Wendell Rodricks On aLL Primero, His First Ever Runway Collection For Plus Sized Fashion Forwards

Wendell Rodricks is a cultural revivalist with a cause. Conferring the sole status of just a fashion designer to Rodricks, a Padma Shri winning Indian icon, would be a tad indecorous. His is a career of many fashion firsts – from exhibiting a sustainable collection, that’s du jour today, back in the 90s, to being an advisory voice and key player in the first edition of LFW (2000) to working with white cottons and linens to reviving the Goan Kunbi cotton sari weave to writing incisive books on fashion. Rodricks was the first Indian designer to open Dubai Fashion Week (2001) and today, he’s turned into a museologist, converting his private residence into the Moda Goa Museum for all things fashionable and cultural to the state. This Goaphile is doing it all, the aLL Primero collection for plus sizes this season being yet another first in his exemplary career.

Ahead of his August 19 showing at Lakme Fashion Week Winter/Festive 2017 in Mumbai, Rodricks spoke exclusively to Rubina A Khan | Gulf News tabloid! 

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Wendell Rodricks with his Creative Director, Schulen Fernandes

The aLL Primero show is the first of its kind in India for plus-sized people at LFW in Mumbai. Does the line adhere to the minimalistic métier of your label?
The aLL Primero Collection by Wendell Rodricks is the first Plus Size line to be shown in a Main Show Area at Fashion Week, bringing it to the public’s attention. The line is similar to our label in terms of minimalism. There is no embellishment, very little sparkle and the aesthetic is in harmony with the Wendell Rodricks philosophy of design. I believe in fashion democracy –  it is for everyone, no matter what age, colour or size. In fact, when we showed the sketches to some of our clients, they wanted to buy them in regular sizes too. I am confident of the Primero line doing very well at LFW and in the aLL Plus size stores. When I see the unnecessary drama and chaos in fashion, I’m amazed and amused. The sycophancy, paranoia and insecurity are surreal. For God’s sake, we are just glorified tailors, not Messiahs of a new religion!

How did you and your label’s creative director, Schulen Fernandes, go about setting up the aLL Primero line, which is in sharp contrast to the vibrant, geometric silhouettes of the AW17 Cubist Rose runway collection?
Primero was conceived entirely by Schulen. She has imbibed my method of working without a mood board as I find them restrictive and they “lift” old concepts and one tends to copy past eras, fabric treatments and colour combinations. I prefer keeping a clear mind.

What is the essence of you that Fernandes has brought into the aLL collection?
Schulen has my DNA very firmly in our collections. It is for this reason that I appointed her my successor. When the media and public look at the new collections, they can’t tell that there is a new person spearheading the collection. It looks like Wendell Rodricks all the way from colour to concept, styling and silhouette.

How does designing for plus sizes vary from a runway collection for slim and lithe bodies?
It’s easier to make runway clothes for regular models as they’re almost factory produced at 34-25-36. With Plus sizes, I love the challenge. People imagine that curvy is all there to Plus sizes, but that’s not true at all as there are hour-glass, apple, pear, carrot and rectangular shapes too. For the aLL show, we chose models that fit every one of these shapes so that voluptuous people can find clothes that suit their shape.

The Cubist Rose collection was loved instantaneously. Do you think Primero will hit a fashion frontier for plus-sized fashion forwards?
I’m certain she will score a hat trick with Primero. She did so with Trapezoid and Cubist Rose. Now it is time for the aLL Primero collection to shine and send out a vibrant, fashion statement. I’ve chosen the music, and the backdrop and I think curvy will be the next trend from LFW. This collection has a happy vibe, quite like the happy people that will wear them.

Will this collection break runway stereotypes in India and encourage more designers to design plus-sized fashion?
There are many myths that we will shatter with the aLL Primero collection. Whites, bright colours, colour blocking, neutrals… most people feel that Plus sizes should stay away from all this. Not at all! We made it a point not to include black in the collection. Black is boring and safe. When I first said ‘white’ for Plus sizes, people gagged. After the show they won’t be gagging, but applauding.

It sounds like you’re bringing voluptuous to the fashion fore with Primero, where skinny takes to the shadows…
Whoever said dogs like bones and men like flesh knew what they were talking about, and 60% of the world’s population of Plus size women will agree. This is a real show for real people and therein lies the strength of the collection. This is real, not virtual fashion fluff.

