Sunny Leone on motherhood: ‘The most amazing feeling’

 

(Photo:australian formal dresses)Sunny Leone and her husband Daniel Weber, who recently adopted a baby girl Nisha from India, says that being a mother is the most amazing feeling in the world.

“I run around the house now playing with Playdoh and toys. This little girl had to go through her own struggles to get to us and I truly believe that God sent her to us and not the other way round,” Leone said in an interview with Gulf News tabloid!.

She had just finished her turn as the showstopper for retailer Splash at Lakme Fashion Week in Mumbai on Sunday.

“I have tailored my life around Nisha now. We are hands-on parents. We love changing nappies, feeding and putting her to bed. We have a nanny but we have told [her] that we will call her if we need her. Daniel and I switch because either I am home or he’s home,” said Leone.

While the arrival of Nisha, who is as “cute as a button”, has transformed their lives, the news of the adoption has evoked mixed reactions among movie-mad Indians. While some hailed their decision to adopt, many questioned the actress’ choice and debated whether a former adult film star could be a good parent. Some even took a swipe at the fact that Nisha was dark-skinned, therefore less desirable, revealing the deep-seated racism among some Indians. But she isn’t going to let any negativity mar her new-found happiness.

“They were some really nice ones last week, thank you guys,” said Leone sarcastically.

“I understand that as a public figure you put yourself out to the world… But I know how to deal with it,” she added. She has the perfect remedy to cut through trolls and derisive comments. Give those judgmental ones a tight hug.

“They need something like the Jaadu Ki Jappy [a magical hug],” said Leone with a laugh, referring to a phrase from Sanjay Dutt’s hit film Munna Bhai in which the hero obliterated sadness and negativity with a tight embrace. The ones who criticise are often unhappy souls, she added.

So who’s the stricter parent to Nisha?

“I think I am. I have my own style of doing things — finishing one task and moving to the next one. My whole life has been like that… I guess Nisha is having fun right now with Daniel who lets her do anything she wants,” said Leone.

She’s currently navigating the tricky terrain of motherhood and a career. After walking the ramp for Splash and attending the glitzy after party with Raza Beig, the CEO of Splash, she will be heading home to her child. So, what’s her fashion philosophy, now that she’s the brand ambassador for Splash in the Indian markets?

“Today, I wore a sequinned body-fitting gown. And believe me, it’s the most comfortable gown I have worn. Some designer don’t put any lining inside making it itchy to wear, but not Splash. I love the clothes from their collections because they are stylish and comfortable,” said Leone.Read more at:semi formal dresses






Ritu Kumar unveils creations at Lakme Fashion Week

Courtesy: Ritu Kumar/Sweet Surrender 

(Photo:formal dresses australia)Ace fashion designer Ritu Kumar unveiled new creations at the ongoing Lakme Fashion Week/Festive 2017. Sweet Surrender, Ritu Kumar’s fashion label, was the inspiration from the 18th century fashion era. It added a deliberate dishabille look of the 80’s to bring about an apotheosis of the two eras where modern fashion and refinements were concerned.

The colour card of ‘Sweet Surrender’ started with soft pastel hues and was contrasted with tropical prints like unconventional fruits and striking bold blossoms. Sorbet tones of peach and Prosecco appeared in perfect unison with canary yellow, as well as minty melons, which interspersed with vibrant splashes of calico blue and red. Adding to the flavour of the collection were the embellished textiles that brought the style quotient to the forefront.

Presenting a melodious fashion symphony, the label Ritu Kumar brought on the ramp an asymmetric cold-shoulder midi with summer blossoms print, mini trapeze outfit, slinky blue leaf printed off-shoulder creation with side cascade and a sexy pale blue tulle full-flared midi skirt over a provocative white body suit. The mustard frilled one-shoulder midi with a striking white crochet cummerbund, the black ruffled will-power jumpsuit with white corset and the black/white foliage printed maxi were just perfect for surrendering to fashion’s latest trends.

The Label Ritu Kumar’s shirtdresses were prominent on the ramp along with stylish asymmetric tops, some with an off-shoulder accent, while the cute trendy minis completed the look. Giving life to the collection was the every apt selection of chambray, schiffly and tulle, which were used as frills and ruffles to project an ultra-glam, feminine look. Mesh stockings and the crochet cummerbunds were the prime accessories.

