MAR 2013 $4.99 CAD | Dhs 18.47 AED | £3.18
SHE CANADA 1
2 SHE CANADA
SHE CANADA 3
Editor/Publisher KAMRAN ZAIDI Associate Editor PRIYA KUMAR National Advertising Director PATRICIA BUTLER Art Layout Coordinator DANYL GENECIRAN Fashion Assistant LIZ GUBER Travel Contributor ROBIN ESROCK Social Media Manager ERUM ZEHRA Features Contributor SUMMUN JAFRI Pop Culture Contributors PRIYANKA RAJ, PARVEEN SINGH Social Media Assistant BONNIE MENDEZ PIZON Marketing Assistants ANGELA MINUCOS, RADHIKA PATEL Subscription Inquiries: Please to go http://shemagazine.ca/subscribe To Contact SHE Canada: Write to SHE Canada, 1999 Avenue Rd, Toronto ON, M5M 4A5 Or firstname.lastname@example.org, Facebook: SHECanada
For Advertising Inquiries: Please contact Patricia Butler, 416 644 7788, 416 878 0SHE email@example.com SHE MAGAZINE CANADA IS A REGISTERED TRADEMARK OF KAMRA ON PRODUCTIONS INC. COPYRIGHT © 2013 KAMRA ON PRODUCTIONS INC. ALL RIGTS RESERVED. PRINTED IN PAKISTAN
4 SHE CANADA
IN EVERY ISSUE: STYLE SCOOP 10 HE 66 ∙ HE Said, SHE Said ∙ Fashion Ideas for HIM SHE CARES 74 ∙ Shutter To Think ∙Plan Canada SHE DEBATES 76 ∙ The Mass Shooting Blame Game HEALTH/WELLNESS 80 ∙ Shedding Light on the Food Additive Mystery ON THE ROAD 84 ∙ Malasia and Borneo BEAUTY 88 ∙ Best In Beauty ∙ Meet Laura Mercier’s Director of National Artistry DESI GIRL PROBLEMS 93 QUOTE/UNQUOTE 102 ∙ Famous quotes on empowering women
Miu Miu Bucket Bag $895
FEATURES FASHION CENTRAL 16 ∙ Prabal Gurung for Target: A collaboration like no other ∙ Crossover Bollywood Se ∙ Golnaz Ashtiani’s globally-minded design ∙ Rajesh Pratap Singh: a fashion legend ∙ Bel Ami School Headbands COVER STORY 27 ∙ Coco Chanel and how she forever changed womenswear SPECIAL FEATURES 44 ∙There Are No Words… ∙Religion ∙The Definition of Beauty ∙Life Of PI’s Costume Designer Arjun Bhasin ∙Remembering Najiba ∙Talvin Singh’s perfect fusion ∙HSY ∙Viva Forever: Review of the Spice Girls Musical SOUTH ASIA 34 ∙ Be A Stunner ∙ Interview with Supermodel, Ayaan THE ARTS 64 ∙ Fourth Eye Gallery ∙ Heartbeats: wedding videography like you’ve never seen It before ∙ Book Review: The Gospel According to Coco Chanel RESTAURANT REVIEW 68 ∙Dishoom
SHE CANADA 5
arch 8th marks International Women’s Day. Here at SHE we have decided to make women the focal point of the March issue showcasing their strength, struggles against adversity and ultimate triumphs. The Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) once said, “God enjoins you to treat women well, for they are your mothers, daughters, sisters and aunts”—something I hope you keep in mind while reading about the resilient women featured in this issue. Firstly, we bring you the story of Raanee Khaira, owner and founder of Crossover Bollywood Se in Vancouver and Calgary. Shopping for top South Asian designers in North America is no small feat, so we were delighted to hear about this film-inspired boutique. They carry Falguni & Shane Peacock, Manish Malhotra, Rohit Bal and dozens of other top couturiers simply not available anywhere else in North America. Khaira’s story will inspire the inner entrepreneur in all of us. Next, we find ourselves thinking locally. In the early New Year, a few members of the SHE team visited the Toronto Fashion Incubator. The young designers this city-run organization assists early on in their careers have been known to go on to do great things. We had the opportunity to sit down and speak with one such designer—New Labels winner Golnaz Ashtiani.
EDITOR S.M. Kamran Zaidi
Finally, speaking of designers, there really are only a handful of names that come up when one thinks fashion icon. It is for this reason we have decided to showcase Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel and her turbulent life as our cover story. Having gone from an orphan to an aspiring (to be failed) stage performer to being ranked one of TIME Magazine’s 100 most influential people of the 20th century (the only designer to make the cut), Chanel has a backstory that deserves to be told. Her subversive life challenged the status quo and called into question turn of the century women’s fashion. The woman is the running theme of this issue. Through this our sixth issue, we celebrate their presence in all our lives. A very warm Happy International Women’s Day from the SHE Canada team!
6 SHE CANADA
By now, dear readers, you should all be well acquainted with SHE Online, the place to get caught up on fashion, beauty and culture news. This month you can look forward to our Countdown to Spring feature. Tired of itchy sweaters, salt-stained boots and dry skin? So are we. Warm, glorious Spring is almost here, and on SHE’s website you’ll see our coverage on what to wear, where to go and what to do during this longawaited season: http://shemagazine.ca/
Mail to: SHE Canada Subscriptions, 1999 Avenue Road, Suite 202, Toronto, ON, M5M 4A5, Canada
SHE CANADA 7
“If you could pick anyone, dead or alive, to be your mentor, who would it be and why?”
Suzy Menkes. Fashion Critic for the International Herald Tribune, she has the ability to bring a fashion show to life in words and is known for writing full columns on her Blackberry. Despite the influence she yields, she also happens to be one of the most gracious and personable people I’ve yet to come across in the industry.
At the moment, Anaïs Nin, she lived a fascinating, full life and experienced things I likely never will. She met some of the most influential people of the time and I’m sure that the critique and insight she’d offer my writing would be unmatched.
Rachel Roy would be my dream mentor because she has created an incredible fashion empire. I would ask her how her contemporary style, background, and contacts within the industry have helped her create the Rachel Roy brand. I’m a huge fan of her brand and someday I hope to create something similar.
My answer would be André Leon Talley! In the words of Manolo Blahnik, “André doesn’t have fashion. André himself is fashion.”
Tyler Brûlé. He is the editor and founder of Monocle and Wallpaper magazines. He is well known for being “cool,” in the sense of “not cool.” I mean really he is very accomplished and all but in some ways the worst. I also got the opportunity to meet him during a conference in Toronto.
8 SHE CANADA
Pop Culture Contributor
ROBIN ESROCK Author Bill Bryson. He inspired my curiosity and humour, which made me want to explore the world, and have fun doing it.
When I pick up a magazine, I usually look for something specific, especially if I’m at Chapters or waiting to catch the bus. SHE Magazine gives me the feel of an “everything” magazine, I don’t usually opt for that kind, but as I flip through the pages I realize I am not only looking at fashion but also learning about a culture I never though I could learn from. —Adrianna, Toronto
NEW YORK FASHION WEEK: with Indian Supermodel
HOLT RENFREW show at WMCFW
revolutionizing the South Asian music scene
PIROUETTE INTO THE
DEC/JAN 2012 $4.99 CAD
| Dh 18.47 AED | £3.18
Tadashi Shoji’s Democratization of Fashion
Lady Fatemah Trust: HUMANITARI ANISM ONE SOLAR PANEL AT A TIME
IN STYLE GOA: Beaches, Vespas and Cow s?
For the December/ January issue the article that captured my attention the most was “Model Behaviour” because I have never though of or paid attention to the model, instead my focus goes on the clothes. So to learn something new about what I like, in a different perspective has its rewards: I learn something new today. —Tara, London I loved that you featured VAWK in your magazine! This is such a cool and elegant brand, yet I feel like it gets almost no mention from the mainstream media. It’s great to see that SHE’s giving credit where it’s due. —Rhea, Pickering I’ve read one previous issue of SHE, and I just had to say “whoa” when I saw “A Winter’s Tale” what a gorgeous dog! It’s a shame there were so few pictures. —Maya, Oshawa I enjoyed the piece on Pretty Sweet Cupcakes, but felt that you only told half of the story. Although food trucks in Toronto are booming, they face countless challenges from city legislature. It would’ve been nice to read about how this truck is dealing with such obstacles. —Pia, North York I found the fashion coverage to be outstanding this month, from Tadashi Shoji to Vassi, there really was something for everyone! —Ritu, Ajax
I’ve been reading the magazine for the past few months, and I had to write in to tell you how pleased I am with your new, glossy paper! Your content has never looked better. —Payal, Toronto We’d love to hear from you! Please send us your questions, comments and criticisms to firstname.lastname@example.org
SHE CANADA 9
Dior Price on Request
Chanel Cuff Price on Request
Disney Fantasia Bones Cuff $450
How adorable are some of Mumbai’s neighbourhood names? Breach Candy, Bandra, Kemp’s Corner and, my personal favourite, Cuffe Parade. In honour of the most well-heeled ‘hood in South Bombay, here are some of our favourite cuffs that work anywhere from high tea at the Taj to lunch at Bombay Gym to cocktail hour Indigo’s rooftop patio.
