Monday, 26 September 2016

Aatiya London x Bubblegum Hijab: An Blogger London Launch Party

I was invited to a special launch party a few weeks ago, for a Malaysian brand which launched last month in London - Aatiya London. This was a pretty special blogger meet, as it involved so many women who I have become friends with over the last few years.

One of these is Bubblegum Hijab, fashion blogger and YouTuber who has some seriously cool acheivements - as well as a PR and events company, she designs clothes, makes and sells bathbombs and still has time to blog and vlog!

Bubblegum Hijab collaborated with Aatiya to design and bring a new collection to London, which was a collection to celebrate diversity and  also show her inspiration of Souh and East Asia. Her collection was inspired from a visit to Malaysia, but also to celebrate 'women of cultures' - women around the world of different background and heritage.

The launch party was held at a pretty French restaurant called Aubaine in central London, at a private room upstairs. It was set out in a really pretty, rustic way - candles, flowers and wood everywhere which looked lovely.




I absolutely LOVED the outfits of the collection - there were several bloggers who modelled a few pieces from the collection, and also a rack of dreses and jackets for us to look at. My favourites were the brocade jackets with accompanying maxi skirts, there were also some very nice pieces which wre versatile. There were a few two-piece outfits inspired by the Malaysian baju kurung, which is a top and a bottom skirt. The top is a peplum one, which is very adaptable and  can be worn together with the skirt or mixed and matched with trouser and dresses.




And of course I managed to try one of the pieces on, which was this lovely white brocade with a split. I loved how comfy and easy it was to wear, and really wanted to take one home with me!


We also stopped for a quick talk with the designer herself and a company representative, as well as a video with the collection's pieces - here's a quick snippet below!

video


The food itself also deserves a mention - it was delicious! Although this wasn't a halal restaurant, there were some really lovely delicacies and finger foods - my favourite was some cheesepuffs with mushroom pieces, and chunky chips with cheese and truffle oil!




There was a really great buzz to the launch party, and it was great to see old faces and meet new ones. It was also really lovely to see how many people came out to support the designer - literally with women from different cultures, in a French restaurant in London.


Aatiya London also celebrated the company's birthday, so naturally there was a lovely cake for everyone eat - I'm told this was custom-made by Eila's Cake Couture, which was a lovely fruit cake with delicate icing.


I had great fun at the event, and loved how everyone dressed up to have a fun night out. I managed to make a few new friends who I've stayed in contact with, and will be seeing them soon. I have also seen a lot of the Aatiya London pieces at expos and events, and love how popular they are getting.


We also got a lovely goody bag (or really, a box!) to take with us - inside was a pretty chiffon scarf, a purse and a Malaysian cake for us to enjoy, with a chocolate bar! The picture below isn't great because I took it at night time and then forgot to take a better one, but my favourite piece is the scarf, which I love.


The scarfI got was a pretty dusky pink colour, which I have worn at least three times already (including on Eid!) and which I have gotten compliments for every time I've worn it. I'm already considering buying myself a few more of these scarves!

You can shop the Aatiya London's pieces at their website, and also on Modestly Wrapped, which also stocks them - let me know what you think of their pieces!

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Our Eid-ul-Adha...!

Our Eid was a lovely one spent with family, although it did feel like we didn't get to spend time celebrating it long enough as most people had to go to work the next day!

For hubster and I, it was a double celebration - Eid was on the same day as our wedding anniversary. So naturally it was great to spend time with the family to celebrate (and demanding a cake from everyone who walked through the door!)

The night before, the locate roads were busy with people applying henna, buying last minute outfits and random sales on makeup and jewellery. It was a fairly quiet affair for us this time as my sisters and mum were busy (one is getting her house refurbished, the others were busy with Eid preps and getting the houses ready!) so I quickly went to get  my own mehndi done and went home before the roads got too busy.

I don't always have time to put mehndi on, and my husband insisted I wear it this year for our anniversary so I got it done on both hands this time - you can see below the results.


On Eid day we all went to our mums - it's become our central headquarters for the whole family, where everyone comes to meet, eat and enjoy ourselves, especially as most of us live in different places now. It's always lovely to get ready and make our way over in the morning (not to mention sending selfies of ourselves before we get there!) and it was lovely to celebrate Eid and our wedding anniversary too.


This is the outfit I wore, by a Pakistani label Cross Stitch, whose brand I've followed for the last year or two and have loved. I've only recently been able to see shops selling this brand in the country and took the chance to buy a printed, colourful summery kurta from a local store, which I paired with silk straight pants and sparkly heels.


