November 29, 2009

An Interview with Naga Designer Imcha Imchen

Based in Ahmedabad, India, Imcha Imchen is a designer from Nagaland who made his debut as a Gen Next designer at the Spring/Summer 2009 Lakme Fashion Week in Mumbai on October 2008.

The silhouettes in 2009 autumn/winter collection entitled Mangko Akir drew inspiration from the drapes of the mekhela (or sarong), the loin cloth, and the sash, which were used by various Naga tribes.

After writing my first article on Imcha entitled From Nagaland: Menswear with Imcha Imchen, I sent the young an email with several interview questions. Despite his current travels and busy schedule, Imcha responded immediately:

Where were you born and raised, Imcha?
I was born in Mokokchung, Nagaland, but I was raised in a small town called Medziphema, also in Nagaland.

Tell me a bit about your studies...
I obtained a degree in Science with Chemistry, Zoology and Environmental Science. Then, I took a different turn and went to the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad where I studied Apparel Design and Merchandising.

What are the major inspirations of your creations?
Tribal folklore and textiles.

How would you describe the men's fashion scene in India?
The fashion Scene in India is booming. The first mens fashion week was held just a while back, and it just proves how serious a market it has become, even though men seem to be more conservative or less fashion conscious than their female counterparts.

Thank you, Imcha, for taking time out of your busy schedule to respond! I wish you the greatest success!

Photo Copyright Imcha Imchen.

Manish Malhotra—Bollywood’s Favorite

Bollywood—not only the major Hindi-language film industry in India but also the largest film producer in the world! Am I a fan? Ever since I was a little boy!

Based in Mumbai, Bollywood derived its name in the 1970’s from a combination of “Hollywood” and the former name of Mumbai, which was Bombay.

The Indian film industry, however, can trace its origins to its first silent film in 1913. By the Thirties, nearly 200 films were being released per year.

Indian cinema exploded after Independence, entering a “golden age” from the late Forties to the Sixties. Bollywood then burst onto the international scene roughly 10 years ago and has been gaining in popularity ever since.

Bollywood draws from an assortment of inspirations, including the ancient Indian epics and early Sanskrit drama, 10th-century folk theatre, Parsi (or Zoroastrian) theatre, Hollywood musicals, and MTV. No wonder Bollywood is now exerting a heavy influence on music, dance, and films around the world.

To make it in Bollywood is no easy task! Bollywood films are musicals filled with rhythmic dance. Actors and actresses are not only expected to have the beauty of a fashion model but they must also know how to recite lyrics, act, sing, and dance—and, sometimes, all at once!

Probably the most notorious designer of all Bollywood designers is Manish Malhotra, who, in the course of his 19-year career, has received 34 awards and has designed for more than 1,000 films.

The striking quality of Manish is his keen sense for designing film costumes according to the role of each actor.

Already hosting his own talk show since 2005, Manish may soon be entering the role of film director with Dharma Productions.

Photos Copyright Manish Malhotra.

November 28, 2009

Kashmir: Not Mere Cashmere with Rohit Bal

In the fashion industry, we all know about Cashmere but few of us know Kashmir!

Kashmir is the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent, which, in history has played a central role in Hinduism and Buddhism, later undergoing centuries of Muslim rule. After brief British tutelage, the area of Kashmir was divided among India, China, and Pakistan.

The word Cashmere originates from Kashmir and is obtained from the Cashmere goat. The fiber provides a soft but strong insulation when woven into garments. The fiber is also known as pashmina, which is merely the Persian and Urdu word for ‘wool.’

Labeled by Time Magazine as the “Master of Fabric and Fantasy,” designer Rohit Bal (photo top left) was born and raised in Kashmir, soon becoming known as the “bad boy” of the fashion world.

Rohit first studied history at St. Stephens College and then cutting and stitching at the National Institute of Fashion Technology. He began his fashion career in 1986, in his brother’s export company, going on to create his own line in 1990.

