It's been close to two months since, but Morocco is still on my mind constantly. In our annual school trips, we have the privilege of exploring a variety of countries, in all sort of locales across the world. The two countries I chose during my high school years were wonderfully different, yet equally rich; while I went Bhutan last year, this year was all about Morocco. The latter resonated with me more, perhaps because of the people, or simply because of the connection I felt to the country. Morocco shares the characteristics of my home nation, as well as a distinct quality about it, in that when you love a country like Morocco or India, you love it wholly. From the minute we landed in Casablanca, I was infatuated with the country's charm, which changed from city to city but was unwavering. The country's beautiful national flag peppered the streets, most of which resembled the charm in the classic movie designed to have taken place in Casablanca. Immediately, I was drawn to the aesthetic beauty of Morocco, but also to the culture lying underneath. Our trip was comprehensive in that we were exposed to the culture of Morocco on so many levels; from speaking to young Moroccan Muslims to exploring the Sahara desert with those who spend their lives there, we gained an understanding of a country that has no singular style of life. One thing that stunned me about Morocco was its extreme levels of diversity in so many respects, from the climate, to the geography, to the ethnicities. For example, the geography encompasses everything from the Atlantic Ocean to the Sahara desert to the mountain ranges (all of which we explored). The photographs above are a combination of my friend Janna's gorgeous pictures and my VSCO-cam edits.

Prior to this trip, which lasted for a little over a week, I knew very little about the country I was heading to. I was aware of the country's influence on designer Yves Saint Laurent, who called Marrakech home for many decades. The designer long declared his passion for the country, as well as the inspiration he drew from it in his own work. Aside from this, I was venturing into unknown territory. Two eight-hour flights later, Morocco seemed like the kind of place I would want to spend ample time in – something that became increasingly evident to me. Amongst my favorite parts was exploring the many cities, from Fez to Marrakech. Components of Moroccan culture became pinnacles of the trip: mint tea was consumed at least three times a day, bargaining in Moroccan markets seemed like the norm, and certain Arabic words were being used with ease. While speaking with Moroccan youth, one of whom is among the first female poets to perform across the country, I realized that the youth have combined Westernization with their traditional values, making for a beautiful balance. It was fascinating to hear their opinions on the government, religion, relationships, and everything in between. With every moment in the trip – from staying in the nomadic tents in the Sahara to traditional Moroccan 'riads', to riding camels and eating (way too much) delicious food – Morocco stole my heart in more ways than one. 

– M 

moroccan wandering.

Apr 25, 2016

Dress: Asos, Bag: Celine Mini Luggage, Sandals: Rubi

Saturday mornings at Tiong Bahru are a combination of coffee, cafes and a calmness that is much appreciated in the midst of the weekend's impending chaos. The neighborhood, which I've written about previously, is a quick cab ride away from my house, and therefore a place I frequently visit when looking for the most well-received cafes in Singapore, along with a bookstore or two. On a recent Saturday, I explored the area with Irina, a photographer and friend who I worked with on a series of outfit posts last year. We caught up in between shots and almost getting lost in Tiong Bahru's misleadingly-similar set of white walls. The area's rustic charm is complemented by its balance between modern cafe-culture and Singapore's own culture. It is one of the few areas in Singapore where the culture has been distinctly retained, and this is visible to anyone who visits. This morning was particularly warm and I was grateful for the light cotton fabric of my ASOS dress. Despite the bodycon silhouette, the ASOS creation was still ideal for a day like this. While I don't wear florals often, I love doing so; this season, subtle floral prints – like the 'ditsy' one above – have invaded my closet. The light, Grecian blue tones reflect the quintessential styles associated with spring and summer, making the dress ideal for a city with no distinct seasons. This season, ASOS has had an impressive range of such dresses, perfect for anyone getting a heads-start on their summer shopping. I paired the dress with airy sandals, my favorite leather bag, and a few rings from my recent trip to Morocco. 