Isharya Cuff $188
Isharya Cuff $158 Mawi Cuff $765
10 SHE CANADA
Chanel Vintage Logo Hair Clip
Actually…do. Hair accessories are not just for your mother’s bridal trousseau from the early ‘80s anymore! Diodems, maang tikkas and blinged out hair pins will let you channel any number of historically accurate women from Downton Abbey’s Lady Mary to Diana Ross.
Diva Chain Hair Comb $16.99
Deepa Gurnani Hair Chain $58
Rosantica Fresh Water Pearl Hair Slide $345
Miroslava Duma in Chanel
Urban Outfitters Hair Band $14.99 Louis Mariette Hair Band $345
SHE CANADA 11
DIOR MARC JACOBS
The SS13 runways were ALL about stripes, bars and lines. Vertical or horizontal, one need not shy from this trend. This seasonâ€™s stripe comes in all shapes and sizes and can even wrap around your curves to accentuate your best assets!
12 SHE CANADA
DOLCE & GABANNA
SHE CANADA 13
Burberry Prorsum Drop Waist Wool Coat $3,595
Azzedine Alaia Ecaille Dress $2,760
What’s not to love about drop waist dresses? They’re super flattering, insanely chic right now and can take you from a casual Saturday lunch straight to the club in the evening (trust me, I’ve done it). Worried about looking like a 1920s flapper? Try the look in a wide range of bright colours—if Mrs. Beckham will do it, so must you.
Alice & Olivia $285
14 SHE CANADA
K Jacques $260
Phillip Lim $750
Alexander Wang Jimmy Choo $995
Dolce Vita $198
It’s time to dig up those long-forgotten gladiator sandals! According to the SS13 runways, this style is due for a comeback. Whether you embrace the knee-high version or stick to something more basic, keep things strappy this spring. Wear with pencil skirts, rompers and dresses— like it’s 2008 again. Miu Miu $610
SHE CANADA 15
By Priya Kumar
live for a good Target collaboration. Back in 2009 when Target teamed up with Anna Sui for a Gossip Girl themed line I found myself travelling to three different Target locations around the Greater New York area in search of every piece in the collection (I was successful only at their Bronx location). Since Sui, Target has paired with the likes of Rodarte, Jason Wu, Missoni and Proenza Schouler. The lines have been surrounded by much controversy with eBayers hoarding a good deal of the collection and selling it off at triple and quadruple the price to those who missed their chance to pick up a piece of the limited edition lines or arenâ€™t conveniently located near a Targetâ€”including us lucky Canadians. At the moment, we expect no less of their latest collaboration with the Nepalese design virtuoso Prabal Gurung.
16 SHE CANADA
Born in Singapore, Gurung spent some time in New Delhi at the beginning of his career where he attended the renowned National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT). He apprenticed locally with other top designers including Manish Arora—little did he know, Arora would soon prove to be a contemporary of his in the west. By 1999, Gurung further spread his wings by doing a design degree at Parsons School of Design during which he interned at Donna Karan. Cynthia Rowley soon snapped up Gurung upon graduation, to join her design team. He stayed at the house for two years before ascending to the helm of Bill Blass. Half a decade later Gurung launched his eponymous line, which was awarded runner-up by the 2010 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund. He has since seen the patronage of Michelle Obama, Lady Gaga, Oprah and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. If there ever was the ideal candidate for Target to partner with, Gurung is it. His CV reflects the maturity of an established designer, but his most recent collections suggest an aesthetic that pushes the boundaries of conventional design. For his tie-up with Target, Gurung says, “I believe collaborations are important to remaining fresh and relevant in the fast-moving world of fashion and most importantly, they allow you to reach a wider audience. For me, it is an exciting challenge to interpret my aesthetic into a mass-produced product.” His thought process behind the collection is entirely unique will quite honestly take your breath away; “The collection is inspired by a girl’s journey through the different stages of love and the clothes she wears during each milestone—from the first date to meeting the parents to the engagement.” The world of fast fashion in undoubtedly different from that of luxury—to begin with, your target market is much wider. In regards to how he dealt with this shift of demographic, Gurung says, “Mixing ‘high’ and ‘mass’ fashion is the modern way of dressing; people don’t wear head-to-toe high-end designers anymore. These types of collaborations allow people to experience designer clothes at an affordable price, while still maintaining the look of luxury. So I worked side-by-side with Target to create the highest quality product at amazing prices. I think you’ll be impressed with the level of quality in the collection.” Known as capsule collections, these collaborations are the future of fashion. Even those who can afford head-to-toe designer opt for a mix of luxury and everyday wear. The younger generation that make up modern-day tastemakers including bloggers and junior PR execs, have the desire and ability to pull off high-end fashion but cannot always afford it. Luxury brands such as Gurung’s have recognized this and are making themselves top of mind to the future luxury decision makers by positioning themselves as more accessible. We look forward to what Target has in store for us next—especially now that in 2013 it will be in our own backyard in Canada.
SHE CANADA 17
18 SHE CANADA
SHE CANADA 19
Bringing Indian fashion to Western and Central Canada By Parveen Singh
“We are more than fashion, we are the style destination, a point of reference, a point of conversation – we are Crossover Bollywood Se, Haute Indian Couture.” says owner Raanee Khaira. Photography by GAUTAM ARORA 20 SHE CANADA
ver dream of being able to get your hands on the Masaba sari you saw Sonam Kapoor wearing at the Filmfare Awards? How about that Manish Malholtra lengha Kareena Kapoor wore at her wedding? Well now you can turn that dream into a reality. Opening its doors in 2006, Crossover Bollywood Se is 4,000 sq feet of exotic collections—a South Asian fashion connoisseur’s paradise. The store is designed to emulate a real movie set, with props, director’s chairs and a cashier booth designed as a box office. The concept is the brainchild of owner and designer Raanee Khaira and Bollywood actor Suniel Shetty. Bollywood churns out more movies annually than any other industry. As a result, it’s a major driver behind fashion trends in India and and around the world. Khaira, a former banker, was raised in Vancouver in a traditional South Asian family. She has always had a strong interest in fashion and was known to create her own unique outfits. She attributes her interest in making clothes to being petite and having difficulty finding anything that fit (something I can relate too), so she took matters into her own hands. This self-taught entrepreneur says although she had been creating outfits for herself for some time, it wasn’t until her sister’s wedding and helping to customize her bridal outfits that she realized, “I can do this!” With the support of her family, she began her own home-based design studio. The success of the venture led Khaira to pursue her dream, of a store that specialized in designer wear straight from the heart of Indian fashion—Bollywood. She reached out to her contacts and was able to connect with actor Suniel Shetty in Calgary while he was shooting a movie. Shetty being quite business savvy himself (he has many ventures in India), took to the idea right away and the rest was as they say history.
What’s in a name? Bollywood Se is Hindi for “From Bollywood.” However, the team felt the company was an international brand so they decided to give it an international touch with Crossover. Crossover refers to bringing people and fashion together or the east meets west factor. Currently, there are two Canadian locations in Surrey, BC and Calgary, Alberta. Besides clothing, Crossover also carries jewellery. Like the exclusive collections carried at the store, Khaira personally searches for brands that take a fresh new perspective on Indian jewellery. Khaira says that in the future she would love to open more franchises and of course add to the collection with more big names, including some top Pakistani designers. Designers carried at Crossover Bollywood Se include: Neeta Lulla, Manisha Malholtra, Rohit Bal, Shyamal & Bhumika, Shantanu & Nikal, SatyaPaul, Aki Narula, Anita Dongre, Suneet Verma, Lacelles Symons, Falguni and Shane Peacock, and recently they added my favourite Masaba Gupta!
The store carries a large range of Bollywood fashion for all occasions from western gowns, couture, and bridal. Shetty says, “Original designs, original designers. Crossover carries the whole range, with no imitations.” This was something both Khaira and Shetty felt strongly about; they wanted the real deal. This concept has redefined the Indian shopping experience in the west. Khaira says that when people watch Aishwarya Rai on screen and they see her in those beautiful Neeta Lulla outfits, they want those exact creations. “It can be hard to find quality garments because stores often sell cheap imitations of what you see in the movies,” says Khaira. “In some cases, people will pay less at our store for the real thing than they would pay for a knockoff somewhere else.” And because not everyone can go to India, Crossover Bollywood Se has made it easy for women of all ages to be able to get original pieces from their favourite designers, right in their own backyard. The Crossover team also says that even in India a store of this calibre is unheard of, because in Mumbai each designer usually has his or her own speciality boutique. If you’re looking for a few designer pieces you may be traveling between different locations to find them. Crossover Bollywood Se eliminates that lag time for its customers by bringing these designers under one roof. Also, to meet the needs of customers, they offer an in-house label and access to in-house designers. This provides customers with the chance to buy more cost-effective gifts and for large wedding parties the option to have garments made for everyone such as bridesmaid outfits.
