Wednesday, 17 August 2016

An Exclusive Blogger Preview with Modlist

I was lucky enough to get invited to fashion brand and powerhouse Modlist  for a blogger preview a couple of weeks ago in Chelsea, London, and managed to get a first look at some of the labels which are housed under company. Modlist is a new company which has been set up under the existing Haute Elan label (which is another company which sells higher-end fashion brands). The whole aim of Modlist is to bring affordable, elegant and modest fashion under one roof and making them more accessible for consumers – which is definitely relevant for today’s market!

The event took place in Modlist’s new showroom in Chelsea, which was a beautiful boutique which multiple rooms for showcasing the different labels. It was a great opportunity not just to explore new collections from various brands, but also meet the individuals behind Modlist and speak to various other bloggers as well.

There were quite a few brands on display, some labels which I recognised and some which were new – but they all had pretty beautiful, versatile pieces which everyone looked over and tried on. The Modlist brand has quite a few high street brands such as Zara, Asos, Gucci and Uniqlo, but there were also other brand labels which focus on modesty-wear, such as Aab, Roddiva Couture, Aisyah Al Mashoor and Store WF.

I also got a chance to try on a few outfits, here’s me and fellow blogger Aneesa trying on a few kimonos and kaftans!

I loved that there was also a showroom for children’s outfits, which was beautifully done up as well with a toy room. When shopping for modesty-wear, we don’t often think of children’s clothes so it was nice to see this included as well for parents who want to see different brands for their children too.

There was also an opportunity to get free manicures done from Secret Spa, and also enjoy some massages with Urban Massage. I didn’t get a massage but here’s me getting me nails done!

There was also a lovely buffet spread set out by Halal Eat, not to mention some yummy cupcakes from Lola’s Cupcakes to finish off for dessert.

At the end of the evening, CEO Rommana Bint-Abubaker explained a little further about the aim of Modlist as a company, which was not just to bring affordable modest fashion under one roof, but also to empower women through modest fashion – whether you’re a blogger, a businesswoman, a fashionista or you simply want to dress elegantly.

We also left the launch party with two lovely goody bags, you can see the contents below, which included eyelashes, makeup tools and snacks. I especially liked the bag of Oud Bath Crystals which I thought was a great idea!

I had a really incredible time at the Modlist Preview event, and thought it was a great way of showing how modest fashion is really making leaps and bounds in such an entrepreneurial way. As the modest fashion industry has boomed in the last few years, it’s great to see so many diverse labels available in London for shoppers and being made more mainstream, especially as a lot of these brands are mostly only available online.

The Modlist Chelsea showroom is now open by appointment only, although you can also browse their website online and also their Instagram account.

Instagram accounts - @hauteelan


Popchips - @popchips_uk 
The Vintage Cosmetic Company - @thevintagecosco 
Store WF - @storewf
Mi-in Lashes - @miin_lashes 
Samol Herbal - @samolherbal 
Roddiva Couture - @roddivacouture (designer)
Scents Of Paradise - @scentsofparadiseuk
Catering Sponsor:
Halal Eat - @halaleat
Urban Massage - @urbanmassage
Secret Spa - @secretspauk  

Other bloggers also at the event:
Hannah (@thefleurdusiel); Aneesa (@hijabi_in_london); Mona (@manoosa92); Mara (@maradxb); Tulin (@trestouline); Aneesa (@ibreatheshoes) ;Hannah (@hannahghouri); Amira (@modesrmira_); Halima (@misslittlefancy); Zahra (@zahrarosea); Maryam (@maryam.taqi); Sabba (@queenofsabba); Zara ( @zaraazix); Anna Nourin (@aana_nourin) ; Mariah Idrissi (@mariahidrissi); Nabila Bee (@nabilabee); Asma (@asmabdrr); Nadia (@rnadiasabrina); Sebina (@sebinaah)

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Lovely Hijab: Amna Hajar Hijabs

I recently came across Amna Hajar hijabs, which are a Malaysian brand selling hijabs in various colours and fabrics, and which I thought were quite pretty. I've met a few fashion and modesty-wear bloggers who have worn this brand, and thought I've give it a try myself, so decided to opt for a lace scarf.