Irina and I chose to shoot the dress in Plain Vanilla and against the aforementioned white walls. It was a fairly quiet morning, with my favorite bakery being less busy than usual. As we sat down in Plain Vanilla's open-air space, I sipped on an iced mocha (highly recommended) that PV Bakery is perfect for. What the bakery is renowned for, however, is its cupcakes, from strawberry white chocolate to apple caramel. The bakery's philosophy is "good old-fashioned cake", a sentiment which is embodied in the food and, beautifully, in the decor. Irina and I didn't try any on this particular morning but make sure to go to PV on a day when you're ready to eat – the selection of cupcakes and drinks is worth it. For more, check out the bakery's Facebook page; it'll reinforce the fact that PV is the place to be on a bright Saturday morning such as this one. 

– M

vanilla morning.

Mar 13, 2016

Every March, the world celebrates International Women's Day, which took place a few days ago. Across the internet, the majority of posts, tweets and articles I saw were women-positive: the world shared stories about the women they admired, the women in their life, and the women who do incredible things everyday. There were, of course, the people who had the opposite message to send, but I saw much less of the latter attitude. So for this month's set of links, I chose pieces that reflect the positivity of our day, and stories that serve as equally inspirational and motivational. In concurrence to this are the men who do incredible things everyday, as shown in the New York Times' publicized piece on Hollywood – and the difficulties of being in an industry when you're not a "straight white male". This was one of my favourite reads this month, though it's hard to pick just one out of the following links.

Cool Women to Know on International Women's Day
Broadly, an offshoot of Vice Media, is a female-centric website, so naturally their Women's Day coverage was strong. In this list, they feature women who all of us should recognize; some of whom are well-known, and some who are less so. From activists to actresses, they covered every niche possible and proudly portrayed the women who are flourishing in each one.

What It's Really Like to Work in Hollywood
The aforementioned article drew widespread commentary and praise. In this piece, 27 industry-insiders share their experiences with racism, sexism, and the inherent discrimination they faced and continuously deal with in their past and present careers. A series of condensed interviews shed light on such issues, and as they were published right before the Oscars, it's safe to say this was timely. From my favorite actress Priyanka Chopra to the universally-loved Mindy Kaling, this piece is told with the determination and power each of its interviewees have.

The Disrupters Revolutionizing Art
Similar to the NY Times article, Vanity Fair shares the "Disrupters" – a group of people using forward-thinking, cutting-edge mentalities to make their way through the world of art and provoke new schools of thought. Amongst the many featured artists are a filmmaker whose latest movie is shot solely on the iPhone, an endless batch of entrepreneurs, and Kendall Jenner.

Indian Women Changing Diversity in Fashion
In this editorial and interview, Teen Vogue features two gorgeous Indian models – seen in the photo above, left – who are making waves in both the Western and Indian fashion scenes. The piece also points out how Indian women are becoming increasingly well-recognised in the international industry, which is a point of immense pride.

Female Filmmaker's Second, Eye-opening Oscar
"This is what happens when determined women get together," said documentary-filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy. She won her second Oscar for 'A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness', a film exposing the world of honor killings in the director's hometown, Pakistan. While I have yet to watch this film, this beautiful interview in Vogue made me want to watch it even more.

Reformation's Collection Calls for Summer
On the lightest note, here's a collection for women everywhere. Reformation created clothes in a simple-summer fabric, linen, in a series that balances loose and form-fitting silhouettes. Perfect in time for Spring, and any vacation that may be right around the corner.

– M 

links of the month: march.

Mar 10, 2016

I grew up hearing the names of Indian designers much more than I heard of the brands we see in the West. In place of Vuitton and Dior, I was, quite early-on, in awe of Manish Malhotra and Sabyasachi Mukherjee. As I grew older, my knowledge of fashion grew, and with it, the worlds of the West and East began to blend. And as designers in both parts of the world gain recognition on the opposite end, this blur became more familiar – and I realised that the designers are equally influential in their own right. Despite this, I have always been partial to Indian fashion, particularly bridal wear. Bridal-wear is a pinnacle of the fashion world in India, where wedding season seems to be year-round. Indian traditional wear has become increasingly original; while fabrics and the basis of bridal wear is retained, designers are finding modern, and often Western, ways to approach this branch of clothing. For many, like Sabysachi Mukherjee, the traditional textures and characteristics of bridal-wear is a way to transition into the modern. His 'Heritage' collection is one such example. 