Bollywood actor Disha Patani turned showstopper for the designer in white shorts under a sheer, white, corset, asymmetric, will-power creation that shimmered with splashes of rose embroidery.Read more at:cheap formal dresses online






This designer combines tradition and craftsmanship in his tailored menswear

East meets west. Or rather, a melting pot of cultures. That would probably be an apt description for Atelier Fitton’s recently opened boutique in Kuala Lumpur.

From having Scottish tartan curtains and English racing green walls, to its location at the Zhongshan Art Centre within the city, the space speaks of two very different worlds coming together.

Not surprising though. The menswear label’s creative director himself is a person who has lived two very different lives – career-wise, as well as where his heritage is concerned.

Thirty-year-old Joshua Fitton was born in Britain, but he moved to Melaka at a young age. While his father happens to be an Englishman, his mother is Malay. Nevertheless, he identifies as Malaysian.

“Growing up, all I knew was the Malay kampung I lived in. I was about four years old when we made the move. I only learnt about my English culture and heritage much later on,” he relates.

Fitton studied in an international school in Malaysia, but obtained his master’s degree in architecture from the University Of Lincoln. He ventured into fashion when he came back to work here.

“I first started by making T-shirts under the Tempatan Black label. That was when I was still practising as an architect.

“Six or eight months into it, I got invited to show at a fashion week,” Fitton states.

“The first collection was very casual. It had only about two suits. This was about four years ago. The whole transition from Tempatan Black to Atelier Fitton only happened last year.”

When asked, Fitton says he has never looked back since making the career change. He admits that he misses architecture, but there is still a long way to go for his plans with Atelier Fitton.

“Right now, I’d like to grow this business so that it’s self-sustaining – maybe to a big enough level that it can look after itself and I can double up on other things,” the self-taught designer states.

“One plan is to get the brand recognised so that it’s a household name. So that people aspire to wear Atelier Fitton. Aspire to have a suit or a shirt that’s made by the label. That’s my ultimate goal.”

Fitton points out that it is not easy running a menswear business in Malaysia.

This is because the guys here do not pay as much attention to fashion compared to those in certain Western countries.

“They are slowly getting there. They are more aware of what they need or should wear. They are also more conscious of how people perceive them based on what they wear,” he adds.

According to Fitton, his design process is very visual. All his fashion collections have a story. This helps him envision the man who will be wearing his clothes.

“I don’t just sit down with a pen and paper and start sketching. I come up with an idea of who this person is first – who he’s meeting, why he’s there, what time of the day it is, then fill in the details.”

His latest collection (to be unveiled Friday at Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week) is inspired by country clubs. It offers designs that are a lot more relaxed, and uses a lot of pastel colours.

“Last year’s inspiration was a safari, and the year before that, I had a nautical-themed collection. I’m still doing structured pieces, just that the style is a bit softer this time around,” he notes.

“People know that I can make suits. So I just want to show what else I can make. Last year’s collection came with capes. It’s more like dabbling in different kinds of silhouettes and fits.”

Atelier Fitton atelierfitton currently offers bespoke and ready-to-wear designs. Prices range from RM269 for a shirt off the racks, to RM3,100 and above for a tailored two-piece suit.

“I choose fabrics that are appropriate for the climate. I always take into consideration how people live in Malaysia and the type of people that we are when I design,” says Fitton.Read more at:formal dresses australia | cheap formal dresses online






The ’90s affair

A file picture of a model sporting the grunge make-up look used for representational purposes only  

(Photo:queenieau.com)When a little kajal is all it takes to turn the face from dull to dramatic, then imagine the miracles of a full fledged grunge up do! Ideal for the perfect edgy aesthetic, this look mostly revolves around dark rimmed eyes and hues upon your lids and lips.

Grunge is an easily attainable, everyday wearable make-up style inspired by the dark and moody, typically ’90s fashion. It’s something you should definitely try out yourself! A lot to do with dark edges of heavy tinted shadows upon the lids, this look definitely makes one stand out at any social gathering. Perfectly done smoky eyes are back in fashion these days, thanks to teenagers all over the world trying to pull off the indie-aesthetic look. But the more fun part is how with subtlety, this look can be pulled off by literally anybody, from a teenager to middle-aged ladies!

The key-notes to achieve a grunge make up look are to keep it smudged, sexy, pale and touch consumptive.

To create your own:

Use a nude lip colour and keep it matte — or go for bright red lipstick if you prefer.

Use eyeshadows from palettes close to black, grey or brown.

