Friday, September 18, 2015

Pakistan L'Oreal Bridal Week (PLBW 2015) Favourite Looks

Pakistan L'Oreal Paris Bridal Week (PLBW 2015) has been the predominant fashion event making headlines this month. Designers catering to the high demand for exquisite bridal outfits and wedding trousseau by the insatiable fashionistas of Pakistan have not failed to deliver. Fashion enthusiasts were dazzled with a wide array of silhouettes, exquisite varieties of handiwork and embroidery, luxurious cloth materials and copious attention to detail.

22 brands showcased their collections this week, ranging from fashion heavyweights to newcomers launching their first bridal collections. I decided to make a list of few of my favorite pieces from the PLBW that took place in Lahore, Pakistan during the three day period of 16-18 September 2015. I will start with the collection which I think was one of the best of the week. That honor was bagged by Elan which showcased its collection titled 'The Jasmine Court'.

When it comes to wedding wear, I personally prefer bright colors but Elan is such a master when it comes to intricate details and ethereal craftmanship, it is as if everything it touches turns to gold and that is quite the complement.

Elan wanted to create a collection that would be a heirloom since a bridal outfit should be beautiful and timeless enough to pass on to the next generation. I believe it has managed to achieve that goal.

Ali Xeeshan also showcased his collection on Day 1 and titled it 'Tufaan'. There were some misses but some gorgeous pieces as well, which scream royalty and opulence.

Ali Xeeshan is known for drama and adding an element of theater in his shows, and he added it again to this one. The audience was in for a surprise when Mickey and Minnie showed up in traditional outfits during the fashion show. Below is another gorgeous piece by Ali Xeeshan, fit for a princess.

Fahad Hussayn named his collection 'Matam' which I was surprised to hear, since Matam in the Urdu language means mourning. I mused about why a fashion designer would name their bridal collection 'Matam'. It turns out that he was inspired by how intense the act of matam is and so that intensity along with Chinioti craftmenship was the inspiration behind his collection. Two of my favorite looks from Fahad Hussayn's collection are shown below.

Kamiar Rokni is one of my personal favorites and was the best on day 2. I love how the outfits of the House of Kamiar Rokni are so vibrant and colorful and at the same time have such beautiful intricate details. The designs are a beautiful marriage of traditional and modern with unique color combinations and artistic silhouettes. My favorite piece from the collection titled 'Alchemy' is shown below.

Nomi Ansari held to his trademark style of vibrant colors in the clothes he designed for the PLBW collection titled 'Oudh' and was inspired by the boldness of the fragrance itself. It was a stunning collection, colorful like an artists palette and at the same time embellished with intricate detailed embroidery to make heads turn.

Another picture showing more clothes adorned by the models of the Nomi Ansari fashion show is given below. 

A noteworthy mention would be fashion designer Ammara Khan whose collection titled 'Memoirs from a Moonlit Garden' had stunning details and cut-work on it. The colors were a bit dull but the handiwork and craftsmanship was brilliant as can be seen from a close up picture given below.

Overall I would say that PLBW 2015 was indeed a success. In fact it would not be an exaggeration to say that PLBW 2015 has shown that when it comes to fashion and luxury, the Pakistani Bridal fashion market can indeed be amongst the leaders of the world.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Fashion Week 2015 Inspiration

September hails the start of Fashion weeks around the globe and also on the national front, with L'Oreal Paris Bridal Week taking place in Lahore, Pakistan from 16-18 September. International trends for Spring/Summer 2016 are making waves at the New York Fashion Week in NYC from 10-17 September. Then there is London Fashion Week from 18-22 September followed by Milan Fashion Week from 23-29 September. The month will end on a high note for fashion with Paris Fashion Week commencing from 30 September and lasting up till 7 October.

Anyone who loves fashion can't help but get caught up in the excitement of fashion that is taking the international arena by storm. I have also been tickled by the fashion muse into blogging about some sophisticated style. However instead of discussing SS 2016 trends, I decided to do a more practical and time appropriate fashion blog. This is a time when there are loads of weddings going on in Pakistan, especially as we approach the cooler months. Hence I decided to do a fun fashion blog about how you can make a glamorous and sophisticated fashion statement at a wedding soiree.