Crossover Bollywood Se is available at: Vancouver location: 184 - 8138 128th street Surrey, BC V3W 1R1 Ph: 604-502-8818
Calgary location: 160-55 Castleridge Boulevard N.E. Calgary, AB T3J 3J8 Ph: 403-453-1500
SHE CANADA 21
A FASHION POWERHOUSE IN THE MAKING By Liz Guber
22 SHE CANADA
Golnaz Ashtiani’s fresh, edgy and undeniably cool label makes it a Toronto Fashion Week stand out. After winning the Toronto Fashion Incubator’s New Labels, considered by many to be Canada’s most prestigious fashion design competition, Golnaz Ashtiani is understandably busy. The designer’s schedule seems so jam-packed that I consider myself quite fortunate to snag an interview with her. A $10,000 cheque signed by Suzanne Rogers and media exposure a fresh grad could only dream of, makes for a great launching pad and Ashtiani has certainly been making the most of it. Innovative cuts, an inspired colour palette and a heavy emphasis on silhouette is why Ashtiani is the label to covet. “Coming from a creative family, I was always surrounded by art and music” Ashtiani explains her natural transition into the world of fashion. Ashtiani relocated from Toronto to London at the age of 14 and went on to study at the London College of Design, specializing in womenswear. While in London, Ashtiani worked for designers Amanda Wakeley- a luxury evening and bridal designer and Jasmine De Milo who counts Lady Gaga among her clientele and whose more experimental and edgy style no doubt had some influence on Ashtiani’s own design aesthetic. Feeling the pull of family ties, Ashtiani returned to Toronto, and with a little help from TFI, started her eponymous label. The winning collection Ashtiani presented at New Labels received unanimous praise for its unexpected use of layering and structure. Ashtiani was inspired by Polish-born cubism artist Tamara de Lempicka. Channeling Art Deco throughout her creations, Ashtiani folded, layered and inlaid wool crepe to produce a stunning, yet understated 12-piece collection consisting of coats, dresses and separates in hues of sienna, ivory, camel and rose. The mix of London and Toronto influences is evident in Ashtiani’s clothes. She describes the London fashion scene as “more eclectic and unexpected” in contrast to Toronto where she feels we are “governed by the weather and [the] extreme [conditions] make it
more difficult for a more experimental style.” Ashtiani’s standout pieces can easily transition into layering wardrobe staples. Front slit trousers, sweaters with patent leather details, and precision cut jackets from the collection achieve the impossible: warmth and style. Looking at Ashtiani’s clothes, it becomes clear why she took the top spot at New Labels, her work is innovative, yet commercial. “My work can be best described as a modernistic and clean-cut take on designs inspired by the classic era.” The designer adds, “the focus of the brand is on precession cutting and its impeccable tailoring and intriguing silhouettes [to create] wholly original colour palette and fabric combinations.” For Spring/Summer 2013 Ashtiani takes us to the South of France circa 1960. Taking inspiration from the last century isn’t new for Ashtiani, who considers her collection of vintage fashion glossies to be her most prized possession, as well as a constant source of ideas. Ladylike shapes clash with geometric prints and the bold use of sheer panels. Materials such as PVC, silk organza and textured cotton in looks ranging from luxe sportswear to cocktail attire bring back the bold, almost futuristic looks not unlike the work of Pierre Cardin in his heyday. Ashtiani is busy preparing for her third consecutive runway presentation at Toronto Fashion Week, and tells me that we can expect more of her signature “classics with a twist” looks fit for the everyday “it” girl. “Preparation for the show starts a month in advance with fitting sessions, model casting, meetings with the hair and makeup team. It’s a very hectic yet exciting process.” With stock lists in London, Hong Kong and here in Toronto, where Ashtiani’s pieces can be purchased at Yorkville’s Rac Boutique, it looks like the designer is in high demand. With each passing season Ashtiani continues to grow her presence in the fashion world, her time becoming all the more precious, something tells me she wouldn’t want it any other way. SHE CANADA 23
Striking the Balance Between East and West By Summun Jafri
n an age where Indian designers continue to struggle to find the right balance between Indian style with western influence in their designs, one man is over a decade ahead of the times. Over the past thirteen years Rajesh Pratap Singh has managed to create a brand that represents the evolving landscape of Indian fashion. His ready-to-wear collections have been a huge success among South Asians and he has gained an international following as well. Singh graduated from the National Institute of Fashion Design (NIFT) in New Delhi in 1994. Before starting his own line he worked for Indian designer David Abraham and then in Italy for a label called Marzotto. In 1996 his eponymous label was born, and has been going strong ever since. In addition to showing at India’s various Fashion Weeks, he has also presented his collections in Paris, Dubai, and Milan. Singh has received a huge amount of recognition for his work over the years. The Victoria & Albert Museum in London houses samples of his ikat and ajrak prints in their permanent textiles and apparel archives. The June 2009 issue of Newsweek labeled him one of India’s most talented and creative designers. In September 2009, GQ awarded him “Designer of the Year” at the Man of the Year Awards. He received the EDIDA award from ELLE Décor in December 2010. His collections offer ease and comfort, but can be identified by his use of Indian craftsmanship and attention to detail. All the while, he manages to keep up with the latest trends by incorporating them in a way that is unique while maintaining a certain timelessness. His clothes appeal to a large demographic as his designs are on trend yet practical for both men and women. He is well 24 SHE CANADA
known for his use of the ikat print, which is hand woven in India. A few seasons back his use of skull imagery became widely popular as he managed to create an original design unlike any other offered at the time. His design was even used on India’s Fashion Night Out T-shirts in 2010. In addition to his own label, Singh has worked on several collaborative projects within various industries. He has worked on interior design concepts and art installations for businesses in India, created uniforms for airline staff and jewellers, and has collaborated with Arvind Mills and Tata for womenswear collections. One of the most highly anticipated shows of the Spring/Summer 2013 season at (Wills Lifestyle Indian Fashion Week) WIFW back in October was Singh’s, following his brief hiatus. The best way to describe the collection is to say that watching it come down the runway was like viewing the seasonal transition of fashion from a dark, cold winter to a fresh new spring. Singh’s first few designs were short, structured dark coloured dresses, primarily in black. Most featured different types of textures and detailing, and I would say any of them would suffice as the perfect fashion forward LBD (Little Black Dress). After the darker colours were presented the runway abruptly shifted to a collection of metallic - gold, silver, cream, and taupe dresses, both short and long, once again using some amazing textures and fabrics, in addition to draping, patterns, mirrors, and more. The collection is a perfect example of Singh’s ability to create fashion forward designs while staying true to his own vision. The designs are stunning and most pieces are cut in a way to suit many body types, and of course look great on South Asian skin tones. Singh is currently based in New Delhi, India. His runway collections can be seen on his official website www.rajeshpratapsingh.com
SHE CANADA 25
Uniformity Has Never Looked So Good By Liz Guber
he last time I donned a school uniform was in the third grade. My mother would loosely interpret the dress code, choosing to dress her daughter in trousers while all the other girls got to wear maroon and hunter green tartan skirts. The signature white hair bow was also out of the question - much to this eight-year old’s dismay. There’s no denying that the cardigan-clad schoolgirl has been a pop culture enigma for the past few decades, from Kill Bill’s Japanese prep school assassin Gogo Yubari to Britney Spears’ alter ego in the iconic Hit Me Baby One More Time video. Yet, no other schoolgirl has left her mark on fashion quite like Gossip Girl’s Upper East Side queen bee, Blair Waldorf. Blair’s character was known for taking her Constance Billard uniform up a notch with the help of her go-to accessory, a headband. Whether they were bold or understated, adorned with a flower or bow, Blair Waldor’s hair accessories were a defining style staple. For schoolgirls living in the real world, and not on the set of a heavily stylized, aspirational television series, wearing a uniform isn’t quite as glamorous. The colours don’t flatter, the fit isn’t right, and then there’s always the problem of looking like every single one of your classmates. Bel Ami aims to cure students of their uniform woes with custom, innovative and handcrafted headbands and accessories available to schools across North America. “I knew for quite some time that I wanted to become an entrepreneur... the question was just what product to sell” says company founder Erin Fitzpatrick, adding, “school accessories were a very organic fit because I went to an all-girls school with a uniform—I wore a kilt and knee highs for many years and am very aware of the style wants and needs of this demographic.” It’s the definition of a win-win. The students get to add some much-needed flair to their uniforms while the parents and school administrators are happy to see the school’s logo and colours appear on the heads of happy students.
Erin Fitzpatrick is the founder of Bel Ami School Headbands - an idea so brilliant in its simplicity, you wonder why you didn’t come up with it yourself.
26 SHE CANADA
Fitzpatrick, a Calgary native, studied Biology at Queen’s University, and although it seems like an unusual choice for the fashion entrepreneur, Fitzpatrick has no regrets “I have something to fall back on. They also taught me to be organized, disciplined and selfmotivated—key attributes needed to successfully manage your own business.” As a resident member of the Toronto Fashion Incubator,
the Bel Ami headquarters are located in a charming brick-walled studio overflowing with headband samples. “I was initially drawn to TFI because of the amazing resources they have available to new Canadian designers. The moment I entered the Toronto Fashion Incubator building I knew it was where I had to be. The creative and nurturing environment here is unparalleled.”
The customization options along with Fitzpatrick’s commitment to outstanding service mean that no colour combination or style is off-limits. Each headband is comfortable for all-day wear and is made with high quality gros-grain ribbon. “To individualize our looks my friends and I would accessorize as much as our uniform code allowed (which was not a lot!). Bel Ami School Accessories offer students the ability to express their own individual style while complimenting their uniform.” Most notably, Fitzpatrick’s creations wouldn’t look out of place outside school halls. As a girl with her school days far behind her, I wouldn’t mind rocking Bel Ami’s bestselling double bow headband with a pencil skirt and loose sweater for a preppy take on the office casual look. A quick poll of my style-savvy friends reveals that I’m not alone. What about the boys, you ask? They’re not left out of the fun, as Bel Ami offers custom cuff links engraved with their school’s logo, as well as unisex embossed medallion bracelets on a simple band in the school’s signature colour. With plans to make the Bel Ami brand global, Erin Fitzpatrick’s creations will continue to delight thousands of today’s schoolgirls, as well as those that have graduated, wistfully wishing they could do it all over again, this time with a Buttercup Bow headband in their hair.
