“Dior is in the details”

Luxurista Kalyani Saha Chawla talks about her prolific career and growing Christian Dior in India phenomenally, over the last 10 years…

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Kalyani Saha Chawla, VP – Marketing and Communication, Christian Dior Couture has been eclipsing the world of high fashion and Indian luxury with an unfailing regularity. Her sixth sense understanding of luxury retail combined with rich and diverse experiences at a plethora of international brand makes her the most envied and admired businesswoman in the country today.
Besides, her distinctive sense of personal style makes her a regular fixture in every style list ever compiled in the country. She’ll wear an ornate Anamika Khanna creation with nifty Dior accessories like a potent cocktail and rarely misses a style beat.
Her deep and personal relationship with the Bollywood royalty has ensured that Dior has been the most visible brand on the red carpet over the last decade.

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Making Dior a part of Bollywood style vocabulary – with Kangana Ranaut

The serial entrepreneur and multi-tasker been an exporter for 13 years. From sketch board to the shelves – she has a 360 degree view with her past experience in export, dealing with luxury and high street retail giants, to running her own lifestyle boutique in Kolkata for years. “I have learnt from the best, which is Experience. There are various nuances which are involved. You can’t make a success today of anything unless you have a business acumen. You have to find key factors to be that voice and vehicle.”

Turning sari into gowns

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Sonam Kapoor rocks Dior in Aisha

She found Bollywood 10 years ago, and turned the sari into gowns on the red carpet. She understood Bollywood’s strongest and most powerful reach, not only in India but globally, before anyone else did. “They have been recognised internationally in so many levels of achievement and honoured. I have been very fortunate to have built up relationships over the years, which has been hugely beneficial in terms of visibility and making Dior popular outside of the obvious audience. That’s where the business is. The non travellers with the resources and the knowledge and awareness today thanks to the media which has made fashion in general such an integral part of our daily lives!”

My learning at Dior

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Raf Simons’ debut Christian Dior couture collection

“What I learnt at Dior, I couldn’t have learnt anywhere else. Dior is in the details! I have learnt so much from visual merchandising to merchandising itself to having the most perfect events. The two events Dior had, one in Bombay and one in Delhi, the invitees still reminisce about and the ones who missed it are still regretting it! It’s just the scale and the essence of the way this brand works, it’s been such a high to be part of this learning. My exposure on a global basis with many events from New Delhi to New York, London to Paris and Tokyo have today enriched me in every possible way, with experience and practical knowledge which is invaluable,” she shares.

We work for Dior

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One’s keen to ask about the change of guard at the hallowed couture label. Over the years, Dior has seen so many designers come and go – from John Galliano to Raf Simons. So what has remained the same?
She says, “The brand is always bigger than an individual. We work for Dior. Every brand goes through the change of guard. I think a change is always good in a way as one sees new sensibility and a fresh approach.”

Luxury to me is…

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Rihanna sizzles in Dior magazine

“It’s knowing the difference between what luxury is and what’s not. When you wear a Dior dress, you aren’t screaming the label. Whether you’re wearing a garment or carrying a handbag – how you feel wearing it – that’s luxury. You’re doing it for yourself. It’s a feeling…  which only you know,” she signs off.

How beautifully summed up!

With a spring in your step

Presenting key Spring Summer 16 trends which emerged at Lakme Fashion Week.

Summer resort looks like a petri dish of sartorial experimentation – there’s a weird and magnetic mash up of styles and influences – from luxed up sportswear to pool side resort to destination wedding concoctions. What makes this clash of references delectable is – there’s something for everyone. Mix and match and let your freak flag fly high and create your own style. Pair a cricket vest with a pair of shorts or a metallic jacket with an evening gown. With up-from-the-street style getting stronger momentum, it’s time to go charging ahead with your own zany take on fashion.
Here are the key trends which emerged at the recently concluded LFW.