I will start putting the look together with the outfit. The cloth material that is the most popular these past few months has been Organza.  The designer whose outfit I chose is Saira Rizwan. Saira Rizwan is not as well known or established as some of the other Pakistani brands, but her clothes have won her a pretty sturdy fan base. She started initially working for Karma in 2004 then ventured out to start her own brand in 2007. The outfit I chose is shown below, and is from her mid 2015 Bridal Collection titled 'Gul Mohar'.

A picture showcasing the front and back during the fashion show is also given below to get an overall idea of the ensemble. Though there is a fad of wearing embroidered light jackets at wedding functions, I prefer this short shirt with straight pants style in hotter weather. Jacket style is more suited for winters where a layered look is not only fashionable but also practical.

Now for my favorite bit, the accessorizing. I always love accessorizing, for me it is actually more fun than choosing the outfit itself. Let's start from the top. A hair updo would look sophisticated and leave you feeling cooler during these hot summer months. For the earrings, I would choose these very trendy and chic ear cuffs by Amrapali Jewels from Jaipur, India. A well established brand in India, it is also being launched in Pakistan soon. With the hair in a simple, classic up-do, these would be very visible and make a great fashion statement. The picture below was taken from the Instagram page of Amrapali Jewels and shows the earcuffs being modeled on a woman.

Every fashionista has heard about Christian Louboutin. Famous for their trademark red soles and stunning designs, Christian Louboutin shoes have adorned the feet many fashionable women in the world. For this look, however I will choose the Christian Louboutin Lipstick, which have just been launched this very month, September 2015. With three different textures (Velvet Matte, Silky Satin and Sheer Voile) and 38 shades, along with a bullet amulet design which doubles as a necklace, these are as iconic as lipstick gets. For this particular look, I would suggest using Rouge Louboutin in Silky Satin texture.

Since we are talking about Christian Louboutin beauty, I would also suggest using their Rouge Louboutin shade on beautifully manicured hands. The color 'Rouge Louboutin' is a highly pigmented and glossy shade of red.

When it comes to shoes, Manolo Blahnik is another name whose shoes have enchanted fashionistas around the globe. Manolo Blahnik has also forayed into a new department different from shoes, launching his new bag line in end July 2015. Capitalizing his love for ornaments and jewels which is apparent on his shoes, he has created six beautiful classy clutches in satin adorned with shiny embellishments. These are quite similar to some of the most popular Manolo Blahnik shoes, so paired together they would look gorgeous also. For this particular look, I have selected the new deep red Manolo Blahnik Okka clutch pictured nested in the artistic capture below.

Adding this dazzling Ruby and Diamond geometric bracelet by luxury brand Cartier would add the perfect bling factor.

To complete the look, I have chosen red Lilyth stilletos, with its gorgeous red tulle bow, from iconic shoe brand Jimmy Choo's Autumn Winter 2015 collection. The red tulle bow would look really beautiful under the pistachio green straight pants of the outfit.

You now have the complete look. The gorgeous pistachio green outfit in shimmery organza accented with deep red flower embroidery and sequins, along with contrasting red accessories will enable you to make a fashion statement and guarantee you enjoy any wedding reception in sophisticated style.  Just finish it off with the most important accessory of all: A Smile, and you are good to go.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Pakistan Independence Day Fashion Statement

Today marks the 68th birthday of my beloved country Pakistan. Pakistan has come a long way from the day it gained independence on 14th August 1947. It's been a roller coaster ride of highs and lows, but that is a part of an evolutionary route that majority of countries have to partake. The past year has been tough when we look at the certain issues such as the APS Peshawar school attack and the utterly disturbing Kasur scandal. We have also made some leaps forward as can be seen from the expected $40 billion influx of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) from China, improved credit rating by Moodys and Standard & Poor showcasing economic improvement, more security after the Zarb-e-Azb Army operation against extremist militant groups and the improved stability in Karachi after the Rangers operation.

One should pray and do their part to ensure that the next year and those more ahead would bring increased prosperity and peace to our nation. Today however, in the spirit of jubilation, we will focus on celebrating all the uniqueness and beautiful qualities that identify with the Pakistani nation, from the stunning landscapes, scrumptious food, generous people, colorful cultures, beautiful handicrafts and more. In order to do so, one must dress the part, making a positive and bold Pakistani fashion statement.

