Christian Louboutin, the man behind the eponymous brand of sky-high stilettos and iconic red soles, has built a shoe empire as vast as his boundless imagination. The French designer talks about his fascination with the world of cabaret, travelling to India and Egypt, and the psychology behind footwear.
Originally published in the December 2016 issue of Signe (Dubai)
Bangkok is the perfect place for trousseau shopping or even for an all-girl getaway. If you plan your trip around the Amazing Thailand Grand Sale 2016, when every brand offers unbelievable discounts, be prepared to shop till you drop.
*This piece originally appeared on the blog of Marry Me — The Wedding Planners
If there’s one city we at Marry Me never seem to tire of, it’s Bangkok. It has everything we love, and if you’ve read many of our Thailand blog posts, you’ll know just how much we love a good Thai curry, and, of course, the shopping and foot massages. So when we found ourselves in Bangkok in June 2016, you can only imagine the extent to which we gorged on some amazing Thai food. So much so that it really makes us want to wax eloquent on Bangkok’s amazing food scene all over again. Instead, we’ve decided to share something very exciting that we discovered on this trip, and it’s related to shopping and sales! If you’re planning a trousseau-shopping spree or, perhaps, even a getaway with your group of girlfriends, read on.
We weren’t exactly aiming to do a lot of shopping on this particular trip, but little did we know that we would come away with bags and bags of shopping! Now, we don’t usually go this crazy when we shop, but because the Amazing Thailand Grand Sale was on, how could we resist! A treat for shopaholics, the annual sale — now in its 18th year — offers unbeatable discounts at just about every store in practically every Bangkok mall, from Siam Paragon right up to Em Quartier. The sale that started on June 15 runs through August 15, 2016. Like we said, this is definitely the best time to get all your shopping done.
Given that you’ll be spoilt for choice with the grand variety of malls and brands, it’s easy to feel confused — especially now that the sales are on. So, how do you make the best of your baht in Bangkok during the Amazing Thailand Grand Sale? We’ve got that all figured out for you. Continue reading “It’s raining sales in Bangkok!”
The GOQii activity and fitness band pushes you to take that extra step thanks to unique features like one-on-one coaching, the ability to contribute to social causes, on-ground fitness events, and web chats with nutrition and health experts.
I hopped on to the fitness bandwagon (pun intended 😉 ) sometime in December 2015 when I was gifted a FitBit. Prior to that, I had been tracking using apps like Armour, MyFitnessPal and, of course, Apple Health. I have since become that much more obsessed about tracking my steps, heart rate, sleep and what not after I started wearing the band. But I recently put my FitBit away to check out another piece of wearable tech — the GOQii. I imagined that I would get back to the FitBit within a few weeks of testing the GOQii. But here I am, three months down the line, still wearing and enjoying the features of the GOQii. Read on to know more about this fitness band that offers a host of interesting and motivational features.
A fitness band like no other
I’m not going to get into a review that compares the GOQii to other fitness trackers. That’s because the GOQii is so much more than just a fitness-tracking device. If you browse through the 2016 list of best fitness trackers, you’ll notice that most of the new devices offer a heart rate monitor, while a select few come with GPS functionality. The GOQii offers neither of these features, and it’s safe to say that you won’t even miss them. After all, it’s easy to get caught up with all that data crunching when you start tracking. But the thing about the GOQii is that it lets you immerse yourself in the world of numbers while gently pushing you to change your lifestyle with exciting initiatives.
But first, a little background on the company and the passionate people behind the GOQii band.
GOQii is headquartered in California and has offices in Mumbai and Shenzhen. The company was formed as a collaboration between some of the world’s leading experts who believe that a healthy, sustainable lifestyle is not too difficult to attain. Indian entrepreneur Vishal Gondal (ex-founder of gaming company Indiagames) is the founder and CEO of GOQii. Vishal, who has for a very long time been obsessed about tracking his health and fitness data, says that he experienced the lack of a ‘human’ touch when it came to other wearable tech products. And, that’s how GOQii was born.
