ANITA DONGRE GIVES MARISSA BRONFMAN HER TOP 5 TIPS FOR LOOKING STYLISH THIS SUMMER.
5 EASY STEPS TO SUMMER STYLE. VOGUE INDIA. MAY 2013.
ANITA DONGRE GIVES MARISSA BRONFMAN HER TOP 5 TIPS FOR LOOKING STYLISH THIS SUMMER.
5 EASY STEPS TO SUMMER STYLE. VOGUE INDIA. MAY 2013.
VOGUE INDIA’S TREND THERAPY WITH ANAITA: EXPERIMENTAL SARIS AND STYLES VIA YOUTUBE.
My online life
Right now 26-year-old Marissa Bronfman is working on a deadline to launch a blog to accompany their new e-commerce site. “The beauty of Goodearth is that everything has a story, rooted in Indian craft, tradition, heritage and philosophy, and we wanted to create our own space online to share those inspiring stories,” she says. Bronfman, who moved to India in early 2011 from Toronto, Canada, after an assignment, wears many hats—apart from her role at Goodearth, she works as a writer, editor and digital media consultant. She tells us why everyone should be on Twitter and Facebook. Edited excerpts:
Not many job profiles say digital and social media head. What does your job description really entail?
I manage all of Goodearth’s social media platforms—Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest—some of which I created and others that I took over. I work to ensure that communication and interaction on social media stays true to the brand’s style, while at the same time working to grow their reach and audiences. I track and analyse the analytics for all platforms, which informs and sometimes helps shape future content and digital strategy. For example, from tracking fan response on the Goodearth Facebook page, it’s very clear to me that our bright, colourful photos are one of the best ways to engage fans through likes and comments. Fans also love to see behind-the-scenes pictures, perhaps a craftsman carefully stitching an embellished Goodearth cushion.
What is the best part of your job?
That I get to experience or have access to all the beautiful things that I have to talk about. In some small way, I even get to tell the companies what will be viable for this market. For my first digital and social media consulting assignment in India, I worked with a luxury travel company and travelled to all of their properties in breathtaking Ladakh and Kumaon. A truly memorable first client in India.
How did your relationship with social media start and grow?
My first job was in New York City with The Huffington Post. It was there that I began to not only understand the power of digital but to learn its inner workings and become genuinely intrigued by it.
Which is the one network a brand serious about social media cannot ignore?
No person or brand serious about having an online presence can ignore Twitter and Facebook. Instagram and Pinterest are a close second.
You run a consultancy, Moxie Media… How is this different or similar to what you do at Goodearth?
I do for Goodearth exactly what I do for other clients: Translate their brand online in a sophisticated, beautiful and intelligent way that captures the spirit and integrity of the brand while ensuring that it’s modern, compelling and worth talking about. At Moxie Media, another client is a British luxury beauty company that will be launching in Mumbai and online. Of course, trying and testing dozens of luxury beauty products—everything from make-up, skincare, haircare and accessories—is a wonderful perk.
How is writing 600-word articles different from saying your piece in 140 characters?
As a writer and journalist, I always sought precision in language and to cut out the superfluous—Twitter demands just that. If you can’t distil what you want to communicate in 140 characters, then your message needs refining.
READ THIS ARTICLE ON THE WALL STREET JOURNAL.
BRIGHT IDEAS FROM INDIA DESIGN 2013, DELHI. PHOTOS BY MARISSA BRONFMAN.
RECENTLY LAUNCHED BORDER & FALL IS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL AND INTELLIGENT SITE DEDICATED TO INDIAN FASHION. LOOK OUT FOR WORDS AND IMAGES FROM VOGUE INDIA’S BANDANA TEWARI, PHOTOBLOGGER MANOU, EN INDE CREATIVE DIRECTOR ANUPAMA SUKH LAVLANI AND DESIGNER RAJESH PRATAP SINGH.
MY INTERVIEWS WITH FOUR OF INDIA’S GREAT HOSTESSES.
