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.
Events like The Cake and Bake Show is every sweet tooth’s dream. Arriving at Earls Court right on time for a 10am open, crowds of people were already gathering for a show that would both teach and tempt the strongest of willpowers. Perusing around the spacious venue, stalls lined every twist and turn with both savoury and sweet bakes.
The three day event, which started on Friday 3rd October featured an abundance of special guests, activities and exhibitors for baking enthusiasts. The Cake Kitchen featured favourite chefs such as Phil Vickery, Paul A Young, Rachel Khoo and Lisa Faulkner preparing a variety of bakes, whilst The Bakery featured even more chefs waiting to dazzle with even more bakes including breads, cakes and pies. The Competition Theatre featured fierce baking finesse as the previous winners of the Great British Bake Off took to the stage to compete in a series of challenges.
Along with watching their favourite chefs and snapping up some new recipes, visitors were also given the chance to cook along in one of many Classroom sessions throughout the weekend. Thirty-minute classes included cake sculpting, bread-making and a chocolate masterclass. Held across three Classrooms, there were plenty of opportunities to get involved and develop a new skill.
The entire vibe of the event was one of pleasance and cheerfulness with the common factor being our love for baking. Walking around the busy floor, I came across some absolutely amazing businesses who were not only happy to talk about their origins but offer tasty samples that were worth every, single penny. Below are a few delightful brands that really stood out.
The first thing I noticed when walking up to the Meringue Girls counter was the sheer colour! Their bright pink neon sign naturally drew the girly girl in me towards them and soon I was chomping down on some seriously delicious meringues. Don’t shoot me – I’ve never been a huge meringue fan, but after nibbling on a bag full which consisted of hints of coconut and raspberry I’m totally sold on meringues. Meringue girls don’t only just sell meringues, they also use their expertise to create some seriously stunning showstoppers.
The Brownie Bar
Brownies are my weakness. Luckily I have strong willpower so I manage to refrain from indulging in them every single day. On this occasion however, I refused to listen to the little voice in my head and I dived headfirst into the Brownie Bar and tried a malteaser brownie, which was a mix of chocolate brownie and crushed maltesers, drizzled with white chocolate. I wasn’t disappointed in the slightest and had absolutely no regrets either. The Brownie Bar offers a mouth-watering range which includes incredible flavours such as oreo, peanut butter and salted caramel. Who knew heaven could exist in a brownie?
Popcorn is all the rage at the moment. People in the office opt for these popped delights instead of a heavier sweet treat. I’m very much a popcorn person so I was delighted and intrigued by Popcorn Kitchen. Offering popcorn in a variety of flavours, the samples were a massively welcomed change from the everyday popcorn you buy that lacks that intensity in every bite. Unlike other popcorn makers, Popcorn Kitchen charges you for a full bag of popcorn – not half a bag of air. Packets are actually filled up and they have also created some smart and creative packaging, which makes for the perfect Christmas and/or Secret Santa gift!
Like many others, my love for red velvet hasn’t waned one bit, especially as there are new and creative ways in which people are incorporating that indulgent red velvet flavour. I’ve had a red velvet milkshake, but now I’m in love with red velvet macaroons. L’orchidee creates these gorgeously decadent macaroons what are simply melt in your mouth. Also specializing in patisserie-style desserts, L’orchidee is a combination of passionate baking and high quality desserts.
(Image courtesy of L’orchidee)
Tucked away behind the London Eye, speakers, partners and finalists gathered at the ITV Studios where the official shortlist announcement for the 2014 Asian Media Awards took place.
Hosted by the delightful Umbreen Ali, the evening was filled with inspirational talks by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown of the Independent and Asif Zubairy, ITV’s Commissioning Editor for Entertainment.
Zubairy told those gathered, “It’s an achievement in itself to be nominated for an award tonight and I congratulate all nominees from online, print, internet bloggers, PR experts as well as old school media like radio and TV whether you win or not.
“Being successful in the media requires creativity, dedication and – in my experience – a lot of long hours.
“In focusing on doing the best job possible, it’s easy to get consumed by the ideas, the look and sound of what you’re working on and the effect it has on the public so I’d just ask everyone in this room to remind the next generation of media superstars of their roots: they’re not just media superstars, they’re Asian media superstars.”
Finalists were announced for categories that spanned the vast sphere of the media industry. The notable Journalist of the Year category featured some of the leading media professionals from across the UK with reporters from the likes of Sky News, BBC Asian Network, the Evening Standard and the Mail on Sunday included in the line up.
Young and emerging journalists were also acknowledged in the Outstanding Young Journalist category made up of broadcast journalist Anila Dhami, contributor to The Independent, Layla Haidrani, Radio presenter Harpreet Kaur and Rahil Sheikh, broadcast journalist, reporter and newsreader. The full shortlist for this year’s awards can be found here.
Along with the buzz and excitement at being announced as a finalist in their respective categories, guests were also treated to what can only be described as inspirational and witty talks.
Yasmin Alibhai-Brown spoke passionately about her work giving valuable insight into what she has learned from her years in the industry. Foraying into journalism in her 30s, Alibhai-Brown spoke honestly about the trials and tribulations that has shaped her career, whilst encouraging those pursuing a media career to never give up.
Keith Vaz, MP, meanwhile noted the Asian Media Awards as an “important set of awards” and rightly so. With a thriving Asian community and generation that are no longer expected to take typical career paths, the media landscape is changing with more Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic individuals seeking to make their mark in an industry that Vaz describes as “a very powerful part of society.”
The Asian Media Awards will take place at the Hilton Deansgate, Manchester on 28 October 2014.