Five PETA-approved designers tell us what it takes to beat leather
Made cool in the 1950s by the likes of Marlon Brando and James Dean, the leather jacket has since been an essential for the male wardrobe. Six-inch leather finish Jimmy Choos, Tom Ford pumps and top-handle Louis Vuitton bags soon turned into must-haves for the women of fashion, with leather making a wearable statement by the ’90s, transcending gender, national borders and even spanning generations. Meanwhile, luxury designers like Stella McCartney have been championing the cause of animal-free fashion, looking at alternatives like muskin (mushroom leather) and pinatex (pineapple leather). Though the case against leather maybe strong, being caught in a rexine substitute would be a faux-pas even for the not-too-fashion conscious. We catch up with five designers who are pioneering vegan sensibilities in leather in our part of the world.
Graphic designer-turned-fashion designer Shilpa Shanker Narain is one of the few non-vegans championing the cause of a leather-free industry. The Delhi-based designer, whose brand Terracorrda deals exclusively with handbags and luggage, is a fairly new entrant into the fashion game, following its launch in August this year. Products include a range of tote and duffle bags with Indian motifs, handcrafted onto PU leather by artisans from the capital region. Available in colours like blue, yellow and maroon, its prices range between Rs 3,500 to Rs 4,500. While orders can be placed online through the their Facebook page, Terracorrda also retails with e-marketer Can Of Juice. One can expect laptop bags, business travel bags, accessories like belts, bracelets, neckpieces and upholstered furniture from this entrepreneur in 2017. “We are in talks with manufacturers who make non-woven cloth out of recycled plastic bottles to use for our bag lining,” adds Shilpa. Details: facebook.com/terracorda
In 2015, Chennai-based duo Shivani Patel and Keshsa Vasanth launched their fashion accessory label Arture, as a part of a crowdfunding project. The brand, which retails bags and wallets made of cork, sticks to its strength—minimalist elegance. “Our products are not too flashy. We try and stick to earthy tones of black, blue, brown and maroon,” says Keshsa. Apart from the usual wallets and handbags, they offer card holders, sling bags, passport and iPad sleeves. Considering that medium-sized totes are in vogue this season, Arture houses reversible totes that come in black, maroon and other natural shades of cork. Lined with organic cotton, these bags come with a detachable pouch that can be hooked onto the bag. Rs 750 onwards. Details: myarture.com.
“He is eco-friendly as he is stylish,” that’s how Abhinandhan Jain, co-founder of Chennai-based fashion brand Monk Story describes their mascot, The Monk. In the business since June 2016, the label has managed to carve a niche online with their Facebook page touching over 11,000 likes. While being a vegan brand is an advantage, the Monk Story features products like faux leather shoes (mostly made of PU—a synthetic leather variant), printed fabric slip-ons, and a quirky range of wooden bowties and sunglasses. “We are looking at experimenting with pineapple leather, but as of now, we are sticking to velvets, PU, jute and will soon diversify into canvas,” he says. With goods that are handmade and a price range that begins at Rs 500, this brand seems to be doing all the right things. “Actor Jiiva, and cricketer Stuart Binny have picked shoes from our store,” shares the 24-year-old. With a 1,500 sq ft office-and-showroom in Chennai and another store in Hyderabad, Abhinandhan and partner Nilesh Jain are looking to set up stores across the country in 2017. Details: monkstory.com
It doesn’t get more straightforward than this with Kolkata-based label Vegshoes. Design wasn’t exactly on former investment banker Manish Pareek’s mind until a few years ago, when he and his 24-year-old cousin Mayank decided to make shoes out of recycled plastic bottles, albeit with the look and feel of leather. Drawn to bio-mimickery, Manish researched alternatives to leather before zeroing in on a microfibre polymer found in PET bottles. “Vegshoes is the first-of-its-kind initiative from India,” says the 28-year old. Exclusively dealing in men’s shoes, the brand boasts of a large clientele in the vegan community, featuring products like formal shoes, drivers and slip-on shoes in colours like tan, maroon, and black among others. Rs 1,800 onwards. Details: vegshoes.in
Pankaj Khabiya’s Ethik has accessorising for men all sorted out. From bags to wallets, shoes, belts and card-holders, this Bengaluru-based label deals with a polymer-based fibre that the 29-year-old calls Neather. “It took two-and-a-half years of R &D and a lot of travel before we could decide upon a suitable material for our products. Organic fibres like muskin were still in the nascent stage of prototyping when we started out,” he says. Mimicking leather in more ways than one, Pankaj says that Neather is breathable and water-proof. With a store-front in Church Street, Bengaluru, Ethik sells almost 50 pairs of shoes a month, and is garnering a customer base both online and offline. While the belts are quite popular, the wallets that come in various shades of blues, brown and white are Pankaj’s favourites. Rs 650 onwards. Details: ethik.in
Online retail players are looking to luxury designers for exclusive capsule editions
Designer collaborations with online platforms emerged as 2016’s biggest trend. While Koovs teamed up with Hattie Stewart and Gauri and Nainika for limited
edition lines, international e-retailer Nordstrom has enjoyed an alliance with the likes of Valentino, Saint Laurent and Christian Louboutin. Here are the others who followed the idea.
