Fashion Fades, Style is Eternal

In a society that places a lot of importance on ‘being seen in big designer labels’ to be called fashion savvy, Richa Tilokani and Minal Khona talk to 4 very different personalities for their perception of fashion and come away with very interesting responses.

Lounge Chic is the name of the game.

She is a Consultant in Strategic Marketing for four well known designers – Anand Kabra, Arjun Saluja, Kallol Datta and Suhani Pittie. But Aparna Roddam is also wellknown for her highly individualistic sense of fashion and her ability to look chic no matter what she wears. She says, “Fashion for me is driven by comfort. I won’t wear a trend because I am supposed to be in it. I would only wear it if I am comfortable and I would bring myself into whatever I am wearing. I believe a person should wear what works for them – whether it is the silhouette, the cut and the shape and then accessorise it in your signature style.”

Her wardrobe flaunts several big ticket designer labels, although Aparna adds, “I buy high street labels and street style clothes as well as the fabulous stuff one gets at flea markets abroad. I don’t believe in blindly following trends because that removes you from the equation. It is best to dress up in what you think is best because then you own it your way.” The chic fashionista further explains, “My personal style is very much wear and go – or what one would term lounge clothes. I like loose comfortable clothing and luckily since I am exposed to the industry due to my work, I come across interesting work that I can pick up. Luxury for me is not just a label; it is something that has value in terms of design, craftsmanship, quality and attention to detail. Whether it is clothing or shoes or jewellery, we buy some things that are trendy are others because they are classic. I like both! Basically, it has

to be something that makes a statement, not necessarily a bold one, it can be a very refined statement.”

Talking about her choice of clothes for this photoshoot for RITZ, Aparna Roddam says, “I am wearing a bubble gum pink jacket by Obataimu – a label created by a group of designers who work out of Alibaug near Mumbai. They have a store in Mumbai and the fabric is called cloud silk because they process it in such a way that the fabric is soft as a cloud. It is a reversible jacket and is extremely comfortable. I have teamed it up with a 3.1 Philip Lim skirt.” In the picture above, she wears an Anamika Khanna cape, teamed with trousers and Reed Krakoff shoes.

Repetition is Taboo

Lakshmi Krishnaswamy is passionate about making her store Lux 214 work. Think pretty dresses, gowns, funky tops, shrugs and cool accessories. They are sourced from Thailand, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore apart from destinations where Lakshmi holidays like London and Colombo.

So what does Lakshmi love to wear, I wonder. “I wear a lot of dresses – whether long, short or midi. However, for a regular outing I prefer to wear jeans and a top or a t-shirt,” she says. She is also fond of her shoes – owning about 50 to 55 pairs and does not mind repeating her favourites.

What she does mind, however, is repeating her outfits. Explains Lakshmi, “In the age of Facebook, where every outing is recorded for posterity, I would not like to be caught wearing the same dress twice. I have a nice collection of dresses, so why would I want to repeat any of them?” On the fashion scene in the South, Lakshmi says that it is definitely evolving with the rise of the media and the internet. Fashion in the city is no longer limited to the Sabyas and the Anamikas for ethnic wedding wear. “There are many people who come to me for long gowns for pre-wedding functions. So things are definitely changing. Now there is more exposure and people don’t mind experimenting with their look. Plus, we have always had our own sensibilities in terms of saris and ethnic wear which are stylish in their own right.”

Lakshmi sure does love to have fun with fashion, so I ask her if she has had any funny experiences shopping in India and abroad. “Well, the funniest one was in China because of the language problem. The Chinese are very friendly and helpful but they don’t understand English at all. So we had to hire a translator and he was really expensive. It was a difficult trip overall, as people did not know even basic English words like water, clothes etc. Many times while shopping, we picked up some stuff and returned with something totally different,” she says smilingly.

But these challenges don’t bog her down. They are just part and parcel of Lakshmi’s life and in her own words she would not have it any other way.

The Maverick

He is relatively low profile even though he admits to partying hard when the mood takes him. Always dressed in black and white, Anand Kabra is one of Hyderabad’s more subtle designers. For him, fashion is not just about clothes or models. It is more of a socio-political commentary on the times we live in. Says Anand, “We are what we wear. We tend to express ourselves through our clothes. So my clothes are more of a lifestyle choice, rather than a projection of Fashion Weeks. “ No wonder, Anand treats his collections with the seriousness and the depth they demand. But he also believes in having fun with fashion. Talking about the single most important person he would love to design for, he quips instantly, “Cliched as it sounds, I would have to say Madonna. She stands for change, is in the prime of her life, owns her look, is unapologetic about the way she lives and there is a certain authenticity about the way she dresses – there is nothing gimmicky about her.” On the Indian front, he has worked with Tollywood actresses like Shriya Saran, Charmmee and Hansika. And he absolutely loves the way Deepika Padukone carries herself in a saree. Having dressed her for a promotional function recently, Anand reveals, “There is no vulgarity about her no matter what she wears. She could be wearing the tiniest of cholis, baring a huge midriff but she still looks gorgeous in a saree. She is not a slave to fashion and I would say she wears her clothes really well. There are others who dress well too but she doesn’t let the clothes wear her – whether it is Indian or western clothes.”

Another actress he raves about is Vidya Balan. Anand says, “I love her attitude and the fact that she can’t be bothered if the pallu is not pinned properly or the saree is bunching up. She is beyond all the stereotypical notions of a person in the glamour business and what would look shabby on anyone else she carries off perfectly. She is bigger than her clothes and her personality always conveys that.”

Fun and Stylish

Personal style is very important to Osman Abdul Razak, owner of the men’s fashion store Gabbana.Life in Chennai. He believes that we speak volumes before we say a word – through our wardrobe, personality and style. Says Osman, “Our clothes form a part of the total image as they are a reflection of the person. The imagery of dressing well is a reflection of who you are and how you live.”

Osman started out with an engineering degree, after which he went on to engineer people’s clothes and lifestyles. “With a family background invested in exporting garments in Chennai, it was no surprise that I was passionate about the fashion industry. For the last six years, I have steered my men’s fashion store as the style and fashion director. I work with only one rule in mind – make only what I would want to wear myself. This is why I love what I do.”

Osman believes that the worst thing that you can do to yourself is to be uncomfortable in something that you are wearing. The discomfort will always show in your body language and on your face. In his words, “Keep your personality in mind and don’t try to follow fashion trends blindly. Trends give you an insight on what’s out there, but at the same time, you should not forget the person that you are. Dress according to your body type and confidence level. A well-fitted, quality garment is a statement of masculinity; it has an aura that builds style and confidence,” he advises.

He is happy that a lot of men are actually willing to experiment with colour. “I haven’t seen men wear so much colour in a very long time. I must say that I am quite impressed by the number of men who are willing to try something new. It’s colour blocking all the way from here to the streets of Florence. It is similar to what the women were wearing last Spring/Summer. Men sporting neon brights, covetable shoes, and the “man bag” are such a welcome change.”

For this photo feature, Osman is dressed in clothes from his store Gabbana.Life.