Get a black eyeliner and apply it upon your eyelid. Kohl works the best for your lower lids and try to smudge it out a little, to make the messy look pop.

Use plenty of mascara.

Keep the skin nude or pale. For the make-up to look more prominent, keep the skin a tone paler than your original tone.Read more at:plus size formal dresses

Diana: A life in style

Princess Diana, Princess of Wales. Photo: Tim Graham/Getty Images 

(Photo:formal dresses online)For most women, the occasion would have seen them taking to their bed. It was 1994, and a documentary was about to air in which Prince Charles admitted to cheating on his young wife, an act that had devastated her during their marriage, and was now set to publicly humiliate her.

Diana had agreed to attend one of the most prestigious events on London’s social calendar, the Serpentine Gallery summer party that night. Instead of cowering at home, she was determined that if nothing else, she would win this PR battle, ensuring that it was she, and not her husband or Camilla, who would dominate the next day’s front pages. She arrived, boldly striding from her car, in a black silk figure-hugging dress, designed by Christina Stambolian. Off the shoulders, cut several inches above the knee, worn with a dramatic pearl choker, it was her most daring outfit yet. She looked fit, beautiful and confident. The designer recalled later she “chose not to play the scene like Odette, innocent in white. She was clearly angry. She played it like Odile, in black. She wore bright red nail enamel, which we had never seen her do before. She was saying ‘Let’s be wicked tonight!'”

Circumstances may have been painting Diana as the victim of a loveless marriage, but this outfit said she was anything but a victim. The dress had actually been designed for her three years before, but back then, the designer later recounted, Diana had been too nervous to wear it. Now, its bold, revealing design was exactly what she needed. “She wanted to look a million dollars, and she did,” her one-time stylist Anna Harvey revealed. Diana was the one all the papers led with the next morning.

For such a public figure, Diana was incredibly circumscribed in her public utterances. A source of fascination and under public scrutiny from the age of 19, few have been so widely and obsessively judged, whilst simultaneously unable to speak for themselves. Clothes became for Diana an essential means of self-expression.

Anna Harvey was a Vogue fashion editor who worked with Diana for over 15 years, from the time of her engagement. “Diana was daunted by all the attention, and embarrassed to go into a shop and be recognised,” remembered another Vogue editor, who suggested they bring clothes to Vogue and set up a rail there where she could try things on.

Even as ‘Shy Di’, the bashful young nursery teacher, Diana’s outfits were capable of causing an outcry. Posing for photographers as a 19-year-old when news of her relationship with Charles first broke, her modest outfit of mid-length skirt, shirt and pullover was rendered unintentionally racy when the sun backlit her and the skirt became see-through. She was reportedly horrified at the now-famous picture.

In those days, before receiving a royal clothing allowance, some reports have Diana’s wardrobe as limited to only a handful of pieces – at the time of her engagement, she apparently owned just three formal items of clothing, with the rest borrowed from friends and her older sisters, both of whom worked for Vogue at different times.

Early Diana is typical of her social class: for casual, all the Sloane ranger cliches; for formal, Laura Ashley-style frills. The most important outfit of her life was one of her first big style statements; her wedding dress. She had already worked with the designers, David and Elizabeth Emanuel, on several occasions, choosing one of their blouses to wear for an early Vogue profile, and a dress to wear on her first occasion being photographed with Charles – an outfit which led to some outcry when she leaned forward getting into the car and revealed more than was ideal. It was a mistake she was not to make twice. Designer Zandra Rhodes remembers discussing the design of the first dress she ever made for Diana, a wrap style, and the young Diana commenting: “Oh you’re going to have to make that wrap much more ‘over’. Because you can be sure when I get out of the car, there’ll be a photographer waiting in just the wrong place.”

The design of the wedding dress was a closely guarded secret, with the designers tearing up sketches after showing them to the princess. Featuring a 25-foot train and over 10,000 hand-stitched mother-of-pearl sequins and pearls, this dress was the sartorial manifestation of the happy-ever-after ending Charles and Diana apparently embodied. “I wanted the dress to reflect that she was going in as Lady Diana Spencer and coming out as The Princess of Wales,” David Emanuel later commented of the 20-year-old bride.

Several years before his marriage, Charles had rather arrogantly declared “whoever chooses me is going to have a jolly hard job always in my shadow”. With Diana though, he never stood a chance. Her easy, unaffected charm, and statuesque but natural beauty instantly won her the admiration of the people, and it was she who was mobbed wherever the couple went. At first pleased, Charles soon came to resent this love affair between his wife and her public.

