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Monthly Archives: March 2016

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    Painter AV Ilango on artistic enquiry, his new book and a new series of 40 paintings.

    AV Ilango is quite firm—his book, Coming Home to eARTh – Space. Line. Form (the first he has penned) is not meant to teach anyone how to hold a pencil and draw a line. Rather, it is an experiential one that details artistic inquiry and creative practice. “I am a self-taught artist and I’ve been doing this for over 40 years. In fact, it was one of my students who inspired me to put the concepts I have developed into a book,” he says, adding it has exercises and illustrative examples, so if someone “reads it sincerely, they will be able create work”. Though he launched the 350-pager—co-authored with Srivi Kalyan, a writer-artist—late last year at Art Bengaluru, he hopes the Chennai launch will reach more people. “Today, everyone is into their own subjective world, which is virtual. No one looks at a tree, feels a tree or understands a tree anymore. So we are asking people to reconnect, because art lets you be in the now,” says the 66-year-old former maths professor, who runs Ilango’s Art Space in the city and is an artist in residence at the Srishti School of Art and Design.
    He will also unveil a series of 40 drawings and paintings that explores space, line, form and time. “There is no one theme—I’ve explored movement in everything from dance to cock fights. I’ve been sketching dancers like Priya-darsini Govind for years now. After working on Bharatnatyam and Odissi, I am now fascinated by Mohiniyattam and I will add 15 new pieces,” he concludes.
    On April 2, at 6 pm, at Forum Art Gallery. Details: 42115596

    —Surya Praphulla Kumar

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      0231-3Drop by Amethyst today to find out why curator Danny Mehra calls his antique tribal carpets childlike and joyous.

      What’s life without passion? For retired Wall Street consultant Danny Mehra, it would mean bare walls and floors. His tryst with carpets began over three decades ago, with a wedding gift from his mother-in-law. It sparked his interest in tribal carpets and, since the late ’90s—when he could afford his first one—he’s been collecting them. “I am interested  in 19th century carpets that came from the Caucasian countries like Armenia, Azerbaijan and Turkey. As they were made by women from nomadic tribes, each piece  reflects the weaver’s everyday life,” begins the Bengaluru-based collector, who is bringing down 72 carpets (“a small part of my collection”) for an exhibition titled Carpet Stories, at Amethyst.
      Loose yet lively
      Mehra has just bought his umpteenth carpet when I ring him up for a chat. “When you buy a carpet, you buy a story with it,” he says, elaborating, “My latest, a 200-year-old prayer rug, is badly damaged as it was in two parts—one in Germany and the other in the US—separated much like our ‘filmi brothers’ at the Kumbh mela, before my dealer in Massachusetts tracked them down.” The 2×4 foot piece has a minimal composition—a green background (a rare colour to find) with a red mirab (arch). While he plans to get his restorer in Mumbai to work on any big damage, he won’t tamper with it much because “I don’t want to make an old object a new one”.
      Speaking about the carpets, the 58-year-old explains that, unlike a Kashmiri one—which is very refined—tribal creations are simple and childlike. Loosely woven with sheep wool, they were made as a hobby rather than for commerce. “So you don’t really look at how many knots there are per square inch, but rather their beauty. Iconography is one of their most interesting things. Though Muslims, the weavers  had a  liberal interpretation of Islam, stemming from their shamanistic past. So the carpets have a lot of flowers, people, animals and folklore (the Tree of Life to show everlasting life),” says Mehra, who spends nearly 12 hours every day, researching and reading up on them.
      Happy weave
      His desire now is to turn a nomad himself, and take the carpets around the country. Pondicherry and Mumbai are next on his agenda. “At the exhibition, you will find some popular styles. Like the Karakalpak, from the northern region of Uzbekistan—a happy piece with a lot of life and colour—or a rare Karachopf from Armenia,” he shares. But instead of wondering if your carpet would appreciate in price, he says you must buy one only if it puts a smile on your face. After all, there is no price tag for passion.
      Today till Sunday, at The Folly, Amethyst. Rs 50,000-Rs 5,00,000. Details: 45991630

      —Surya Praphulla Kumar

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        Monisha Gidwani is all set to have you dressed and ready to go this season.

