The Aashni+Co bridal exhibition took London’s Dorchester Hotel by storm over the weekend. Hundreds of soon to be brides descended on Park Lane for the annual show which featured a number of designers who flew in to the capital to help brides make that all important decision.
Over the weekend, The Hoxton was host to the Shoreditch Fashion Weekender, which featured a stylish collaboration between Indian couture label, Soltee by Sulakshana Monga, and premium jewellery brand, Red Dot Jewels. Partnering with Asian Circle, 10% of sales was pledged to help marginalised women in remote parts of Asia.
Fashion and charities are not two industries you would naturally place together but it seems that they are finding creative ways to work together for mutual benefits. Featuring items from the Intrinsic Beauty collection, Monga’s rich collection transcend the boundaries of seasonal trends in favour of an experimentation with aesthetics, which worked hand in hand with Red Dot Jewels’ colourful and traditionally styled accessories from their Pink City collection.
From earrings, to elaborate necklaces and even a very bold earcuff, visitors were spoiled with choices.
What also made this weekend event one of a kind is the underlying purpose that sales generated would have a positive effect. This wasn’t forced in the slightest, which made the entire experience a very natural and relaxing one. Representatives from both Red Dot Jewels and Soltee were on hand to talk more about their respective items for sale and made a warm effort to engage with visitors.
Speaking with Santosh, from the partnering charity Asian Circle said: “Asian Circle is part of a bigger organisation called The Circle, which is working with marginalised women around the world. Asian Circle itself is focusing on South Asia. We’re quite new into this area so we’ve set a programme up in India working on prevention of violence and we’ve chosen a small group of people out there called the Adivasi aborigines of India and they are the marginalised of the marginalised. What we hope to do is work with these women and help improve their lives through education on the violence they’re experiencing.
“We’re putting shelters in place in police stations for these women so they can actually go in and get some help, counselling and medical help. Another big aspect of this programme is to educate the men. These are patriarchal societies and we want to work with the men there who have seen how women have been treated and believe it’s part and parcel of the culture. We want them to understand that women are not there to be beaten nor be the doormat of the family. So for that we’re working with the local tribal lawmakers and we’re also working with small schools in these areas. We’re talking to the girls and boys about what they’re seeing in their homes not being right either.”
A complete world away from London, being able to provide education to remote areas where mainstream media never focuses on is enough reason to have more collaborations like the Shoreditch Fashion Weekender.
It’s not everyday you get invited behind the scenes at a lookbook shoot for an established Asian fashion designer. Shalini Gupta Patel of Red Dot Jewels extended a kind invite to a sneak peak at her upcoming collection called White Mughals.
“This came about from a book by William Dalrymple where a British dignitary falls in love with a Hyderabadi princess so it’s all about that fusion between Western and Asian culture, which is very relevant for British Asians”, Shalini explained.
It isn’t uncommon to see a fusion of west and east when it comes to Asian fashion particularly for a western market. However basing a collection around a particular piece of literature hones in on a specific time in history where South Asian fashion trends were unlike the kind we see in the current marketplace.
By reinventing fashion during this era and completing a look with colourful jewellery – and hair and make up by Bashy – Red Dot Jewels achieved glamour with an air of regality.
The company was started three years ago after Shalini’s nine year career in IT.
“Like most young Asian girls growing up, I loved Asian fashion. I try and travel to India every year and buy clothes and jewellery there,” Shalini explained. The current jewellery market consists of two extremes; real gold, authentic stones that are at the highest end of the price scale and everyday imitation jewellery that can be found on the high street.
In order to compliment luxury designers like Tarun Tahiliani, there needed to be a meeting point where jewellery still reflected exquisite design and detail, but for a fraction of the price. This is where Red Dot Jewels provided a solution.
“I’ve always loved gemstones and diamonds and wanted to take that a bit further. We did a few trial exhibits for people we knew in the industry and got some incredible feedback. After that, I quit my job, travelled to India and spent some time finding the ideal workshops that would produce the work I wanted done. I often go out there and whilst I do design the collection, I have a team out there that I work with to develop concepts.”
Being inspired by literature makes for a beautiful collection, but what about other pockets of inspiration?
“I think anyone in the creative industry is inspired by several aspects of day to day life whether it’s buildings, something you eat or an outfit you see. I recently went to the V&A and came away buzzing with ideas. There are so many design elements within the V&A such as showing the first telephone to exploring what luxury means. You get get inspiration from anywhere.”