Sabyasachi x Pottery Barn
When Pottery Barn’s Executive Vice President Monica Bhargava and team landed in Mumbai for a routine design scout, little did they know that they would end up collaborating with designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee for a 50-piece holiday décor collection. Expect bold hand-drawn and block-printed floral and animal motifs, gold embellishments, rich fabric and fine embroidery. The collection includes plates, pillows, quilts, tufted rugs, jewellery boxes and holiday ornaments. `1,200 onwards.
Masaba Gupta x Fab Alley
Masaba Gupta’s Misprint, a 67-style collection with Fab Alley carries vintage motifs like the gramophone, angular and floral shapes and generous use of
nautical lines — all drawing inspiration from every day objects. The collection exudes Masaba’s signature quirky take to fashion sticking to a monochromatic scheme with the occasional burst of colour. The collection comprises of easy-to-wear garments with silhouettes from crop tops, shirts, maxi and wrap dresses to skater skirts and jumpsuits, making them a great choice for both work and leisure. `1,600 onwards. Details: faballey.com
Sarah Jessica Parker x Net-a-porter
We know Carrie Bradshaw’s love for a great pair of heels, from red-soled Louboutins to her favourite Manolo Blahniks. Her 16-piece capsule shoe collection for luxury e-tailer Net-A-Porter bears testimony to Sarah Jessica Parker’s penchant for footwear. Taking inspiration from disco balls, the collections includes strappy heels, satin bows, blocked heels and crystal accented buckles. Be it the bejeweled pieces or the block metallic options, Parker has you party ready this New Year’s eve. `30,000 onwards.Details: net-a-porter.com
On cycling with her son and how cleaning house can be therapeutic
Mutton biryani and Malaika Arora Khan. It’s not every day you see that combination in a sentence. But there’s a lot we didn’t know about the Mumbai-based actor who dropped into Chennai recently for the launch of former Miss India International Shvetha Jaishankar’s new book Gorgeous — a walk-through of what top models in India like to eat. For starters, she says that food and lifestyle influences bear a predominantly South Indian palate. “I love rice, fish and coconut oil,” admits the 43-year-old. The latter is a kitchen essential because it’s all she cooks with — unless you count an occasional drizzle of ghee.
Detox, don’t diet
“It’s a myth that models do not eat. Gone are the days in the 80s when you heard worrying things about anorexia and bulimia associated with models. Models and actors including me lead healthy, balanced lives,” says the former model and actor. Also did we mention, she doesn’t believe in diets?
And she hopes to send a message to young girls and boys who look up to those in the entertainment industry by reiterating this as frequently as possible. “I hope they hear this. I wouldn’t have the energy to do what I do if I didn’t eat,” Malaika points out. Instead, she likes to opt for a weekly detox. “You should know your body by now and if you have done things in excess during the holiday season, give your digestive system a break,” she says. That means on one day a week, consciously work in easy-to-digest foods, juices and smoothies. “I like to go completely vegetarian for a day. Although, I don’t like raw food,” clarifies the mother and entrepreneur who also has her own clothing line.