For Summer 2016, Mukherjee created a collection in a range of striking hues – from raw gold to eggshell blue to the midnight tone I chose to display above. The designer, like me, is from Kolkata, and chooses to focus on the city as his point of inspiration. This is evident in much of his clothing, featured in these photographs for Harper's Bazaar India and shot by photographer Tarun Khiwal. For this collection, however, the Banarsi sari was where he wove his own sartorial story from. This sari is known for its inherent opulence, shown through brocade and thick gold embroidery. Glittering gold motifs, such as paisleys, characterize such saris and other forms of Indian clothing. In his collection, Mukherjee concocted stunning silhouettes which were covered in such patterns. Such clothes are considered timeless, which is probably the reasoning behind the 'Heritage' title they were given. I was floored by the blue and gold combination, which I think can rarely go wrong. As far as Indian fashion goes, less is never considered more, as the photographs above show so beautifully. An abundance of jewelry, created by Kishandas and Co. exclusively for Sabysachi, range from large necklaces to headpieces. The wonderful aspect of said jewelry is that it somehow never overpowers the clothes at hand; this often creates an effect that is magical. Perhaps this is why I was more fascinated by the fashion of my home country as a child – and even now, I find the lack of simplicity to be a paradox. Indian fashion can be overwhelming to look at, to put on, and to create. But the beauty that comes along with it isn't dizzying. Its beauty is simple to understand and it's understandably covetable. 

– M

bride in blue | sabyasachi heritage.

Mar 1, 2016

Urban Outfitters' aesthetic is one that most of us are well-versed in: the 'hipster, grunge' vibe balanced with the Free People-esque light bohemian magic. Both of these come together in their Sun Shop collection, one that screams summer and would give anyone the urge to go to the beach. While half of the world is in the depths of winter at the moment, there are those of us who are immersed in the sun and sand of the tropics year-round. For us, Urban Outfitters has a collection worth the hefty prices the brand is known for. The Sun Shop look-book, above, was shot by photographer Shayna Colvin, whose Laguna-beach beginnings are embodied in her photography.  She worked with model Yvonne Logan, possibly a perfect choice for this particular look. Her enviable curly hair and child-like smile captured the essence of a 'sun shop': free, bold, and ready for days lazing by the water.

The UO store – which I've spent quite a few hours at over the summer in London – has no lack of covetable items. Think polaroids, soft dorm-room lights, and an incredible collection of travel books. Then top it off with clothes – boots, maxi dresses, bucket bags – that will last you for years. For the Sun Shop collection, above, UO created a look most of us would crave for our next beach vacation. With everything from Sea Salt Spray to leather sandals to dozens of floral bikinis, plus some incredible one-piece suits, Urban's outlook on sun, swim and sand is one we should all adopt. For the look-book, taken on a beach with dream-like coves and corners, UO captured the spirit of a youth in Yvonne, and the beauty of the clothes she was wearing. In an interview for the UO Tumblr (highly recommended!), photographer Colvin spoke about how she loves making her photographs representative of "a different era". I could see this come into play with the photos above, which had a certain old-world feel to them. All outfits consisted of candy-colored bikini tops, floral bottoms, and flowing fabrics. Some jewelry was placed, here and there, to finish it off – necklaces that I'd love to have for everyday wear, if not for a day at the beach. Check out the rest of the photographs – and some stunning outtakes – here.

– M


Jan 30, 2016

Constantly capturing the Indian fashion scene through bright visuals and her eclectic outfits, Masoom Minawala is known for more than her just her blog, Style Fiesta Diaries and her e-commerce brand, Style Fiesta. Her enthusiasm for fashion is unwavering – as is her tenacity for mixing-and-matching, concocting new looks, and adding gorgeous pieces of jewelry in every way possible. I've been a fan of Masoom's brand for years, with every irresistibly-fun necklace and statement ring. Through Style Fiesta, I discovered the young entrepreneur's personal style blog, which documents her journey every step of the way; event-coverage, outfit posts, and details of her life which her readers always love to hear about. Masoom has a loyal set of readers, to say the least, with over 60K followers on Instagram and 6K followers on Twitter; across India, she has been recognized by the likes of Vogue India and the Hindustan Times. In this interview, she gives us a peek into her life as a blogger and as the brains behind her business. 