Her wardrobe throughout the 1980s, whilst improving from the early days of aristocratic debutante dressed by her mother’s choice of designers, was still mostly 1980s cliches; huge shoulders, big bows on ball gowns, boxy skirt suits worn with blouses like the blue suit worn for the engagement announcement, ruffled collars, dropped waists, puffball dresses, double-breasted blazers, off-the-shoulder velvet numbers, polo necks with padded shoulders, sweetheart necklines and pleated skirts, the occasional garish floral print and evening dresses that wouldn’t have seemed out of place on the set of Dallas – including the famous blue sequined Catherine Walker dress she termed ‘my mermaid dress’.

This dress, worn originally in 1986, was an early harbinger of the more body-confident pieces Diana would later favour. As it happened, this was about the time she had started an affair with James Hewitt. In the mid-late 1980s, as both the Waleses conducted extra-marital affairs, Diana’s sartorial choices for official functions became bolder, unapologetically glamorous with a hint of sexuality – form-fitting silhouettes and daring off-the-shoulder cuts.

She also had realised that simplicity should be the cornerstone of her look. “Diana realised that timeless elegance was what worked best on a princess, and it’s in 1985 that you see her develop a very sophisticated look,” reflected Eleri Lynn, curator of the exhibition Diana: Her Fashion Story. There was the famous Victor Edelstein dress worn that year for a visit to the White House, in which she danced with John Travolta. Her fashion choices became more confident, and like her, playful; a tiara worn as a headband on a state visit; teaming a flamenco dress with one black, one red glove, bought from the high street; wearing a trouser suit to an evening function. There was a black Jasper Conran matador-style suit and a white tux suit found for her by Anna Harvey, to which she herself added a black dickey bow.

There was also what she termed her ‘caring wardobe’ – clothes worn in the course of her charity work. She rarely wore gloves, most noticeably when visiting AIDS patients at the height of the epidemic – the sight of Diana shaking the hands of a patient without surgical gloves became a hugely important moment. On visits to children’s hospitals, she favoured bright colour outfits or floral dresses. Hats were abandoned and chunky jewellery that a small child could play with was preferred. On visiting hospitals with blind patients, she often wore velvet, for its tactile quality.

As her marriage secretly crumbled, Diana was increasingly less inclined to play the demure, retiring wife, consort to Charles. And whilst she was yet to publicly speak out about her husband’s infidelities, her clothing choices were increasingly a signal of her imminent break from the House of Windsor. “None of Diana’s dresses happened by accident; she always knew exactly which event they were intended for,” recalls designer Jacques Azagury. “When she recorded the Martin Bashir interview for Panorama in 1995, she called me to explain that it was revealing, and that on the night it was to be televised she was going to be attending a fundraiser. She said ‘Jacques, I’ll be stepping out of the car just as the interview starts, so I’ll need a really good, sexy dress.'” She chose a black dress, a colour she would not have been allowed to wear as a royal unless she was in mourning.

As a member of the royal family, Diana had mostly stuck with British designers. Post separation, she began to look further afield, most famously, perhaps, to the designs of Versace, whose sporty, easy, modern designs, best suited to the Amazonian beauty of the 1980s supermodel, were perfect for Diana.

“I couldn’t have fashionable clothes because it wouldn’t have been practical for the job,” she once recalled of her wardrobe as HRH the Princess of Wales. Her preferred style post-divorce became simple body-con dresses, with straps, no sleeves, showing off her toned limbs and worn with no-fuss hair.

It was around this time that she declared her intention to be known “not as a clothes horse but as a workhorse”, and much of her wardrobe became about simple, functional clothes – shift dresses and jackets, jeans and a t-shirt. “Like her life, Diana’s taste in fashion became pared down and emphatic after her divorce,” wrote Tina Brown in The Diana Chronicles. It was her best look, the ideal background for her athletic, healthy beauty.

“It was much freer after the divorce,” says stylist Harvey of Diana’s look post-divorce. “You will notice that necklines dropped and skirts rose.” Shortly before her death, Diana would hold an auction for some of her most famous pieces. Held in Christie’s in Manhattan, the 79 pieces raised $3.25m for the benefit of cancer and AIDS charities. For Diana, it was symbolic of closing a chapter in her life. She was said to detest the sight of her old clothes from her days as Charles’s wife, and was thrilled by William’s idea to auction them off. Meredith Etherington-Smith, who helped her curate the selection for the auction, describes their meetings as a sort of rehashing for Diana of the past in which she relived where she had worn each garment.