Even the company investors are incredibly passionate about fitness. Madhuri Dixit-Nene is one among the list of investors who remain passionate about utilising technology to achieve a healthy and fit lifestyle. The teams who run the company — from nutrition and fitness experts right up to the tech guys — are just as ardently passionate. But more on this later. Continue reading “#BeTheForce: The GOQii Fitness Band reviewed”
Alber Elbaz, fashion’s most loved designer, is best known for his iconic dresses. He not only turned around the fate of the exemplary Parisian fashion house Lanvin, but also dipped his fingers into every design aspect of the label before his recent departure after 14 years at its creative helm.
Alber Elbaz believes that clothes must move with a woman. “Movement is essential for me. It is life itself,” muses the Moroccan-born designer and former creative director of Lanvin. This statement – a pillar of his design philosophy – is fittingly apt for the moment, albeit in another context. Elbaz, who was appointed as Lanvin’s artistic director in 2001, was recently ousted from the French fashion house, much to the shock and chagrin of the fashion world. After all, he had successfully transformed Lanvin into one of the most covetable labels. In doing so, he brought about a revival of the oldest surviving French fashion house.
Women across the world have always been floored by the aesthetics and intuition that went into Elbaz’s creations for Lanvin. During his 14-year-long creative reign, the designer was revered for his striking cuts with flowing movement. The thing about Elbaz is that he didn’t just go about setting new trends at Lanvin – he also worked towards bringing back classic styles with a fresh appeal. Timeless appeal was infused into his women’s collections – whether they incorporated embellished tweeds, tiered ruffled dresses in pale colours, rich jewelled-toned dresses, sheer shirts or sleek cigarette pants. His refreshingly light and feminine dresses have been donned on the red carpet by some of the world’s best-known actresses like Natalie Portman, Charlize Theron and Kate Hudson.
A look back into his early days offers an insight into the evolution of Elbaz’s beautiful and highly creative mind. Born in Casablanca in 1961, Elbaz moved to Tel Aviv at the age of 10. His mother was a painter, while his father worked as a hair colourist. When he moved to New York in 1985, the young Elbaz worked at a dressmaker’s shop, after which he honed his talent as an assistant couturier to Geoffrey Beene for the next seven years – a period that majorly shaped Elbaz’s aesthetic sense. At Guy Laroche in 1997, he enhanced the label’s image, while the following year saw him design ready-to-wear women’s clothing for Yves Saint Laurent. By the time he was hired by Lanvin, Elbaz was already a force to reckon with in the fashion world. Over the years, he received many honours and awards, including the International Award by the Council of Fashion Designers of America in 2005, the Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur in 2007, and an honorary doctorate by the Royal College of Art in 2014, among others.
“Everybody’s talking about the new democratic world and whether high fashion is relevant. But without high there is no low. I don’t like to intellectualize. I’ve always said fashion is like roast chicken: You don’t have to think about it to know it’s delicious.”
Elbaz likens his creative process to that of creating stories with unpredictable twists and perfect endings. “When I design a collection, I always start by dreaming up a story,” says the designer, adding that he approaches each collection with a clean slate. “Holidays and I don’t get along,” he adds, starting his workdays as early as 5am. He admits to being something of a control freak, and this – according to Elbaz – ensures that his work is set off to perfection. Be it in Lanvin’s collections, accessories, boutiques, window displays or perfumes, Elbaz insisted on overseeing it all, continually making suggestions and dreaming up new ideas. For instance, Elbaz cast non-models between the ages of 18 to 82 in an ingenious campaign for Lanvin’s Autumn/Winter 2012/13 collection. “I want to see beautiful women, not beautiful clothes,” he explained.
Within the realm of Lanvin’s accessories, Elbaz was the one who managed to make nameplate necklaces look chic, and bejewelled accessories appear refined and tasteful. As if designing fashion- forward yet timeless attire for women wasn’t enough to keep him busy, Elbaz furthered the brand to launch menswear collections, fragrances, a bridal line, a children’s line, and even sneakers. He conceptualised some of the most intriguing and unexpected collaborations, too. When he collaborated with high street brand H&M in 2010, the capsule collection that included tulle dresses flew off the shelves. Another collaboration saw him make his foray into cosmetics in 2013 with the launch of a limited edition make-up collection for Lancôme, the packaging of which was wonderfully whimsical – much like the designer himself.
