Friday, 27 April 2012

An Asian Bride's Shopping Experience - Summaya Darr, Imani Studio, Burooj and Je Roche

I often receive emails from brides-to-be and fashion fans wanting advice on where to go in search of their dream wedding outfits. I try to be as helpful as possible, but sometimes I find it difficult to advice because I've only ever bought the one bridal dress and that was three years ago!! One blog reader, who is getting married this year, has very kindly let me share her wedding shopping experience with you:

I am getting married and like every bride is focusing on buying the perfect dress to fit the type of wedding and budget. Everyone has an idea but it's putting that into action and committing to something.

Where to start
Firstly I did some research online, first stop was the Asian Fashion Blog which I always use to see what is currently happening in the world of Asian fashion. From here I found out about the Asian Wedding Exhibition in London and decided that as everything would be under one roof I would give it a try. The exhibition on its own was not worth it for me personally as majority of the exhibitors were from down south (although some would travel) for example wedding cakes – you wouldn’t order a cake from London if you live 3 hours away, when there are plenty of quality cake shops in your own city! Anyway the catwalk was very useful and gave me a chance to speak to the designers as well as get to see the clothes up close and personal, and how they would look when moving in them as well as when light hits them etc. I went away with useful ideas and designs.

I also found the e-magazine very useful (and free to use) to find out the latest looks and designs and get a feel of whats “in” and what I want including the addresses for the boutiques etc. I also started sketching styles that I liked and took cuttings from magazines of outfits that I narrowed down.

Lastly I Googled "Asian designers in the UK" but unfortunately this produced the least quality research as most Asian designers haven’t mastered online yet, although I understand designers dont want to put their outfits for everyone to copy, sometimes they should try and hit the right balance between hiding them so they aren’t copied VS showing them to potential buyers that dont want to travel to 3- 4 hours only to realise the designers style is not what they are looking for!

Summaya Dar
I had some luck and found a new designer who I had seen in the Asiana Magazine called Summaya Darr. Her outfits seemed original and reasonably priced so I contacted her initially by web and then by phone. She responded promptly and professionally which is always a good sign.

We arranged to meet up in Manchester as she was up here for a meeting, Summaya bought along some of her samples – she was really friendly and down to earth, and the clothes were nice, she said that the material can change as these were sample pieces. The embroidery on all the samples was pretty much the same and unfortunately not what I was looking for although I could suggest changes to this as well. She was helpful in suggesting changes and colours etc so I went away with a positive vibe from her.

I think she does have original ideas and can work with the client, but I also think that she is new and will need to gain more experience. She has got a new collection coming out (all red) so I think she will definitely improve and only get better and better with each collection. Since my first visit I have since seen her new collection and really liked it, I personally wasn’t looking for red so it wasn’t for me but she is evolving!

I would have actually commissioned a design from her if a few factors were on our side (mainly her location – she is from London so it's going a bit far to place my orders) I do think I will get something made by her in the near future and wish her luck :)

Imani Studio
Whilst in Manchester I decided to make the best use of my time and arranged to have a look at what else this city had to offer. I made a trip to Imani Studio – it is amazing and you can tell the quality in the work and the material but to be fair the prices reflected this!
Whatever price I thought would be reasonable for an outfit, the actual cost ended up being much much more. For example if I saw something that I thought at the most would be £2000-£2500, the actual price was something like £3500!

I didn’t leave my heart in that shop as I liked some outfits but they were more classic pieces that other shops are now imitating (if you compared the designer versions with the copies you could tell the difference) but on their own the imitations would still look nice at half the price. I think the only thing that makes me sway to designers rather than “shops ” pretending to do the same thing is the cut of the outfit. I would buy a classic party piece from Imani as I would see it as an investment and could wear it more than once (so definitely will go there again!)

Afterwards we went to Wilmslow road. I was surprised as I thought they would have more clothes shops in Manchester especially on this road but there were only a handful (maybe im so used to Birmingham and their end to end stores). Anyway I went into Burooj and picked up a couple of reasonably prices party outfits within 5 minutes of being in the store (so that’s always a good sign).
We asked to see the bridal outfits but was told that it was appointment only...however they said if we waited they might fit us between clients. We waited about 30 minutes and would have given up if it wasn’t for the outfits in the window display that interested me. A tip for for brides to be: if there is a boutique you want to check out, especially if you are travelling far, book an appointment so that you get to see the collection and have their undivided attention. If there are a couple of places you want to go to in the same city then always give yourself 2 hours between appointments, but do take into account travel time from one place to the next.