Ironically, 20 years after her life, Diana’s casual style is now having a fashion moment. Virgil Abloh, designer and creative director to Kanye West, has named her as the muse for the next collection for his label Off-White. He posted a mood board full of her casual looks – a Varsity jacket on an outing with the boys, cycling shorts coming from the gym, a sweatshirt with the slogan HARVARD. Alexa Chung made the pie-crust blouse, a piece synonymous with Diana, central to her recent Marks & Spencer line. Midi skirts, mom jeans – all vintage Diana. All so now. Diana – gone, but still in our wardrobes.Read more at:plus size formal dresses

UGG Collaborates With Jeremy Scott

Jeremy Scott has long incorporated symbols of pop culture into his designs, and his latest project involves the ubiquitous furry boot. Scott and Ugg have linked on a set of limited-edition styles that will make their debuts on Sept. 13.

“Collaborations have been very popular for a long time, and we have done them in the past but never been that strategic in terms of what they can do for us as a business. This collaboration stretches what the brand stands for and what we can do design-wise,” said Andrea O’Donnell, president of Ugg.

The tie-up with Scott is the first one that covers all categories — women, men, kids and babies. Ugg collaborated on a women’s style back in 2010 with Jimmy Choo, and in October will debut a men’s collaboration with 3.1 Phillip Lim.

The eight limited-edition styles will retail from $90 to $1,195 at select global retailers and at five North American retailers: Just One Eye, IntermixOnline.com, Serenella, Chuckies and David Lawrence.

“I was an undercover Ugg fan. They are so cozy and I love the way they look with pants and shorts,” said Scott. “It’s not known for men to wear them so much here even though they are surfer-dude footwear. After trying them on in Waikiki a couple years back, I found myself in the store at The Grove and I was like, ‘I’m going to do this. I don’t care what people say.’’

Cut to Scott’s Australian assistant contacting the company, only to find out that they already wanted to work with him.

“I’ve always admired Jeremy; I think he does something special and different when fashion can be so serious,” O’Donnell said.

The styles Scott created range from the subtle to the over-the-top, including the Classic brown tall boots embroidered with “Ugg” on one and “Life” on the other in an Old English font; another pair embellished with Scott’s signature hot rod flames; and black ones encrusted with crystals and beads in a floral motif.

“It was a perfect space for me. I loved classic tall boot because it’s so recognizable and very indicative of L.A. and Malibu. That was my first impression, of Kate Hudson and Britney Spears wearing them. There’s a sense of nostalgia for that era right now.”

Of future projects, O’Donnell said, “We are talking to a range of designers at the moment, either born in California or who have interesting stories to tell about what UGG has meant to them. We’re also looking to connect outside of ready-to-wear and footwear to heritage and craftsman companies, tech stories and industrial designers or makers of things.”Read more at:cheap formal dresses online | www.queenieau.com

Dubai-based designer Amira Haroon heads to LFW

 

(Photo:formal dresses australia)Amira Haroon has been announced as the winner of the Dubai Design and Fashion Council open-call, and will be headed to Fashion Scout London, an independent showcase at London Fashion Week, which will be held from September 15 to 19.

Emirati and UAE-based fashion designers had been invited to participate in the DDFC initiative, which was held in partnership with the FAD Institute of Luxury, Fashion & Style Dubai.

Haroon, who was raised in Saudi Arabia, graduated from Parsons School of Fashion and in 2011 and launched The Amira Haroon RTW label shortly after. Currently based in Dubai, Haroon’s designs fuses modernity with cultural influences and versatility.

She was picked from seven shortlisted designers by an internal committee and was among the few who presented her work to a judging panel that comprised Jazia Al Dhanhani, CEO of DDFC; Sass Brown, founder dean of Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation (DIDI); Martyn Roberts, managing and creative director of Fashion Scout London (FSL); and Shivang Dhruva, founder of FAD Dubai.

The DDFC x FAD Dubai Fashion Showcase initiative aims to foster the development of a sustainable fashion industry. Earlier this year, it paved the way for the international debut of UAE-based brands Azzalia and Deborah Henning at London Fashion Scout AW17, which took place in February 2017.