I ordered the scarf via fashion blogger Aneesa (aka Hijabi in London), who is the UK seller for this brand, and also stocks a variety of other Malaysian brands.

The scarf arrived pretty quickly (I ordered a pink lace hijab), and I was pretty pleased to see the beautiful quality of the scarf, which was a really soft cotton material. I was also quite happy to see that it was a decently big size - although most companies do cater for people wanting maxi scarves, you don't always get big scarves which cover your head when wrapped around a few times.

I also particularly liked the fact that the colour of the scarf was quite easy to wear - there are a range of colours but I thought pink would probably go best with my wardrobe!

You can contact Aneesa via the Amna Hajar instagram page or her own account HijabiinLondon, or otherwise purchase directly from the website to buy any scarves. I'll be sure to post pictures of this scarf when I wear it - let me know what you think of this brand!

Sunday, 7 August 2016

OUTFIT OF THE DAY: The Royal Blue & White Khaadi Outfit

Now that summer's finally hit London in full force, I've been able to pull out all of my printed kurtas, lawn outfits and pretty summer pieces that I've been waiting to wear. Some of my outfits are a little old, since I've purchased them a year or two ago but they're all pretty wearable and perfect for summer (although that's not to say I may not have a few new purchases by the end of summer!)

This is an outfit from Pakistani label Khaadi, whose outfits I love because of the bright colours and prints, and the which I've always found wearable and comfortable. I bought this outfit last year, since I love the colour and the print design but didn't get much wear last year, so took the opportunity a few weekends ago to pull it out since it was perfect for the warm weather!

This is the outfit - a printed blue kameez with white embroidery on the neckline, which came with tapered pants with a lace cuff. I really like the print of this outfit at the hem and sleeves, which is streaked and has a pretty floral border, and like a lot of other kameezes, the back has a different print at the back which gives it a playful look.

This is me wearing the outfit, which I wore pretty simply, with flats and simple accessories. When it comes to warm weather I don't tend to wear a lot of jewellery or go crazy with my make-up, and this simple look suits me fine! The outfit itself was made from a lovely cotton material which was perfect for the summer weather, and loose enough to feel comfortable.

Here's a quick look at the back of the outfit, which was in a similar print to the front but in a lighter blue and white. I also liked the eclectic look of the floral border strip on the sleeve which matched the hem too.

This was a pretty simple, non-dressy outfit which is perfect for relaxing in on summer days. I bought this from the Khaadi store in Westfield but it was a little pricey for a casual look - I'm looking to purchase some more outfits directly from Pakistan to save a little money this year!

One of the things which has always bugged me about buying Pakistani labels is that oversea buyers such as us in the UK always seem to get charged more. I have bought Khaadi kurtas from Pakistan which have worked out about £25-28 each, yet when buying from the Khaadi stores in the UK or when buying online, the outfits can work out to as much as £50-60 and upwards, which seems a little unfair.

I can understand that we have to account for shipping or the costs of the shop, but it seems like we're expected to pay more because we're oversea - there's a perception that as we live in London (or the UK!) we can afford to spend more, which isn't always the case. I've spoken to a few people about this who feel the same way - it seems like there are other brands out there which seem to have this same idea about buyers in the UK.

Since the rise of Facebook sellers, instagram sellers and online websites which offer cheaper alternatives, I've been looking at outfits which are more affordable and wearable. I'll be doing a separate post about this soon once I've accummulated some more info - but wanted some feedback on your thoughts about this, what do you think about sellers and buying branded labels from Pakistan in the UK?