The Pakistani Fashion Industry has evolved beautifully over the past few decades. It is also celebrating the birthday of the nation by putting out independence day inspired pieces. This blog post in particular was inspired to create a bold fashion statement with everything from Pakistani designers and shops, in order to celebrate Pakistan's Independence Day in a fun style.

I have picked some of my favorite pieces and put them together to form a head to toe Independence Day statement attire. Living abroad, I haven't had the luxury to check shops in person so all the pieces featured were picked online. First of all, I would like to start with a nice kurta. I saw Beechtree and Sapphire Lawn both have some good choices for Independence Day kurtas. My pick given below is for this particular Sapphire Lawn Kurta the female model is wearing, which can be paired with simple white straight pants.

Now to accessorize the look with some jewellery. I love how these REMA luxury jewellery, also known as Remaluxe, earcuffs look. They would go perfectly with the Sapphire Kurta.

Earcuffs are statement pieces, and should be adorned with usually little or no other jewellery. If however you are feeling particularly festive, you can add this beautiful emerald and diamond ring designed by high end Pakistani jewellery designer Reama Malik. The picture below was found on the instagram account and is worn by one of the clients of Reama Malik's jewellery.

I like adding this Mahin Hussain funky and patriotic clutch shown below to make a bolder and funky statement.

Lets finish the look with some Farah & Fatima shoes.

This was my take on creating a fun and bold fashion statement on Pakistan's Independence Day. It was just a fun post I felt like doing to bring out the patriotic fashionista in all of us. I wish all my fellow Pakistanis had a lovely and festive Independence Day today. Let's keep Pakistan in our prayers and do our part to make it a brighter and more prosperous country InshAllah. Pakistan Zindabad!

Monday, April 6, 2015

The Poetry of Van Cleef & Arpels

Beauty is something that tends to capture your heart. There are numerous people who claim to be always keeping an eye open for beauty in life but in all honesty, one doesn't need to look for it. It commands attention to itself, demanding your eyes to open wide with awe and your lips to curl up in pleasure at the sight beholding your eyes. Needless to say, beauty doesn't have to confined to our vision. Beauty comes in all forms and senses such as in reading poetry, listening to music and even eating chocolate. I love how the wise Khalil Gibran phrases it so eloquently, "Beauty is not in the face, beauty is a light in the heart."

Nature reigns as a Majestic Queen when it comes to beauty of any form. It has hence been a source of inspiration to countless artists, poets, writers and more throughout the linear course of time. One such company that counts Nature as its muse is Van Cleef & Arpels. This company is said to be founded on the basis of love between Alfred Van Cleef and his wife Estelle Arpels after their marriage in 1895. Alfred Van Cleef came from a family of stone cutters and his wife belonged to a family of precious stone dealers. Using their combined family history and experience in jewellery making, Van Cleef and Arpels came into being. The first boutique was opened in Paris, France in 1906 as a venture between Alfred Van Cleef and his brothers in law. The company was handled by the following generations till it was bought by luxury Swiss company Compagnie Financière Richemont SA in 1999.

I absolutely adore how poetic, whimsical and artistic the above composition. The world needs more advertisements like this. Now would be an adequate time to add that I have not been endorsed to write this review. I just find some of their pieces and work magical. Though I am not one who would include butterflies or fairies as part of my jewellery, I do have intense admiration for the exquisite craftsmanship that goes into some of their pieces, especially when using the 'Mystery Setting'. The 'Mystery Setting' is a technique that was patented in 1933 by Van Cleef and Arpels where the precious gems are invisibly set, as if a part of the piece of jewellery itself, with no visible prongs or bars.  This technique requires around 300 hours of manual work per piece and adds a wow factor that few other jewellery makers can compete with.

Van Cleef and Arpels mostly deals with jewellery, watches and perfumes. I am not aware of the perfumes to write much about them. I do love some of their jewellery pieces, and I have included the pictures of those pieces in this blog piece, such as the Ruby and Diamond earrings below.

Their most recognized symbol would be the 'Alhambra', which again is inspired by Nature. The Alhambra is said to be the symbol of 'Good luck' and hence is the shape and form of a four leaf clover. The company launched the Alhambra in 1968 and it has since retained its basic four leaved clover curvature and form yet has been breathed new life into again and again in form of embellishments and multiple gem settings.