        UPDATE your wardrobe with Vimonisha’s newest exhibition at Hyatt Regency. The Indian Summer Designer Exhibition next week will have opulent bridal and ethnic wear as well as casual pret collections, from 65 designers across the country. This year’s new entrants include Uttar Pradesh-based Kasturi-B and their ethnic apparel, semi-precious jewellery from Amazing Jewels in Jaipur, besides regulars like Chique with Indo-western wear.
        Bringing down their Azeen (Arabic for beauty),  Soul Roots from Jaipur promise  maxi dresses and long kurtas in pure cotton and handwoven ikats in natural colours like Indigo, syahi (natural black) and began (natural red. “The city is clued-in on traditional crafts and we had to customise our designs,” says Sonal Chitranshi, the 36-year-old founder of Soul Roots (starting at Rs 2,000.)
        Meanwhile, Printalk, the Mumbai-based brand, started by Nishika Choudhary, brings jumpsuits, trousers and palazzos in viscose. Floral and leaf prints are the definers of this collection called Hello Sunshine. She offers customisation too. ‘‘Some might want an alternative to the deep back of my long dresses,’’ says the 27-year-old designer (from Rs 1,200). Also look out for Nautanki’s long chains made from fabrics and semi-precious stones  (Rs 1,000 onwards). March 29-30. From 11 am onwards. Details: 61001234

        — Seema Rajpal

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          In the city next week,  Pankaj & Nidhi presents applique dresses, capes and more in spring colours.

          THE concept of India Modern, with leading designers also checking in as revivalists, is cause for cheer. It sees them experimenting with Indian textiles and crafts but with a modern vocabulary that goes beyond the Indian runway. Wearability is a big plus, thanks to lessons learnt from e-commerce collaborations. One of the labels that is taking significant strides ahead, be it as  a collaboration with e-tailer Koovs last year or with a stall at Paris Fashion Week, is Pankaj & Nidhi. Scheduled to visit multi-designer boutique Evoluzione on Monday, the husband-wife duo wrapped up their autumn/winter 2016 show at Amazon India Fashion Week on Sunday (look up their fishtail dresses with quilting), and will be bringing their spring/summer 2016 line, Savannah Song, to the city.
          Expect feminine colour and lace embroideries but this time, the team known for their couture techniques at ready-to-wear prices, have presented their signature appliques in animal print. The collection is their take on African grasslands, after all. There are shades of white, orange, green and blue, and these sheer capes, coats and dresses will make the cut for a global audience too. “There is a certain classicism in what we create, but I am liking the idea of designing clothes for 100 girls within the same budget it would take for an outfit for one girl! That is what our work with Koovs taught me, the importance of numbers,” says Pankaj, who handles the technique and embroidery side of things while wife Nidhi is the expert on colour and silhouette. Fortunately for them, they both think alike when it comes to design – “perhaps like a tennis doubles team,” adds Pankaj, 42. Stock up on their capes – “it’s like a jacket without all the fitting issues and is very diva-like,” says the designer. And theirembellished skirts. Rs 12,500 onwards. At Evoluzione. Details: 28333627

          — Rosella Stephen

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          Manish Malhotra on what to expect at his Lakme Fashion Week opener at Mumbai’s Mehboob Studio.

          POWDER blue. Bollywood’s darling, Manish Malhotra, is calling the shots once again when it comes to the colour du jour at Lakme Fashion Week’s Summer/Resort 2016. Plus, by setting his show, the festival opener, offsite at the extremely photogenic Mehboob Studio, he is once again underlining the importance of  venue for a dramatic fashion story. Evidently, the collection titled Elements is inspired by nature and will feature a long train of gently sparkling summer gowns. There will also be the mandatory lehenga with structured tops. Organza, tussar and crepe will work with blended cotton (with satin), in various pastel hues, with architectural cuts. There will be a line for grooms too. “It is an innovative and global collection and can go anywhere,” says Malhotra, 49, who clearly knows his clients and their propensity to travel.
          All in one
          Malhotra, who is flying between several assignments as usual, is also busy with Karan Johar’s Aishwarya Rai- and Anushka Sharma-starrer, Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. He may be costume designer, mainstream designer, stylist to jetsetting stars, and the man with the biggest fashion store in the country, but the designer says he still feels like a newcomer before a show. Setting trends is a habit. “Last year I introduced the crop top and skirt,” he says, reminding us that it was he who also kickstarted the Bollywood showstopper concept at fashion shows. “I recall when I did my first show in 1999 at Taj Chambers in Mumbai and Urmila Matondkar walked the ramp for me. It was about Rangeela, our work together and very emotional.” The self-confessed workaholic goes on to describe the stark white setting for his show at Mehboob Studios next week. It will be a night to remember. And in December, he will open his first store in London. Consider it his ‘50th birthday’ present to himself. March 29. Live on Periscope.