Who selected the models for the aLL Primero show and was there any training involved for their “runway strut”?
aLL and IMG Reliance had an audition where we chose 21 models from almost 300 entries. We chose them based on their confidence with their own bodies. They are a happy, excited lot. I loved them at first sight. Our choreographer Anu Ahuja, doesn’t want them to do a runway strut. At the fittings she told them, “At the end of it all, comfortable models are happy models”. I second that.

Have you ever had a muse?
Malaika Arora was my first and only muse, till I made all women a collective muse. I have a job to do and I’m obliged to please the public muse. My job is to make them look slimmer, taller and feel more beautiful – that’s all women want.

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Jerome Marrel and Wendell Rodricks at the Poskem book launch in Mumbai

You have the Moda Goa museum opening end 2018, you’re an impassioned traveler, author, you’re designing silverware, gourmet coffees and the Goa Police Band costume and you love food. How do you maintain your fit persona and sense of self with your diverse creative pursuits?
I am a creative spirit. I guess some people are just made this way. People ask me how I do so much all the time. It really is no effort. I am a Gemini and an expert at multi-tasking. But I am also extremely disciplined. After IHM, a career in hotel management in Mumbai and my sweat and blood years working with the Royal Oman Police, handling Sultans, Sheikhs, Presidents, Prime Ministers et al, I realized one can take on the world in a disciplined, restrained and orderly manner. I learnt discipline from a young age. Give me a 24-hour challenge and I will strive to deliver it in 12 hours. As for loving food, I am an epicurean for sure. Since I lived in Paris, I learnt to ‘indulge in limitation’. Do not believe that I eat everything I post on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. I taste, but don’t gorge, except for dark chocolate.

What achievements in your life are you most proud of and what do you love the most?
I don’t think about myself or my past glories at all. For that, there is google and my website, wendellrodricks.com to refresh my memory. There is much to do without thinking of one’s self and developing an unnecessary ego. I would like to learn Sanskrit and Latin. After aLL Primero, I will be focussing on Moda Goa Museum.  I live in a real world in a small village in Goa. Life in an ivory tower is just so not my vibe. Apart from my partner and my dogs, I love this journey called life. I am on a constant high with life and this big, beautiful world.

This feature first appeared in Gulf News on 17 August, 2017

©Rubina A Khan 2017

RUBINA’S RADAR | FDCI’S INDIA COUTURE WEEK 2017

RUBINA’S RADAR 

The 10th edition of the Fashion Design Council of India’s (FDCI) India Couture Week 2017 (24th-31st July), orchestrated by Sunil Sethi, President, FDCI, was a splendacious celebration of India’s fashion vanguards at the Taj Palace Hotel in New Delhi. India Couture Week has earned its laurels for the past decade of being the best in the country with its marked excellence in fashion. And what’s a fashion week in India without some Bollywood stardust thrown in? ICW 2017’s couture catwalk had actors like Alia Bhatt, Ranveer Singh, Aditi Rao Hydari, Shilpa Shetty and many more walking for the participating couturiers.

TARUN TAHILIANI | Tarakanna: 
Tarakanna was an alluring experience with an “evolved vocabulary of design” befitting the legendary status of Tahiliani and his majestic consummation of couture. His design constructs were fluid, almost seamless, in silk, velvet, brocade, Italian tulle and georgette, in hues of burnished rose, gold, olive, black, ivory, midnight blue and the de riguer bridal palette of red.  The unparalleled artistry of Tahiliani’s craft shone on the runway. As the models glided on to the breathtaking autumnal leaved set, designed to semble the end of autumn, Central Park in New York perhaps, the earthy tones came alive with the shimmering Swarovski crystal-embellished ensembles, all 85 of them, taking over the runway. The line alluded to a bride’s lightness of being, akin to her dancing in the glory of her marital coupling in bespoke designs, fitted not just to her body, but also to her soul. Scenographer Sumant Jayakrishnan’s visual aesthetic lent itself beautifully to the magnificent confluence of the Tarakanna line and the buoyancy of the human spirit it embodied. Throughout its duration, the show appeared to have suspended the audience in the most exalted place of happiness and wonderment, that stayed on long after it had ended. 