Colour blocking

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Payal Khandwala colour blocks her blue monastic sari with a yellow blouse

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A colour blocked look from Wendell Rdoricks

At Wendell Rodrick’s museum-worthy presentation, the ensembles gloried thanks to a kinetic colour blocking and pop accents. A colour palette of tangerine, emerald green, teal blue and fuchsia pink was employed with a distinguished flair. Amit Aggarwal’s techno feminine gown has bold strokes of orange, blue, yellow and white while Shivan and Narresh’s swimsuits had pop accents of peach and blue and creamy salmon. Payal Khandwala paired a monastic blue sari with a yellow blouse and KaSha by Karishma Shahani Khan stayed true to its folksy aesthetic playing up with different vibrant tones.

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An Amit Aggarwal colour-blocked gown

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A Shivan & Narresh colour-blocked swimsuit

Metallic mayhem

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Monisha Jaising

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A metallic Manish Malhotra jacket on Arjun Kapoor

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Lisa Haydon in a Monisha Jaising gold gown with cutout details

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An Anand Kabra ensemble

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Magma-inspired Amit Aggarwal creation

Trust the talented Amit Aggarwal to look under the earth’s surface and get inspired by Magma. His Intricate beading, hand painting on industrial fabrics, quilting, pleating and modern textural influences wreaked an electrifying jolt. On the other hand, Monisha Jaising’s sparkly fringed gold gowns with cut-out details proved yet again that she’s the queen of red carpet high-octane aesthetic. Payal Khandwala’s motifs which were hand-woven in metallic gold and silver thread in geometric patterns stood out.

Athleisure  

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An athleisure-inspired look from Aiman

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An Athleisure look from Dhruv Kapoor

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An Antar Agni ensemble

Huemn nailed athletic chic with its signature souvenir bombers, sweatshirts and metallic pantsuits. At Doodlage patchworked collage pieces paired with nifty accessories said vagabond. Kanika Goyal’s usage of PVC to clash with the printed jerseys evoked instant likability. Embellished slangs on pieces gave it a sassy edge.

Print charming

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Mirchi print at Masaba

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A vintage floral print Payal Singhal sari

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A Quirk Box ensemble 

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A look from Aartivijay Gupta 

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A printed look from Sneha Arora

Inspired by vintage upholstery and comprising a colour palette of off-white, ecru, indigo, crimson and black, this was Quirkbox’s most refined outing till date. Sewing machines, scissor prints besides the florals made it perfect for a summer outing. Payal Singhal’s play of floral prints continues this season as she referenced some of the iconic women from different decades. Masaba Gupta, on the other hand, looked at the iconic works of Matthieu Venot (ace French photographer) and Katrin Bremermann (German artist) for her moodboard this season.

Stripes on steroids

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A striped look from Shivan & Narresh

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Lakme Fashion Week S/R 2016

Paromita Banerjee

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Amit Aggarwal

Paromita Banerjee’s textile-savvy approach was visible in her smart usage of stripes. Stripes were also seen in other forms and treatments at Amit Aggarwal, Payal Khandwala and Shivan and Narresh.

 

Troy Costa and the art of tailoring

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Troy Costa takes a bow

Over the years, designer Troy Costa has become a metaphor for impeccable tailoring, sharp cuts and superb finishing. Perhaps that what makes his signature double breasted windowpane checks suits such a red carpet favourite. For any menswear observer, it doesn’t take very long to osmose the Troy Costa aesthetic. The Troy Costa man is the quintessential dandy, who loves his floral shirts, likes to complete his suit look with a collar pin and adds a hint of colour in the form of nifty socks. The designer’s sixth sense understanding of tailoring and his single-minded focus on wearable dressing which takes you from a boardroom to a party haunt makes him a cut-above-the-rest.

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Vibrant tie and pocket square accent the grey suit

His Woolmark line showcased last night, inspired by the Italian aesthetic, prompted a mild shiver of that sartorial sensation. Six-buttoned double breasted suits stood out and so did the windowpane check blazers with peak lapels worn with red trousers. The floral ties and vibrant pocket square added the Florentine dandy vibe to the show taking us back to the Great Wall of Pitti Uomo.

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Double-breasted suit with peak lapels

One can easily picture Troy’s boys on a vespa soaking in the Italian sun and one can also see them at a formal dinner in a member’s only club. In an interaction with me, the designer had shared, “Double breasted suit will take on a new dimension. Earlier the DB suit had a V like format but now it’s more hugging and slim – tapered waist, comfort at chest and the lapels being wider and shoulder padding being very light.”