HOSTESS WITH THE MOSTESS. MARIE CLAIRE INDIA. DECEMBER 2012.
GRANDMOTHERS’ COOKING FROM AROUND THE GLOBE VIA THE GUARDIAN.
MANY THANKS TO VOGUE INDIA FOR FEATURING ME AS PART OF ‘INDIA’S NEW FASHION VANGUARD’.
THE MAVERICKS. VOGUE INDIA. OCTOBER 2012.
“From the authors: We used a typical recent day as a starting point for our interviews with 80 people in 30 countries, which led to the final food portraits and food lists, with their resulting calorie count. We specifically chose not to cover daily caloric averages as we wanted to include some extreme examples of eating, like one subject’s diet on a bingeing day—over 12,000 calories, and the 800 calories the Maasai herder in Kenya’s Great Rift Valley ate during extreme drought.”
READ MORE ABOUT THE BOOK “WHAT I EAT: AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DIETS” HERE.
SEE MORE PHOTOS FROM TIME MAGAZINE.
Those with long memories might care to remember that Marchesa’s debut collection, unveiled if I am not mistaken on Renée Zellweger at the London premiere of Bridget Jones: Edge of Reason in November 2004, had a distinctly Southern Asian theme, all Rajasthani sari silks and Jaipur jeweling. Many baubles and beads have been strewn across the cutting room floor since Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig launched their label, which has impressively grown to encompass big-night glamour, red-carpet dressing, and all manner of fantasy-fulfilling dresses for girls who just want to have fun. Revisiting that Indian theme showed how far this twosome has come. And their trip down memory lane—guided, swami-like, by the Beatles’s guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi—resulted in a collision of the rarified and time-honored beading and embroidery skills of India, not to mention its wildly vivid color palette (chartreuse, garnet, fuchsia, coral, and, of course, pink) with the groovy countercultural swing of I-just-want-to-find-myself sixties London.
SEE THE ENTIRE MARCHESA SPRING 2013 COLLECTION AND READ MARK HOLGATE’S FULL REVIEW ON VOGUE.COM.
Electric green and yellow lasers cut through the billowing smoke on the runway while the crowd and celebrity guests hushed their clamoring in anticipation for Shivan & Narresh’s EQUUS collection to hit the ramp.
Models trotted out, fiercely styled in what is arguably the designers’ most glamorous collection yet. Shimmering swimsuits in nude, emerald and black were meant to conjure the slick, shiny surface of a horse’s flank, thickly braided detailing and tassels inspired by leather saddlery and whips highlighted their curves. A handful of suits and beachwear in pink and blue were less impactful than those in black and emerald but bore the same stamp of quality in fabric, design and cut.
Not long ago Shivan Bhatiya and Narresh Kukreja were mocked and derided for daring to design swimwear in a country that didn’t even have a swimwear industry. Today, their label is beloved by fashion insiders, lusted after by stylish young women and may just start a revolution with the bikini sari. They insist that their desire to design swimsuits is less about fashion and more about giving a woman back her confidence — but make no mistake, these young men have built a brand that epitomizes style and elegance and perhaps with this show, solidified their place in India’s fashion firmament.
Read on to find out how they broke into the fashion industry, why they’ve become famous for the revolutionary bikini sari and what the future holds for this promising young label.
Kukreja: The collection in entitled EQUUS; it takes inspiration from the depiction of horses in the Indian folklore — the anatomy of a horse, the speed of a horse, the physical attributes of it. We purposefully didn’t make EQUUS with a western interpretation because we’re very conscious and proud of the fact that we’re an Indian swimwear brand.
This was our first formal cruise collection so it had to be more glamorous, more dressed up, which is why the color palette [has] more jewel tones. Swimwear is still the backbone of the collection because that’s our bread and butter but the whole soul is very, very dressed up and very formal.
You’re now quite famous for the bikini sari, which is really a revolutionary garment. What’s the attention been like?