So we finally went upstairs into a cosy room that had unique and amazing outfits...opulent is the word I would use, the embroidery, material and designs all were unique. Heavily focused on Pakistani fashion of long tops and flowy ghararas and shararas and full skirts – the entire look was glamour, sophistication, opulent and rich.

Overall I loved nearly every piece that I saw (bearing in mind we were rushing as he had another booked client coming in)...the prices were reasonable for what you are getting – something unique and different as opposed to the over the top bling bling same old lengha, same full on embroidery everywhere else (prices were from £1200 upwards (which is normal everywhere else).
When I first visited Burooj my wedding was planned as a small family affair (in a restaurant no more than 50 guests) so the opulence of the outfits were a bit too much and I was also working within a budget because of it being a small event.

Anyway the guy serving quickly sketched me an outfit design – as I liked something and his sketch showed changes to the neckline, colour, bottoms, scarf etc. I was impressed with this as you can visualise it pretty quickly and know whether they understood what’s in your mind. He gave me a final price and I would have happily ordered there and then if I was having a big wedding.
They need 8 weeks to have your order ready which was also didn't fit in with the timeframes I was working to.

I would recommend this place for outfit choice/uniqueness, quality, prices and designer backing (they are using a famous fashion house in Pakistan Chinyere (I think is what its called). I dont know how they are after you place an order (which is normally where the Asians fall down). I bought an outfit from Jaan southall...bad experience and would never order from him again – would buy off the rack but not risk ordering as quality finish and time it took for outfit to actually arrive was all bad! (that’s another story)

Je Roche
Ok so a week later when the wedding had moved further forward – I found a youtube video of a Je Roche catwalk show. The first time I was in Manchester I went in to Je Roche but it was busy so I didn't speak to assistant. I looked at the party/casual collection and thought this is it...they dont have bridals and left (partly because my friend was about to pass out with hunger).
After I saw the catwalk show I really liked the designs and contacted them to make an appointment the following day. As soon as I told her the type of wedding (small) and budget she said she had the perfect outfit in mind for me. When I arrived she had just popped out (as I was running late) so while I was waiting for her I tried on an outfit (the first green one that opens her collection in the catwalk show) – it is stunning. I would have changed a couple of minor things like added sleeves and a scarf...but the price tag was in the £2k range. It’s really nice seeing outfits close up – hers were definitely beautiful (they are by a designer called Zainab Sajid).
Anyway when Roshi came she showed me the correct outfit which fitted like a glove, however it was wrong colour (navy blue) and not exactly bridal (more party wear although price tag was £850). Anyway for a bit more money I added more work on the scarf, then Roshi suggested a few design changes. I was also changing the colour of the outfit so she also helped me decide this as well. She said it would be ready in 3 weeks so I left excited.

2 weeks later: I receive a call saying my outfit had arrived, I was shocked and impressed as normally this does not happen; whatever time the boutique says, you usually have to put in a buffer of a couple of weeks in case of delivery issues, but this is the first time I have had an outfit commissioned that arrived before the delivery date! I wasn’t expecting it to arrive so soon I couldn’t go and pick it up until the following week, I was so excited and was just thinking what an amazing service...and then it all went down-hill!

1 week later: I went to collect the outfit and like every bride you feel excited and nervous and just hope it's everything you want it to be. The first time I saw the outfit I could breathe a sigh of relief it was beautiful and looked amazing and glamorous. I tried it on and loved it so I was happy. However through my excitement I didn’t realise a few things with it (luckily I had taken my sister and friend). Another tip for any brides-to-be: I would recommend you take people that will voice what they think. My sister and friend pointed out a few things, such as the sharara that went with it was wrong shade and wrong material, the sleeves were baggy and the scarf had a red piping which you could see underneath the border of the white duppatta.

The shop assistant tried to fob off these points in a very causal way by saying things like they must have used this material instead for the Sharara due to not finding the correct colour in that material (jamavar) and they wanted to give a clean finish and the scarf is meant to look like that...I initially also brushed off these "small" things until my sister noticed that the lining used underneath the scarf was a different shade compared to the duppatta and top! The assistant realised she couldn’t brush such an obvious difference therefore she contacted the boutique owner Roshi, who immediately said it was the wrong bottoms (first question – do they not check the deliveries against the order form, have they never heard of quality control?)
The owner arrived and said it would be sent back, at which point I mentioned the sleeves also needing lining and fitting. I Waited another 2 weeks and was contacted to say that the outfit had arrived. I have to say I did like the idea of having Roshi's mobile number, so I could text her, and feel like she was at the other side of the phone, and she did respond within reasonable time. At this point I asked her to make sure there were no problems with the outfit as I didn't have time to keep returning, she said this would be done. (Another point to remember is make sure where you decide to purchase your dress from is within reasonable travelling distance because you most likely will have to make several trips and if you take into account time and travel expenses and sometimes relying on other people to go with you then it all adds up and may not be worth the stress VS something else closer to home!)