SHE CANADA 27
“COCO” CHANEL CHANGED WOMENSWEAR FOREVER 28 SHE CANADA
She went from an orphan to the most respected fashion icon of the twentieth century—not a bad run for one lifetime. With a flat chest and narrow hips, a body akin to that of an adolescent boy, she primarily created garments that evoked her many lovers with a feminine twist. Her choice of textile was the lowbrow jersey in her favourite colour palette of shades of beige, black and white— revolutionary following the pre-war mentality of excess. Striking out with her first boutique in 1910 with World War I not far on the horizon, Chanel took the market by storm and never looked back. The fashion industry soon followed suit (pun intended) and comfort finally found its place in the world of womenswear.
s every South Asian sartorialist now knows, Chanel’s annual Métiers d’Art 2011/12 fashion show in Paris was themed Paris-Bombay. Of the collection, Creative Director Karl Lagerfeld said, “because India for me is an idea, I know nothing about reality. I have a poetic vision of something that may be less poetic. Mix of English chic and Indian influence for something very elegant.” He goes onto say, “there’s something that I like in India. Indian women who can buy Chanel, they wear it mixed with their own things from India. It’s the only country that makes mixed. It’s very beautiful, very chic. They wear a Chanel jacket with their [outfit] arranged like a sari… Even the poor have dignity. Even poor women own three gold bracelets.” Here at SHE we spent the past year talking about, writing about and analyzing every inch of the presentation’s social implications on fashion.
SHE CANADA 29
By December 2012, I’d memorized every look in the collection inside out, down to the textiles and seamstress techniques utilized, but I had yet to see the collection in the flesh (or, I suppose, fibre). It was over the holidays while visiting my best friend in London that I chanced upon the collection at Selfridges on Oxford Street. I felt like a child in a toy store and tried on every piece they had in my size (apparently an American size 4 is a Chanel size 40). It was then and there I fell in love with a wool blazer with silver and red foil piping. The double-breasted jacked included an exquisitely embroidered Chanel crest on the pocket and enamel buttons featuring white Indian elephants. If there ever was a Chanel piece made for me, this was it. After 24 hours of contemplation, I dragged Anjli back to Selfridges and made my largest investment in fashion to date. Let’s focus on the gratification that followed purchasing this piece—there is something about this fashion house that has been for over a century synonymous with style. “My fortune is built on that old jersey that I’d put on because it was cold in Deauville,” Coco Chanel once said. Back in the early 1900s, jersey was an inexpensive material primarily used for men’s underwear, but when the iconic design house began to use the textile in 1912, womenswear was sent on a whole new trajectory. Women went from stuffing their curves into the S-bend corset to devouring Chanel’s laid-back style. Clients welcomed this shift, viewing the rigidity of the past as outdated and impractical in a war-ravaged world. Soon to follow were her iconic collarless twopiece suits and the little black dress. Today owning Chanel makes a statement both about one’s sense of style and personal accomplishment in regards to being able to afford such fine craftsmanship. How the young ingénue Coco ultimately filled the shoes of the fashion authority we now know as Chanel is truly an epic tale.
MÉTIERS D’ART 2011/12 BOMBAY-PARIS SHOW
30 SHE CANADA
“Success is often achieved by those that don’t know that failure is inevitable.” Exactly 100 years my senior, Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel was born out of wedlock in 1883. Her mother was a laundress at a poorhouse in the Loire Valley at the time. She and her five siblings lived precarious childhoods. Her mother died of bronchitis when Chanel was only twelve years old and her father, unable (or unwilling) to care for the five children, dealt them out to various relatives. Gabrielle and her two sisters soon went to live at the convent of Aubazine, a church-run orphanage for young girls. It was here, guided by the nuns, she picked up sewing. By the age of 18 when she was too old to stay at the orphanage any longer, she was sent to a boarding house in Moulins run by the Catholic Church. Chanel’s early life is shrouded in mystery, particularly because when she eventually found success, she fabricated much of her childhood in an effort to obscure her humble beginnings. Early biographies, commissioned by Chanel herself, state her father did not in actuality abandon her.
a cabaret as a poseuses, a space-filler between the bigger stars’ performances. In 1906 at the age of 23, Chanel ventured to the vacation town of Vichy. Renowned for their concert halls and mineral water, Chanel hoped to get her big break. Instead she realized that stage performance was not her calling and returned to Moulins to lick her wounds. Many believe it was during this period her name Coco was coined from the popular songs “Ko Ko Ri Ko” and “Qui qu’a vu Coco” she sang on stage. It is also entirely possible the name “Coco” stemmed from the word cocotte—the French term for mistress. After Chanel’s aspirations for the stage were dashed, she took up with an affluent textile magnate— Étienne Balsan. Balsan showered Chanel in riches, introduced her to high society and all the decadence that came with it— diamonds, lavish vacations to the South of France and thoroughbred horses. The latter would prove to be as significant a passion to Chanel as fashion itself. While her relationship with Balsan did not prove to be the most emotionally or professionally significant, it was the catalyst for everything
“Some people think luxury is the opposite of poverty. It is not. It is the opposite of vulgarity.” Through Balsan, Chanel met Captain Arthur Edward ‘Boy’ Capel. An upper class Englishman, he was a consort of Balsan’s. Chanel once said later in life, “two gentlemen were outbidding for my hot little body.” It was Capel who financially backed Chanel’s life in Paris and her initial foray into fashion and would prove in the end to be one of the most influential figures in her life. During her relationship with Capel, Chanel took up millinery as a hobby, which led to a small commercial venture at 21 rue Cambon. The business initially opened as Chanel Modes and introduced the use of public relations as a promotional technique when Gabrielle Dorziat, a prominent theater performer of the time, wore a Chanel hat in the 1912 play Bel Ami. The brand soon became a hot commodity amongst the elite. Although hard to believe, she did not crossover to apparel until 1913 when she opened her second boutique in the vacation town of Deauville off the coast in Normandy. Recognizing the void of premium jersey lounge and sport wear in the town bustling with weekenders, she introduced a practical product the women of the upper echelons of society didn’t yet know they needed. She had the emotional support of two of her closest family members though this expansion of her business—her sister Antoinette and her youthful aunt Adrienne. Adrienne Chanel, although Coco’s age, was actually the daughter of Coco’s grandfather. Adrienne and Antoinette were brought on board to model Chanel’s pieces throughout the wealthy town’s various streets, boardwalks and gardens—an early example of a guerilla marketing strategy.
Instead, he left for America to look for new business ventures and left her and her siblings with two mean-spirited spinster aunts. She would even claim her birth year was actually 1893, rather than 1883, with her mother passing away in her infancy as opposed to her early teens. The sewing skills Chanel acquired at the orphanage helped find her work as a seamstress. In her spare time she worked at
else that was yet to come. In a 2010 study titled Coco Chanel: The Legend and the Life (Harper Collins), author Justine Picardie suggests Chanel’s beloved nephew, André Palasse was not actually the son of her sister Julia-Berthe, but in fact her own by Balsan. Chanel claims Palasse appeared in her life at the age of 6 and was immediately sent to a respected boarding school in the UK. Palasse went on to name his eldest Gabrielle after “Auntie Coco.”