Kukreja:More than being about a fashionable garment, it’s the fact that everyone’s come back to us saying they feel so happy, they can finally swim or recreate around water, when they haven’t been able to for 10 or 15 years. That these women can finally face themselves in the mirror when they wear a swimsuit or a bikini sari? That just makes it feel so much more worthwhile.
The bikini sari came about because we had a woman who was UK size 14 and she said, “I go on a cruise every year and I’ve always worn salwar kameez and saris. It’s not that I cant afford western silhouettes, but I don’t know what to wear.” Then when she had the bikini sari, we got a call from the cruise. She said, “I cant even tell you, I’m almost in tears, how beautiful I feel. You’ve made me and you’ve made my husband fall in love with me again!”
You recently opened your first Bombay store — how did it go?
Kukreja: When we launched the store, we wanted to keep it very intimate because we’re an intimate brand and we wanted to call people who genuinely have been the reason we’ve been successful. It turned out to be quite nice!
I think the space had a lot to do with that. We wanted a place that makes you feel like you’re shopping for a holiday. The place we have is perfect because it’s in a residential area, no stores around, it has a small patio outside — which in Bombay is finding heaven! — and it’s twice the size of our Delhi store, which is so ironic because Delhi has all the space.
How has business been since the opening?
Kukreja:We thought it would be dull because we were opening in a dull business period. June, July and August are very low periods because people are already on their holidays, they’ve already shopped for them. [But] it surprised us — we’ve been able to pay our bills.
Why do you think you had such a great reception?
Kukreja: Nobody was doing swimwear here — there was such a huge gap!
Bhatiya: When we started, our clients told us, “We were so badly waiting for something like this!” Our retailers were intrigued, they wanted to learn more, they showed the willingness to stock but they weren’t sure. So we also changed ourselves, we trained sales staff…
Kukreja: …changed our ways of approaching the market. We know we can’t approach it in a traditional way. There’s a lot of learning for us. We thought we’d cater to a younger audience, but we’ve been very, very pleasantly surprised that it’s all 35 and 40-plus women; 80 percent of our business is 35-plus women. When we started to understand that, it made sense. These were the women who had practically stopped swimming. They didn’t want to wear the same styles their daughters were wearing. Whatever they bought while traveling abroad didn’t fit their Indian body types. What suffered the most was confidence. It’s really not been about fashion, at all. It’s been about confidence selling and giving them a reason to love themselves.
You’ve said your Indian upbringing had a lot to do with the maturity and modesty of your garments but they are still very sexy!
Kukreja: They had to be bold, otherwise they wouldn’t be modern and it would push women back in their closet again. Thanks to Indians being very comfortable with color — that really played a very big role. We could put in color blocking, we could then put attention at areas where a woman would want it to be placed and take away attention from areas she felt weren’t her best assets.
Indian women tend to have beautiful napes, shoulders — their hips aren’t their biggest strength. So cutting diagonal lines or making sure brighter colors were placed more on the neck — these were things that started to play a role.
They weren’t open to wearing swimwear that was cut a little bit higher, because they were living under the misconception that wearing boy shorts is the best way to hide but in fact it’s the worst because it puts more attention there! As you start educating them, they become more open to wearing swimsuits that are cut slightly higher — not for sexual reasons but purely because it’s more logical, it gives them more confidenc
You’re retailed online — on Pernia’s Pop-Up Shop, for example. Will you be expanding your online presence in the future?
Kukreja: Yes, absolutely! Very soon we’ll be going online on our own. There will be a Shivan and Narresh dot com, the first online swimwear store for India. The idea is to reach out to second- and third-tier towns, from where — you’d be surprised to know — we do so much better business than from metropolitan cities! It shocks us.
Bhatiya: They’re so thirsty. They want to get the latest.
Kukreja: We have something called the customized swimsuit service. It’s a swimsuit workshop, every season in a [different] city, where we go and meet clients personally, for them to understand what swimsuits would best suit their body type. Some of them have never worn a swimsuit before so they really need that intimate session. The sales from those two days match up to the sales one makes in a month’s time in a metro city! Places like Nagpur, Raipur, Chandigarh… it’s astonishing!