1. Describe your style in three words.

Individualistic, Sophisticated, Experimental.

2. How does your company and your blog work together? Is it difficult to maintain a balance between the two?
I immensely enjoy the difference of perspective both the work profiles bring to my life. I’ve always been a champion at multi-tasking, so bridging a balance between two fields of work that I love was never too much of an obstacle. I outline my activities for the day in the morning and from there on, it pretty much falls in place. Blogging requires a lot of advance planning and E-commerce requires a lot of thinking on your feet - so it works out.

3. What has been the most rewarding moment during your career so far?
It’s hard to point out one but there have been a few. Namely, winning an award from Cosmopolitan for E-tailer of the Year, making my grandmothers dream come true by being featured in a Gujurati newspaper, hearing from a 40-year-old that I ‘inspired’ her to start her business, walking into office and watching my team laughing, enjoying the work they’re doing.
4. Favorite brands for everyday wear? 
Topshop, H&M, Boohoo, Zara, Bershka.

5. You have a gorgeous Instagram account. What is your philosophy towards Instagram and the inspiration behind your photos?
My philosophy is pretty simple - work hard, talk about your work, give your readers content that could help them and most importantly - be real.

6. What are some must-have items on Style Fiesta at the moment?
Our midi ring sets and statement earrings definitely!

7. What is your advice for a new Instagram user?
Ask yourself this question while creating content - ‘Would you follow yourself?’ Step 1 is to create beautiful, relevant imagery and Step 2 is to interact with your readers. Once you nail these two, the rest will fall into place!

– M

a moment with masoom minawala.

Jan 19, 2016

As Mic News put it, "There's never been a better squad assembled." For their annual Women in Television issue, Elle featured five beautiful actresses, all of whom are gathering heightened attention for their work on American television shows. Among the five featured are Priyanka Chopra (below, left), an Indian actress who stars on the show Quantico, and Taraji P. Hension (below, right), of Empire fame. With the covers released, the magazine included quotes from each actress, speaking of her experience in the industry or as a woman in general. Chopra, for example, said, "Why should a woman have to pick between global domination and having the love of her life?" Her words lead to the idea of women having to choose one of the two: a career or a personal life, a concept that is quickly and thankfully fading away. The idea of women "having it all" is becoming more accepted in society, and as Chopra implies, rightfully so. Julia Louis-Dreyfus, most known for Seinfeld, spoke about a similar idea, asking why there aren't enough "meaty" roles for women in television and film today. Each of these actresses play central roles in their respective shows; their presence is either key for the plot or they are the lead actresses themselves – such as Chopra. 

Chopra's cover, particularly, stands out to me, perhaps because I've been a biased fan for years. In her show, the actress plays an Indian-American FBI agent; the show is known for breaking a lot of "barriers and stereotypes", with a wonderfully diverse cast. Chopra is known for her role in Bollywood, more than anything else, with an impressive amount of movies under her belt. The South Asian community has embraced her wholeheartedly, and this year, so has much of America. Earlier this month, Chopra won a People's Choice Award, and thanked America for "accepting" her.
In previous years, Elle was scrutinized for the lack of diversity featured and, when shown, its poor execution of it. In 2015's Women in Television issue, the only cover with a woman of color – Mindy Kaling – was shot in black-and-white, a fact that was not taken well by most of the media. Kaling's cover was noticeably different from those featuring her counterparts, though it could have been "a complete coincidence". Nonetheless, the magazine stepped up its game this year, with a brilliant line-up of television actresses – three out of five being women of color.  While Elle is being applauded for the diversity featured, it is important to acknowledge the foundation of this annual issue: celebrating and empowering women. The diversity in this line-up of women was much-needed, but once we see this, we have to see what the issue is truly about. Elle has dedicated an issue, consistently, to those who are paving the road for future generations of women in this industry. As they are garnering praise for the diversity, it should also be said that they are chronicling a new era of women in television, and women as a whole. 