MONISHA JAISING | Opera:
Sexy is a vibe Jaising shoots for consistently, and her Opera collection wasn’t left wanting in the least. The clothes were tantalising and edgy, and a tad theatrical too, primarily made in lamé, velvet metallics, Italian organza, banarasi brocade and metallic satins. The light and set design of the runway didn’t really take you into the world of operatic tenors and high octaves that inspired her line this season, as the models walked in her evening dresses and gowns, cocktail saris, crop tops and ball skirts. The multi-faceted actor-turned-businesswoman-turned-yoga-guru, Shilpa Shetty – a flawless showstopper who nails it every single time, tripped on the brocade train of her gown, not once, not twice, but four times, as it kept getting caught on the runway floor. To say that the runway nailed Shetty, rather than the other way around, would be an understatement here. Shetty of course, let it slide and slayed it forward on the runway, with a strut only her enviable body is capable of, coupled with the radiance of her persona.

ANITA DONGRE | Tree Of Love:
Anita Dongre is a relatively new entrant in the Indian couture and bridal wear landscape, having started her couture line, Bridal, only six years ago. But, she is a veteran player, and a very successful one at that in the prêt-à-porter business of fashion for the last two decades, with her labels – AND, Global Desi, Pink City and Grassroot. Dongre opened her first Grassroot store in Manhattan, New York, recently and will be opening the doors to her Bridal store there subsequently. Her Tree Of Love collection was inspired by the Bishnoi community and their spiritual reverence for nature. Dongre married her “love for trees, rich Indian craftsmanship and music into one joyous collection” with dominant shades of blue, green and red. 
Beautiful SEWA (Self Employed Women’s Association) embroidered tabards, paired with tulle skirts, mushroo and hand-embroidered tea-length dresses with gottapatti lehengas, obi belts, embroidered flat shoes and cross-body potli bags made up the very desirable contemporary bridal line. The uncut diamond jewellery from her Pink City line as stunning. Dongre’s runway felt like an Indian summer wedding, with the metallic trees adding dramatic flair to the aureate mood board.

GAURAV GUPTA | Moondust: 
Gaurav Gupta’s knows how to haute couture the runway up. Structure and form are Gupta’s forte and he plays that well, like a consumed installation artist, with “blurred boundaries of traditional and modern couture”, choosing to “sit on the cusp of both worlds”. The Moondust collection is Gupta’s interpretation of a surreal ball Cinderella went to, in sculpted ensembles created from translucent textiles in pale tones of grey, blue, green and teal, playing with shadow and light. Handcrafted embroideries and silhouettes accentuating one aspect of the body – either the legs, the back, the arms  or the shoulders – but never all at once, kept the collection elegant and sassy. Though he was going for an immersive experience with this line, it was anything but immersive. Aditi Rao Hydari was Gupta’s showstopper and surprisingly, she was one of the best ramp walkers in the lineup of Bollywood stars.

MANISH MALHOTRA | Sensual Affair:
Manish Malhotra’s exceedingly mirrored runway for his Sensual Affair collection, seemed to be asking, “Mirror mirror on the wall, on the ceiling and on the floor, Who is the grandest couturier of them all?” Satin organzas, silk tulles, satin velvets made up the fabric for Malhotra’s lehengas, sherwanis, voluminous skirts and gowns with trains and the gorgeous fitted corsets, in ivory, soft grey, vintage rose, burgundy and teal tones. The models swirled around on the gleaming catwalk, left, right and centre in a fast-paced, synchronised rhythm, showing off 85 ensembles, with not a second to breathe. It left you wanting to see more of the clothes, with just a little bit of stay. Rapturous glamour is what Malhotra does best, be it sensual, sexual or unusual. There is no one grand couturier of them all, but t
he grandest finale to a decade of couture at the India Couture Week 2017 was undeniably Malhotra’s, with Alia Bhatt and Ranveer Singh walking for him. The raucous screams that erupted throughout the show area were deafening and most definitely burst an eardrum or two amidst the audience in the excitement of it all. Tears were shed at not meeting Singh, who seems to be the star, no, superstar of Delhi. Sure he’s popular, but really? Bhatt was an enchanting delight on the runway as always, looking like the Bollywood belle of the ball. 

Disclaimer: Any part of the content on the rubinaakhan.com website cannot be reproduced without prior permission and crediting the website and the author.