It’s obvious that you have a real, emotional connection with your clients.
Kukreja: Once we had a client who was from Bombay but belonged to a very, very conservative family — they don’t even show their face to their elders. She bought three swimsuits for her honeymoon. She was skeptical but she said, “No, I’m a modern woman!” She went to Bora Bora and she called us from there. She said, “You really saved my marriage! I never thought I was that beautiful but the way that my fiancé saw me, he’s never looked at me that way. I’ve been pleasing all my relatives but the one I wanted to please the most has never given me the kind of attention I got on this honeymoon because of your swimsuits.” At the end she said, very candidly, “I have to tell you, at the end of my honeymoon, I am your most satisfied customer!”
What are your plans for the future?
Kukreja: Opening more stores. Being an intimate brand, it’s a better to have a designated space that’s allotted to a product like this where one can very discreetly meet and shop, than to [put it] in a multi-brand store. It’s financially intensive but it’s a call that we’ll have to take, especially in the first five to seven years of brand building. Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai… South Bombay is so promising.
This article has been edited and condensed.
READ THIS ARTICLE ON THE HUFFINGTON POST.
It was something of a historical moment for Lakme Fashion Week last Tuesday night when the runway lights shone on not one but two of India’s emerging design labels, husband and wife design duo Pankaj & Nidhi and ethno-grunge kid Kallol Datta. Season after season LFW has promised an extravagant, exorbitantly expensive, ostentatious and outrageous grand finale show put on by a parade of the country’s most celebrated senior designers but this Winter Festive 2012 season, the reigns were passed on from fashion’s most fortunate to fashion’s most promising.
LFW has garnered a reputation for its ability to nurture and launch the careers of talented young designers, indeed, this has become the hallmark of a fashion week that is so often compared to Delhi’s (where more senior designers loom large) but despite its commitment to showcase new designers throughout the week, the coveted evening shows and certainly the grand finale have remained far beyond their reach.
Is this a real turning point for Mumbai’s fashion week? Has it resolved its identity crisis, its seeming inability to fully embrace a focus on emerging rather than established designers? And if it has, what does that mean for marquee sponsorships deals and cozy alliances with Bollywood? By completely coming into its own will it render itself irrelevant or will it finally step up to bat for young designers in a country whose consumers so passionately prove their allegiance to senior designers who focus on Indian bridal wear?
A LAUNCHPAD TO THE BIG LEAGUES | LFW A PLATFORM FOR YOUNG DESIGNERS
Though there are many who would like to see India return to having one main fashion week in Delhi, there appears to be a real consensus among industry insiders about the vital role LFW plays, not only in the lives of young designers struggling to build a career but also as a necessary ancillary to Delhi fashion week, which simply cannot accommodate the number of new designers that show in Bombay, never mind properly promote them.
Editor-in-chief of Vogue India Priya Tanna believes LFW is the best place for designers to get their start, “for a newcomer, to have access to buyers, media and customers in one arena is critical for their career to take off,” she says. It’s what LFW has come to be known for, says popular Goa-based designer Wendell Rodricks, who has shown in both Bombay and Delhi. “LFW has developed a reputation, and justifiably so, for showing new, exciting young designers,” says Rodricks.
At the heart of LFW’s focus on young designers is Gen Next, a program that every season, selects seven young designers from hundreds of applicants and grooms them for their very first fashion show — and hopefully, a career in fashion. It’s an ideal place from which to launch a design career — and many careers have been launched here: Rahul Mishra, Nachiket Barve, Masaba Gupta and Kallol Datta, to name a few. “The Gen Next show is really the signature of Lakme Fashion Week,” says Fern Mallis, the former Senior VP of IMG fashion who spent ten yearsnurturing LFW from the very beginning and after a one year absence, was present at LFW this season. “It’s one of the best things about the week,” said the woman credited with starting New York Fashion Week, “discovering and finding new talent.” Sujata Assomull-Sippy, founding editor of Harper’s Bazaar India and fashion journalist echoes the sentiment, “Gen Next is the differentiating factor of LFW to other fashion weeks,” she says proudly.