Monday, 1 August 2016

A Meet and Greet Session with Mehreen Syed

I was lucky enough to be able to meet the beautiful Pakistani supermodel Mehreen Syed a few weeks ago, with a small group of select girls at the Dorchester Hotel in London. I've been a fan of Mehreen for a few years after seeing her modelling campaigns from as far back as about a decade ago, and I've also been interested in her charity work and business endeavours since.

We managed to speak with Mehreen for an hour, and she was full of stories, of modelling, fashion designers, beauty care and her travels. I wasn't sure what to expect as I haven't met a lot of Pakistani celebrities, but I found Mehreen very friendly and bubbly - she told us she got about 5000 messages a day while she was in London requesting meetings, and how she wished she could meet everyone!

It was also nice to see that she looks exactly as she does in her pictures (she's also super tall!) and has a very natural beauty which you can see photographs well, and is one of the reasons she's a sucessful model today.

Mehreen herself has previously blogged before, and is the founder of the Desi Beauty Blog (now managed by co-founder and makeup artist Nilo Haq whose work I also follow). I really like the idea of someone who is experienced in the fashion industry giving back knowledge from what she has learned and her experiences, rather than looking to make money from her knowledge.

Another project Mehreen told us about was setting up a beauty school in Pakistan for poor girls - daughters of workers and servants who couldn't always afford an education so that these women could not only learn makeup skills, but use these to create a career as makeup artists themselves. She is also chairperson for the International Fashion Academy Pakistan (IFAP), which is a private educational institute based in Lahore, Pakistan, and is a fashion industry school. The school was developed to an platform for the next generation of fashion industry professionals; specifically stylists, models, makeup artists and photographers, and for them study their field in a professional environment

We spoke to Mehreen for a while, and also managed to get some beauty tips from her - I've forgotten some of these but I'll post what I remember:

  • I'm sure you can tell from the pictures that Mehreen has amazing hair! She told us that the latest shampoo she was using was L'oreal Elvive Extraordinary Oil Hair Care series - the shampoo, conditioner and hair oils. She said that she sometimes has pretty dry hair due to a previous illness earlier on in the air, which meant she needs intense hydration, and these shampoo and conditioners were really helpful. I've bought these but haven't tried them yet, so I have high hopes for them.
  • If you're looking to dye your hair - make sure you pick the right colour and don't over-bleach!
  • Without sounding too obvious - a balanced diet is very important if you want to be healthy. As a model Mehreen said that this was important to maintain a good figure and remain slim, and to not over-indulge in sugary foods!
  • Similarly, she said exercise is important, regardless of whether are thin or not in order to maintain your health.
  • Mehreen encouraged us to try different makeup styles and tips - find out what you like, don't be afraid to try new things and practise doing makeup to find out what suits you.

It was really lovely to meet a down-to-earth, humble person such as Mehreen, and I'm really glad I got the chance to meet her during her stay in London. She has encouraged us to keep in contact and also email or message her for any queries, which I also though was very generous considering how busy she is! It was also nice to hear her stories - of fashion designers, of Pakistan and of her travels, and it was really great to meet a celebrity who made the time to sit with us and have tea : )

Saturday, 30 July 2016

EYE CANDY WISH LIST: Embellished Khussay

A little wedding inspiration for you guys this weekend - khussay with pretty gems, kundan stones and pearls to bling up your outfit. I know khussay have been around for years and years - they're a pretty traditonal accessory from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, and I'm sure we've all worn one at one point or another!

I've even seen pretty printed khussay, beaded ones and sequinned pieces, but some manufacturers have upped their game by adding a little more bling for a luxury look.

I've seen these over the last few months, and love how great they look - they easily match jewellery pieces and add some beauty to our feet, making a great alternative to dressy high heels. And I love that there's a variety of colours and stones out there, as well as styles to suit every occasion.

I had a look around online to see where I could buy one of these myself, as I had my eye on these and wanted to see if they were worth buying. So far I've managed to find a few vendors but they seem to be based in Pakistan mainly - I'm sure if I was able to go shopping in Lahore I'd find plenty of these, and cheap bargains too!