Given the success of the Deauville location, Chanel tried her magic on the equally popular town of Biarritz. Given its convenient access to the Spanish border and the neutral stance it maintained throughout World War I, the seaside town was an oasis for Europe’s elite. Her gamble proved a success and by 1916 she was able to pay Capel back in full for his investment. He did not request she do this, but Chanel insisted, speaking volumes about her sharp business acumen. SHE CANADA 31
“A woman who doesn’t wear perfume has no future.” It was in 1918 that Chanel became a certified couturier and acquired an entire building at 31 rue Cambon in Paris’ most upscale fashion district. Having conquered the world of apparel and accessories, Chanel decided to further branch out into beauty. She created Chanel No. 5, described in her own words as “a woman’s perfume with a woman’s scent.” She tackled this project with the assistance of Eduard Beaux, perfumer to the Czars. Instead of creating a scent that glorified only one flower like those already on the market, Beaux created something drastically different. His travels took him to the Arctic Circle for inspiration. Chanel insisted on increasing the amount of jasmine used to create the fragrance. This precious scent was mixed with May rose, Haitian vetiver, ylang-ylang, sandalwood, orange blossom, essence of Neroli, Brazilian Tonka beans and dozens of other essences to create a wholly unique perfume radiating in extravagant floral richness. As the first perfume to use aldehydes to create aromatic complexity, No. 5’s various components were able to compliment and play off one another each other perfectly. It is said that the perfume was titled No. 5 because it was the fifth sample Beaux presented to her—the number 5 also held numerological significance that was important to Chanel. The packaging of the fragrance was similar to potions found at the local apothecary—simple, chic and functional not unlike every other item sold under the Chanel umbrella. In the years that followed, Théophile Bader, founder of Galeries Lafayette, introduced Chanel to Pierre Wertheimer, a businessman in the field of fragrances and cosmetics. He expressed a great deal of interest in assisting with the distribution of No. 5, which was initially only offered to her top clientele as a gift with purchase in her boutiques. This business transaction involved the creation of Parfums Chanel under Wertheimer’s distribution house Bourgeois. The breakdown of profits of No. 5 were as follows: 70% to Bourgeois, 20% to Théophile Bader and the remaining 10% to Chanel for the use of her name on the corporate entity but for no involvement in the business operations. No. 5 soon proved to be a cash cow for Bourgeois and, feeling cheated, Chanel spent more than 20 years trying to regain control of her eponymous beauty brand. In fact, it is said during World War II Chanel would attempt to use Nazi law to oust the Jewish Wertheimer family as the largest stakeholders of Parfums Chanel in an effort to regain it as her own. While Chanel’s involvement with the Nazi Party is muddled at best, she refuted the claim that she was involved with espionage. “What’s certain is that she had a relationship with a German aristocrat during the War. Clearly it wasn’t the best period to have a love story with a German even if Baron von Dincklage was English by his mother and [Chanel] knew him before the war,” the Chanel group once said in a statement. The fashion house has also gone on to deny Chanel as a person was an anti-Semite pointing out the fact that she would have never associated with her Jewish friends nor would the Rothschilds have financially backed her fashion house. “A lot of people in this world don’t want the iconic figure of Gabrielle Coco Chanel, one of France’s great culture idols, destroyed. This is definitely something that a lot of people would have preferred to put aside, to forget, to just go on selling Chanel scarves and jewellery,” stated Hal Vaughn in his book Sleeping with the Enemy, Coco Chanel’s Secret War. 32 SHE CANADA
“Innovation! One cannot be forever innovating. I want to create classics.” The post-World War II world eventually saw Chanel retreat to Switzerland, where she took a hiatus from designing for almost 15 years. In the time she was away, Parisian fashion saw the reemergence of the male couturier—Christian Dior, Cristóbal Balenciaga and Hubert de Givenchy brought back the old ideals of beauty to fashion. Although Dior’s “New Look” was wildly successful, Chanel called this modern fashion “illogical” in the design of its “waist cinchers, padded bras, heavy skirts and stiffened jackets.” She knew that there was never a better time to make her return. In 1954 she reestablished her fashion house, ironically fully financed by her former nemesis Pierre Wertheimer of No. 5 fame. Although Parisians dismissed Chanel’s return given her association with the Nazi party during the war, the British and Americans welcomed her back with open arms and remain some of her best clientele to date. While Chanel’s epic life story was full of contradictions and inconsistencies, the impact she made on fashion is indisputable. She passed away at the Ritz Hotel in Paris at the age of 87 in January of 1971. On the day of her death, she was preparing for her Spring collection and even went for a drive that afternoon. Not feeling well, she sent herself to bed early. She was laid to rest at Bois-de-Vaux Cemetery, in Lausanne, Switzerland. Unlike her couturier contemporaries who have also stood the test of time, there is still something distinctly Chanel about every garment the label turns out. Buying a piece of Chanel is not just satisfying a need to be clothed and warm in the winter, but signifies the purchase into a legacy. Chanel’s annual Métiers d’Arts show is a manifestation of this legacy, interpreted through the lens of various cultural filters. Ultimately, there is no denying every collection put out since 1971 has had Coco Chanel’s name written all over it. She was a cultural pioneer who broke the mold of what was expected of every woman who came before her and she did it unapologetically on her own terms. If there is anything to be drawn from her tumultuous life, it is this.
SHE CANADA 33
34 SHE CANADA
SHE CANADA 35
36 SHE CANADA
SHE CANADA 37
38 SHE CANADA
SHE CANADA 39
40 SHE CANADA
SHE CANADA 41
42 SHE CANADA
SHE CANADA 43
44 SHE CANADA
SHE CANADA 45
By Priya Kumar
On December 16, 2012 an assault of unfathomable proportions took place on a bus in South Delhi. The victims, both in their 20s, were young, educated and had a full life ahead of themselves to live. Tragically only one of them made it out alive. In this piece we examine India’s relationship with women, rape and what it means to be female in the world’s largest democracy
was a chilly December night in South Delhi when a couple of friends—one male, one female—attended a screening of Life of Pi at an upscale mall in the neighbourhood of Saket. As she, a 23-year-old physiotherapy student, and he, a 28-year-old software engineer, watched the movie, five men met up at a house party at a nearby slum to hatch a sinister plan. One of the men, a private school bus driver, decided to take his vehicle out on a joyride with the other four accomplices in search of trouble. The first “fare” they picked up was a carpenter who paid a regular ticket price (Rs. 10 or approximately 20 cents). They proceeded to rob him of Rs. 8,000 and toss him from the bus. They quickly moved onto their next target: a young couple exiting the mall after a movie. The men again duped the pair into paying regular fare, promising a fast ride home. As the bus drove on, the assailants announced they would be reaching their destination soon, but the pair grew suspicious when they did not recognize the route. The victims soon began to be taunted by the men on board, asking why they were out alone so late. When the male victim tried to intervene, he was knocked out by a medal rod used for bus maintenance. They proceeded to drag the young lady to the back of the bus where they brutally beat and raped her while the bus drove on. Although she attempted to fight the attackers off by biting them, the assault occurred for two and a half hours. By the time the nightmare came to a close and the couple tossed out of the bus, the female victim suffered severe internal organ damage to her abdomen. The assailants even attempted to run the bus over her, but fortunately her badly beaten companion was able to get her out of the way. The police arrived only to further bungle the live case—they first argued over which district would handle the incident. They then debated on which hospital to send the pair to (a far off hospital was agreed upon). Two hours after being tossed from the bus, the victims
46 SHE CANADA
arrived at the hospital. One can only imagine how much precious time was lost in the interim. By the time the victims arrived at ICU, the female was admitted with only 5% of her intestines left in her body. The rod employed in the attack was used with such force most of her organ did not survive the trauma. Twelve days after the incident itself, the young lady succumbed to her injuries at Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore where she was airlifted to receive the best care available. It was a move that was widely criticized for being political and not in the best interest of the patient. Unfortunately no care was good enough to save her life. In the meantime, back in New Delhi, protests raged on in the name of the unnamed woman who lost her life amidst such tragedy. Without a name, the media and public dubbed the victim simply “Braveheart.” Delhi is infamous for being unsafe for women. In the past, when I would travel to New Delhi on business, my female colleagues and I were encouraged to take pre-paid taxis wherever we went, not to loiter in secluded areas and to avoid traveling at all without a male companion at night. “Anything can happen in Delhi—and unlike in Mumbai, no one will be around to hear your screams for help,” is generally what we were told. That said, this young lady did everything she was supposed to. She was not alone. She was not out late (the incident occurred at 9:54PM—a time considered early by Indian standards). She was using public transportation in a very public place. What could she have done to avoid this despicable tragedy? The answer is as unsettling as the incident—she could have done nothing differently. India is known for their marginalization of women. Back in October, SHE Canada ran a piece on gender selection in predominantly South Asian communities in Canada. The facts we uncovered were unsettling at best especially considering we were only looking at Canada. In much of India, the female to male ratio is as low as 800 to 1000. According to a recent New York Times article, research estimates there are 100 million “missing women” in India. This research based on Nobel Peace Prize winner Amartya Sen’s work states that these missing women, had they died at the same rate as men born around the same time, should still be alive today. From birth, women are seen to many as nothing more than the burden of an expensive dowry with no ability to financially care for her parents in old age. As a result, society has begun to view women as the inferior gender— mothers breastfeed their sons longer, parents are more likely to purchase mosquito netting for a son over a daughter and a son is oftentimes fed more than a daughter. After all, having a girl is viewed as a liability to many lower to middle-class families. This is a sentiment largely supported by modern Bollywood. The film industry in India has evolved in such a way that it portrays women as little more than a caricature to be objectified, chasing after her perfect man, waiting for her day of deliverance (i.e. a big fat Desi wedding).
Back to the issue at hand, India has been thrust into the spotlight on due part to this horrific crime. Every news outlet from CNN to the BBC to even the International Herald Tribune have dissected and analyzed what exactly needs to change in India so that such a crime never occurs again. The heat the media and protestors are putting on the Indian government is causing politicians to act out against these criminals unlike ever before. Last year in New Delhi there were a recorded 635 rape cases brought before the courts. Only one resulted in a conviction. But this is only the tip of the iceberg—1 in 10 cases of rape go unreported to protect the honour of the victims’ families, which means next to none of the assailants involved in these vile crimes will ever be punished. So why this case? Based on the severity of the injuries this young lady suffered at the hands of her attackers, the fact that there were multiple witnesses including her companion and because she was also largely upper-middle class has added additional sensationalism to the case and transfixed both the local and international press. This could have been your daughter, they write. Rape is not an Indian problem. It’s not even a modern issue—in fact, it’s perhaps historically the world’s oldest crime. The difference between the rarity of the act in the West and in India is the conviction rate of the criminals. In Western countries, conviction lies between 40% and 70%. In New Delhi, if we’re to go by the above statistic, it’s less than 0.16%—which given the lack of reported cases is a figure that I’m comfortable calling negligible. So if a crime carries no punishment whatsoever, what’s stopping a would-be criminal from offending? India has quite a bit of selfreflection to do now that this case has resulted in five murder charges. And unfortunately, slapping these vagrants with the death penalty for being the few to have gotten caught red handed by the international press is not necessarily the answer. Changing the system of assailant prosecution is the first step, educating men on the value of women comes next. Finally, owning up to the inadequacies of their own judicial system is vital to facilitate this change, because if the politicians themselves fail to see their own shortcomings there is in reality very little room for improvement.