The weather was pretty warm on Eid, so my uncle took the chance to do a barbeque for us in the back garden - I didn't get a chance to take a picture of the grilled chicken and kebabs but here's something we did enjoy - grilled corn!


We also had the usual Eid food affair as well, but instead of my mum making everything, the women all brought a dish to make it easier for my mum and also bring a range of dishes. There was plenty of food (below is just half of it!) which we all enjoyed thoroughly.


We also had an abundance of desserts - we had three cakes from guests (forgot to take pictures of them again!) but my favourite was the chocolately Eid cake made by my sister below. My husband's favourite dessert was the kheer, which I've also posted below!


My sisters, as usual rocked their outfits. I haven't got picture sof them all, but here are a few - my sister in law got a Cross Stitch outfit from the same shop as me, and my sister got a custome made suit. My niece also had a lovely dress with a matching skirt in black, which she looked very elegant in.


As usualy, the babies took the show - they all managed to wear matching blue dresses, and spent most of their time playing in the garden with their new Moshi Monsters toys and some very cool emoji balloons which were a gift from my sister!



Instead of the usual presents this year, my eldest sister had the very cool idea of an Eid 'Lucky Dip', where she walked around with a bag of presents and you just had to pick one. Most of us got some pretty, delicate jewellery which was a nice treat for the girls. My aunt also gave us lovely gifts, I got a pretty beaded scarf from her and my sister got these lovely pom-pom bangles below which were fab.


All in all, we had a lovely Eid which was filled with family, and a lot of guests. My parents have seen how our family is getting bigger now and have extended their living room and kitchen, and this was the first time we all had Eid in the new space and all managed to fit in! My husband and I spent a lovely day with family as well, and enjoyed our wedding anniversary with good food and good company (although we did also go out for dinner the following weekend as well!)

I hope you all had a lovely Eid, Eid Mubarak everyone!

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Eid Mubarak & Hajj Mubarak 2016...!

I've had a lovely, long busy weekend and have enjoyed Eid thoroughly - so of course I'll be posting plenty of pictures!

Here's a sneak peek of what I wore, hope you enjoyed your Eid and here's hoping those who were lucky enough to make the Hajj pilmgrimage will have their prayers and Hajj accepted.

Love,
Curly Fries xx


Friday, 9 September 2016

The Wedding Posts: Getting the Groom’s outfit

As my wedding anniversary fast approaches (two years next week, if you can believe it!) I’ve been remembering my wedding preps all over again (thank god that’s all over), and remembered a few posts I meant to write around the wedding time and never got around to.

I don’t normally post much about men’s outfits primarily because I don’t know much about them, and also because I haven't needed to buy many Pakistani/Indian style men’s outfits in the past, so I’ve stayed away from the topic. I also have noticed that while there is plenty of information out there for women to order their bridals, there is a lot less for the men's side of things - so here are my experiences. (And also, this ended up being a longer post than I thought, so be warned!)

I thought I’d post this one first out of the 'wedding posts' because with Eid coming up, I’ve been pestering my husband to make time to shop for his clothes and not leave it last minute – not for the first time! So inevitably this brought to mind the headache that came with buying my husband’s wedding outfit, which seemed to be more drama than mine. Unlike my outfit, which I spent about 2-3 months designing with the designer I used, and the step-by-step involvement I had with my outfit, my husband managed to leave his outfit nearly to the last minute, mostly because he assumed that he'd be able to go to a shop quickly and fine something to wear!

Little did we know that when it comes to men’s wedding outfits and groomswear, it can be just as much headache as the bridals!

To be fair, my husband didn’t leave his outfit TOO late - he started looking around just under 2 months before the wedding, which I thought was a reasonable time since a lot of shops ask for 6-8 weeks for anything to get made.

What we wanted:
A simple, not too fussy sherwani jacket with straight trousers and a plain shirt. My husband didn’t want any extras (turban, scarf, sword!) because he wanted something comfortable and flattering, and was mainly focused on having something which was made from a good quality fabric. He also knew my bridal outfit would be dressy (and sparkly!) so wanted something to complement this, but wanted something simple to suit his tastes as well. We both wanted a black outfit rather than a cream or white, and looked online for ideas - below are the closest two images we wanted to go with when looking for the wedding outfit.

 Left: Ziggi's Studio, Right: Bargello.com

Our budget: Not very high, again because he wanted something simple he was willing to pay about £300ish for the suit. Personally I don't believe a men's outfit should cost too much if there isn't much work on it and if it is simple - the designs above had some embellishment but we didn't even want too much of this either.