Elbaz also kept alive and often revived several of Lanvin’s trademark touches. Back in 2006, he introduced all-new packaging, incorporating the iconic quattrocento blue once favoured by Jeanne Lanvin, the creator of the fashion house. His classic dresses have often been compared to Lanvin’s designs of the 1920s, which is most likely the reason why fashion critic Suzy Menkes once referred to him as “every woman’s darling”. According to Elbaz, beauty and comfort go hand in hand. “A lady’s beauty shines out when she is comfortable. For me, dresses symbolise ease rather than femininity,” Elbaz once stated.
The legendary designer orchestrated an exhibition during the fall at Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris. As viewers were immersed in the intimacy of fittings, the excitement of Lanvin shows and the beauty of the label’s designs, the show – housed in five rooms – portrayed Elbaz’s work through the years. Designed to be experienced as a continuous dialogue between fashion and photography, it can be counted as a first in the history of Lanvin. In a twist of fate, the introspective exhibition kicked off just over a month before Elbaz parted ways with the fashion house. Privy to his immense contributions to its legacy, visitors were gently reminded that one of the greatest eras in fashion had come to an end.
This article was first published in the December 2015 edition of Signé (UAE)
An award-winning spoken word poet, poetry slam champion, speak and writer, Carlos Andrés Gómez also starred in Spike Lee’s Inside Man I had the pleasure of interviewing spoken word artist Carlos Andrés Gómez at the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival in October this year. Like most young boys, he was taught that a man needs to put up a fight and must never shed a tear. I wondered if all this talk of softening up a man’s hardened shell was bound to draw a heckler or two.
Gómez concurred, saying, “Sometimes, things get uncomfortable during my performances. It’s alright if people disagree with me, but it’s important that they hear me out and understand what I’m saying in the right context. We’re definitely going to need more such moments when two opinions collide because we can never have change if one opinion dominates. It’s going to take many an exchange…
Whether it’s the moon looming large and bright, or the billions of twinkling stars, the nocturnal sky as we see it has fascinated humanity for aeons. The desire to explore the universe began as observations with the naked eye, and over the years, has continued to encompass the use of scientific instruments. Astronomical watches like the moon-phase timepieces by A. Lange & Söhne are witness to this undying curiosity
It is believed that primitive structures like the Stonehenge, built by ancient civilisations to make sense of celestial bodies and their alignment in relation to the earth, were some of the early methods to better understand the universe.
The study of celestial objects did not have its roots in scientific inventions, but in the human trait of curiosity. In The Dawn of Astronomy, British astronomer Sir Norman Lockyer, who lived from 1836-1920, breaks down ancient astronomy into three distinct phases and presented an observation prevalent across most ancient civilisations like Egypt, India and South America. First, a civilisation goes through the worship stage, where astronomical phenomena are viewed as the actions and warnings of gods; next, it progresses to using astronomy for terrestrial purposes like agriculture or navigation. The final step, he says, is to study astronomy solely for the sake of gaining knowledge.
Observations and predictions of the motion of objects visible to the naked eye preceded the assembly of astronomical observatories in ancient Mesopotamia, Greece, India and Egypt. Early ideas about the universe came into being, thanks to Ptolemy whose comprehensive treatise on astronomy, The Almagest, the only surviving treatise of its kind, estimated that the earth was the centre of the universe. The Babylonians later laid the foundation for the study of the universe with the discovery of the repetitive, cyclical nature of lunar eclipses. Even as astronomy went through a period of stagnancy in medieval Europe until the 13th century, it flourished in the Islamic world with the discovery of the Andromeda Galaxy by Persian astronomer Azophi.
In the early stages of lunar observation, people were interested in the progression of the moon across the nocturnal skies and its changing faces. It was only until the telescope was invented in the 17th century that the focus shifted to the moon’s surface.