SHE CANADA 47
By Priya Kumar
ecently at a TEDx talk, supermodel Cameron Russell tackled the common girlie dream of becoming a supermodel. She directly addressed the reality of the industry, and the common question “How do you become a model?” I just always just say, ‘Oh, I was scouted’ but that means nothing. But the real way I became a model was that I won a genetic lottery and was the recipient of a legacy. Maybe you’re wondering what is a legacy. For the past few centuries we have defined beauty not just as health and youth and symmetry that we are biologically programmed to admire but also as tall, slender figures and femininity and white skin and this was a legacy that was built for me and it is a legacy that I have been cashing out on. I know there are people in the audience who are skeptical at this point and maybe there are some fashionistas who are like, “Wait Naomi, Tyra, Joan Smalls, Lui Wen,” and first I commend you on your model knowledge very impressive. But unfortunately, I have to inform you that in 2007 a very inspired NYU PhD student counted all the models on the runway, every single one that was hired and of the 677 models that were hired only 27, less than 4%, were non-white. The now veteran supermodel made some valid points and got us at the SHE office thinking—how does the racial disparity in fashion apply to the South Asian modelling scene, particularly in India where IMG runs a franchise fashion week and where international luxury brands including Louis Vuitton, Hermès and Chanel have recently set up shop? It has been about three years to the day that I arrived in India to work in fashion—I started in Editorial and slowly branched out into luxury PR. Something I noticed was the fact that many of the top models I had the opportunity to work with were
48 SHE CANADA
international, not unlike myself, but there was one further discrepancy. Many of these girls had one Caucasian parent. The result? India’s supermodel—a taller, fairer version of the average woman while still maintaining certain distinctly Indian features such as the long, thick dark hair and duskier skin than your run-of-the-mill Eastern European model. Ironically, in April 2010 Vogue India ran a cover story titled “Dawn of the Dusk.” It featured five top Indian supermodels in white bathing suits on a beach in Goa. The cover story’s aim was to celebrate natural skin colour in India with the Editor stating, “Every generation has its share of beauty myths. Perhaps it is time to bust this one. Time to say that as a magazine we love, and always have loved, this gorgeous skin colour of Indian skin…dark, dusky, bronze, golden—whatever you call it, we love it.” While I applauded Vogue India’s effort in this situation (especially considering the sales of whitening cream have since hit an all time high), there is one element about many of the participating models I must point out—many in this shoot were of the said halfling variety. Regardless of their skin colour, these models who are now at the top of India’s fashion scene have features that are predominantly Caucasian. In the documentary The Colour of Beauty, one New York-based casting director quoted a client as saying, “I need a black model, but she needs to be a white girl dipped in chocolate.” There was not an ounce of sarcasm or irony in how he said this either—rather, it was said to demonstrate the reality of the industry. Let’s shift focus back on South Asia. In the Bollywood obsessed culture, where some of the top starlets including Katrina Kaif and Kalki Kochin are not even fully ethnically Indian (Kochin is French and Kaif is just plain questionable), fairness and angular features reign supreme. In fact, the antonym of dusky (a euphemism
for dark skin) is wheatish. Besides the primarily wheatish complexions these foreign models bring to the table of local fashion weeks, they also have the height local Indian women lack; back in a 200506 census, the average height of Indian women was 4’9”—it is a measurement that would be viewed as childlike abroad. I suppose my point is, there are certain international standards for beauty in the fashion industry that India cannot seem to shake. Although it is a complete injustice to ethnic women (whether they be South Asian, Oriental or African) that global norms of beauty mimic Caucasian ideals, the top corporations backing these ideals were founded and grown by Caucasians. As globalization becomes less of a buzzword and more of a reality, it would be wonderful to see a shift in what it means to be beautiful. As I was researching the best way to close this piece, I stumbled upon a cut out image in Vogue Russia of Jyothsna Chakravarthy from Chanel’s Pre-Fall show themed Paris-Bombay. Chakravarthy is a top supermodel in India and 100% Bengali. The very fact that Karl Lagerfeld cherry-picked her amongst the undoubtedly hundreds of options he had for this particular show speaks volumes about her beauty. As I gazed over this issue of Vogue Russia I couldn’t help but notice something was amiss. I quickly Googled the same image, only to discover this particular edition of the world’s most respected fashion publication had intentionally white washed Chakravarthy’s brown skin. Perhaps being a simple cut out on a product page promoting a black and white fashion trend for the season, her skin colour was all of a sudden out of context relative to the Indian themed show. But what is hard for me to wrap my head around is the notion that in 2013 my skin colour is still by some deemed out of context.
Vogue India Cover: Dawn of the Dusk
Dolce & Gabbana Show
Chanel Runway Show vs Vogue Russia
Cameron Russell at TEDx
SHE CANADA 49
By Priyanka Raj
ou might not be familiar with Arjun Bhasin’s name, but it is quite likely you’ve seen his work as a costume designer for Bollywood films such as Dil Chahta Hai, Luck by Chance and Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. So yes, you can thank him for bringing Bagwati to life. More recently though, he has been a part of several Hollywood adaptations of popular South Asian novels such as The Namesake, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, and most recently, Life of Pi. While Life of Pi was welcomed with critical acclaim around the world, it definitely wasn’t one of those novels I had envisioned as a film. A key aspect of the novel was the concept of spiritualism, exemplified through Pi’s exploration of major religions in India, such as Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity. The film emphasizes the notion that we should focus on the positive things in life, as Pi does for each of the religions. Rather than following one religion strenuously, Pi respects aspects of the three, and is able to keep his faith, even as it is tested later in the film. This is a notion also preached by our mandate at SHE—although religions have their differences the good can be identified and practiced Venn diagram-style. Due to this heavy emotional and spiritual content, it is not a surprise that Hollywood too had trouble bringing the novel to screen, including the costumes. I cannot even recall if author Yann Martel had even described any character’s clothing in the novel. Despite this, Arjun Bhasin was able to create a visual identity for each character and most importantly, for Suraj Sharma as Pi. Life of Pi was very popular in Canada, in part because the author was Canadian. Did you read the novel before being approached to design costumes for the film? What were your thoughts of the novel? Yes, I read the novel when it first appeared on bookstands. I never dreamed that it could be adapted into a film, or even considered that I could be a part of that adaptation. To be honest, I didn’t visualize it as a film while reading the novel. It is such a cerebral piece, so much more about ideas than visuals. When I read the
50 SHE CANADA
film script it was with completely different eyes. I had to force myself to think of the visuals, of what the film would actually look like. Before working on the costumes, did you do any research? If so, what did that entail? I grew up in India in the 1970s and when I read the script, I felt so in touch with the vibe of the time. I felt the way to pitch the design to Mr. Lee was to use family histories. The bulk of my research and inspirations were old family photos, my own, those of friends, acquaintances, and even friends of friends. My team and I created albums upon albums of family photos for Pi and his family, from his childhood to his teenage years. Was there any particular costume you had trouble designing? Pi’s main costume was incredibly difficult to design. It had to fulfill many different criteria. It had to be correct for the time period but also practical and comfortable. It had to work with special effects, harnesses, blue and green screens, and be pleasing to look at for an hour and fifteen minutes. I wanted very much for the costume to be an extension of Pi and his personality. The costume had to age and weather along with his skin and be used as a tool in his survival. I used grey and white as a yin/yang concept to show balance. I repeated this color motif with older Pi. How much input did Ang Lee have on the costumes? Ang was very involved. We discussed everything- ideas, colors, and moods. It was a completely collaborative process. This is your second film with Tabu and Irrfan Khan. Does that familiarity help to dictate what they wear in the film? It does actually. I did The Namesake with Tabu and Irrfan Khan and as a result, we grew to be friends. They trust my instincts and I am aware of their immense transformative talents. It’s great to work with actors who you know and understand. It creates an ease and comfort level, which takes time to build but is ultimately very rewarding.
SHE CANADA 51
NAJIBA’S STORY Execution for Adultery in Afghanistan By Summun Jafri
52 SHE CANADA
his is the story of how a young woman was publicly killed after being accused of adultery. It’s hard to imagine events such as these are able to take place in this day and age. This past summer a 22-year-old Afghan woman known only as Najiba, was executed for allegedly committing adultery. The tragic and disturbing event was even caught on tape, and after Reuters bought the video, Najiba’s death went viral with over 70,000 views. In the video, which has now been posted online by several news sources, the woman can be seen sitting on the ground with her back towards the camera. To her right, there is a crowd of over 100 men gathered on a hill to watch her execution take place. Standing behind her is her executioner with an AK-47 rifle. He shots her three times with the first two bullets hitting the ground. By the time the third shot rings out, she doubles over backward. Another six shots can be heard as the crowd cheers him on. This all took place in the village of Shinwari, which is about an hour outside of the nation’s capital of Kabul. Najiba’s story was unremarkable. The third child of a merchant, she was said to display extraordinary embroidery and craftsmanship at a young age. Her father was happy to sell her wares from his dried fruits and nuts stand at the bazaar. Something else undeniable about Najiba was that she was said to be the most beautiful girl in Shinwari. As a result, she received a flurry of proposals starting at the age of 13. Ultimately, she was married to Jumma Khan, a 22-year-old from a relatively well-to-do family. A labourer who spent long stretches of time away for work, Najiba took on the roles of cook, housekeeper, caretaker and livestock minder. There are several versions of the events that lead up to Najiba’s tragic death. Allegedly, Najiba was kidnapped by a Taliban Commander named Qader and taken to his house deep into the highlands’ mountainous terrain. There, she was held captive for several weeks and raped. According to the same source, two more senior Taliban commanders named Abdul Khaliq and Maezer Khan dropped by the house on several occasions and also raped and abused the captive lady. When Najiba was found in Qader’s house, after a tip-off from an elderly neighbour, she told her husband and other local men that she was abducted. Accusations of a planned affair followed, and no one believed Najiba given the rank of those she accused. The Taliban ultimately branded her an adulteress who lied about the rape to protect herself. Both she and Qader were sentenced to death.