Now based in New Delhi, India, Rohit utilizes a wide variety of fabrics, including the traditional Indian hand-loom textile called Khadi. In 2006, he was awarded the title “Designer of the Year” by the Indian Fashion Awards.

So, now we have it! A Kashmiri designer from Kashmir who designs with more than just Cashmere!

Photos Copyright Rohit Bal.

November 25, 2009

D.stress & India’s Young at Heart!

Beach lover. Admirer of Indian-style Chinese food. Avid vacationer in London, New York, Las Vegas, Goa, and Spain. Founder of D.stress. 23-year-old designer and the youngest to exhibit at Lakme Fashion Week.

Kunal Rawal is a true Mumbai guy at heart.

Inspired by his travels, the weather, and music, Kunal created his 2010 s/s collection based on the Cuban Guayabera shirt with a dose of Indian military influences.

The apex of the runway show was the finale act by emerging Indian star, Pratik Babbar (photo top right with Kunal Rawal).

Photo & slideshow 2010 s/s collection Copyright D.stress.

November 24, 2009

Lecoanet Hemant: a Trilogy of Franco-Indian Couture

India-born designer Hemant Segar, who is of German descent, and French partner Didier Lecoanet launched their fashion careers in Paris where they perfected the art of atelier fashion, later moving to India where they continue to design innovative, hi-tech collections of menswear.

At the recent Lakme Fashion Week in Mumbai, India, Lecoanet Hemant presented their 2009 autumn/winter collection entitled “Re-Love-ution,” which, in fact was a trio of menswear: a bullet-proof “Shield” line, an “Ayurganic” synthetic-free collection treated in oils and herbs, and a dramatic finale of formal wear.

Photo & slideshow 2009 autumn/winter collection Copyright Lecoanet Hemant.

November 23, 2009

"The Fantasies of Indian Magic" by Krishna Mehta

“Sadhu” is the Sanskrit term for ‘good man’ and, in Hinduism, stands for the ascetic, mystic, or yogi, who often wears ochre-colored garb.

Kumbh Mela is a mass Hindu pilgrimage, which takes place 4 times every 12 years in 4 alternating locations. At the celebrations, ashes are applied to the skin and ritual baths occur in rivers.

These were the images that Indian designer Krishna Mehta portrayed at the recent Lakme Fashion Week in Mumbai, India. The 2010 s/s collection was entitled “the Fantasies of Indian Magic.”

Recognized internationally and recipient of numerous awards, Krishna Mehta was born 1960 in Mumbai into a family of garment exporters, later going on to study economics, commerce, weaving, design, and the applied arts in Mumbai, as well as fashion design and merchandising at Paris.

Growing up between old-world Indian customs and modern values, Krishna uniquely combines the sensitivity of her homeland with an international flair of modern styles.

Photo & slideshow 2010 s/s collection Copyright Krishna Mehta.

November 22, 2009

Digvijay Singh Pays Tribute to Mother Earth

Another innovative Indian menswear designer that I would like to introduce is Digvijay Singh, who recently exhibited his 2010 s/s “Budhsatva” collection at Lakme Fashion Week in Mumbai.

Budh” means ‘mother earth’, while “Sattva” translates as ‘true essence’. Hence, this unisex and eco-friendly collection of Digvijay Singh represents “the true essence of mother earth.”

Utilizing only organic fibers from banana, pineapple, flex, hemp, and orange plants, Digvijay drew his inspiration from images of genies, pirates, magicians, and warriors.

Traditional Indian salwars, churidars, and kurtas completed the Zen-like collection.

Photo & slideshow 2010 s/s Budhsatva collection Copyright Digvijay Singh.

November 21, 2009

Rohit & Abhishek Kamra Go Imperial in 2010

Nothing makes me more excited than designers who intelligently revive traditional styles from their homeland’s past, transforming them into modern pieces of art with a classic twist.

And this is exactly what Indian designers Rohit and Abhishek Kamra presented at Lakme Fashion Week for spring/summer 2010.