So I went again last week and this time the top had marks on it! The trousers were STILL not the correct material (although they were in the correct shade) and the sleeves were still loose!! I wasn’t happy, and again I was being fobbed off by the assistant until I asked to speak to Roshi (who wasn’t there at the time). I mentioned over the phone about the problems, and she said they would get the outfit dry cleaned but I would have to come back for it! (it's things like this that a bride to be does not need, you are already stressed out about the rest of the arrangements, and the dress – most important thing is still not right). They then suggested to the assistant to use a damp cloth to check whether the marks could be removed (later on said they were only dust marks – again ever heard of quality control and checking the item before the customer arrives ESPECIALLY when I made a point of asking them to do this).
They said they could send the trousers back again, but at this point I had had enough, I gave in and said I would keep them as I had no time left, but I told them I would not be paying for the trousers, they discounted £30 which personally I didn’t think was good enough but I was so stressed out that all I wanted to do was leave (this is normal which is why you should give yourself as much time as possible so that if mistakes occur you are not accepting them due to time constraints. I sometimes get an impression that the shopkeepers use things like this against you knowing you don't have the time).

Sadly, it doesn’t finish there, after I paid I didn’t even receive a protective cover for the outfit, they had run out so instead I got a stripey market stall bag that not even my local fabric shop uses anymore and the worst thing was how the outfit was packed. At this point I was so angry, it just spoilt the entire experience and even though no one else will notice the few glitches with the outfit – I will and that’s what counts and is annoying.

I’m sure other people have nice experiences, but it takes YOUR bad experience for you to form an opinion about a place and I am just disappointed that it ended the way it did and I didn’t feel any effort was being put into fixing the problem. It started off really good and Roshi seems really nice, unfortunately being nice does not change my experience with them.

I think my final piece of advice for brides to be is where possible is use people and places that you have personal recommendations for as the risk of things going wrong will be lower than picking a place from a magazine. The ideal end result is for you to be happy on your very special day in an outfit that you are comfortable in and you are happy with. It’s YOUR day and its going to give you life long memories. The experience of buying that perfect dress should be fun and exciting and amazing from the start (when you look through magazines) to the end when you are finally wearing your dream dress to mark the beginning of a new chapter in your life.

Looking back it is easy to get emotional and upset and angry like I felt when things were going wrong, but at the end of the day I do have a beautiful dress that overall I am happy with (although it has a few glitches which hopefully no one else will notice lol) but if anything I hope others can learn from my experience and use my advice to make your experience easy, stress-free and enjoyable! :o)

An Indian Wedding in 90210 and Naomi's Beautiful Sari Dress

The season finale on US teen show 90210 aired in the UK this week and what a fab way to end - with an Indian wedding!
The whole thing was a little bit too cliche in my opinion, without ruining the plot for anyone who hasn't seen it yet, there was the scene where the groom says to his parents something that went along the lines of "I know you wanted me to have an arranged marriage like you did...", there were "typical" asian characters like the crazy overly excited male cousin who seemed like he'd never been to a party before and the prudish female cousin who was evidently very uncomfortable being at a raunchy bachelorette party.

But all that aside, I still really enjoyed watching and of course I had my eye on all the asian fashion!

Here's the bride!
The character Ivy is a bit of a tomboy and usually has a very skater/surfer look her everyday wardrobe, so it was a big surprise to see her dressed as an asian bride in very traditional red.
The photo above perhaps doesn't show her outfit off properly but I think she pulled off the look whilst staying true to her character with her hair loose and minimal make-up (aside from those red lips!)

Now onto the wedding guests...or rather just the one wedding guest that by far outshone anything else I saw in the show!
This character, Naomi, is the resident fashionista of the show, and of course she has the most amazing fusion sari dress. Again, I don't think the photo does this dress justice at all, you have to watch the show itself to see how beautiful it looks from all angles and I'm sure I'm not the only person who watched and thought "I want that dress!"

Straight after watching I went off in search of where I could find such a dress, and I found myself on the blog of Kime Buzzelli who is the costume designer for 90210. It turns out this beautiful creation was custom-made just for this episode. You can read about the inspiration and make of this dress here.