By saying this, the government was taking a clear stance against the Taliban’s history of public executions. When the regime was in power from 1996 to 2001 this was a common occurrence. When Najiba was finally executed, the video depicts her slumping to the floor and on-lookers shouting ‘God is great’, as they believed that Jumma Khan had the right to kill his wife. I have to ask— do these men believe that murdering this woman will ultimately be rewarded? And are they making the statement that adultery is worse than murder? It’s difficult to understand horrendous acts such as these, and I don’t believe there is any way to justify such wrong behaviour. It should also be noted that the beliefs of the Taliban do not in any way reflect the beliefs of the majority of the practicing Muslims around the world. Mohammad Musa Mahmodi, Executive Director of The Afghanistan Human Rights Commission said, “We condemn any killings done without proper trial. It is un-Islamic and against any human rights values.” The facts of this story consist mainly of “alleged” adultery and a “supposed” affair, and regardless of what’s true and what’s not, this is the story that was presented to the world. Najiba was never given the opportunity to speak, although all of the blame was placed on her. The Parwan province’s spokeswoman has said an investigation is planned to find the culprits behind this act, using information from the video. Such a statement should be disregarded however, as it has been reported that Jumma Khan is now serving as Abdul Khaliq’s personal bodyguard. It should be noted however, that such a grizzly occurence is not unique in Afghanistan. It is simply the attention the video garnered with the help of modern cell phone technology coupled with Reuter’s purchase of the video. While it did shed light on a decades old problem in South Asia, only time will tell if this video will bring with it a long-term solution.
The Afghan government later issued a statement saying that it “strongly condemns this un-Islamic and inhuman action by those professional killers and has ordered the Parwan police to find the culprits and bring them to justice”. SHE CANADA 53
abla maestro, DJ, and music producer. So reads the list of the many occupations of Talvin Singh, who emerged from London’s music scene in the 1980s. Known for his innovative arrangements that fuse the sounds of the east with the beats of the west, Singh has been creating music that has entranced audiences for decades.
54 SHE CANADA
From an early age, Singh has been intrigued by the relationship classical artists have with their instruments. It was at the age of 11, when he got his first Indian classical album. Singh was perplexed by the way artists were transported into a completely different space while playing their music. “I don’t make music because it’s the trend or to sell records. I can’t do that. I can’t tell a lie. I’m not in this trade or occupation to please. I’m in it to research and enquirer. I’m constantly enquiring.” And, it is this curiosity to learn more that would eventually lead to his own self discovery.
Many of us growing up in the West can relate to the divide we sometimes feel sharing two separate cultures– the one at home and the one outside. “There’s a certain privilege if you carry a dual cultural passport, but at the same time there are certain obstacles. You feel like you’re in two different worlds that are not speaking to each other—so how do I make them talk and possibly mediate this conversation.” Merging these influences, drawing inspiration from them and using them, as a unifying not dividing force is what Singh has done through his music.
at a time that were sounding very Indian but made it into the mainstream because there was no pocket like BBC Asian Network, never any sub-divisions. People who loved the music away from any prejudice were nurturing my career, me as an artist and making sure my music was getting across to a wider audience.” He adds he feels sorry for South Asian youth trying to break through today because they could be making music that is completely western but because of their background will be placed in a box. He acknowledges good has come from this too but feels that maybe its time for a change.
At the age of 16, Singh went to India for a year to train in the tabla. He studied under a master in the art form, Pandit Lashman Singh in Punjab. He continued to visit his guru, every year since. The experience had a profound effect on young Singh. The drums for him, as he describes it, became a form of yoga, and when he returned to London, he knew he had to incorporate his classical talent with his western taste. Singh has said that early on he felt a conflict between wanting to play entirely classical music and his interest in western genres he had grown up with. This conflict led him to keep his tabla, which is entirely classical, and add bits of other genres, which pioneered a new and fresh sound. And, even though many credit him with introducing Indian sound to the mainstream, Singh maintains that the exchange in music has always been around—“I don’t agree with being a pioneer. I always want to do something a little different than what I did yesterday, so that’s an ongoing process to pioneer. When people say I’ve been a pioneer of a certain scene, I kind of disagree, its nice to be credited that way but I’m a strong believer that there is nothing new in the world. My music comes from a lot of different influences. I’ve just put sounds and artists I have heard together like a bouquet of flowers.”
Singh followed up the success of Anokha nights with his debut album titled OK. The album continued with the East meets West trend and was recognized with the UK’s Mercury Music Prize in 1999, beating out names such as the Chemical Brothers. However, critics of his work stated they felt the album seemed to be trying to be too much at once. Singh later on said that the album was ten years in the making and over that period he had heard, liked
By the early ‘90s, Singh’s work began to be recognized. Soon he had artists of all genres eager to collaborate with him. Artists he has collaborated with over the course of his career include BjÖrk, Sun Ra, Courtney Pine, Madonna, the Future Sound of London, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Massive Attack, Ustad Sultan Khan, Niladri Kumar and Ustad Amjad Ali Khanand, Jay Z, Alisha’s Attic, and Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, just to name a few.
and listened to a variety of music ranging from jazz to hip-hop to electric. When the time finally came to put together his dream album, it combined all of these influences, so even though he doesn’t find it cramped, he could see that it was a borderline compilation album. He also got the opportunity to join Tabla Beat Science, a musical group developed in 1999 by Zakir Hussain and Bill Laswell. It involved artists like Karsh Kale, Trilok Gurtu, and Ustad Sultan Khan who came together to produce a mash-up of Indian Classical with electronica and Asian Underground. The team released a joint album Tala Matrix in 2000. In 2001, Singh came back with another solo project entitled HA, which included the hit “One.” The album was more cohesive and marked his evolution as an artist.
In 1995, Singh founded Anokha club nights at the Blue Note in London. These nights soon become a hotspot in the city and included Singh on the tabla and percussion all while jamming alongside up and coming Asian DJs and Bands. Singh says that there was a lot of mixing of records happening during the events. On one side there would be classical music playing, with a hip-hop beat on the other and alongside that they would be mixing and seeing what magic they could create. These nights are considered as having played a major role in spreading this fusion sound. The success of this venture also led Singh to release “Anokha: Soundz of the Underground”, a compilation album featuring him alongside other Anokha artists in 1997. I asked him if these nights were something he would like to revive. “It was a lot of pressure and a lot of joy but difficult to continue a weekly club night in London. It’ll be good to do something like that again for sure, there are a lot of great night clubs in London but not as much as there used to be. There seems to be much more segregation, than the ‘90s because now you have radio stations that conceive to put people in a box and I have a problem with that.” This opinion interested me so I asked Singh to elaborate: “It’s a good thing in that it empowers a lot of Asian youth but empowers them on a platform that is still in the periphery of the mainstream.” says Singh. “I put out records
In 2008, Singh released Sweetbox and in 2011 in conjunction with fifth generation Sitar player, Niladri Kumar produced Together. Together is a brilliant unification of the tabla and sitar, that Singh has described as being very contemporary. What sets it aside is the use of a variety of musical applications to alter the sounds of the instruments so although the instruments are the same, the sound isn’t. Singh kicked off the year, playing classical concerts across India. He is also going to be trying his hand at curating a few festivals and events this year, beginning with the Alchemy Festival in London. And, although his North American tour scheduled for the spring was canceled he tells me that if not later this year, then next year for sure he will pay us a visit -so fans need not be disappointed. We’re sure that whatever endeavours Singh takes on next, they will continue to challenge musical boundaries.
The Grand Emperor of Pakistani Couture
assan Sheheryar Yasin has brought Pakistani fashion to the world stage. Since founding his fashion house HSY in 2000, Yasin has made a name for himself particularly in bridal by combining modern silhouettes with traditional design techniques. His collections exude regal elegance while maintaining ever-evolving creativity required of an international design label. I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Yasin to discuss his tumultuous entry into the fashion industry, the resulting success of his career and of course his celebrated design ethos. How did you ultimately start your eponymous label? When did you decide fashion was your true calling? I graduated from Pakistan Institute of Fashion and Design (PIFD) in 2000 with honors but had been working as a Fashion Show Director/choreographer for over 6 years by then. Though it was a huge learning experience, it did get in the way of me finding a job at most of the Studios that I applied to. Many felt that as a person already known, I would not be a suitable candidate as a designer. I’m thankful for those insecurities now since it gave me the strength to believe in myself and start my own label, HSY. I always wanted to design since I was a child. Things of beauty and elements of design always fascinated me. But I didn’t want to follow any career path without proper education. The 4 years in Fashion School taught me a lot and I’m a firm believer that education is key regardless of the field you want to be in. In a world that has an evolving taste towards the modern and contemporary, what has kept you continuously supporting the Pakistani design tradition?