©Rubina A Khan 2017

India Couture Week 2017’s 10th Anniversary Edition

The Fashion Design Council of India’s annual event extraordinaire, India Couture Week 2017, celebrates its 10th edition this year with a seven-day fashion extravaganza in New Delhi. The luxuriously indulgent runway week commences on July 24th with opening shows by designers, Rohit Bal and Anamika Khanna, and a grand finale on July 30th 2017, with a viewing of Rina Dhaka’s line and a closing show by Manish Malhotra with his Sensual Affair

“2017 is a momentous year for us at FDCI, a non-profit organisation and the apex body of fashion design in India, represented by over 350 members, completing ten years of India Couture Week this year. It’s the only event in the country to offer a prestigious platform to couturiers to showcase their talent in offering irrepressible indulgence. It has been an incredible journey that would not have been possible without the support of the board members and the FDCI team. We look forward to presenting many more editions of this magical event as we take it to a new high with seven days this time around. What has been most interesting is that our couturiers have influenced the evolution of the luxury consumer. They have not just been revivalists, but also innovators. Our embroideries and handmade crafts have found a place on the world map, and that is why it is imperative to promote the Make in India endeavour. We hope to create a new language of high definition glamour through our celebrations,­­” says Sunil Sethi, President FDCI and Founder, Sunil Sethi Design Alliance

A legendary vanguard of Indian fashion and a headliner for all things luxurious, couturier Tarun Tahiliani, will exhibit his Tarakanna collection on July 26th at 9.30PM at the Taj Palace Hotel, New Delhi. “This year our India Couture Week show is about lightness, borne by a new construct and a conscious desire to make the most floaty couture that women desire to wear a hundred times over. Tarakanna is stardust,” says Tahiliani in his quintessential smoky voice. 

Rohit Bal’s ICW show is offsite, at the restored Bikaner House on opening night at 9.30PM. “My collection is an ode to lost craft and tradition. A journey from the past to the present with a gentle nudge of contemporary influences. It is an effort to revive heritage pieces from the costume collections of royal Mughals which have been immortalised in museums. The collection highlights an amalgamation of traditional craft with modern sensibilities preserving its timeless beauty,” says Bal of his new collection.  

Disclaimer: Any part of the content on the rubinaakhan.com website cannot be reproduced without prior permission and crediting the website and the author.

©Rubina A Khan 2017 

Shaken, Not Stirred Martinis At The House Of Nomad

Rubina A Khan reviews the House Of Nomad, Mumbai: “this is where the wandering liquorists are at, conversing and laughing up a storm over shaken martinis, cocktails and wines.”

There’s a splendid new drinkery in Mumbai that’s shaking and stirring things up, in and out of the Bandra zip code. It’s called House Of Nomad at the Taj Lands End hotel in picturesque Bandstand. This is where the wandering liquorists are at, ensconced in its mellow confines, conversing and laughing up a storm over shaken martinis, cocktails and wine. An intimate space, designed on the lines of a 19th century British private club, it is just the place to kick back a few, away from the endless human footprint at the astir hotel. The Taj Lands End is a quintessential Bollywood sighting spot in Mumbai, with Shah Rukh Khan’s residence, Mannat situated a mere second away from the hotel and Salman Khan’s apartment a minute further down at Galaxy, not to mention an events calendar that has celebrities walking in and out of the property almost every single day. It is also the Khans’ preferred choice of venue for most of their work commitments, making fans gravitate to the hotel in a bid to catch a glimpse of them, or better still, score a selfie with the indomitable Khan’s or Bachchan’s or Kapoor’s.

House of Nomad’s Guava Martini, which is not on the menu at the moment, is delectable and you just can’t stop at one, or two or six! Be sure to request for at least one. The Slap & Tickle cocktail crafted with Aperol, peaches, mint, lemon tea syrup and bitters on cracked ice is just as heady as it is refreshing. The julep tin it was served in took away from what I like to call a flaming orange sunset in a glass, but none of its divine flavours. The Chanel No 6 vodka martini with lychee, coconut and bitters makes a pomp and show of an entry on your table, replete with an edible lipstick made of raspberries and an atomiser, and it tastes great! A floor to ceiling wine wall stocked with wines from India, South Africa, Argentina, Chile, Australia, New Zealand, France and the United States of America has wine aficionados and connoisseurs enthralled.

House of Nomad serves up tapas and small eats like Lamb Sliders with Spiced Potato Wedges,
Peri- Peri Popcorn, Jalapeno and Cheese Popcorn that are delightful, my favourites being the Wasabi Popcorn, the Burrata Focaccia Croutons and the Bandra Sheermal Lamb Seekh Rolls. You can never go wrong with smashing cocktails and kebabs, ever! The Lamb Pie with Tomato Chutney didn’t quite cut it with its dry pastry and overdone lamb filling.

Not everyone likes to hang out at the hotel’s very popular atrium for the very abused “coffee catch-ups”, and the disinterested “Hi’s” you have to engage in for politesse.  House of Nomad, however, feels like your very own private bar, with a playlist that ranges from progressive to house to pop music, where you can have a good time with friends or be deeply engrossed in a business conversation, even on a busy Friday night.