Places we went to: Mainly east London - Ilford Lane, Green Street, some online vendors. We spent about two weeks shopping around and making email and Whatsapp enquries before we settles on something.


Our Shopping Trips and Online Queries:
I wanted to share some of our experiences with some of the well-known shops in the high street - sadly enough, we actually had some bad experiences with a lot of shops. It was a pity to see that some shops and designers we wanted to go with gave us a bad service as well.
This isn't to bash any shops or designers, but share my experiences - and perhaps a warning for anyone shopping for men's outfits!

Ziggi’s Studio
This was our primary choice, as the outfit we wanted was the black sherwani above and which my husband loved. We weren't able to visit the store immediate because it is in Birmingham and we both work full time so it would be difficult to make time to visit, so we decided to contact the designers via Whatsapp. Firstly I spoke to Ziggi himself and said that we couldn't visit the store yet, and showed the design we wanted. He explained that this was an older design, but something could be done if we didn't go with the exact same material. Once we said we were fine with this, we were then passed onto another person (I was told this was Ziggi's brother), who sent some pictures of fabrics. After this, communication dried up and I wasn't able to get much clear information at all, and was mostly told that I would need to visit the store to see outfits and make an order. The outfit itself was quoted about £500 to me, which was higher then our budget, but again, it was not made clear whether we could negotiate to make a cheaper outfit. Ultimately I was very disappointed with the information I was given, and the fact that it did not feel like I could get much information before making an order. After being sent a few pictures I didn't get much reply at all, and was frustrated at the fact that we weren't given the service we could have been.

RDC London
This is a local store, which does some pretty decent men's wedding wear and semi-formal outfits. My husband and I went to the store and spoke to the designer of the store, showing the designs we wanted, and also browsed the store's collection. We were advised to make an appointment to look at the bridals, and then told that we had 'left it too late' -  the store would need at least six months to custom-make something we wanted. When we said that we didn't think it would take too long as we wanted something quite simple, the designs we was pretty simple, the designer first quoted us £650 for it (which was more than the original designer outfit would cost!) and then stated that he didn't think he would be able to make it for us. Because it was the middle of Ramadan, he explained he wanted to focus on the upcoming Eid collections and 'didn't have time' to focus on our wedding outfit. Needless to say, we left the store after this, feeling very annoyed.

Cuckoo Fashion
This was a store in Green Street which had an amazing, colourful colourful collection, with some very elaborate pieces and some really nice pieces. Fairly above our budget but the shop did say that they were willing to work with our budget. Our only problem was that my husband wasn't able to try anything on - everything in the store was either a size Small or XS (he is neither) and there was nothing in his size. When we asked for bigger sherwanis to try on, the shop stated we would have to order something in his size, but we were unwilling to take the risk and buy something without trying it on first.

Geeta Arts
This was the other place which was in our top choices for men's bridals - the designs are chic, very well made and very flattering. My husband has bought semi-formal kameezes for Eid from here before so we knew that we'd be happy with the pieces from here, which also helped. It was slightly pricey, but we were able to design an outfit with the vendors that was exactly what we wanted. The shop told us they would have to order fabric sample for us to pick before we ordered, and gave us a final quote of around £350, which was higher than we wanted but we agreed to pay it. When we came back the following week to place the order, and after we looked at fabrics, we were about to pay the deposit when we were told the actual price was £750 - a different amount to what we were initially told. When we queried this, the shop denied telling us it was £350 and suggested we were perhaps confused or had spoken to the wrong person. My husband got a little annoyed at this and decided not to order in the end, as he thought the design was too pricey for something so simple.

Junaid Jamshed
This is a Pakistani label which did not have a local store at the time (there's a pretty good one in east London now!) so we had to make queries online. My husband hadn't worn this label before but my sisters and I have ordered from here for my dad for family weddings. The men's wedding outfits were simple but very elegant, and not too pricey. In the end we didn't order because my husband wanted something more contemporary, but my sister did order a jacket with a kameez suit for my dad for my wedding, which was a little pricey but came pretty quickly. One of the things we all really liked about this brand is the excellent quality - of design and the fabric - and the fact that it would be hard to find something like this any local shops.

Poshak Mahal
We liked this store because it had very reasonably-priced outfits for men, although the stores we went to did not have men's wedding outfit and was very limited. Having said that, I'm a fan of this brand because of the wearable pieces and decent prices.