“Showcasing Amira Haroon’s designs during London Fashion Week is an international celebration for all UAE-based designers, and a step further towards positioning Dubai as the leading destination for design,” said Jazia Al Dhanhani, CEO, Dubai Design & Fashion Council.

Shivang Dhruva, Founder and Director of FAD institute of Luxury, Fashion & Style in Dubai also added: “The representation of the UAE, and Dubai in this international event is a reflection of the support our designers here receive, and the importance of strategic partnerships with government entities that strives on a flourishing creative and diverse scene.”Read more at:cheap formal dresses

Back in vogue

U.S. luxury brands are improving their looks. Shares in Michael Kors and Ralph Lauren leapt on Tuesday as the fashion houses tightened distribution and cut back on inventory to generate quarterly earnings beats. Yet a harsh retail climate continues to depress sales and both shops are late in their turnaround efforts.

The decline of department stores, which have traditionally accounted for a big chunk of sales, is hitting both brands. Reining in those outlets, and the subsequent discounting when the likes of Macy’s can’t sell handbags and polo shirts, is crucial to rebuilding profits.

At Ralph Lauren, new Chief Executive Patrice Louvet aims to close up to 25 percent of U.S. department-store locations by March 2018. North American sales declined 17 percent in the latest quarter from a year earlier, with same-store sales falling for the 11th consecutive quarter. But that tough tailoring lowered inventories by 31 percent and boosted adjusted gross profit margins by 2 percentage points.

Michael Kors slashed wholesale net sales by 23 percent in the latest quarter while increasing sales through its own outlets by just over 10 percent. Most of that growth came from Asia, where the company has doubled its store count in the past year to 236. The results come on the heels of last month’s agreement to buy stiletto stylist Jimmy Choo for $1.4 billion. Like rival Coach with its purchase of Kate Spade, Kors is seeking to emulate the diverse portfolios of multibrand luxury conglomerates like LVMH and Kering.

Still, the recovery at both companies has a long way to go. CEO John Idol needs to double Jimmy Choo’s sales to justify the 37 percent premium Michael Kors is paying. And its rapid Asian expansion risks the same saturation that depressed sales in the Americas by 8 percent in the latest quarter. Louvet, a former Procter & Gamble executive who joined Ralph Lauren last month, could encounter the same frictions with the company’s eponymous founder that doomed predecessor Stefan Larsson after only a year.

These headwinds may explain why the two companies have enterprise values of less than seven times earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization, well behind Coach’s 8.7 times or the 10.5 multiple of Calvin Klein parent PVH. It will take more work to get their valuations off the discount rack.Read more at:formal dresses adelaide | www.queenieau.com

Grooming for a life in fashion

Neeta Lulla, the young jeans-and-t-shirt crusader, was entranced by fashion in the most organic manner — flipping through the summer and fall issues of magazines that showcased the chemistry between Bollywood and fashion. The love affair that ensued was pristine; and the career that spawned from it was everlasting.

Meet National Award-winning Neeta Lulla, who has worked on over 300 films and served more than 10 lakh customers in a career spanning three decades.

Grooming for a life in fashion

Growing up in Hyderabad, school couldn’t keep her hooked long enough due to her distaste for academics. The tomboy, as she calls herself, dropped out in search of more enthralling pursuits.

“My mother was always worried about my grades and if I would ever be the perfect daughter who could cook and stitch, but my father always encouraged my interest in sports,” she says. He also indulged her love for reading and bought her the then popular bi-annual magazines Seventeenand Cosmopolitan, available only in select stores. “I was quite the T-shirt-jean connoisseur, but these magazines slowly got me interested in styling, and instilled a spark for fashion,” she recalls.

Taking life one step at a time as she was wont to do, she got married at 16 just to evade high school and a formal degree — only to later learn that she was marrying into a highly erudite family. It was decided that she would complete her education and pursue a career — in cooking or tailoring. “My brief but exciting encounters with magazines led me to pursue a Diploma In Pattern Making And Garment Manufacture, at Mumbai’s SNDT University. I had a brilliant guru in Hemant Trivedi who saw my talent and groomed me in the art of make-up, fashion choreography and styling shows,” she recounts.

Popular fashion choreographer Jeanne Naoroji was one of her guest lecturers and noticed her interest in fashion choreography — and soon enough, a young and enthused Neeta found herself working as her assistant for nearly two-and-a-half years on various shows. In the meanwhile, her college even asked her to double up as a lecturer in fashion coordination.