          — Rosella Stephen

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            Head to Rutland Gate this weekend for handmade furniture that uses no nuts or bolts.

            A decor update is on the cards for your home as the much-awaited fourth edition of Shakti Ganapati’s furniture exhibition will be held tomorrow and day after, at Rutland Gate Studio. The founders, Reshma (49) and Deepak Chengappa (51), will showcase 18 pieces of furniture like dining table sets, recliners, storage units and beds made of teak, mahogany, white cedar — all handmade, sans nails or screws
            (joinery).
            Inspiration struck Deepak in the form of US-based architect-turned-carpenter George Nakashima’s book The Soul of a Tree. With the ambition of following Nakashima, who was famous for joinery techniques, he started Shakti Ganapati in 1993. Speaking about the making of the furniture, he says, “After a prototype of the design is made, our team of eight
            craftsmen turn them into the furniture you see,” adding that they source mahogany from Bengaluru and the rest of the wood locally.
            The simple and contemporary designs feature a joinery technique that needs to be just perfect. “If it’s too tight the wood will crack, and if loose it becomes imperfect,” warns the former civil engineer, adding, “Incorporating common elements like column legs and spindles across our collections gives the brand its identity.” While the upholstery they use is latex rubber and is handled by Reshma, the fabric can be of your choice.
            Available at Rutland Gate on March 26 and 27. Rs 1,35,000 upwards.
            Details: 28330280

            —Seema Rajpal

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              The hero within
              Tomorrow, Egmore
              Batman or Superman? At the Toca Boca Kids Carnival — your child can dress up as any superhero and participate in the Superhero Parade as well. This charity event organised by Rajasthan Cosmo Club Platinum, will also feature Jaipur-based magician Tarun Kemnani. Expect to find things like children’s clothes to toys and carnival games. Tomorrow, from 10.30 am at Don Bosco School, Egmore. Details: 9500093973

              Battel of wits
              ​​March 29, Taj Coromandel
              College students, in teams of two, can participate in the regional round of the 12th Tata Crucible Campus Quiz. Bengaluru-based Giri Balasubramanium will take participants through the preliminary round. Eventually, four teams will make it to the finals. At Taj Coromandel. March 29, 12 pm. Details: tatacrucible.com

              Green effect
              March 25, Chennai Trade Center
              To achieve financial success, one just has to think differently — to drive home this point, motivational speaker Robert Riopel will conduct Millionaire Mind Intensive, a three-day workshop. Designed by T Harv Eker, the author of Secrets of the Millionaire Mind, it helps you to discover how to master money management, identify your unconscious conditioning towards money and other such pointers.
              Starts today, 9 am at Chennai Trade Centre. Tickets start from
              Rs 1,999. Details: 65480175

              Ramp diaries
              March 26, Express Avenue
              The Children’s Place, the exclusive kid’s wear brand,  opens another shop at Express Avenue tomorrow. Not only this, for those interested in fashion, here’s an opportunity — fashion choreographer Sheetal Sharma will audition kids (from three to 12 years) for a fashion show to be held on April 23. At Express Avenue. Details: 28464646

              Stock up
              Till April 5, Chamiers Gift Shop
              Looking for Easter decorations? Your search ends at the Chamiers Gift Shop. Adorable lollipop decorations in shapes of sheep, rooster, bunny and others will be available at the cafe till April 5. Range starts at Rs 199.
              Details: 42030733

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              A new French brand promises that your next trip to the spa will be an indulgent affair.