In Saxony, too, the earth’s satellite, its orbital progression, and its influence on various spheres of life intrigued laymen and scholars alike. The Nebra sky disc, a bronze disc dating back to 2000 BC unearthed in Saxony-Anhalt is testament to the celestial achievements by those native to Saxony. The disc was marked by a blue-green patina inlaid with gold symbols of the Pleiades star cluster, and featured the full moon and crescent moon.
Many millennia later, Augustus, the elector of Saxony, laid the cornerstone for the discipline of astronomy and lunar research. He commissioned Europe’s first large scientific apparatus and instrument collection that formed the art chamber in Dresden. Over 10,000 objects including astrological and astronomical instruments occupied the Dresden art chamber, which was the precursor of the present-day Mathematics and Physics Salon.
“ The watchmakers at A. Lange & Söhne leverage all the potentials of science and technology to emulate its orbit with extreme precision and to reproduce its radiance as brilliantly as possible ”
The famous lunar map by the Dresden astronomer Wilhelm Gotthelf Lohrmann is an example of Saxony’s fascination with lunar observation during the 19th century. A century later, in the 1960s, Dresden native Ursula Seliger created an extensive series of detail- rich pencil drawings compiled in three volumes. These drawings are currently stored at the Palitzsch Museum in Dresden. The museum was named after Johann George Palitzsch, the so-called “peasant- astronomer” from Dresden, who went on to become famous for discovering Halley’s Comet. Such was the extent to which Saxony contributed to the study of celestial phenomena.
A young watchmaker by the name of Ferninand Adolph Lange was enrolled in Dresden’s technical University, where he acquired an education that set into motion an apprenticeship with the renowned master clockmaker Johann Christian Friedrich Gutkaes, who recognised the young Lange’s unusual watchmaking skills. After years
of journeying across Europe, Lange returned in 1841 with the hope of
establishing a manufactory in the Ore Mountains. He eventually built a
watch manufactory and pioneered a number of innovations that would forever revolutionize watchmaking. The company he founded in 1845, which is today known as A. Lange & Söhne, was headquartered in Glashütte, not far from Dresden, in the state of Saxony.
The German watchmaker has since remained fascinated by the moon. Even today, the watchmakers at A. Lange & Söhne leverage all the potentials of science and technology to emulate its orbit with extreme precision and to reproduce its radiance as brilliantly as possible. Ever since the first collection was presented almost two decades ago, the Glashütte-based manufacture has developed no less than 15 calibres with moon-phase displays. A specialty in A. Lange & Söhne’s repertoire of timepieces, the moon-phase watch requires a correction by one day, once every 122.6 years, which is about 50 times more accurate than conventional displays. In fact, so accurate is its current mechanism that the new Richard Lange Perpetual Calendar “Terraluna” timepiece can run for over 1000 years before it deviates from the actual lunar cycle by one day.
A. Lange & Söhne’s revolutionary lunar discs have signature elements, such as its rich blue hue with a unique chromatic effect achieved by superimposing light waves. To produce this so-called interference phenomenon, the watchmaker partnered with scientists to develop a patent coating process for the solid-gold discs. Then, there’s the distinct presence of laser-cut stars that stand out against the vibrant blue tint. The term blue moon refers to the rare phenomenon of the second full moon within a given calendar month, Most mechanical moon-phase indications must be corrected by one day every “once in a blue moon”. The reason behind this is that the period of time between two new moons is rounded down to 29.5 days even though it is actually 44 minutes and three seconds longer.
The A. Lange & Söhne moon-phase watches, however, are much more precise with most of them reproducing the lunar month with an accuracy of 99.998 %. A good example is the Richard Lange Perpetual Calendar “Terraluna” that is adorned with over 2000 stars in five different sizes and which emphasise the lure of the night sky. The orbital moon-phase display of this timepiece is one of the greatest innovations in precision watchmaking. The timepiece depicts the changing orbital position of the moon in relation to the earth and sun with unmatchable accuracy.