Bombay Looks
This was another store which had reasonably priced outfits but a very limited range of men's outfits. The style also felt a little old-fashioned, with mainly kurta-pyjama pieces which wasn't what we wanted.

Mahir
This was a store in Green Street which had a good range of outfits but again, there wasn't much that we liked. It wasn't that we were picky, but more that the outfits felt too garish and didn't fit with what we wanted.

There were a lot of shops around East London that we visited, which had the same sorts of styles and pieces, although I can't remember them all! I will say that since my shopping trips, the shops have expanded a lot and there seems to be more available for men, so don't be put off!

What we ended up with:
Desi Dulha
We were pretty lucky to find a shop in Green Street, East London that had pretty cheap outfits and were able to do it quickly enough. They had plenty of sizes, colours and designs and were willing to negotiated prices yet still design a custom-made piece for us. We placed an order for a brocade jacket sherwani with velvet and bead-work on the front, collar and sleeves, for just £250ish with matching trousers, and also were given a free inner kameez and shoes to match! The outfit was ordered for us to collect in 4 weeks (which was lucky for us) and we loved what we ended up with. You can see the design below:



Evaluation:
I like to think that even though this was only a couple of years ago, the range and availability for menswear has improved and definitely become easier for men. I also think that social media has really helped with visibility – showing new styles, different vendors and shops

I’ve definitely learned from our shopping expeditions and searches for men’s outfit. It was disappointing to see that not all shops gave us the service we wanted, and that some shops were even unwilling to work with us. I can understand if a shop is unable to meet your needs but there were a few vendors who were a little discourteous which I didn’t appreciate, as it's not professional.

One of the alternatives we toyed with was the idea of just getting an English three-piece-suit after we realised how difficult it would be to find a decent sherwani, but we weren’t too keen on this idea as we wanted a very traditional, Pakistani look for both of us. Also we knew the boys in our families were all wearing suits (some with bow ties!) and we wanted the groom to stand out from this. We also found that price-wise, getting a 3 piece suit would probably cost the same so wouldn’t make a difference in that respect.

Ladies and gents, I would advise anyone looking for a men’s wedding outfit to do some research and definitely call around, but don't give up or be put off! Vendors should be able to work around your budget, or at least adjust outfits to suit - and don't let them tell you that you've left it too late! I have had friends who had weddings organised as short-notice as a month or so, and have managed to work with ready-made pieces with alterations.

I'm hoping this post will help a few of my readers for their shopping preps - let me know about your experiences too!

Friday, 2 September 2016

Bollywood Stars at Lakme Fashion Week Autumn-Winter 2016

I do love celeb-spotting when it comes to fashion weeks, and Lakme Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2016 which took place just over a week ago was chock-full of them. I won't post all of the collections and red-carpet pictures because there's too many, so here are a few of my favourites which caught my eye on the catwalk.

You can also see more pictures of the LFW16 event here - Day One, Day Two and here, plus these gorgeous Sabyasachi outfits at the finale.

Kareena stole the show with her baby bump, wearing a beautiful Sabyasachi ensemble as the designer's showstopper. As always I love the designer's bridals pieces and this is a beautiful combo of sequinned-net and worked top.


Both Illeana D'Cruz and Shilpa wore vibrant, colourful lengha outfits - Illeana's rich purple design was by Ridhi Mehra while Shilpa's was by Anushree Reddy.


Alternatively, Karishma Kapoor went for a more contemporary look with this bright red maxi dress by Archita Narayanam, which looks like the perfect party or reception dress for brides. While I don't love the work on this, I do like the cut of the dress and Karishma carries it well.


I loved this dramatic outfit worn by Prachi Desai by SVA - I've always liked their striking designs and their fusion style, and it works here well with the draped sleeves/cape look and the flowy skirt.


Dia Mirza and Bipasha went for the traditional sari route, although I love that Bipasha had the traditional South Indian bridal style to it (by designer Sanjukta Dutta) while Dia's sari was more regal and deeper-coloured (by Tulsi Silks).



Lastly are two very different styles, but both beautifully done. On the right is Radika Apte in a heavily-worked, red Saroj Jalan bridal. I'm not a huge fan of the fishtail lengha and crop-top look because it reminds me too much of the 90s bridal look, but I love the work on this and the shape of the lengha skirt is done well. In contrast is the rich blue worn by Pooja Hegde on the left, which is a skirt and top design but looks almost like a modern jumpsuit look. I actually like the played-down dressy look this is going for and think this is quite wearable.


So far my favourite is still the ever-classic Sabysachi, although the lengha ensembles are also on my wish-list!