Their extensive range currently available on their online store may still be quite a stretch for some, but it is definitely far more affordable and accessible than top tier jewellers. Designed strategically, several items can be worn with both traditional Asian and western clothing. Versatility is an important factor when investing in jewellery and Red Dot Jewel’s behind the scenes shoot of their White Mughals collection exhibits this perfectly.
House and Garden featured an all encompassing event last weekend called HOUSE. Aimed at interior design enthusiasts, designers and generally anyone with an eye for home design and decorations, I was in my absolute element perusing aisle by aisle, eager to see what the vast list of exhibitors had to offer. Visitors could source a wide range of interiors, furniture and key furnishings to enhance or create a stylish living space with a focus on heritage and craftsmanship whilst featuring classic examples of British design. In addition to this there were expert-led presentations and one-to-one consultations and create with the latest style ideas and integral pieces for a designed living space.
April Russell curated two rooms, complete with furnishings from exhibitors at the event. The result was astonishing. She said in a press release: “This year I was honoured to curate two room sets within the ‘HOUSE’ exhibition. We were delighted to include arts and antiques from the Olympia International Arts and Antiques Fair from the adjoining exhibition hall, floor and wall finishes and furniture from the exhibiting companies at House.”
In addition to this stellar feature, the event had a number of clothing brands present but it was the stationery and furnishing brands that really drew a lot of attention. Whether it was wall art, interior accessories or outdoor statement items, crowds were in abundance and thoroughly engaged with the plethora of brands in attendance.
Leonora Hammond was buzzing with interest as visitors snapped up wall stickers that creates an individual look to almost any space or surface. Made from easy to apply self-adhesive vinyl, they offer endless possibilities to create unique styles and statement walls.
Bespoke Verse provided further quotation inspiration with their quirky and charming gifts including mugs, frames and notebooks. A stationery lover’s haven, quotes are both sentimental as well as catchy. Their ‘Stroppy before Coffee’ mug being very relatable indeed! La De Da Living also embraces quotes and sayings and extends their product range to jewellery and cutlery, which makes an ideal gift. Personalisation is also available.
Greeting cards proved to be a popular sell with Cardology drawing exceptional interest with their handcrafted pop-up greeting cards. With such variety, their attention to detail and their delicacy makes them a one of a kind greeting card that recipients will want to hang on to for years to come.
Beautiful statement items for the house and garden could make the weakest of design lovers reach straight for their credit card. David Harber featured some mind blowing work you can’t help but factor in to your fully equipped garden. Art-like sculptures like Mantle, pictured below, is a verdigris bronze sphere, consisting of dozens of individual bronze petals welded together to represent the broken nature of the Earth’s crust.
Away from the exhibitors, visitors could take a breather and revel in a glass of champagne at Louis Roederer Champagne Bar or tuck in to some lunch at Mosimann’s Restaurant. The Food Pavilion provided some exceptional nibbles like CRU, who specialise in gourmet raw and paleo food. Sampling their chocolate macaroons, it’s hard to believe these tasty treats are both wheat and dairy free. Do we sense the next big thing here?
These type of shows really do get your creative juices flowing, whether it’s forward planning or a current ongoing project, HOUSE was the perfect moodboard for enthusiasts who are looking to bring beauty and authenticity into their homes and living spaces.
June is proving to be a very eventful month with some equally exciting dates to keep in your diary. Eager to incorporate more in the way of homeware and interiors – it’s lifestyle after all – there are a couple of exciting events coming up all focused on beautifying your home.
Nominations are now open for the Asian Media Awards and as the blog has been up and running for a bit, I thought it would be good to test waters and submit a nomination for this year’s Best Blog category. If you’ve enjoyed the content, interviews and ramblings, then please do take a moment to submit an entry on behalf of Habibi Lifestyle. It would mean the absolute world! Other than that, see below for some more important dates for your diary.
HOUSE – in association with House and Garden | 17 – 20 June, 2015 | Olympia, London
A curated collection of prestigious, leading and emerging house brands and specialists in a showcase of style, design and decoration at London’s House event dedicated to providing inspiration and ideas for every room. Visitors can source the latest trends and shop for statement pieces with an array of exhibitors to choose from. Interior design enthusiasts will not want to miss the opportunity to peruse the likes of April Russell and Graham & Green. A must see feature of the event will be THE HOUSE, also designed by April Russell. A spectacular showpiece house feature, presenting a collection of designed living spaces, both inside and out, curated and presented by Russell, a leading interior design studio based in London and New York.