Here's a few examples of sellers I found - I haven't ordered from these myself but I have read good reviews and they ship overseas, which is a plus point.

These pretty beaded gems by Eastern Dresses - based in Pakistan but seems reliable and have read good reviews, although I haven't ordered from them myself/

These embellished pairs by Allechant, a much more established brand in Pakistan. Slightly pricier but again, excellent reviews on service and fast delivery. You can also follow this company on Instagram and Snapchat for daily update.

Lastly is another Pakistani brand, Turbooz Shop, who have many quirky and very reasonably priced accessories, from khussay to jewellery and clutch bags. Perfect for the summer season, and I can also see a lot of these being worn for mehndi parties too - they also have some beautiful painted and embroidered pieces. I'm pretty sure they ship overseas, but I'm not 100% sure so check first!

I've seen a couple of these in local shops as well, although admittedly the quality aren't as nice as some of the ones I've seen online or based in Pakistan. I have seen a few in shoe shops in east London such as local shops on Green Street, and I also know that some stores in Southall carry shoes like this.

I'll be keeping an eye out for these in London, and will be sure to post if I manage to buy any khussay like these!

What do you think of these? Would you wear them?

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Make-It-Yourself-Fashion: DIY Lace Trousers

I'm sure you may have seen over the last few months one of the latest trends in the ever-changing Pakistani fashion industry - embroidered and lace cuffs. I love that there's a variety of styles available rather than just the usual tapered pants - tulip trousers, brocade trousers, palazzos and straight trousers with cut-outs and lace inserts.cuffs

For Eid, I wanted to go for something quite contemporary - I had a beautiful worked kameez from my Pakistan which I loved but wanted to mix-and-match with some more trendy trousers. I had a look around the local shops - first wondering whether to get a brocade/jamawar print trousers to match, then looking for embroidered or lace trousers. Unfortunately I had no luck - the turquoise colour of the outfit is quite a specific one to match (although I did consider a contrasting look in light grey or pink), but in the end I gave up - the closest I found were trousers which were plain an had simple buttons on the cuff.

I decided then to try my hand at customising the pants I already had for the outfit instead - this way I'd get the look I was going for, and it would be a little more unique. I got a family friend of mine to alter the trousers so they would be more tapered (they were quite wide to start off with), and then looked around the shops and markets for some lace I'd like to add.

It took me a while but I finally managed to found some lace I liked, in a tiny shop near my mum's house, which was about the size of a walk-in closet and crammed wall-to-wall with lace, ribbons, buttons and sew-on patches.

This is the lace below - it's a silvery colour but for some reason it looks white! I got luck with this - it only cost £5 for a yard, and the woman who sold it confirmed that this was the kind of lace you can sew on trousers. Surprisingly, this was the only shop to have decent lace - a lot of the bigger shops and markets had very old-fashioned lace or just the wrong shape and size, suited more for kameez hems than anything else.

I also bought some pearl buttons (I couldn't decide whether to go for just buttons on the cuff, or lace, then opted for both!) - I couldn't find pure white ones but found some very pretty ones from Queens Market in a very pale mint blue shade which went perfectly.

I set about sewing the lace onto the bottom of the trousers by hand with white thread - which took me about two hours to do! This was mainly because I used small stitches to secure the lace legs properly (my husband kept offering to staple the lace on for me) and also because I kept checking the lace was in the right position and was straight - very fiddly work!

This is the final look of the trouser s- you can see the stitches a little but overall I was quite pleased with how the lace looked. My sisters told me that they wouldn't have realised I had sewn the lace on myself unless I told them, so I'll take that as a compliment!

I'd love to try more experiments with altering my own outfits and customising, and I had great fun searching in markets and shops for ribbons and laces, which gave me lots more creativity ideas. The only thing I wasn't happy about was that you can't see the pearl buttons on the trousers cuff, but seeing as the lace is such a statement piece of the trousers, this was bound to happen.