House of Nomad is where Scandal Water happens, except it is not in olde England, but in modern Mumbai over Tea Punch and Slap & Tickle and not English afternoon tea!

House Of Nomad is open everyday Monday-Sunday 3.00PM – 1.30AM
Taj Lands End
Byramji Jeejeebhoy Road, Bandstand, Bandra West, Mumbai 400050 India
+91 22 6668-1234 House of Nomad 

@Rubina A Khan 2017

RUBINA’S RADAR | HOLLYWOOD ONE NIGHTS IN MUMBAI TO CHAMPAGNE PAPI DRAKE PERFORMING LIVE IN INDIA SOON?

RUBINA’S RADAR

If anything is hotter than the summer of 2017, it’s Drake! The Canadian Grammy award winning artist who swept the Billboard Music Awards with 13 honors earlier this month in Las Vegas, Nevada, surpassing Adele’s record of the highest BBMA wins, is allegedly headed eastward to Mumbai for a concert. The legitimacy of this claim is as thin as paper, and damp too, in Mumbai’s humid weather forecast, but this seems to be the trend du jour. After Justin Bieber’s live gig in the city, anyone, and I mean anyone with a bank account (the many advantages of PM Modi’s demonetisation in the country) is dropping big tickets names like Drake performing in Mumbai, akin to these artistes’ dropping their platinum selling hit tracks! Except their music is real, but these flighty murmurings, not so much. Such is the residual fever of Bieber’s Mumbai trip that getting Canadian, Barbadian and British pop icons to perform in the country is now a conversation opener that can at best be described as delusions of pop grandeur of the highest kind. Vague as the conversations might be, with ambiguous overtones that could throw serious shade on US President Donald Trump’s speeches, they’re definitely in vogue, riding on names like Drake, Ed Sheeran, Rihanna and gasp, even Adele!

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Drake at the 2017 Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas, Nevada with his 13 honors

It is suffice to say that May has been all about one nights in Mumbai as far as Hollywood goes. Brad Pitt flew in on Wednesday, May 24th to promote his film War Machine on Netflix, along with his director David Michôd. The visit was so short that even calling it a quickie feels abusive to the word itself. It was almost a guerilla surprise, with the film being screened at PVR Phoenix Mills, and Pitt and Michôd’s subsequent interaction with Shah Rukh Khan. Pitt had promoted the film earlier on in the month on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert in New York by lying down with Colbert on a blanket on the CBS set to talk about the film, which was unusual and weird, but very entertaining nevertheless. Before he landed in Mumbai, Pitt posed for selfies and signed autographs for his fans at the film’s premiere in Tokyo, Japan but chose not to interact with his fans in Mumbai which was rather strange. Unless of course the one night in Mumbai was a part of some sort of nouveau stealth strategy, which is extremely doubtful.

Justin Bieber was all set to explore Mumbai on his first trip to India for his Purpose Tour concert, but his visit lasted a mere 20 hours with him spending one night in the city at the St Regis Mumbai, despite being booked for four nights and five days. He came, he performed and went straight to the airport to fly off to South Africa for his next show from the concert venue right after his gig. Confidential details of Bieber’s contractual asks and obligations made their way into the press as a “leak” prior to his arrival in the country and that wasn’t exactly the smartest move, making Bieber look like an extremely demanding artiste, not to mention it was a total breach of trust too. Bieber chose to respond to the screaming headlines of his exaggerated tour demands and party plans by staying on in Dubai post his gig there, enjoying the decadent Arab hospitality at the iconic Burj Al Arab hotel, arriving in Mumbai only past midnight on May 10th, the day he was scheduled to perform and left before the date changed to May 11th. Touché Bieber!

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Justin Bieber exiting the Mumbai airport at 1.20AM on May 10, 2017

Mumbai has always had Hollywood and celebrities from around the world falling in love with the city, and definitely for more than just one night. Pitt was visibly charmed when he’d visited Mumbai back in November 2006 with Angelina Jolie and their adopted kids, Maddox and Zahara. So if Champagne Papi Drake does come to Mumbai for a live concert, despite all the ambitious conversations that do not seem conclusive in the least, I hope it’s third time lucky for Mumbai this year and the Hotline Bling singer stays on for more than just one night only, and One Dance.

Disclaimer: Any part of the content on the rubinaakhan.com website cannot be reproduced without prior permission and crediting the website and the author.