More info and tickets: http://house.events/
SPIRIT OF SUMMER FAIR |17 – 20 June, 2015 | Olympia, London
In addition to your HOUSE tickets, visitors will gain entry to the Spirit of Summer Fair, which brings even more independent boutiques and trend setting designer makers, in addition to some of the finest brands in the UK. Discover beautiful interiors, garden and decorative accessories, striking fashion pieces and children’s clothing, all alongside original summer gifts and artisan food and drink. Perfect for a summer overhaul.
AASHNI + CO PRESENTS: A SUMMER FAIR | 20 June, 2015 | 11am – 6pm | The Dorchester, London
Aashni + Co are back with an exclusive, summer season extravaganza. The unmissable exhibition/ trunk show will curate latest collections by some of the most sought after names in high fashion and accessories, namely Anushree Reddy, Rose Room Couture and Amishi luxury handbags and jewellery. Held at the Park Suite at the Dorchester, the picturesque Mayfair backdrop is the perfect location to shop for elegantly and effortlessly designed garments. Entry is free, however RSVPing is encouraged. Simply email firstname.lastname@example.org
NOMINATIONS ARE OPEN FOR THE ASIAN MEDIA AWARDS
After last year’s stellar award ceremony packed with the best in Asian entertainment, PR and journalism, the Asian Media Awards is back again this year with nominations now open. If youenjoy reading this blog, a nomination for the Best Blog category would be massively appreciated. Held in Manchester last year, the ceremony was a tremendous nod to all of the work being achieved by Asians within the entertainment, PR and journalism industries. From celebrating YouTube sensations to acknowledging the world of radio, the Asian Media Awards took the time to give each media-based channel the time it deserved and a platform to inspire and motivate others who are considering a career within this competitive field. Closing date for nominations is 5pm, 28 August, 2015.
You can check out last year’s highlights, read more about the categories being covered and submit your nominations here:
NOMINATIONS ARE OPEN FOR THE ASIAN ACHIEVERS AWARDS
The Asian Achievers Awards recognises the outstanding work from individuals from across all businesses and professions within the Asian community and acknowledge the accomplishments of the finest in the UK’s Asian community. You can now submit your nominations for this year’s awards. Nomination deadline is 21 July, 2015. Along with Business Person of the Year, you can also nominate individuals for the Media, Arts and Culture award as well as International Personality of the Year. More details on the awards, further categories and the nomination form can be found on the official website.
Nestled away from the bustling weekend crowds, the very first Suzali London exhibition took place on Saturday at The Arch. The premise of Suzali London is to not only introduce the UK market to both high end and emerging designers from India and Pakistan, but to offer a price point to consumers that is affordable. Owning a luxurious designer garment needn’t be demanding on your bank account as Sana, the founder of Suzali London explains.
“The reason why Suzali came about is because I have identified a real gap in the market related to Desi fashion. I feel that desi fashion needs to be more accessible to the UK population. I think in terms of existing supply, you have two extreme markets. You have very high end pieces, which are absolutely stunning. So you have your Sabyasachi, Tarun Tahiliani, beautiful, beautiful outfits and prices are pretty correlated to the intricacy of the work. At the other end of the spectrum, you have much lower prices but personally I don’t think they are as nice and I also don’t feel that it gives a true representation of the amazing designers of South Asia. There is so much talent in India and Pakistan and I feel that there are two real issues here. I don’t think we see the breadth of talent coming from that region and we also don’t see the price point. That is the gap I’m trying to fill.”
In order to do just this, a variety of designers are on offer at Suzali, which allows various budgets to attain a slice of South Asian fashion without compromising on an important aspect – quality.
“We have a variety of price points and designers within the Suzali London collection. There is Nida Azwer who is extremely established and her prices will be slightly higher. I don’t need to speak for her brand, it really does speak for itself. Mehreen Noorani comes with a very impressive CV. She graduated from the Fashion Institute in New York and she has been a buyer for some big brands. She also sits on various fashion institute councils. There are Bollywood actresses who wear some of her embellished capes, which is her signature statement.”
“Naureen Arbab is a well established designer. Karachi based, she supplies quite internationally to Canada, USA, Middle East and South Africa as well, but she doesn’t have any presence in London. That’s where I come in – I’m her exclusive distributor in London. Naureen Arbab’s collection is very versatile. It’s an old meets new kind of collection so you will have some of the more traditional outfits and more versatile items that are still on the traditional side but can be worn different ways.”
With a career in Banking and a degree in Maths, Sana’s sole drive for Suzali London is her pure love for fashion. Following designers very closely, she’s extremely clued up on how well trends and collections translate to an international market like the UK.