Photo credits go to The Moldy Doily and Planning Elegance.

Shop Review O'nitaa London: Indian and Pakistani designerwear destination


Photo credit to
I recently spent a weekend in London, and on my list of shops to visit was O'nitaa. I've written about the designer collections they stock, such as Nickie Nina which were showcased at the 2010 Asiana Elite Bride Show and more recently the Yousuf Bashir Qureshi instore launch.
However I'd never visited the store in person and was keen to see some of these designer outfits up close.

The first thing to note about Onitaa is the location. Based on Glenworth Street, NW1, this store is nowhere near any of London's main asian fashion hotspots. This isn't one of those shops you'll come across by chance, it's somewhere you'll go out of your way to visit.

The store itself is unlike any other asian fashion shop I've ever visited. It feels very grand when you walk in with its long walkway down the centre of the store (which seems like it goes on forever!) and each designer collection spread out on either side of you. I had my husband with me when I visited and he described the store as being like every girl's dream walk-in wardrobe.
Photo credit to
I took my time browsing, recognising some of the outfits from fashion shows photos and from Onitaa's adverts in Asiana Magazine. Most of the outfits in store are sample pieces so there was a level of wear and tear/loose threads etc. but even then this was minimal and I really liked a lot of what I saw...however this place is a definite no no for asian fashion fans on a budget!! If I wasn't visiting for asian fashion blog research purposes I probably would have left very quickly after seeing the first few price tags - many of which were in the thousands.

Whilst in the store, I saw a customer trying on the very beautiful Zainab Sajid outfit above (at least I think it was this one). I also had a chance to check out the price tag for this, if I remember correctly it was around £4000. I know asian bridalwear is increasingly becoming more and more expensive but I think you'll agree with me that most ordinary asian brides in the UK wouldn't be able to justify a cost like that - nevermind spending that amount on a formal outfit!

When you take into consideration the average prices in O'nitaa, you start to understand why they chose a location so far removed from the other asian shopping areas like Green St, Southall, and Ilford Lane, because O'nitaa's offering isn't really accessible to asian fashion fans who don't have a big budget!
So pricing aside, I asked, store owner, Onita to talk me through some of her collections. She was keen to point out that she doesn't necessarily go for "big names", instead, she goes for designers whose work impresses her. One designer she highlighted was Asim Jofa, she highlighted the craftmanship of his outfits - the stitching on the embroidering was so perfectly finished to the point where you didn't get that "sticky" effect you often have when your embroidery catches on other fabrics.
The collection by Arnab Sengupta (a double winner at last years IAFA Awards) also caught my eye - the amazing details that goes into each piece is barely captured in the photos I'd seen before.

My overall thoughts on Onitaa are that this shop is every girl's dream, but for most people that's all it'll stay as - a dream! If you're after designer name collections from India and Pakistan, without having to travel there yourself, then O'nitaa is perfect for providing this service...although if you're anything like me, you might need to save up first!

If you're looking to visit O'nitaa, why not attend their launch for the HSY Spring Summer 2011 Pret collection, which is taking place from the 16th - 19th June:

Do I have any blog readers who have shopped at O'nitaa? Leave a comment with your thoughts!

Phulkari London Shop Review

Another of the shops on my list to visit during my recent trip to London was Phulkari. They're a fairly new shop (I think they opened in February this year) but they caught my attention because like Onitaa, they stock Indian and Pakistani designers.

However unlike Onitaa which is miles away from any other asian shops and is aimed at the super-rich, Phulkari is on Ilford Lane, amongst the likes of Gul's Style and RDC and is a lot more accessible to the likes of you and me.

I visited on a Sunday morning/early afternoon so it was quiet and we had the whole shop to ourselves to browse. It's not massive inside, but it didn't feel claustrophobic (like some of the shops which have back-to-back rails of clothing everywhere) everything was nicely spaced out and easy to look through.
I made my way round the shop, firstly checking out the recently launched Shyamal and Bhumika collection, then moving on to the other designers they stock including Joy Mitra, Dozakh by Kartikeya & Isha, Abdul Halder, and Nida Mahmood,

I had quite a specific reason for visiting Phulkari that day - I wanted to buy a Satya Paul sari. I emailed the store in advance to find out their price range (starting at £130 for the crepe saris to £480 for the embroidered saris) so I had an idea in my head of how much I wanted to spend, the next part was to find the right sari for me!
The photo above was taken at the store launch in February, so the Satya Paul collection was somewhat smaller when I visited in May. I found a few designs that caught my eye and the staff were happy to open them up for me and let me see all the detail. They even checked for any they had in stock which weren't out on the shop floor.