While her life was functioning like a well-oiled machine, the output wasn’t substantially fulfilling. Thus, when she got an opportunity to work on Tamacha, a film being produced by her brother-in-law, she didn’t think twice. “I remember Jeanne asking me why I’d leave something I was so good at to work on a film! But the challenge to do something new led the way,” she recalls.

From home to The House Of Neeta Lulla

In Tamacha, she assembled looks for Kimi Katkar and South Indian actress Bhanupriya. But it was the film Chandni that really put her on the fashion map. “My creativity got appreciated and when I got an opportunity to work with the reigning queens Juhi Chawla, Aishwarya Rai and Sridevi, work, basically, fetched me even more work,” she says.

In an industry infamous for its nepotism, Neeta, an outsider, went on to work for over 300 international and national films. “I just blocked out the nepotism and focused on the quality of my work and let my products be the showstoppers,” she says.

Starting off with films before venturing into mainstream fashion worked very well for her – and big banner films like Manikarnika, Gauthami Putra Satakarni, Jodha Akhbar, Devdas, Mohenjo Daro, Lamhe, Taal, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, International Khiladi, Hero No. 1, Hum Aapke Hai Kaun, Darr, Hum Hai Rahi Pyar Ke, Khal Nayak, Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja, not to mention Hollywood films like One Night With The King, Mistress Of Spices, Bride & Prejudice and Provoked marked her arrival as a formidable player on the fashion scene.

Neeta’s business that started with one sewing machine at home, just one kaarigar and only Rs 500 as capital, has now served more than 10 lakh clients over a span of three decades. House Of Neeta Lulla, the umbrella brand, comprises four verticals, namely, Nisshk, Neeta Lulla, Little Nisshk and N Bride.

There’s more to fashion

Fame and recognition did not make Neeta complacent; in fact, it inspired her to make frequent trips back to the drawing board to see how else she could contribute to the industry. On one occasion, she found a lecture by an industry stalwart enriching, and this prompted another business idea. “As a creative professional, I wanted to share my experiences with young fashion enthusiasts – as a way of giving back,” she says.

In fact, a decade earlier, famous Bollywood director Subash Ghai had been so impressed by her work ethic as well as her teaching style at SNDT that he approached her to start something along the lines of a fashion institute. The two ideas worked in sync and in 2014, they collaborated to start an institute, The Whistling Woods – Neeta Lulla School of Fashion, helmed by experts, in association with Whistling Woods, an institute owned and managed by Ghai. “Being a mentor comes naturally to me, the maternal instinct is innate to my persona,” she says of her decision to take her second plunge into business.

At the institution, everything from the advisory board to the faculty is manned by stalwarts and leading professionals from the industry. The school offers a unique combination of film and fashion, and hence, the placement opportunities waiting for the students are with design houses, retailers, fashion brands, and entertainment production houses.

And there’s more to life

Bollywood is known for its nepotism and not being very welcoming of outsiders. Neeta points out that besides its nepotistic ways, B-town also harbours a strong gender bias. “I didn’t grow up thinking life was fair — it was evident in the simple things that boys and girls are expected to do from an early age. After years of being in this industry, I’ve kind of rebelled against this idea of being accepted. If you want something different and you don’t get it, you can now create it,” she says.

Having said that, she believes now is a great time to be a woman in design, as the industry is trying to right its wrongs. “Design is no worse than the rest of society right now. The higher you crawl up the ladder, the thinner the air. The ratio of men to women is far higher. I have experienced discrimination and bias, but it’s worked in my favour — there have been occasions when I was included in shows because they needed a woman,” she explains.

In light of her own experiences and of other women, Neeta took a stand against gender-based violence last year. “People around the world were fed up of violence against women, the lack of accountability in the system, thus normalising abuse and failing to combat it. I was emotionally disturbed after hearing about foeticides and later Nirbhaya and felt that as successful women, we must raise our voice against these issues. #SheIsMe, an inspirational fashion showcase, was a personal tribute that proclaimed that despite their flaws and limitations, women are beautiful, magical and strong,” she says.