©Rubina A Khan 2017 

 

 

RUBINA’S RADAR | FROM RED SOLED LOUBOUTINS IN NEW YORK TO THE CANNES RED CARPET IN THE FRENCH RIVIERA

RUBINA’S RADAR 

Fashion’s boldest bodies and brains know how to work the fiery haute month of May, especially on the French Riviera. The 70th annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals in Cannes, France is on fire, the summer temperatures notwithstanding, with beautiful and glamorous women walking the red carpet in breathtaking couture and bespoke jewels at the world’s biggest playground for photo-ops. Cannes is truly all about women, with men in tuxes running behind them, holding up their dresses and patting and settling them down to picture perfection. And what’s the most photographed fashion parade in the world without a wardrobe malfunction, inadvertent or otherwise? Day one saw Bella Hadid in a champagne Alexandre Vauthier gown with an underwear flash that was blinding. Eating an icecream cone in the gown after her red carpet strut, cemented Hadid’s nonchalance at the gaffe, that seemed more designed, than accidental. The red silk “barely there” gown, by Vauthier again, that she carried off so elegantly on the red carpet last year, clung on to her like second skin, with no slip up. That’s the reason Hadid stole the show primarily because nothing happened to the dress that everyone thought, or was hoping rather, would fall off her, and it pushed the fledgling model’s career forward the way it was orchestrated to. Just like this year’s “malfunction”.

Bollywood’s most poised actor, Deepika Padukone made an absolutely stunning debut at Cannes this year as part of L’oreal’s international glam girl squad. On opening gala night, Padukone looked fresh and completely at ease as she worked the red carpet statuesquely in a jewel-toned Marchesa gown with a seductive glimpse of her derrière and legs through the sheer of the fabric, for the screening of Ismael’s Ghosts (Les Fantomes d’Ismael). The following day, she wore a dark green Brandon Maxwell one-shoulder gown with a thigh-high slit for Loveless (Nelyubov) and Wonderstruck. With bold green eye makeup, green velvet heels, and her hair in an updo, it was impossible not to love her chic style, despite being head-to-toe in one solid colour.

Cannes’ most beautiful habit for the last fifteen years, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan seems to have gotten her fashion game on this time around. She pleased everyone, well almost, as she walked the red carpet in an icy blue Michael Cinco ball gown from his Impalpable Dream of Versailles collection, looking effortlessly flawless! But interestingly, about two weeks ago, Cinco, a Dubai based designer with an atelier in the Dubai Design District, was in fittings with the Swarovski heiress and singer, Victoria Swarovski for the same dress in the exact same colour, so it wasn’t exactly a couture debut on the Bollywood star. Though, Bachchan took Cinco’s creation from mere princess level to Disney queen, if there ever was one in the fairytale kingdom of dreams. Her daughter Aaradhya must have loved seeing her looking like a beautiful Elsa in the ball gown. Bachchan was definitely in a royal state of mind given her wardrobe choices thereafter, with her engine red Ralph & Russo gown on day four of the fest. It was just another red dress with frills and stones, with a clumsy fit on the sides, sans any custom couture attributes, aside from the famous face wearing it.

While in New York, Fern Mallis the award-winning creator and organiser of New York Fashion Week and now a Director of the Fashion Institute of Technology Foundation, interviewed Paris based shoe designer, Christian Louboutin. The conversation took place at the prestigious 92nd Street Y on Wednesday, May 17th, for her Fashion Icons with Fern Mallis ticketed series. Needless to add, it was a sold out event that was live streamed as it always is, for those who want to listen in. This conversation will undoubtedly find its place in Mallis’ second edition of her first book, Fashion Lives: Fashion Icons with Fern Mallis, published by Rizzoli in April 2015. It was a marvellous interaction between Mallis and the shoes designer of Egyptian and Lebanese descent, wherein he talked about his soul, and his famous red soles.

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Christian Louboutin and Fern Mallis | Photo: Michael Priest Photography

Expelled from school at age 16, Louboutin went to work as an intern at the famed Parisian cabaret Folies Bergère and did odd jobs for the dancers, but the one that fulfilled his dream was making shoes for them, he told Mallis. “I was all about shoes; I was not about fashion. I had cinema and music but not fashion. When I first started I wanted to design shoes for showgirls. But it was a very good way to learn about shoes because for showgirls, they’re very important. They have very little costumes in general, so shoes are a strength, a weapon, a posture,” he said. He was curious why all the dancers ate veal carpaccio, and he was told by them, “You’re so stupid. We’re not eating it. We’re putting it in the shoes,” rolling it up for cushioning, explained Louboutin.