In an attempt to offer the current crop of Gen Nexters even more guidance and industry knowledge than was given to those in season’s past, organizers put together a workshop with buyers, members of the Elle Indiateam (the magazine recently began publishing a full editorial with Gen Next garments each season) and other industry figures. Anjana Sharma, fashion director at IMG Reliance (IMG runs LFW with beauty brand Lakme,) conceived of the workshop to help guide them: “how to be prepped, how to negotiate, how to capitalize on the noise value of fashion week, what to be ready with at their stalls,” but she admits, “there’s only so much as organizers we can do.” She’d like to do something akin to London’s Fashion Fringe (a competitive fashion business award that revolves around mentorship) but needs “someone to see the vision in that.” Currently she’s working on finding a sponsor so she can introduce a six-month program. Assomull-Sippy, who is on the LFW Advisory Board, thinks the workshop is “a very smart move — the more help we can give them on how to get it right, then maybe they will become more commercial and people can buy their first season’s collection.” She believes the right kind of sponsors is key, that this could happen if a retail chain like Shopper’s Stop, Lifestyle or Debenhams got on board. However, until a deal like this is brokered, organizers appear to be prepping the designers as best they can, something which this season’s Gen Next hopefuls reported to be grateful for, calling the workshop both “eye opening” and incredibly helpful.
READ THE FULL ARTICLE ON THE HUFFINGTON POST’S STYLE SITE STYLELIST.
Fern Mallis wearing young Indian designer Kallol Datta at The White House with Michelle Obama.
It was a surprise treat to see the former Queen of New York fashion week sitting front row at Lakme Fashion Week (LFW) in Mumbai on Friday. She hasn’t attended LFW for the last two seasons. Two years ago, the woman credited with starting New York fashion week left her illustrious post at global fashion management company IMG (which currently runs LFW) to start her own consulting company, Fern Mallis LLC.
Despite a one-year absence from Mumbai’s fashion scene, the 10 years that Mallis spent creating, shaping and nurturing Lakme Fashion Week has clearly left an indelible mark — she remains knowledgeable about the Indian market, frank about LFW’s strengths and weaknesses and effusive about her love for the country and the promising design talent that is found here.
Find out why Mallis feels Lakme Fashion Week is so important for young designers, why fashion sponsorship needs policing and how Indian designers can take advantage of the extraordinary change India is going through.
What did you think of the Gen Next show?
The Gen Next show is really the signature of Lakme Fashion Week and it’s one of the best things about this week — discovering and finding new talent. The show was great. Richa Agarwal was my favorite designer in the show. The collection was refreshing, completely saleable and wearable. It was certainly overly layered for the show — which we all understand, but I could see it next season in Anthropologie or Free People. It was young and exciting, I loved the mix of fabrics, I loved the shapes of the clothes. I thought it was terrific.
What is Lakme Fashion Week’s greatest strength?
I think its biggest strength is discovering new talent and trying to give them that platform. We’ve seen so much of the talent through the ten years go on to be very successful and then to be players in the industry. When Lakme was formed it was really the split between Delhi and Mumbai and it was a choice that people had to make — if they wanted to go with the ‘newer, younger’ or the old guard of Indian fashion and the old guard stayed in Delhi and the new guard came to Lakme.
There is a lot of criticism about sponsorship and Bollywood showstoppers and sponsorship at Lakme. What do you think about these criticisms?
Through the years there’s been a line in the sand that gets stepped over a lot in this country and I, as much as anyone else, understand the need for sponsorships for shows to happen, but for 20 years in New York I was the policeman holding the ground — where things were inappropriate and where sponsors names and products should not be incorporated into a show for the purity of a show. We lose that battle a lot here in India. That’s the shift that’s happened through the years and in fashion weeks in general — it’s become a lot more about sponsorships than designers, in some cases. I’ve always tried to protect the designer’s integrity in the shows.
READ THE FULL INTERVIEW ON THE HUFFINGTON POST.