As for her workout routine, you’ve probably caught a glimpse of Malaika breaking a sweat at the gym. “My feel good ritual is that I kickstart my day with going to the gym followed by a healthy and delicious breakfast. Then I am ready to take on the world.” What you didn’t know is that she likes to weave in the occasional family workout to keep things fun. “I have grown up cycling. And then I taught my son to cycle. On weekends we often hit the cycling track with the local cycling club. Also,
I play tennis with him,” she smiles. Although fitness goals are a focused and regimented effort amidst hectic days that are often run extra long, for Malaika the key to keeping it sustainable is this. “I do not look at working out as a chore. It makes such a difference to your life, and brings a spring in your step. Why wouldn’t anyone take it up when such are its benefits?”
Shankar Mahadevan and Ehsaan Noorani on the joys of composing, and discovering fresh talent
This year has been a mixed bag of sorts for Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy. While their soundtrack for Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s romantic musical Mirzya came as a breath of fresh air, Rock On 2 failed to capitalise on the popularity of its prequel. The trio also recently performed at Mood Indigo, Mumbai. On composing Shankar Mahadevan says, “Nothing is easy if you want to do it right. When you’re singing, you’re already in a position where the melody, lyrics and arrangement are born. When you compose, it’s a maternal responsibility of sorts because you are literally giving birth to a new creation.”
Decoding the formula
As for music trends in the country, bhangra pop, old classic remakes and classic-inspired tracks have been the rage this year, Shankar observes. Having recently recreated the iconic Nestle School Chalein Hum campaign for modern audiences, the 49-year-old adds, “We wanted to avoid being monotonous and preachy and do
something fun so we took the iconic phrase and created something completely new.” Guitarist Ehsaan Noorani is quick to point out that a set ‘formula’ was in place during the golden days of R D Burman and more recently A R Rahman. “Formulas do not work in today’s day and age where audiences are exposed to so much global music,” adds the 53-year old musician.
The two have taken to the judging on two separate shows, Rising Star on Colors and The Stage on Colors Infinity. “We have more talent now because people are opening up to the possibilities of singing as a career. It is being seen now as more lucrative. This however doesn’t mean that the talent pool is diverse,” notes Shankar. Ehsaan takes a more optimistic view. “To see English singing talent coming from deep places like Mandi, Mizoram and even Rajasthan is so heartening” While the duo chose to stay mum over the projects coming up next year, Shankar adds that they are waiting for a project as meaty as Vishwaroopam to be a part of soon.
We say goodbye to legends who give us a reason to live louder, even if they are no longer with us
Wake me up before you go-go is a nostalgic wish — with the number of legends that have bid us adieu in 2016. Some were abrupt, others plain shocking. But here’s something we can agree on irrespective, we weren’t ready for any of them. Certainly not our most recent loss on Christmas day. Wham! And George Michael was gone… just like that. On the flip side, our playlists in 2017 will probably be bursting at the seams with songs that we haven’t heard in a while. That’s music for you, a fast tide of memories and melody. And the best tribute we can pay to musicians lost: Press play.
(Jan 8, 1947 – Jan 10, 2016)
This legend gave us his final album two days before he died. Beyond the music, Bowie will always be remembered for that trademark lightning bolt painted across his face and a wild sense of androgynous fashion that covered everything from sci-fi suits to kimonos. He died peacefully surrounded by family after a secret battle with cancer.
(Dec 19, 1941 – Feb 4, 2016)
Before you dismiss this musician as a not-so-recognisable face compared to the rest — know this. He was nominated was a massive 20 Grammys in his prime.
Old timers will remember him as the co-founder of the band Earth, Wind & Fire. The musician, who stopped touring in the ’90s after he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, succumbed to the illness in his sleep earlier this year. He was 74.
Ustad Abdul Rashid Khan
(Aug 19, 1908 – Feb 18, 2016)
He was definitely the oldest musician on our list. This Padma Bhushan awardee passed away at the grand age of 107, and continued to teach music until a day before his death.
(July 6, 1930 – Nov 22, 2016)
The maestro of Carnatic music is said to have performed in over 18,000 concerts around the world, before he passed away at the age of 86. Incidentally, he started out in the film industry as an actor, and played the role of Narada in the film Bhakta Prahalada on the request of A V Meyappa Chettiar.