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Vidyut Jammwal in a three-piece suit

At the Woolmark outing, he envisioned a man who is conservative in his taste but likes to experiment in terms of colour and pattern combos and the result was an array of extremely wearable and refined looks.

Paris Fashion Week highlights

Fall Winter 2016 continues to tread on the dark tapestry

The recently concluded Paris Fashion Week turned out to be a season of deafening rumours. Is Hedi Slimane quitting Saint Laurent or has he already quit? Designer Anthony Vaccarello seems to be one of the potent contenders for the big job. Commercially Hedi’s successor has big shoes to fill. Besides, the question mark on Raf Simons’ replacement at Christian Dior has been haunting the chic corridors. If this wasn’t enough then all eyes were set on Balenciaga (it was newly appointed designer Demna Gvasalia’s first collection). Demna married his street style with the house’s hallowed archive and Dior saw Raf’s template and codes being followed. Eighties continue to rule with most designers opting for exaggerated shoulders and making the shapes even more dramatic seen most prominently at Saint Laurent. The Goth undercurrent can’t be overlooked with everyone from Dries Van Noten to Dior to Givenchy opting for dark smokey eyes. Liquid-like slip dresses continue to make their presence felt in our sartorial slipstream, seen at John Galliano, who presented them with tailored outerwear. Here are some of the snapshots from the runway…

Rahul Mishra


Focus: Bandhani

Highlights: India is definitely shining in Paris thanks to the talented Rahul Mishra, whose recent fall winter outing was presented with a nuanced street credo. ‘RM’ and ‘street style’ aren’t the two phrases one’s likely to come across in the same sentence but this was designer’s most edgy line. The International Woolmark Prize winner dyed his silks using the traditional Bandhani technique, creating his signature dots which gloried in a delectable interplay of royal blue, black and cream. The softness of the skirts and cape like embroidered scalloped separates was offset by suit jackets and embroidered biker jackets. The Delhi-based designer has firmly entrenched his brand on the global fashion firmament and he isn’t scared to let his freak flag fly high!

Dries Van Noten


Inspiration: A rendezvous between Marchesa Luisa Casati, early-20th-century femme fatale and poet Gabriele D’Annunzio

Highlights: Models sported smokey eyes and sleek side-parted hair and had necks covered with fur chokers. There was an unmistakable aristocratic air about them as they rocked jewel-toned pantsuits and chunky cricket vests. Purple and emerald green were two shades which made their presence felt in the faux fur lined collar, shimmery tea-length skirts. The designer also played with leopard prints, dots and stripes giving them a dreamy, painterly-like feel.

Givenchy

 

Inspiration: Hindu Mandalas and Egyptian iconography

Highlights: It’s not for nothing that Givenchy’s follower are clubbed under the cult of ‘Tisci’s Tribe. Designer’s penchant for religious insignia and imagery is well known and documented. This time his focus shifted to Egypt and he referenced the Eyes of Horus. Tisci always likes to bleach his models’ eyebrows and give them Goth smokey make-up. The animalistic ensembles added a sinister-like vibe accented by leopard spots and python skin. The leather jackets and boleros stood out thanks to their sharp tailoring.

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Vibe: Old world Hollywood glamour

Highlights: After Raf Simon’s departure, all eyes were set of this fall winter offering by studio heads Lucie Meier and Serge Ruffieux and Dior addicts weren’t disappointed. There was a focus on the shoulder which was morphed with an asymmetric drape. A panoply of portrait neckline were seen layering zipped tops and coat dresses were presented with 80s leg-of-mutton sleeves. Sleek side-parted hair and bold dark lips offset the high-waist slit pencil skirts and pointy Mary Janes and lace-up ankle booties.

Vetements


Inspiration: Street wear
Highlights: The Rugby elements were given a new twist and knits, shirts and jersies were boiled. Distilling everyday street style into high fashion clothing has been designer Demna Gvasalia’s forte. His trademark oversized tailoring was mixed with cheeky sloganeering. Oversized plaid shirts with boxy shoulders, hooded sweatshirts were worn with thigh high boots invoking instant likability.