I'll be sharing more DIY projects soon - but let me know what you thought of this one!

Friday, 22 July 2016

BOLLYWOOD ISHTYLE; Anushka's Charming Colourful Outfits in Sultan

I recently watched Salman Khan's latest blockbuster Sultan, which made for an interesting watch, about a Haryana-based wrestler and his struggles, not least because the subject had a surprisingly decent plot.

One of the things I loved about the film was the beautiful set, and the attention to detail with the village and the use of beautiful colour, the landscapes and the buildings - it's grand and vivid yet still remains something which is easy to imagine as being in many parts of India, which I loved. (My husband loved a scene in the film where the boys are chasing cut-down guddis - kites which are flown and fought over by boys and then chased to be caught - it reminded him of his boyhood days!)

The first outfit which I loved was this ivory bridal worn by Anushka (sorry for any spoilers, but she gets married!), with traditional gold fringing on the dupatta, and delicate zari work all over. I've always been a fan of the very traditional look and this one harks back to the 1950s and 60s with the sharara bottoms - perfect for a down-to-earth nikkah event, and serious bridal inspo!

I also loved the jewellery worn by Anushka here - beautiful gold pieces with pearls and beading, which really gives a beautiful bridal look, as well as the pop of green from her bangles.

Apparently this is part of a collection called 'Lafz' by Diva'ni - which is a India's first cinema inspired brand and a collaborative venture of Yash Raj Films and KBSH. You can see the outfits below which are available to order which all have a gorgeous theme of ivory and golds, gold fringing and detailed work. I think the one Anushka is wearing is most like the first outfit, but the third one is also very similar.

Images from Elle

The second outfit which caught my eye was this vivid green affair, which was a lot more playful and colourful. While it did remind me of Anushka's royal blue outfit in Band Baaja Baraat (the style of the song too!) I think this is a lovely outfit and it certainly suited the character. While it's not something you may see on the catwalks, it's a classic Punjabi style (or should I say Haryana?) outfit which

I also thought I'd throw in a mention for the 440 Volt song in the film, which is basically just a fantasy song but has plenty of beautiful colour and funky outfits - there's a quick mix of traditional saris, a glamorous gold maxi dress and this flouncy skirt with a biker-studded style leather jacket - is that payals (anklets) I see on her boots?

I also loved the set on this song - neon lights, a night-time funfair and lots of gold gramaphone-style speakers - very artsy!

I've mentioned how much I loved the setting in this film - it doesn't feature grand palace-like buildings or exotic locations but more real settings - the big courtyards in someone's house, the local villages and the fields - all again something which can be easily recognisable in any part of India (or Pakistan!)

I loved the flowers in this wedding scene - the whole house is covered in marigold garlands and floral structures (including a huge flower peacock and there's a hanging aeroplane made of flowers somewhere too!)
I think I loved this scene because it reminded me of the traditional weddings in the village where my grandparents used to live - usually done in the house and in the huge courtyards with plenty of friends and family around, lots of food, lights and decor.

I also liked this nikkah scene - the decor is mainly white with red flowers for a lovely decor look - but the room is homely, filled with guests all squashed around the bride and groom!

Images belong to creators of Sultan

All in all, this is a colourful movie which aims for a very down-to-earth look, both in the setting and the outfits. While the outfits look gorgeous on Anushka, they're not too glitzy or over the top, and they definitely look like outfits you can easily get made. I'm sure you can guess that I loved the bridal outfit best - I've always been a fan of traditional ivory and gold with the vintage look, and it works well with the jewellery here.

To be honest, while there are colourful song sequences and a couple of weddings thrown in, the bulk of this film involves the main characters in dusty vest tops and learning to wrestle. The outfits and decor of this film make up a smaller part of the story of this film, but it really contributes to the homely feel and the way that it seems to show small town life.

Have you seen this film? What do you think of it?