On the other hand, the film and television industry in America still has a long way to go. This year's Oscar nominations are a clear sign of that, with all twenty nominees being white. The fact that Elle's covers are creating such a rippling effect is somewhat troubling, if you look at it in another way. It goes to show that their showcase of diversity is a pleasant surprise, when, really, it should be the norm.

– M

notes on diversity: elle's women in tv.

Jan 14, 2016

After a month-long hiatus – and a crazily busy holiday in India – I'm back to writing this blog and ready to start 2016. It's been an incredible holiday, and most importantly, a refreshing few weeks from the chaos that is senior year. Now that I'm back in Singapore, I've been exploring the usual fashion websites which keep me up-to-date – and I've realised how much I've missed. From a slew of new collections released to some gorgeous campaigns to some controversies, there was a lot for me to catch up on. Amongst the most important news, I discovered a brand which caught my attention and didn't leave my mind: Miuniku. After about an hour of scrolling through their aesthetically-pleasing Instagram posts, and another hour watching footage from the brand's runway shows, it's safe to say I'm a fan. Which means I'm joining the likes of Elle India, Vogue, Refinery 29, and other important members of the press who have shown Miuniku some love. 

The brand was founded by two sisters – Tina and Nikita Sutradhar – who were raised in Mumbai. Already, I drew some parallels between myself and the sisters (having a sister of my own and having lived in Mumbai). What is even more appealing is that Miuniku stems from the nicknames that the two sisters have, in a combined name. The sisters attended London College of Fashion and, a few years after the inception of their brand, won the LVMH Prize for the future of fashion. Their clothes are futuristic in themselves. The advertisement campaign for the Spring 2016 collection screams of this quality: a little strange, wonderfully striking, and sending a distinct message about the ethos of the brand. The slogan for this collection is "Before the Digital Age", which may seem ironic as it seeps of the future; the collection is anything but traditional. Miuniku clothes are boxy and unfitting, with carefully-placed colors and adornments. Everything is precise and purposeful – from the geometric pleats to the golden buttons to the rigid silhouettes. There are colors, a wide range of them, in each look, whether it is painted pastels or bold primary shades. 

I can't take my eyes away from the Spring collection – and I can't wait to see what Miuniku does in the future. Check out more of the brand's work through their website and Instagram.

– M 

brand to watch: miuniku.

Jan 11, 2016

Recently, in the New York Times Style Magazine, a columnist deconstructed the cultural connotations of red lipstick. Titled "The Eternal Drama of the Red Lip", the piece describes everything from protests on Yale University's campus to a large range of movies, all of which have one thing in common: red lipstick. "It's more of a concept than a technique," writes Christine Smallwood on the actual application of this lipstick. This alludes to the simple makeup idea of applying red lipstick and nothing else. Red lipstick alludes to power, the article suggests, and this is something most of us can agree with. The psychology behind red is perhaps the most interesting thing; why is it that this color is synonymous with strength? I started reading more about the phenomenon and discovered that people are aware of the power of red. For example, The Red Lips Project, a Tumblr "dedicated to reminding women why they are beautiful", was started by a Swarthmore College student, who believes that red is a mechanism to display your power and identity. In the project, women are photographed in their everyday clothing, with the standout accessory being sleek red lipstick. The project was given significant attention by Buzzfeed, in an article that emphasized women already have the power – red is just a way to show it. The idea that red is a form of empowerment is further fueled by the fashion industry, where red is an everlasting beauty fix.

In the Spring 2016 collections, red lipstick made a comeback on the runway, after a long reign of natural and modest makeup in the past few seasons. Red lipstick is a constant favorite of celebrities, but comes and goes in terms of designer choice. Kendall Jenner has made red lipstick her signature beauty staple, as covered by many a magazine. The cultural connotations of red lipstick are universally known – and it has been labelled as a color which is universally flattering. No matter what skin tone or outfit color scheme you have, a pop of red lipstick is an instant enhancement. For lighter skin tones, cherry-red is a stunning and eye-catching option; for skin tones which are on the darker side, berry shades and more muted forms of red are just as appealing. The amazing thing about red lipstick is the image it evokes – though not formidable, the color is a symbol of brilliance and power, and can give off this impression with a simple application of lipstick. 

– M

the psychology behind red lipstick.

Dec 8, 2015

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