I narrowed my choices down and after trying on (with the help of an assistant - because no way can I drape a sari myself!), I settled on a green, blue and purple print for £180.
This is me holding it up against myself in our hotel afterwards - the blouse (which comes unstitched) is a plain purple colour although when I showed this pic to my sisters they thought it looked good with the animal print top I was wearing underneath.

I was very pleased with my purchase and afterwards out of curiosity I went to the Satya Paul website to see how much it would have cost to buy online direct from them. I found a different colour variation of this outfit for 9,995 Indian Rupees plus 1,000 for international shipping. Indian Rupees don't mean anything to me, but a currency covertor put 10,995 rupees at £151.53.
So technically I could have saved myself £30 by getting it direct, but I'm happy to pay that for being able to see it in person first, try it on, and to be able to walk out of the shop with it there and then rather than worry about it getting lost in the post.

I will definitely be going back and shop at Phulkari London, and according to their most recent facebook status, they'll be getting some more Satya Paul stock in soon, including the recent Jewels of The Sea collection.

Photo credits go to Tajpal Dhamu Photography, originally posted on the Phulkari London facebook page.

Pakistan Fashion Extravaganza 2011 - First look at the Pakistani designer collections


Last month, London held host to the annual Pakistan Fashion Extravaganza. I didn't attend, but this week I received photos from the catwalk from photographer Shahid Malik.

There are over 150 photos which I'll be posting in upcoming posts, but in the meantime, here's a sneak preview from each designer:

Asifa and Nabeel

Truphae's collection included a lot of the outfits they showcased at the Asiana Bridal Show earlier on this year - including the peacock feather finale outfit.

Ambreen Khan

Faiza Samee
Faiza Samee wasn't the only designer to include bright orange on this catwalk!

Asim Jofa

Ayesha Ibrahim

Everyone always pairs gold with red, but I'm loving this gold and blue combination.

Gulzeb's collection included jumpsuits and mini-dresses, but I prefered her more traditional outfits, like this maxi dress.

Shazia's Bridal Gallery
Some of Shazia's outfits looked very over the top to me, but I liked this dress.

Maria B
I'd seen a lot of these Maria B's at other shows, but there were a few new ones in there too. I'm not sure what to make of the jewelled hairbands, they looked good on some of the models and others they were pulled a little too tightly and looked to me like the swimming caps we were forced to wear during swimming lessons at school!

Nickie Nina

Look out for full reviews and photos of each collection coming soon

Monday, 23 April 2012

Designer Bride: Rouge by Faraz Manan with Karishma Kapoor

If you liked the result of Sonam Kapoor's collaboration with Pakistani Lawn designer Firdous , here's another one Bollywood/Pakistani Designer combination for you, this time featuring Karishma Kapoor as the spokesmodel for Rouge by Faraz Manan.

all images via Faraz Manan on Facebook

Frontier Raas at the Asiana Bridal Show London 2012

Frontier Raas were up next on the catwalk at the 2012 Asiana Bridal Show in London.

They started off with this nude coloured outfit and moved onto some other bold and vibrant single-colour outfits:

This yellow outfit was one of my favourites - it really stood out on the catwalk and I love the colour. I managed to get a photo of the back too:

Up next were these two gowns, again both in bold beautiful colours

They ended the show with some heavier bridal lehngas

Frontier Raas are based in India

Jawaad and Mona Vora at the 2012 London Asiana Bridal Show


Up next on the catwalk at the Asiana Bridal Show in London was a presentation by the hair and make-up artist for the show - Jawaad Ashraf. They had three models, dressed in outfits by Mona Vora.

I know it's a bit difficult to see the make-up up close in these photos, but if you had to choose which of these looks is your favourite?
I like the last look best - it probably helps that I like this outfit the most out of the three!

Khushboos by Chand at the 2012 Asiana Bridal Show London

Here's the collection from Birmingham-based Khushboos By Chand, which was showcased at the 2012 Asiana Bridal Show in London.

The main colour theme was red, with 7 out of their 8 pieces being red.

I like the layering on the skirt of this first outfit, although I'm not a fan of the top so much
I like the sleeves on this one -

I'm a bit unsure about the bottom of the lengha on this next outfit, the layering looks a bit wrong to me.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Hussein Chalayan Spring 2007 RTW

  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by 2008

Back to TOP  

Blogger Wordpress Gadgets Gadgets By Spice Up Your Blog
Pin It button on image hover