(June 7, 1958 – Apr 21, 2016)
From Purple Rain to Musicology, this legend had us addicted to his sound and style for over 35 years. He was known for his love symbol created in protest against long time record label Warner Bros. The singer passed away after a drug overdose at 57.
(Nov 6, 1948 – Jan 18, 2016)
You may not recognise the name
as easily as the song. This was the guitarist who co-wrote Hotel California and was also a founding member of The Eagles. Frey passed away at 67, a little over a week
after David Bowie, who died at 69.
(June 25, 1963 – Dec 25, 2016)
It was not a Merry Christmas for those who woke to the news of his passing of heart failure at the age of 53. The boyfriend of the Grammy-winning musician posted a link of an unreleased song that fans only got to hear after his death. The tragic timing of it all hardly inspires any Faith.
(Sept 21, 1934 – Nov 7, 2016)
This Canadian singer and poet was among a niche brand of extremely influential singer-songwriters back in the ’60s. So much so that critics compared him to the likes of Bob Dyan and was even referenced in the Nirvana song, Pennyroyal Tea. After a career spanning over five decades, he died unexpectedly at the age of 82. According to his son, Cohen died peacefully and had been writing till the very end.
Strains gone silent
Sharon Jones Soul & funk singer
Frank Sinatra Jr Singer, songwriter, conductor
Leon Russell Pop musician, songwriter
John Berry Original Beastie Boys member
Merle Haggard Country singer, songwriter
Malik Taylor aka Phife Dawg Rapper
Paul Kantner Co-founder of Jefferson Airplane
Keith Emerson Of Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Greg Lake Of Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Rick Parfitt Guitarist of Status Quo
From an apple pie to choco variations, waffles at this diner come with a twist
The Miner Diner is all about the ‘industrial’ look and feel. Bare brick walls, schematics, hard hats and a kitschy crossed shovel and rake sign that reads ‘Dig In’. The attention to detail is impressive and managing partner Arasu Dennis tells us that the idea is to celebrate bread—the baguette, specifically—and serve up hearty bread-based dishes. We ask for a little bit of everything, and they take that quite literally.
We start with the best hot chocolate to be had in Chennai, and instead we get a Pizza Waffle—Half Sausage Americano and half Veg Feast. Jaw dropping as it sounds, these guys are evidently on to something. The waffle base has the taste and texture of a deep dish pizza and the overall effect is delicious—Lamb Pepperoni with spicy sauce, ’nuff said. Next come a couple of waffle sandwiches—Chicken Tikka and Lamb Pepperoni again —this time with chilly cheese. Bang! Out of the park.
The live salad counter finally comes alive with an outstanding Chicken Sausage and Egg Salad—miners make a mean mayo. We were a little confused with the sequence of dishes but, hey, it all tastes great. By this time we were also wondering where on earth the inspirational baguette was—especially since the next thing on the table turned out to be, no prizes, more waffles. In all fairness, the herb chicken waffle sliders are superb. They finally bring out the noble baguette in the form of a BBQ Smoked Chicken Sandwich and it does not disappoint.
Desserts include Apple Cinnamon Pie, Strawberry and Choco Blast. We have come to expect a high standard of waffle here and the dessert is no exception.
The Waffle a la Apple Pie is truly innovative and the Choco Blast is impossible to resist. The verdict? The Miner Diner gets it right in terms of keeping it simple and all about the food. Portions are generous and the menu, while innovative, gets it right. Service needs to be quicker on the pass, but this diner is definitely one to watch. Go dig in! Meal for two Rs 800. Details: 978734154.
Roll Over brings presentation inspired by Thai streets and flavours inspired by desi treats
Is it a crêpe roll? Is it a pancake roll? Is it a chapathi roll?
When you head over to an ice cream parlour called Roll Over, one’s imagination goes as far as ice cream ‘inside’ a roll. Or perhaps, a doggie mascot rolling over, once the said ice cream is consumed — that’s the next image that comes to mind. If that’s too wild for you, I did specify that this was rolled over in my imagination.
Turns out though, none of the above is true — as the ice cream ‘is’ the roll. No base necessary.