Rohit and Abhishek took us back on a royal ride to imperial India as they reinterpreted traditional men’s dress, such as the Jodhpuri suit, kurta pijamas, angarkha tunics, waist coats, and the safari coat.

The color palette reflected perfectly the coming trends of spring/summer 2010.

Photo & slideshow 2010 s/s collection Copyright Rohit & Abhishek Kamra.

November 20, 2009

Rocky S: the Rock Star Designer that Rocks Bollywood

Otherwise known in India as the rock star designer, Rocky-S recently debuted for the first time a menswear collection at the Spring/Summer 2010 Lakme Fashion Week in Mumbai.

Also considered a favorite by the most prominent of Bollywood stars, Rocky S tied together in one walk a plethora of styles like punk, Gothic, groom wear, and true blood vampire, all of which was tailored into slim silhouettes, skintight pants, and luscious deep colors.

Rocky S then raised the roof when former model and Bollywood idol, John Abraham, burst onto the runway in a 3-piece pinstripe suit and draped in fine metal chains.

Rocky S is a graduate of J.D. Institute of Fashion Designing.

Photo & slideshow 2010 s/s collection Copyright Rocky-S.

November 19, 2009

From Nagaland: Menswear with Imcha Imchen

Hand-woven textiles; traditional dying techniques; and arts, crafts, and natural colors from the tribal world—welcome to the stylish realm of Imcha Imchen.

Imcha Imchen is a native of Nagaland, a hill state of northeastern India that borders Assam, Manipur, and Burma.

One of the smallest Indian states with only 2 million inhabitants, Nagaland is home to 14 Naga tribes, each of which boasts its own woven designs and colors.

Utilizing organic cottons and silks with vegetable dyes, Imcha draws heavily on the woven jackets, pleated shirts, loin wraps, fabric shoes, and armlets of his native land.

The 2010 spring summer collection collection "How Many Stories Do You Read on My Face" drew particular inspiration from a valiant headhunter and represents to today’s new generation the concepts of power and status.

Imcha graduated from the Naitonal Institute of Design in Ahmedabad and recently exhibited at Lakme Fashion Week in Mumbai.

Photo & slideshow 2010 s/s collection Copyright Imcha Imchen.

November 18, 2009

Troy Costa on the Runways of Dubai

The last menswear designer that I would like to present from Dubai Fashion Week, 24-29 October 2009, is Troy Costa, whose creations have appeared in nearly 35 Bollywood films!

As soon as I receive additional information on Troy, I will be sure to post it. Meanwhile, enjoy the photo gallery of his 2010 s/s creations that appeared on the runway of Dubai!

Photo & slideshow Copyright Troy Costa.

November 17, 2009

Zaeem Jamal in Dubai

Another prominent designer in attendance of Dubai Fashion Week, 24-29 October 2009, was Zaeem Jamal.

Although he wowed the audience with his Grecian-inspired women’s collection and stunning red, gem-studded gown worn by Bollywood idol, Dia Mirza, Zaeem Jamal also designs a cool, urban line for men.

Of Indian origins, Zaeem was born in East Africa but later moved to Dubai so that he could be closer to Asian manufacturers and European customers.

Like the religious quest of balancing both spiritual and material worlds, Zaeem’s label, Z for Z, takes us on a journey of the seven sins, without fear for soul or body, as long as we remain in control of them.

Photo 2009 s/s collection Copyright Z for Z.

November 16, 2009

HSY: from Pakistan to Dubai

Another talented menswear designer that exhibited at Dubai Fashion Week, 24-29 October 2009, was Pakistani designer, Hassan Sheheryar Yasin.

Born in Lahore, Pakistan, and based in Karachi, Hassan has acquired one of the most prominent names in the Pakistani fashion industry.

Fulfilling a dream that he had harbored from the age of 5, Hassan began his career as a fashion choreographer in 1994, first, in Pakistan and, then, abroad.

After graduation from the Pakistan School of Fashion Design in 2000, Hassan launched his own label HSY, which currently employs 350 individuals with six stores around the world.