              A moisturiser made from amethyst that reduces wrinkles. Or perhaps a mask from tourmalines that promotes cell growth. Crafting skincare products that boast the active properties of precious minerals is just one of the reasons why French brand Sens & Spirit is a favourite with spas and salons across the world.
              After establishing themselves in markets in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, it arrived in India, with a launch in the city last week. “Sens & Spirit offers innovative formulas with patented active ingredients for anti-aging, exfoliation and skin repair,” begins Tiphaine Lamarre, the brand’s marketing and export manager. “Our products are distinct in that we make use of specific formulas with a high percentage of active ingredients so that skin improves in 21 days—the time needed for skin cell renewal—and remains supple,” she adds. With no silicone, paraben or mineral oils, their range claims to use 90 per cent ingredients of natural origin. Pineapple, avocado, bamboo, cranberry and rosemary are some of the sources of their active ingredients.
              According to Lamarre, the 10-year-old brand waited this long to come to India, because “we wanted to take our time to analyse the Indian cosmetic market and its potentials”. And with the high pollution in metros and increase in skin complaints, they felt now is the “right time to introduce our approach”. Soon to be available across salons and spas in the city, she says, “Sens & Spirit will help fight hyperpigmentation, ageing and lack of hydration due to sun and pollution, the main skin concerns in India.”
              Available at Naturals. Price Rs 1,800 onwards. Details: sensetspirit.com

              —Lalitha Ranjani

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              With pomegranate and green tea in the mix, Forest Essentials’ blended oils will put you in a good mood.

              We all indulge in aromatherapy for our body, but not so much for our mind. However, scents are good for calming our nerves and putting us in a happy space. According to Dr Ipsita Chaterjee, senior manager for Forest Essentials’ training and brand communication, Ayurveda has identified different fragrances to tackle the different doshas or dynamic energies. “It has been scientifically proven that essential oils with fragrances have the ability to induce peace, deepen meditation and heighten awareness. They affect our mood by influencing the sensory pathways to our limbic system,” Chaterjee explains. The Ayurvedic beauty products brand has recently added three new fragrances to their repertoire of 10 blended diffuser oils—Kashmiri Nargis, Kohima Pomegranate and Darjeeling Green Tea. “We first identified the books which had references to the essential oils,” she shares, elaborating how further research helped them find the blends that would get the best results. “We’ve used only fresh, organic and seasonal fruits, herbs and flowers—picked at a certain time of the day when they are at their most potent—and the essential oils were extracted through steam distillation,” Chaterjee adds. While green tea for its stress-relieving properties, pomegranate has an uplifting effect on the senses, and Nargis has a balancing effect.
              From Rs 975 onwards, for 15 ml. Details: forestessentialsindia.com

              —Surya Praphulla Kumar

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              With three marathons this weekend, be sure to stay safe in the sun with our pick of sunscreens.

              SUNDAY will see the start of the marathon season in the city. With three being organised on the same day, you can take your pick. Marina Beach will flag off the Metro Marathon at 5 am, a charity run for girls education (from Rs 450, details: 9551507330) and  #TheBestMilesofMadras by Chennai Runners Marina Minnals (details: tinyurl.com/minals-LSoM-regn) at 5 am. Meanwhile, over at the YMCA grounds, you can lace up for the Mirchi Holi Run at 6 am (Rs 500, details: mirchiholirun.com). While the competition may not daunt you, we can’t say the same about the sun. Stay protected with these sunscreens.

              Flower power
              L’Occitane has two options, the Immortelle Precious Cream and the Divine Cream, both with SPF 20. Besides protecting against UV rays, the former also focusses on restoring skin firmness — thanks to the immortelle flower extract. The latter protects against pollution, too, while packing anti-aging properties. From Rs 4,590 (available in stores from April). Details: in.loccitane.com

              Keep it cool
              The sun, while causing skin damage, can also dehydrate the skin. Lancome’s latest, UVEX Aqua Gel (with SPF 50), comes to the rescue with its Coolact 10 technology that produces a menthol-like effect and brings down the skin’s temperature. It also restricts the formation of sebum, which causes greasy skin. From Rs 2,900. Available at leading cosmetics stores, including Health & Glow. Details: 32459023

              C for care
              Choose between the goodness of carrot and cucumber, with Blossom Kochhar Aroma Magic’ new sunscreens. While the carrot (SPF 15) contains carrot seed, sea buckthorn and rice bran oils, the cucumber (SPF 30) comprises wheat germ, coconut and soybean oils. A Sunlite Spray (SPF 30), enriched with hempseed and rosemary oils is also available. From Rs 145. Available at leading cosmetic store, including Health & Glow. Details: 32459023

              All you need
              In convenient tubes with pumps, French group Pierre Fabre’s brand Avene has launched its ‘Very High Protection’ range of face creams, sunscreens and sun sticks for the lips. The range boasts Dry Touch Experience technology, which gives a matte effect on the skin. With SPF 50, its triple protection—with mineral and organic filters—will shield the skin from UV rays. From Rs 600. Details: nykaa.com

              —Seema Rajpal

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