“Our friends in Bengaluru who were in Thailand two years ago, saw this on the streets there and were inspired to bring it to India,” recalls Mahadevan A, one of the partners. After two outlets in Bengaluru, ‘Anna Nagar boys’ as they call themselves — Mahadevan, Niranjan P and G Kiran Kumar and sole girl in the group, Divya Pesala — decided to buy over the Tamil Nadu franchise. The location, to begin with, was a no-brainer. The fact that the ice cream is made from scratch seems quite the opposite. That means blending ingredients, slathering them on a freeze pan, rolling and serving with every order. Also with three of their chocolate flavours out of stock, there’s no need to ask what’s in popular demand.
We settle instead for a Strawberry Cheesecake flavour, a shade lighter than the pink on the walls. And then notice there’s a Christmas option of plum cake ice cream, which we order in glee, apart from sampling a must-try signature called Chocolate Karma. The latter is sort of a magic trick in motion. You get a tray with a chocolate ball around the size that Dwayne Bravo could bowl with at the IPL. Seconds later, after a drizzle of warm chocolate sauce — it disappears — revealing a hidden brownie. Crunchy with bits of churro crumbs, it is paired with classic vanilla, and can be quite addictive.
We love the adorable bar stools, and the most expensive item on this incidentally all-vegetarian menu is Rs 249. So it’s no wonder that this little 22-seater dessert hangout is such a crowd-puller. However, the fact that a majority of their flavours are based on ready pre-mixes can be a bit of a put-off. Then, we tried the Paan Magic, with real meetha paan blended into the mix. With a minty aftertaste that ended our sugar rush on a high, this time we didn’t need a ball to
disappear for the magic quotient to be met. Average cost for two Rs 250.Details: 30853630
Aerial plating ups the anticipation on the new 601 menu at The Park
You could get high on this menu. And not a sip of alcohol need be summoned. Podi idlis make an entrance suspended on tall skewers. The risotto arrives hidden in a white tower tall enough for Rapunzel. And a spicy red curry paired with steamed rice dangles daintily from twin steel buckets. This last one is so elevated, it insists you stand up to get a peak inside.
“We wanted to bring a little bit of theatre into our presentation,” smiles Executive Chef Ashutosh Nerlekar, of The Park Chennai. Lunching at the launch of the new 601 menu, there’s no need for red curtains to drop as we welcome a serving of Red Snapper. Aerial plating raises the bar on anticipation, sort of like foreplay.
Of course, this puts a lot of pressure on that first bite. The Lobster bisque with lemongrass foam set an impressive tone on that front. This was quickly followed by juicy prawn skewers marinated with salsa verde and lemon aioli. Blackened fish tacos with little dollops of sour cream and a beetroot carpaccio salad with orange segments and roasted walnuts. The latter was so pretty, it looked like a pocket-sized garden on a plate.
A forgotten speciality of Amritsar that we had been looking forward to on the main course was a bit of a let-down, though. This was a pairing of lentil
dumplings with potatoes, dal makhani and butter naan. And we couldn’t rave too much about the risotto roulade either, which came with Poitou goat’s cheese, roma tomato and red pepper sauce. Perhaps our expectations got a little carried away after Chef Ashutosh reminisced about fusion experiments at Saint Lucia, in the Caribbean.
He recalled a particular dish with “salmon and goat cheese upma”, and now we can’t stop thinking about it. We saved the best for last though. If you’re on a date and your girlfriend is taking an eternity to decide — here’s what you are mandated to order. (You may thank us later.) The barbecued baby back ribs are for the meat lover. It’s an obvious choice if seek out pork on a menu, and as a bonus, it comes with a side of bacon popcorn.
On the other hand, if you’re feeling more in the mood for a spicy curry, the red snapper ’en papillote (French for in parchment) in a fiery red pepper curry will have you going back for seconds. “This dish is interesting, because it’s a desi dish put together with a French preparation,” adds Chef Ashutosh. By this point, we are packed to the rafters. But to miss dessert would have us regretting it all the way home. Between deconstructed passion fruit tarts and Valrhona chocolate marquise with a bed of red velvet — we’re mighty glad we hung in there. Average cost for two Rs 2,300 (inclusive of taxes). Details: 42676000.