Decoding Scream Queens style

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MACAROONS-MEET-MARSHMALLOW HAZE

Scream Queens season 1 is over and the trailer of season 2 has already been out. Director Ryan Murphy (after dazzling us with American Horror Story), with this horror-spoof series pays homage to a slew of iconic horror films like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Shining and Psycho. However, besides the razor-sharp dialogues, clever narrative and a supremely talented ensemble cast, the show made its impact because of its nifty styling.

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Chanel’s Halloween pumpkin patch: Homage to The Shining 

From the narcissistic Chanel trio (played to perfection by Emma Roberts (Chanel no 1), Abigail Breslin (Chanel no 5) and Billie Catherine Lourd (Chanel no 3) clad in fur, sequins and feathers to the up-from-the-streets style seen on Zayday Williams (played by Keke Palmer) and Skyler Samuels (Grace Gardner)  – the show has been a stylistically alluring treat for any fashion junkie.

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THE KAPPA SISTERS: Fur, feathers, berets and candy tones

Homage to the house of Chanel

Chanels, always dressed in pastel tones of baby pink, powder blue and pale green, pay homage to the couture house of Chanel. In fact, they call Halloween – ‘Chanel-o-ween’! Picture cutesy headgear in the form of faux fur hats, feather skirts, tweed lunch suits, strings of pearls and two-toned shoes and you’ve nailed the look.

The show’s opening scene sets the style momentum where one’s introduced to the ‘gross-rich’ Chanel Oberlin’s walk-in closet (in her words her “second vagina”). She walks out of the Kappa Kappa Tau with her minions – all in delectable tones of mint and citrus and perfectly blow-dried hair, oversized sunnies and gloves intact. It’s like a macaroon-meets-marshmallow haze when one visualises these sorority sisters.  She, in fact, asks her maid Ms Bean to scrub the entire house with a Barbie toothbrush.

Street credo: Zayday and Skyler

As the show progresses, one’s bombarded with even more luscious Rococo tones as far as Chanels go. Zayday and Skyler, on the other hand have a distinctive styles of their own. While Zayday is hip hop gangsta, Skyler usually sports an array of nautical-inspired looks complete with striped t-shirts layered with mannish blazers and tweed berets. What makes styling such a transformative weapon in the show is the fact that every character’s look speaks volumes about their stature in it (as Chanel Oberlin says, “life is a class system”).

Queen of Kappa Kappa Tau

Emma Roberts’ closet is definitely envy-inducing – from the open-casket funeral of Chanel no 2 (a cameo by Ariana Grande) (where Emma’s dressed in a black feathered dress and a beret) to the moment where she walks out of the jail in a crisp Chanel look (a white shirt with a pussy bow collar, over-sized sunnies and a chain belt on the pencil skirt) to the scene where she’s sharpening knives in the middle of the night in a robe  to the part where she’s lying on her bed in a sheer black dress waiting to be devoured by a snake which she orders online.

After all the dreamy sartorial perfection of season 1, I can’t wait for season 2 to begin…

Déjà vu diary

Last season London brand Erdem made quite a splash with it’s prairie-inspired transparent dresses in gray chiffon with embroidered flowers. This season at Alexander McQueen, designer Sarah Burton presented a slew of soft romantic dresses with butterflies fluttering all over. The two outfits which were inspired by different elements look quite strikingly similar.

Shin gains focus this fall

Mid-calf length dresses and skirts eclipse the runways


The mid-calf length tea dresses seems to be trending on the fall winter 2016 runways. This year in LA Hedi Slimane had presented the midi in his tried-and-tested glam rock style. Almost every skirt, dress, and culotte was cut straight across the shinbones. Rodarte too presented them in soft Goth format with frilled boots and at Marc Jacobs too laser-cut leather skirts ended just below the knee. The shin-length skirts have always been a Proenza Schouler’s signature who have presented them in knits and crepe. The calf-length was also seen on the runways of Burberry, Roland Mouret and Simone Rocha