“If you think about the UK Asian market, it’s huge. You may have some women who are professionals, stay at home mums, some women of the older generation and I think you have enough variety within the female Desi population to support the outfits that Suzali provides. On the one hand you have very western outfits presented by Sarah Anees and Mehreen Noorani also caters for the modern Asian woman with those embellished capes. Then you have traditional people over here as well so you have designers like Lalarukh who I also stock.”
So how does one get various designers on board? Sana has used a variety of methods to touch base with designers, but the most effective of them all is explaining the gap in the market and enabling them to feel assured that their designs will sell well to a UK market.
“I think more and more Desi women over here are not going back to India and Pakistan as much as they would in my parents generation. We would go back pretty much every other year, whereas now more and more families have now moved out and we don’t have that link or access as easily.”
“Every designer would like to have some presence in London. It’s one of the financial capitals of the world, it’s one of the fashion capitals in the world and it’s such a cosmopolitan city with a large number of fashionable Desi women.”
Feature image: The Arch
When done right, fundraising dinners can be a delightful and entertaining evening. When you’re raising money for a great cause, it makes the night all the more worthwhile. Noor ul Islam is a Trust based in East London who strives to better the community by improving the lives of those in the neighbourhood as well as helping those further away. For their Sparkle Brighter event, the aim was to give back to the local community by providing much needed facilities and resources for women in the form of a community centre.
Along with the fundraising, the Sparkle Brighter event also gave back to attendees by offering an evening of self development talks and tips on how to be the best version of yourself. This was an incredible addition that really offered practical advice and tips for those who are socially shy and reserved. Even if you didn’t struggle with confidence and communication, there were helpful reminders to appreciate your successes and view failures as a learning curve. A pep talk or two never hurt anyone.
Ladies were treated to a pamper lounge with treatments such as Indian head massages, reflexology, mini-facials, henna and mini-yoga sessions. Following this, the evening consisted of entertainment and dinner. In total the Sparkle Brighter event raised £14,000, which will go towards the community centre.
Farrah Aziz, one of the hosts, said: “Noor ul Islam is an example of a model community centre for others to aspire towards. The centre has a wide range of services which benefit the wider community and I was proud to have been part of such an event.”
Rather than being an event that was all about the cause, it was a refreshing touch to give back to the audience.
Her co-host for the evening, Ayesha Tariq added: “Sparkle Brighter event was an inspirational night from the speakers right through to the sisters attending the event. And I have to say, it was amazing to see how many sisters came to support and give towards the construction of a new centre for Noor-ul-Islam. I hope in future events we continue to promote and generate open discussions on self-development because there is a real need for this. All in all, the night definitely brought out the sparkle within all of us! Alhamdulillah.”
Last Sunday, the organisers at Saverah hosted their first Women’s Expo filled with engaging seminars, fashion shows and a shopping bazaar.
The purpose of this event was to inspire and empower women in business. By bringing a range of indepedent companies together not only allowed exhibitors to network but them an opportunity to show support to their peers.
Held near Canary Wharf, the ice cool breeze didn’t deter approximately 2,000 visitors descending to Westferry Road for the one day event. Girls came armed with spending money, fully charged cameras to capture the very best from the fashion shows, and a lending ear when it came to the seminars, which ran throughout the day.
Rather than feature uber luxurious brands, Saverah decided to stick by its objectives and feature independent businesses, which are mainly run online. These included fashion, beauty, confectionery, fitness and home goods. Notebooks and frames were adorned with elegant henna designs and abayas came with edgy touches like leather panels or a lace overlay outline. The array of styles for special prices nearly had me whipping out my purse.
The highlight of the day for me had to be hosting the final seminar with an incredible panel. Nadia Ali from the BBC Asian Network, Youtubers Saima Chowdhury and NabiilaBee and Apprentice contestant and business owner Nurun Ahmed was my dream team. If that isn’t a line up for inspiration, then I don’t know what is. Speaking about marketing a business and utilising social media across various sectors, the audience were treated to opinions across the board. Radio, online ventures and even entertainment were all touched upon and hopefully if one person is inspired to start their own business, blog or YouTube channel, then I would deem the seminar a success.
The Q&A element allowed people to interact with the panel, asking them questions about their choices, careers and how to navigate through difficult times. Though these ladies may have faced setbacks in their professional journeys, they were full of good advice for tackling negativity on social media, on how to balance work with everyday life and much more.
You could feel the solidarity as we bonded over similar beliefs and ideals. I for one was so glad I had the opportunity to share the floor with women who are advocates for female empowerment and understand that though we each bring our own share of depth and drive, we’re even stronger together.