Being the only fashion designer to have won four national awards, hers is also one of the first brands to foray into the online retail space. So, Brand Neeta Lulla, having built quite a momentum, has its work cut out.For starters, Neeta has been doing her bit for the Make in India campaign, by incorporating indigenous Kanjeevarams, Kalamkaris and Banarasis into her collection for over four years now. She is also exploring strategic partnerships with global fashion houses and the government to increase awareness around homegrown fabrics and designs. “Over the next three years, I’m also looking at store presence in different metros and expanding to tier-2 and tier-3 cities where brides don’t have access to signature designer wear pieces,” she adds, before signing off.Read more at:www.queenieau.com | bridesmaid dresses australia

Cosmo’s Kemp covering the conversation for millennials

Cosmopolitan editor Keshnee Kemp at her office in Sydney. Picture: Hollie AdamsKeshnee Kemp is on a journalistic mission: serve life lessons, relationship advice, beauty and sex tips to millennials.

In the 13 weeks she has been in the chair, the new editor of Cosmopolitan has revamped the look of her magazine and quickly updated its focus.

“Millennials are clever, they see though bullshit pretty quickly,” says 28-year-old Kemp of her 18-to-34 target market.

“Other magazines are high fashion; we are mass market — we are aspirational but attainable. I introduced a real sense of service to the mag, so that every single page has some kind of service for the reader. The girls won’t pitch anything to me for a feature unless it has some form of service.”

It was back in 1965, under the control of legendary US feminist Helen Gurley Brown, that Cosmopolitan exploded on to the media landscape in the US as a sexually frank magazine for young, single career women. It became so frank that some US supermarkets used to cover up its racier cover lines — and its cover girls.

Now the magazine has 64 global editions and publishes here under licence from Hearst by Bauer Media. Despite print circulation falling under 50,000, it has been spared the fate of its axed Bauer stablemates Dolly and Cleo — perhaps because its international connections mean it is cheaper to produce. Bauer says Cosmoreadership is 278,000 per month and it reaches an average of 1.5 million internet sessions per month.

Enthusiastic and confident, Kemp is full of ideas and talks much faster than she tweets as she discusses her revamp. “I came in 13 weeks ago … the August issue was kind of me but because we work so far in advance I needed a little bit of time,” she says.

“I am a millennial myself and I have been speaking to millennials for the past 10 years and I thought that Cosmopolitan was really behind the ball.

“When we launched in the 1960s the idea was that we were controversial and starting conversations and when I had a look at the mag before I came on board I felt like to be honest I could have picked it up months ago.”

The magazine is still based solidly on the traditional Cosmo pillars of sex, relationships, fashion and beauty but “the conversations under those pillars felt a little old- fashioned to me”, Kemp says.

She has boldly introduced one previously neglected topic, travel, to take advantage of millennials’ desire to create memories and “great Instagram opportunities”.

Kemp, who edited the celebrity title Famous over at rival Pacific Magazines until the print edition was axed two years ago, was surprised at the lack of a travel section. “It is not in Cosmo internationally, but I just thought it was the right thing for us.”

What sorts of holidays do her readers want? “Lots of them and ones they can afford. We know millennials think they should work 50 per cent of the time and travel 50 per cent of the time.”

Like many publishers, Bauer Media is in a world of pain. Former Bauer chief executive Nick Chan appointed Kemp back in April before he departed in June after 14 months, replaced by Paul Dykzeul. Later that month there was the abrupt departure of Australian Women’s Weekly editor-in-chief Kim Doherty, and Kemp’s predecessor Claire Askew was another abrupt departure after just 11 months in the editor’s chair.

For the September relaunch, Bauer spent some extra money and the masthead pops out in gold foil. Gone are the design cues from British Cosmo, replaced by a brighter and lighter feel.

“We can tell from how they react on social that they really like bright white escapism,” Kemp says of her readers. And they like social media influencers. So the September issue has three celebrities of the social media era gracing its cover: Instagram “fitspo” star Kayla Itsines, beauty You­Tuber and Instagrammer Lauren Curtis and travel influencer Pia Muehlenbeck.

But the magazine feels thinner than you would expect and of the 164 pages, only about 24 are advertising, including house ads and tie-ins. Welcome to the new reality.

Once the special sealed section was the key selling point of the defunct Cleo, but such printing innovations are too expensive to produce nowadays. But the questions and advice seem to be as frank as ever, even if questions no longer carry readers’ names.

Kemp is updating the Cosmo attitude to sex because millennials are “very open”. “Some of the conversations that millennials are having now they weren’t having 10 years ago. Conversations about trans, conversations about same sex, that’s all normal.”Read more at:beautiful formal dresses | celebrity dresses