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Christian Louboutin and Fern Mallis | Photo: Michael Priest Photography

At 18, an interview at Christian Dior led him to an internship with Charles Jourdan in the early 80s, wherein he learnt about the business of shoes, followed by design stints at Yves St Laurent, Chanel and Maud Frizon. Along with two of his friends, he opened the first store in Paris in October 1991, with $150,000, including the price of the lease. Louboutin found the inspiration for his trademark red soles in 1993 in red nail paint. The inspiration he describes as “a courtesan living out her life in a circus” turned his surrealistically beautiful shoes into an international success story. Known for his sky-high heels, he thinks flat shoes can be sexy, as proven by the legendary French actress Brigitte Bardot. He went on to tell Mallis that his “Love” flats were created after he saw a photo of Prince Charles staring at Princess Diana’s size 42 shoes.

Today Louboutin also has his own beauty line of nail polishes and lipsticks. “You have to give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar. The red sole, which is my trademark and a sign of my ambition, started with the nail polish. It’s nice to remember in your flesh exactly where you started,” he said.

Disclaimer: Any part of the content on the rubinaakhan.com website cannot be reproduced without prior permission and crediting the website and the author.

©Rubina A Khan 2017

RUBINA’S RADAR | JUSTIN BIEBER’S FIRST BREAKFAST IN MUMBAI AND HOW HE SPENT HIS DAY BEFORE THE SHOW

RUBINA’S RADAR

Justin Bieber’s been in Mumbai for roughly 20 hours now, but he has packed in a lot in his itinerary since he touched down into the city earlier this morning at 1AM IST. Given he’s not in the city for more than 30 hours as of now, this is how the Grammy award winning musician spent his day before he enthralled his Indian fans at the Purpose Tour show at the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai:

  • He checked out the landmark sights of Mumbai late at night after he landed in the city and saw the Gateway of India, the Haji Ali Dargah and even took a ride in a Victoria, a quaint, but glittering horse-drawn carriage from Victorian times.
  • Justin started his day with breakfast at around 11.30AM at the St Regis Mumbai’s Seven Kitchens restaurant. He ate three eggs over easy with bacon and hash browns wearing the same pink hoodie and shorts that he was wearing when he landed. You’d think he’d order room service, but no, he didn’t.
  • He then changed into a mustard yellow teeshirt and blue shorts and headed out of the St Regis hotel where he is in residence in the Presidential Suite. He skipped the helicopter ride from the Mahalaxmi Helipad in mid-town Mumbai and chose to ride around the city in his Indian security head’s personal SUV, a navy blue BMW, waving to shrieking fans across the streets with his window rolled down.
  • He went to an underprivileged children’s home at Shivaji Nagar, Reay Road and hung out with the kids, and laughed and chatted with them and played football with them. It was endearing to say the least. He looked very happy hanging out with the kids and they looked happier just seeing someone being friendly and nice to them. It is highly doubtful that these slum kids knew who he was but they interacted with him like he was just another friend of theirs.
  • Bieber stood in a queue at the Inorbit Mall Vashi’s Starbucks and grabbed an iced black coffee amidst absolutely hysterical fans at the coffee shop and shoppers in the mall. Cellphones grabbed images and videos of him that have since gone viral on Instagram. It was an impromptu visit so everyone was caught unawares and went bananas on sighting the pop star.

UPDATE: Justin Bieber started the show at 8PM with Where Are You Now and closed it with Sorry to a thunderous applause. The show ended at 10PM after which he left straight for the airport at 10:45PM to fly off to Johannesburg, South Africa in his private jet. He is scheduled to perform at the FNB Stadium there on May 14. His trip to Mumbai barely lasted 20 hours in all.

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©Rubina A Khan 2017

RUBINA’S RADAR | JUSTIN BIEBER LANDS IN MUMBAI FOR ONLY 30 HOURS #PURPOSETOUR #INDIA

RUBINA’S RADAR 

After three days of what seemed like an eternity waiting for Justin Bieber to fly into Mumbai, the pop star finally landed in his private jet at the Mumbai international airport at 1AM with the rest of his security detail in tow. There was a blitzkrieg of flashbulbs as he exited the VIP Gate No 8 of the Mumbai airport at 1.20AM wearing a pink hoodie and board shorts. The waiting photographers that had staked out the airport all day in anticipation of his arrival in the scorching sun with no respite from the heat, got the “money shot” of the star past midnight, much to their relief.