If you’re a fan of Asian fare — think Spicy Bangkok Bowls and Java Grilled Tofu, then this should come as a welcome update. Mamagoto which serves up choices
from China, Thailand, Japan, Indonesia, Myanmar and Malaysia has opened up their second outlet a Phoenix MarketCity, Velachery. Details: 33999610/66650210.
Usher in the New Year at Feathers with a flavour rush. At Waterside, the all-day dining space, dive into an elaborate spread of global cuisine with an open bar. Then move on to Umami, the hotel’s specialty restaurant for offerings from delectable kebabs and biriyani from a live Pan Indian kitchen. Details: 66776969.
Toasting the new
Feast on cuisines like Asian, Spanish, British, French, Egyptian and German, among a range of others at the Hilton this New Year’s eve. This is across the restaurants Vasco’s, Ayna and Vintage Bank. Price per head Rs 3,999 plus taxes, Rs 7,999 plus taxes for a couple. Details: 2225555.
There’s more to sneakers than just sports and shoe designers world over concur. Ditch the uncomfortable stiletto and pencil heels for comfortable party trainers this year. From the sleek and metallic to the quirky, we tell you what to pick.
With a concealed 50mm wedge heel and a bouncy leather sole, these suede Bobby sneakers from Isabel Marant work well for a party, doubling up as a great travel accessory. The velvety burgundy suede fabric with tonal laces makes this a perfect accompaniment to a pair of skinny jeans. Rs 43,700 approximately.
These Mercer sneakers from Marc Jacobs, made of durable canvas and elastic side panels, are easy to slip on and off. Embellished with quirky embroidered patches, faux pearls and a mix of studs, this pair exudes retro. Rs 33,900 approximately at DLF Emporio, New Delhi. Details: 9999997070.
Shades of grey
This Italian-made pair uses metallic mesh with skinny black lace detail. Set on a soft rubber sole, these sneakers feature black and silver crystals. Team it with a full black ensemble to let the shoes do the talking. Rs 47,250 approximately on nordstrom.com.
This monochromatic pair by Rihanna for her line Fenty with Puma applies the sneaker trend to ankle boots. The piece is complete with a piercing-inspired
zipper at the side, slender heels and a pointed toe, with a logo-embossed tongue to add. Available for Rs 44,750 on order at the Puma Store, Alwarpet. Details: 45534297.
These two-strap sneakers from Giuseppe Zanotti with its glossy patent leather and midnight blue velvet panels are a must-have this season. With gold-toned panels and zipping, this one is built for the party circuit. Rs 59,5600 approximately. Details: giuseppezanottidesign.com.
Dance all night
These leather trainers from Burberry are a fitting homage to the trench coat. These comfy Italian-made pair, with a calf and sheep leather lining is complete with metal stud accents. A party wardrobe essential, they promise to keep you on the dance floor till the wee hours. Rs 38,000 approximately at their store at Select Citywalk Mall, New Delhi. Details: 011 41437610.
Puma and Alexander McQueen have come together for these chic Leap Purple Potion Nubuck leather pair. With a cut-out wedge heel and
comfortable leather lining, this round-toed pair makes for a quirky party choice. Best paired with a pair of black hot pants. Rs 29,350 approximately. Details: polyvore.com.
Back to nature
These leather low-top sneakers from Gucci come with an embroidered floral applique with red and green snakeskin detail on either side. Flat heels and
rubber soles ensure maximum comfort, with a blue embroidered lace design at the back making for a quirk addition. Rs 47,250 approximately at DLF Emporio, New Delhi. Details: 01146471111.
This pair with bright red suede with black leather is from Christian Louboutin and screams festivity. With leopard-print patent leather and gold-tone spikes on the toe, this one is for the flamboyant. Of course, it comes with the French designer’s signature red sole. Rs 55,500 approximately at DLF Emporio,
New Delhi. Details: 01141017111.
With gothic floral canvas uppers, these hi-top shoes come with a lace-up fasten and contrast eyelets. The rounded toe and padded ankle collar make for
comfortable features. The pair is complete with signature Vans waffle thread, their iconic side stripe in white and a Vans ‘Off the Wall’ license plate to the heel. Rs 3,500 approximately. Details: coggles.com.
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