Hassan draws his inspiration from the mystical beauty of the Middle East, as well as from the Ottoman Empire, as he merges it with the charm of Western elegance.

Photo & slideshow Copyright HSY.

November 15, 2009

Toby. A Revelation. A Tradition

Like a refreshing wind at midday, Dubai Fashion Week (24-29 October 2009) has blown in and gone. Nevertheless, the breeze of creativity and style for spring/summer 2010 continues to whisk across the region and inspire many.

One major source of inspiration at Dubai Fashion Week this year was Hatem Al Akeel, who grew up between Europe, the United States, and Saudi Arabia.

With such a diverse, multicultural background, Hatem has come to personify an ultramodern and Arabesque artistry, in which he merges East and West as he sets the pace for trend-setting designs.

Toby is the brainchild and signature of this strikingly handsome Saudi designer, which he named after the Arab phrase “my thobe.”

I have only been studying Arabic for several weeks now, but from what I know the thobe ( ثوب‎, ṯawb in Arabic) is an ankle-length garment, which varies in both style and name from country to country.

My Arabic teacher explained to me that, in the Gulf area, the thobe is known more as an ankle-length garment. However, in formal classical Arabic, as well as in some western dialects, the word thobe stands for material, cloth, or fabric.

With Toby, the thobe has been revolutionized into a garment of quality craftsmanship, uncompromising luxury, and superior fabrics—all at affordable prices.

Ultra modern. Ultra chic. Toby. A revelation. A tradition.

Photo & slideshow 2010 s/s collection Toby.

November 14, 2009

Giovane Gentile & Giovane G: 2 Nice Labels for Men Who Look Nice (Part 2)

In preparation for the next issue of Uomo Moda, the 1st and only men’s magazine in Egypt for which I write, I would like to bring you a foretaste of what the issue will entail in this two-part artcle (click here for part 1):

As some of you may already know, the 1800’s in Europe laid the foundation of the modern era for menswear, introducing concepts like lounge wear, formal wear, outdoor wear, sportswear, and the tuxedo. All styles, however, were based on the 3-piece suit. Changes were continual, occurring progressively with each decade and culminating in the 1890’s.

With the new notions of equality from the French Revolution, menswear became less ostentatious and more uniform. Embroideries and lace went out the window. The length of pants dropped to the ankle. Boots became a mainstay. The debonair dandy was conceived.

Double-breasted waist coats featured long tails and high collars. Overcoats were particularly façonnable. Broad shoulders and a narrow waist portrayed a real gentleman. High collar shirts were worn with a variety of cravats.

Out went the wigs and in came natural hair, just oiled or waxed. Curly hair was prized, as well as sideburns and—later—goatees. Conical hats evolved into the top hat and—soon—wide brim hats, bowler hats, and straw boaters were being sported.

Eventually the frock coat replaced the tailcoats, which were reserved for formal occasions, while numerous new styles of coats and jackets appeared on the scene. Collars evolved continually, as well as the shape of ties and bow ties. Shoe heels grew in height.

For the contemporary urban dandies of 2009-10, Giovane Gentile and Giovane G have kindly resurrected the slim silhouette of the 19th century dandy. As you will see, double-breasted jackets sported over classic cardigans stand center stage of the collection.

As for color, the collection takes us for a mid-Autumn walk through our favorite park with all the grey stones and withered leaves scattered about the ground. Clearly, we should not expect a lot of colors on this season’s palette with Giovane Gentile and Giovane G.

The colors for Autumn/Winter 2009-10 are more about setting the stage for texture—lots and lots of texture! Various shades of black and numerous tones of grey mingle with pure white in pattern checks, plaids, and argyles, as well as stripes, dots, and tiny squares.

Like the popularity of boots in the 1890’s, mid-ankle boots will be one of the key accessories that add authentic masculinity to the androgynous trends of Autumn/Winter 2010.

Alluding to the clean cuts of the tuxedo, the most formal look of Giovane Gentile and Giovane G for this season entails a relaxed version of the 3-piece suit.