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Justin Bieber exiting Mumbai International Airport at 1.20am May 10th 2017

Bieber left the airport in a white Mercedes SUV AMG G63 2017 followed by his security, all in Mercedes’, but varying models. The Grammy award winning singer went straight to the St Regis Mumbai where he entered the hotel around 2am, and will be in residence in the Presidential Suite for the next 30 hours, after which he is flying off to South Africa leg of his Purpose World Tour to perform at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg.

Bieber will be flying to the venue, DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai, where he is performing at 8PM tonight, in a helicopter. When you’re the biggest pop star in the world, you really don’t want to waste time stuck in Mumbai’s snarling traffic jams.

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Photo: Rubina A Khan | Getty Images

As far as the parties go, it is highly unlikely that either Salman Khan, who is filming for Tiger Zinda Hai in Abu Dhabi till May 22nd or Shah Rukh Khan, who is shooting for Dubai Tourism till May 12th will host the Canadian musician in Mumbai. After the show, Bieber intends to party backstage at the stadium with a pop-up bar, replete with skateboards and his favourite tour things, a dossier of which was unethically leaked to the press prior to his arrival in Mumbai. But not before he takes a dip in the jacuzzi specially hauled out for him at the stadium and a massage by a special masseuse flown in from Kerala.

UPDATE: Bieber went out in the wee hours of the morning to see the Gateway of India and Haji Ali and even took a ride in a Victoria, which is a horse-drawn carriage from the Victorian times. He is now on his way to the Helipad in Mahalaxmi to take a chopper to the stadium in Navi Mumbai for his show later on tonight.

For more details on Bieber at the show and after the show, check in here later!

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©Rubina A Khan 2017

 

 

RUBINA’S RADAR | WHERE’S JUSTIN BIEBER SLEEPING IN MUMBAI TONIGHT? #BIEBERFEVER #BIEBERINMUMBAI

RUBINA’S RADAR

Justin Bieber’s hit track, Where Are You Now is the endless refrain of Beliebers in India who just can’t wait to see him perform live for the very first time in Mumbai tomorrow. The Grammy award winning artiste is scheduled to land in Mumbai today for his Purpose Tour show tomorrow evening, May 10th, at the DY Patil Stadium. He was slated to fly in on May 7th but the singer is still in Dubai, partying at Cavalli Club at the Fairmont Dubai, soaking up the sun with pool parties at Zero Gravity (with his security detail in the pool with him!) rounds of football at the Habtoor Grand hotel, dune bashing in the desert and shopping jaunts at the newly opened Apple store in the Dubai Mall. Earlier this morning Bieber tweeted “Dubai is incredible, India you’re next” from Dubai. Bieber is definitely doing Dubai right!
535290970He’s booked in two hotels in the city – the St Regis Mumbai in midtown Mumbai (where his team and tour manager have been staying in since May 7th) and The Oberoi hotel in Nariman Point. Now, it remains to be seen where, (not with whom!) Bieber will be sleeping tonight in Mumbai! But first, can he land in the city already?

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©Rubina A Khan 2017

 

RUBINA’S RADAR | PICTURES FROM THE JUSTIN BIEBER SHOW RECCE AT THE DY PATIL STADIUM IN MUMBAI

RUBINA’S RADAR 

With not even two days to go for the highly anticipated Justin Bieber concert to be held at the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai, Bieber Fever is at an all-time high in the city and that is an understatement in itself. The Grammy award winning Canadian popstar is still in Dubai, UAE post his blowout performance at the Autism Rocks Arena on Saturday night wherein he started the show on the dot at 8PM and closed it with his massive hit, Sorry. Bieber went for a spot of dune bashing in the desert earlier this morning and a tech trip to the new Apple store in the Dubai Mall that opened on April 27th. He is expected to fly into Mumbai in his private jet either today or tomorrow. His tour manager and team landed in Mumbai last night to get the gig started before the star arrives into the city.

Here are some PICTURES of the security firm hired to look after Bieber in Mumbai, Tiger Detective and Security Services and its head, Gurmeet Singh Jolly, also known as Shera and Bollywood superstar, Salman Khan’s bodyguard, during a recce at the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai today, ahead of the star’s Purpose Tour performance on Wednesday evening:

Disclaimer: Any part of the content on the rubinaakhan.com website cannot be reproduced without prior permission and crediting the website and the author.

©Rubina A Khan 2017