My favorite piece has to be their iconic 'Zip Necklace' seen in the video below, which doubles as a bracelet and it holds just the right balance of beautiful and clever in its multiple usage application.

With such ingenious mastery of technique, design and beauty, it is no surprise that Van Cleef and Arpels is the choice of royalty, movie stars and many others. It appeals both to the rich and not so rich random people around the globe who have an appreciation for beauty because it uses as its muse the epitome of beauty and that is free for everyone to access, our very own Mother Nature.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Facebook Page: Keeping it Surreal

I finally got around to make a Facebook page for my blog 'Keeping it Surreal'. The idea had been fluttering around my head like a butterfly for quite some time. Sometimes the fluttering would cease, as if the butterfly was resting, possibly upon some flowers of imagination in my mind. It did however take a bit of time to implement the idea, mostly because time is such a precious commodity now.

Time has always been a precious commodity but when responsibilities pile up, there is little left for yourself. And with that little comes the opportunity cost attached. If I do this, then I wouldn't be able to do that, and if I do that I wouldn't be able to do that other thing. It's like one of my first classes in Economics, where I was taught the definition of Economics. Economics is the allocation of limited resources in the most efficient way, so as to minimize the opportunity cost attached. That could very well be the definition of life itself, for everything has an opportunity cost. I guess now would be a adequate time to clarify what exactly is meant by opportunity cost. Opportunity cost is everything you forgo due to you choosing what you are going to do. For example, if I am writing this blog at this particular moment in time, the opportunity cost would be sleeping, watching TV, reading a good book, going out or working. Opportunity cost is therefore attached to each and every choice we make in life, period.

So why did I make a Facebook page for my blog? I am not entirely sure. I love writing, and I have been too busy to blog for some time. Possibly making a Facebook page would make me want to update it regularly and so would give me an excuse to be more vigilant in my writings. Writing is a way of finding joy in life for me. What I do know for sure is that I would love to help others find that joy along with me. Because life has its ups and downs. We all feel depressed and unhappy sometimes. Everyone has been hurt or lost someone. That is life and what binds humanity together. If I find something that would make me feel better and share it, I would consider it a blessing if it brings peace to others as well.

What plans do I have for my Facebook Page 'Keeping it Surreal'? I think I will just go with the flow and see what feels right. I would share my blog posts, thoughts, the surreal aspects of life, possibly some inspirational stories, and maybe even jokes. I am toying with the idea of sharing pictures there too, of nature and stars, Living in the concrete jungle that constitutes city life, we have got out of touch with nature. I miss nature. I miss stars. I used to love watching stars at night when I was a kid. Now with so much city lights, I feel lucky if I catch a star in the sky now and then. I have discovered a new found love of photography, mostly of natural elements. Maybe I will share those pictures too. From today onwards I will share everything with the hashtag #KeepingItSurreal so it is easy to find my posts on Facebook.

Wish me 'Goodluck' please and kindly like my page on Facebook 'Keeping it Surreal'. I would sincerely appreciate any support on this journey because in the words of the immortal Coco Chanel, "The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud." Here's to us all having some courage. Amen to that.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Understanding Pi Day

Everyone who has studied basic school mathematics has at one time or another stumbled upon the number Pi, more commonly recognized by the symbol π. π is calculated to be the ratio of a circle's circumference to it's diameter. What's interesting is that this ratio remains the same, regardless of the size of the circle. However the number is irrational and goes on forever till infinity. The value of π is 3.14159265358979..... and so on till infinity.

Now to be honest, I had never given much thought to the value of π because I have used it so many times in Math classes from school through university. When you get used to something, it becomes a norm, you tend to take it for granted. It doesn't occur to you that π may have any significance apart from solving various formulas like finding the area of a circle or the volume of a cylinder. Today however, π intrigued me. This is because today the world is celebrating π. How intriguing that March 14, 2015 at the time 9:26:53 is the same value as the first ten digits of π. It is as if π is indignantly proclaiming it's right to be noticed, especially when it has such an integral role in Mathematics.