Giovane Gentile and Giovane G—a vintage photograph of the dapper debonair dandy for the sophisticated modern man who has the time to care about himself!

Photo & slideshow 2009 a/w collection Copyright Giovane G.

November 13, 2009

Giovane Gentile & Giovane G: 2 Nice Labels for Men Who Look Nice (Part1)

In preparation for the next issue of Uomo Moda, the 1st and only men’s magazine in Egypt for which I write, I would like to bring you a foretaste of what the issue will entail in this two-part artcle:

Ercem Tekstil has been operating in the manufacturing and retail business since 1984, launching onto the fashion market two well-rooted brands that have bolstered the company to the forefront of the industry, not only in Turkey but on several continents as well.

The principle driver behind Ercem Tekstil’s success has been a customer-focused approach as the company selects high-quality local materials and sources exclusive fabrics from the European Union.

Secondly, Ercem Tekstil has employed a team effort in designing unique garments with an eye to innovative styles. No wonder Ercem Tekstil enjoys 15% of the local market with sales points in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Russia, Kazakhstan, Syria, and Egypt!

Thirdly, Ercem Tekstil is no mere garment manufacturer but rather a premium brand sartoria. Sartoria is the Italian word for atelier in French and can translate as a designer studio, a tailor or seamstress shop, or even an artist’s workroom.

Traditionally, a sartoria was where men and women purchased exclusive made-to-measure attire; hence, the English word ‘sartorial’. There are few genuine sartorias today, but Ercem Tekstil seeks to preserve the tradition, specializing in elegant men’s fashion.

The two “sartorial” brands of Ercem Tekstil include Giovane Gentile and Giovane G—very appropriate names. Giovane means ‘youth’ or ‘young’ in Italian, whereas Gentile translates as ‘kind’ or ‘nice’. So together: Nice Young Man—surely how every man wants to appear!

So, what do Giovane Gentile and Giovane G have in store for all the men who want to look nice this Autumn/Winter season? Exactly what we have been watching on the runways around the world: a return to the sophistication of the original dandy! Now, why not let these two Kind Young Men labels take us for a walk back in time?!

(Click here for part 2.)

Photo & slideshow 2009 a/w collection Copyright Giovane Gentile.

November 12, 2009

Bone Wear, South Africa & Sexy Guys: However You Like 'Em

South Africa has become known worldwide for its diversity of languages, cultures, and religions. With English as the most commonly spoken language, eleven official languages are listed in the constitution.

Although man has inhabited South Africa for the past 100,000 years, this mixture of predominantly Black men with smaller percentages of White, Asian, and so-called “Coloured” men have never been more sexy—because now they have Bone Wear!

Manufactured on site, Bone Wear is designed by Wilco Stemmett, who has developed a truly sexy line of underwear, gym wear, and swim wear of high quality materials.

This year, Bone Wear is enjoying the honor of sponsoring the hottest male events on earth: both Mr. South Africa 2009 and Mr. Gay South Africa 2009.

So whichever way you like ‘em, Bone Wear can add the sizzling touch to any man!

Photo & Slideshow Copyright Bone Wear.

November 10, 2009

Contemporary Explorers by fhonetics

In step with the main message of this Stockholm-based label, fhonetics has prepared for us a stylish journey this 2010 spring/summer season.

Entitled the “Contemporary Explorer,” the collection will christen us for a voyage extending from the steep northern Riviera to the far reaches of the endless ocean.

As you flip through the photos, you will almost hear the warm electronic waves and the gentle wind whipping around the sun-bleached cliffs with the contemporary explorer of fhonetics.

Photo & slideshow 2010 s/s collection Copyright fhonetics.

November 8, 2009

"Take It or Leave It" with World

Designers Denise L’Estrange-Corbet of New Zealand and Hong Kong-born Francis Hooper met while working in retail, in Auckland, New Zealand.

“Bored out of their minds,” they conceived the label World one late night while waiting on the corner for the bus!

