and prejudiced the thoughts of our leaders, or for that matter, our elders may be, we (the youth) have a radically peaceful outlook. Over the years, we have witnessed religious discrimination or fanaticism. Yet, we, the youth, have brought about a silent revolution that runs deep within our mindsets. This effect is that of religious indifference. We understand nationalism but with a cool head. To our minds, not every Pakistani is a terrorist nor do we believe that harmonious existence is a myth. Although our politicians constantly make efforts to mask nation-based hatred, the grim reality is it always resurfaces with biased and illogical anger. Just as we overcame religious borders, it’s time to bond over actual borders. 
I returned home a changed teenager. I’ve returned a person with some great friends across the border and with a vision in my mind, a vision of eternal peace and harmony. Because for the first time in seventeen years, when a Pakistani hugged me I knew that the vision was not Indian nor was it solely mine. It was a shared vision of some youngsters not as citizens of two different nations, but as humans living in a global civilisation.

From Pakistan, With Love in Education Times,Mumbai Edition


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Don’t Fight, Freedom is our Right!

NOTE: This article was written by me for the newspaper Education Times (http://www.myeducationtimes.com/article/79/201208132012081314113447424da4e33/Don%E2%80%99t-fight-freedom-is-our-right-.html)while I Interned there. Here is the link to the PDF of the actual newspaper article(http://www.4shared.com/office/qcuYiRmz/TOIM_2012_8_13_31.html)

Freedom itself is a liberalised term. As a soon to turn adult, it’s truly an honour to be a citizen of the Republic of India.  Democracy, in its essence is based on the expression of liberation by its citizens. Our constitution makers, inspired by this, gave us the Right to Freedom, which truly is a legacy we cherish. Nearly 62 years since its inception, liberty now runs through our veins. May it be a free expression of our opinion, a peaceful candle march against corruption, the ability to pick our choice of pencil or our choice of politician; we can legally do all of it. Sure many attempts at suppression have risen, but our judiciary has always quelled the situation. In recent times, the new IT rules proposed have drawn the ire of many legal experts as its terms blatantly violate our fundamental rights. I sure agree with them! No one messes with my rights!
As a young Indian, the ability to speak my mind, express my appreciation or more than often, my criticism, knowing that I am well within my rights to do so, is a matter of great joy. However, it still is a small ruby in a pile of diamonds. Unlike popular belief, freedom to us is not just limited to being our self. The knowledge that we can freely live our lives without the threat of unlawful conviction coupled with the unique perk of free and compulsory education (recently brought into effect by the Right to Education Act) from the age of 6 to 14 years, too factors in our umbrella of independence.
 Often, I arrogantly questioned some of the government’s seemingly absurd acts such as the different set of laws in Kashmir and the need for passes to enter Nagaland, on the pointless basis that such measures took away many of our promised rights. But, when I realized their necessity and simple brilliance, I was humbled. Our forefathers guaranteed us our rights but ensured that, freedom never took precedent over law, order and most importantly peace. I acknowledge that independence is never restricted. Well not unreasonably anyway. For e.g. when I’m told to not drive before 18, I never consider it as curtailment of my freedom. Rather, I realise it to be a supplement to my right to a protected life.
My freedom is mine to choose and define. It always was, always shall be. But when it’s constitutionally my right, I can’t help perform a small jig of thanks every morning. Many people I know moan about how India has still not matured in terms of freedom. I simply tell them this: “Read Part III of the Constitution and ingrain it in your head because legally, we are one of the most privileged citizens in the world for nearly 62 years! If that’s not mature, then nothing else is.”

Education Times,14th August 2012,Front Page

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