So what does God want us to know about π? I have always felt that mathematics plays a mysterious role in the universe. Let's learn a bit more about π and maybe we can try to grasp it's significance. Some people claim that π is almost 4000 years old, though it only came be officially known as π in 1706 when a mathematician William Jones published his work 'A Summary of Achievements in Mathematics,' and came up with the symbol π to represent the irrational infinite number 3.141592. However much before that, Archimedes of Syracuse (287-212BC) is said to have come discovered this number for the first time while other ancient texts such as the Rhind Papyrus (1650 BC) and an ancient Babylonian tablet (1900-1680 BC) also talk about π.

Now that we have covered some history, lets analyze why Pi is so special. It is irrational, but there are other equally special and important irrational numbers in Mathematics such as the base of natural logarithms denoted by 'e', the under root of 2 and even the golden ratio 0.618.....π is unique. There is the compelling paradox that π is so random that the next number in the sequence has no pattern to the previous one, yet it is encompassed in the epitome of mathematical order, a perfect circle.Observe the image of the progression of the first ten thousand digits of π below. Logically one would expect randomness to exist in a state of chaos but instead what we stumble upon is pure symmetrical aesthetics.

π is not just confined to Mathematics. In the world of physics, it plays a role in Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle and the Schrödinger wave equation which explains behavior of particles on an atomic level. Then there is the de Broglie hypothesis that states all matter in the universe is actually a wave. When we look at waves, we automatically think of cycles, and rhythms. π is also present in the formula for the Fourier Series. So what all this concludes is that π is everywhere, within the helix of the DNA, within the circular orbit of the stars, within the motion of the cascading rivers to space and time beyond. 

Since we are speaking about physics, it seems appropriate to mention here that the most famous physicist Albert Einstein happened to have been born on 'Pi Day' or 14th March. Interesting coincidence indeed.

The allure of Pi is that it is present everywhere, and within it are woven mysteries which we may never be able unfold. Isn't that the beauty of the universe itself? To reveal enough that is needed and leave the rest to unfold in our imagination. 14th March is indeed a day worth celebrating.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

New Year Resolutions

A new year, 2015, ascends upon us as 2014 takes a final bow and becomes a thing of the past. Quantum physicists may smirk at our ignorance, citing how time is but an illusion, a figment of our imagination, and that the past, present and future all exist simultaneously. We mere mortals remain blissfully ignorant, devoting our lives to the mercy of the clock diligently ticking away in a corner of our room, our homes, our offices, our wrists and even our phones. Each moment is new and yet we wait until the Gregorian calender notifies us that a new year is about to start. Suddenly our dreams are rekindled into a bright flame, set ablaze by hope that this year may be the one when they finally come true. We all get caught into the crowd excitement of making new year resolutions.

I am one of those mere mortals who get caught up by the excitement of the new year, though it has been a few years since I have made any new year resolutions. I enjoy hearing about new year resolutions from friends and family. If our lives our governed by the clock, and it provides a moment for humanity as a whole to celebrate, how can one just stand by and let that moment slip? Add that to the fact that I think fireworks are the most beautiful and magical experience human beings can savor, I love to stare at the clock as it strikes 12am and signals the world to ignite the sky with fiery magic.

It was during this new years eve fiesta that a post my brother Mujtaba shared on his Facebook page caught my attention. It was a new years resolutions draft by an author by the name of Nassim Nicholas Taleb. I had not heard or read him previously, but I really liked some points of his draft. There were some points I would disagree with so I would like to list below only the points that I liked:

 1) Call someone who has no friends, just to say hello, letting the person know that you do not need anything specific from him/her. Have coffee with lonely people twice a month.

2) Do not read more than one new book a week –if needed re-read (and read no book you wouldn’t reread). Walk 2 hours every day regardless of weather. 

3) Fast one day every week on average. Eat meat only on festivals, but then splurge.

4) Respect the janitor more than the chairman and respect those who respect the janitor more than the chairman.

5) Do not read the latest "breakthrough" experiment in psychology about, say, the effect of taking cold showers on grammatical ability. Better even read nothing about these "experiments".

6) Give to someone who needs money but doesn’t ask for it while finding an excuse to preserve his/her dignity.

7) Use courage and wisdom, not labor, for your income.

8) In the end realize that you are only as valuable as the risks you are taking for the sake of others.

Some of the above eight points written by Nassim Nicholas Taleb seem difficult to adopt but if followed, would definitely make 2015 a better year for humanity.

I wish you a very happy 2015. God bless.