Geared more to the local gay scene at first, the two designers slowly extended their repertoire to funky designs with clashing colors and eccentric fabrics like plastic table cloths.

Now one of the most avant-garde labels of New Zealand, World pursues continual innovation and renewal of ideas as they fulfill an educative role in the fashion world.

Most striking is their positive attitude, which undergirds their trend-setting label: “You either take it or leave it with World!” I think I’ll take it!!!

Photo & slideshow 2009-10 s/s collection Copyright World.

November 7, 2009

D.S. Dundee—a Whirling Dervish of UK Fashion

D.S. Dundee—the UK brand with a strong Scottish and English heritage but without the staidness or stuffiness—finds its roots in a mix of street wear and aristocratic country gentry.

D.S. Dundee was launched in 1994 by two long-time friends, Oliver Pilcher and Jim Pickles, who, focusing on classic tailoring and traditional UK fabrics, have infused premium-brand menswear with a luxurious dose of modernity.

Tailoring by D.S. Dundee highlights the masculinity of the wearer as it is inspired by the “Atatürk suit” of revolutionary Turkish leader, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (1881-1938), founder and 1st president of Turkey, who initiated the clothing reform and adopted European dress for himself.

Rugged yet refined, D.S. Dundee offers a contemporary aesthetic.

Photo & slideshow Copyright D.S. Dundee.

November 5, 2009

Farpitzs in Toronto...with Juma!

Alia and Jamil Juma—in one word: impressive!

Alia is a former model and graduate in Bio-systems Engineering from McGill University, who was also an assistant designer for several design houses.

Jamil worked as an investment strategist before entering the fashion industry.

In 2003, the brother and sister duo set out as co-designers and founded the contemporary clothing label Juma.

Based in Toronto, Canada, this sibling team throws a fresh twist on knitwear and jersey basics with a sporty touch that is inspired by their creative environment.

Living in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood, Alia and Jamil have reinterpreted for this season the traditional Hasidic look into a fresh, appealing shtick for urban men.

This winter, if you are planning to get dressed up, then get farpitzs with Juma!

Photos & Slideshow Copyright Juma.

November 3, 2009

Georgian Designer, Georgy Baratashvili: from Moscow to London

Most people know very little about Georgia, often confusing the country with the southern state in the US.

Nevertheless, Georgia is a large, ancient country situated in the Caucasus region of Eurasia and surrounded by Russia, Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and the Black Sea.

Known as Sakartvelo to its inhabitants, Georgia was the first country in history to have adopted Christianity as the official state religion. More recently, Georgia existed as a republic of the Soviet Union from 1922-1991, but since the country has regained national sovereignty.

Of Georgian origin, Georgy Baratashvili was born and raised in Moscow, Russia. As a young child, he was already expressing himself precociously in many artistic ways, such as drawing, painting, and music.

By the age of 5, Georgy was studying dance daily, and after 15 years of dancing professionally, the young man continues to practice street dance as a hobby.

After studying design and pattern cutting in Moscow, in 2003 Georgy moved to London, where he obtained a BA at London College of Fashion and an MA at Central Saint Martins.

Now, Georgy designs menswear with a keen eye to dance, adding a dark romanticist twist to his collections.

Photo & slideshow 2010 s/s collection copyright Georgy Baratashvili.

November 1, 2009

Manuel Bozzi—a Tower with a Solid Foundation

For most, Pisa is known for its Leaning Tower, which is the bell tower for the city’s cathedral.

But what is less known from Pisa is the lesson to be learned: avoid defective foundations when building a marble tower of 14,453 tons!

Well, not everything in Pisa has a bad foundation. Take, for example, jewelry designer Manuel Bozzi.

Born 1973 in Pisa, Manuel first studied the arts, ancient crafts, painting, and sculpture. After training in the workshop of his mother, Lydia Nissim, Manuel went on to become a gifted goldsmith.

In 2003, Manuel opened his own company called Clan Banlieue and, since, has gained worldwide popularity for his collections of jewels and accessories.

Photos Copyright Manuel Bozzi.