56 SHE CANADA
By Priya Kumar I have lived in different parts of the world but feel strongly about promoting the culture and heritage that I come from. We have thousands of years of history not to mention skill and beauty in the work that we do in this part of the world. Why ignore it? Why not work hard to bring it to the forefront? To be able to revive the embroideries and embellishments in cuts that are both classic and contemporary give us an edge. Plus it assists in keeping this rich culture alive and thriving. For our readers who may not be familiar with HSY, how would you describe the label in your own words? HSY has always stood for promoting designs that are timeless and elegant. Opulence appeared to be the underlying theme at your PFDC L’Oreal Paris Bridal Week 2012 showing. Where did you draw your inspiration from for this particular collection? Tell us a bit about your choice of textile. At this year’s Couture Week, the inspiration was the city of Lahore. The collection was the City of Gardens, what Lahore is often referred to as. The textiles I like to use for any collection are always natural and pure. My favorites are chiffon but this season we did a lot of our screen and block printing. The aim was to layer the collection just like the city is layered in richness and history. Lahore is a diverse city with many elements that give it is color. We wanted that to be visible in the collection a presentation of it. Being the King of Couture in Pakistan, are there any designers you look up to? I look up to many designers in different ways. Some for their business acumen, some for their understanding of color and some for just being great human beings who give back to society. We aim to learn from them all. It’s very kind of people to refer to
HSY as the Kind of Couture. But for me, it’s a job that I love to do and am grateful that I get to do what I love everyday. Where are you available internationally? If a client based in Toronto wanted to purchase her wedding trousseau from you, what would be the best way for her to do so? We are available in the UAE, UK, USA, India and Pakistan. We do have plans of stocking in Canada soon but for the time being you can download our app called HSY on your iPhone, go to our website www.hsystudio.com or check out our Facebook Fanpage called HSY. For information and ordering, you can reach us at email@example.com. What can we expect in 2013 for HSY? We have many surprises in store for our clients and fans. We have consistently developed over the last 12 years and plan to so in the coming year. Our client is our first priority and to keep things fresh and new is our responsibility that we take very seriously.
SHE CANADA 57
58 SHE CANADA
SHE CANADA 59
A NEW MUSICAL BASED ON THE SONGS OF THE SPICE GIRLS By Priya Kumar
Over the holidays I happened to be in London this year. Having been there for the umpteenth time in my life, there was really only one thing on my to-do list: See Viva Forever aka the Spice Girls musical. After receiving a ton of press for its opening back in midDecember (particularly due to Victoria Beckham’s refusal to sit with the rest of the girls at Piccadilly Theater), and worshipping the girls since the age of 12, I jumped at the chance to purchase tickets for the much talked about West End show. Produced by
There is even a hilarious rendition of “Two Becomes One” sang by Viva’s mother and a middle-aged potential suitor. That is where the pros end however—the show begins quite slowly with a few numbers that made a seasoned Spice Girls fan like myself question if it was even their own work. “Too Much” was the first big hit to appear, but was too far into the story from the rising of the curtain to truly capture the full attention of the audience. In regards to character development, the show simply does not deliver. Viva is dull, her love interest flat. There is also a tangent about Viva’s past—her said mother is actually adoptive—and although it starts well as a good point of contention for the two characters, it doesn’t really go anywhere. Worst of all, the closing number of “Wannabe” felt shoved into the story against its will. The musical is undoubtedly aimed at the Spice Girls’ original fan base, which would now mostly be comprised of mid-to-late 20-somethings. The script certainly reflects this and is peppered with jokes bawdy enough to make even my adult self blush (N.B. this show is NOT for kids).
Judy Craymer (of Mama Mia! fame) and written by Jennifer Saunders (Absolutely Fabulous), Viva Forever is based on the Spice Girls’ three-album catalogue. Hot on the heels of their appearance at the London Summer Olympic Closing Ceremony, the show sounded like a foolproof recipe for success, but unfortunately the response from the media fell somewhere between tepid to contemptuous. I would have none of these reviews deter me from giving the effort positive feedback—how bad could two and a half hours of a Spice Girls sing-along actually be? Sadly, this was a classic case of being too presumptive for one’s own good. The story follows four musically gifted girls who are selected to compete in an X Factor-style singing competition (groan) and of course it’s no coincidence they happen to resemble the Spice Girls themselves. Viva (played by West End newcomer Hannah John-Kamen) is one of these four girls and the show’s lead. She is ultimately forced to make the difficult decision to split from the band to move forward solo in the competition or be eliminated. Although the plot is unnecessarily stretched to fit in all of the big Spice Girl hits (we see the characters visiting Spain for the highlight of the show, “Spice up your Life”), much of the music is very well adapted to work with the journey the characters are on. 60 SHE CANADA
At the end of the day, it’s just nice to see the Girls working together again. After finding myself privy to their huge falling out back in 1998 (months before they were scheduled to perform in Toronto), any project from them is a welcome one. Although some critics recommend Spice Girls fans stay home and listen to their greatest hits album as opposed to coming out to see this musical, I disagree. The show might not have lived up to my (admittedly low) expectations, it’s still worth seeing the Girl’s music performed in a whole new and original format. (Out of 5)
SHE CANADA 61
RIDING FOR THE BRAND When a companyâ€™s identity goes deeper than a logo! By Ekta Mukhi
62 SHE CANADA
Max Agency has long been renowned as one of the most successful model and talent management agencies in Canada, representing a spectrum of talents, cultures and ages. However, what many are unaware of is the agency’s dedication to provide collaborative branding opportunities to companies, with the intent of enhancing their images to communicate a clearer message to the public. Max Agency has all their bases covered with their extensive Rolodex: from art directors to photographers to choreographers to even hair/makeup stylists. Be it a fashion show, print advertisement or marketing campaign, Max is organized with their broad spectrum of talent, models, actors and brand ambassadors to fit any project criterion. Their dedicated team of professionals have not only mastered the ins and outs of the fashion and modeling world, but more importantly they understand the importance of branding, and making use of their vast network of talent to build and construct clients’ brands and businesses. Communication is one of the key channels to establishing a brand, (i.e. via ad campaigns, PR outreach, in-store promotions). Max Agency takes the time to comprehend the objective of the company, and match models to specific ad campaigns that will allow consumers to identify with that particular image, to which the company is associated. Nike, CBC, Coca-Cola, Sony, L’Oreal, Nestle, Audi, Nokia, Hugo Boss, Sears, Footlocker, Canadian Cancer Society are some of the many brands that Max Agency works with. Don’t be intimidated by the long list of well-known and reputable companies. Max Agency is one of the few agencies that make their services available for all types and sizes of projects, for a fraction of the cost of any other ad agency. With aspiring smaller brands that understand the value of a great creative, MAX is ever ready, well equipped and always accessible. These clients have the chance to define and create a brand and an identity of their own, and Max serves as a beacon to guide the project in the right direction by playing its part in the innovative process. It goes without saying they are THE one stop shop to fulfill all your marketing and branding requirements.
SHE CANADA 63
BRINGING THE WORLD OF SOUTH ASIAN ART TO TORONTO
LIZ GUBER sits down with Ameena Chaudry who works at the helm of one of the city’s most buzz-worthy galleries.
he rain was spitting over Cabbagetown, one of Toronto’s most historically rich and vibrant neighborhoods where residents are quietly boastful about their quaint Victorian homes. Once belonging to poor Irish immigrants, the homes are some two hundred years old and are now amongst the city’s most exclusive blocks of real estate. Nestled between quirky antique stores, gastro-pubs and espresso bars I arrived at Fourth Eye Gallery, Ameena Chaudry’s year old venture representing South Asian art in Toronto. The converted brick home has been transformed into a sleek and modern space, its open flow and expansive walls ideal for the paintings, prints and textiles it houses. Chaudry, the gallery’s resident pooch Noni and I sit down for tea in the gallery rear office space, a cozy nook overflowing with art, to discuss how one gets to work at a job Charlotte York herself would envy. “I just felt that there was absolutely no representation for young South Asian artists over here, so I felt ‘Why not?’ I’ve always been involved in the arts and it’s my passion. I’ve always wanted to open a gallery,” Chaudry says, sipping tea, slightly shy about the idea of her voice being recorded. Her involvement in the arts started in her native Pakistan, where she interned at a museum and went on to study at the prestigious National College of Art that shared a wall with the museum. “When I was in that art school, my exposure to the South Asian art scene was much wider, and all the people I was in school with are now successful artists. All of my friends are artists.” After a year of studying fine art, Chaudry moved on to 64 SHE CANADA
art history, her interest in the subject taking her all the way to the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in England. Upon moving to Toronto with her family, Chaudry noticed the void of South Asian art at local galleries, and decided that things needed to change— “I couldn’t find a job that really fit my skill set, so I made my own job!” Once she had the idea, Chaudry shopped around for the perfect space and location. Cabbagetown is far from a predictable choice, as Toronto’s independent art galleries are typically clustered around areas of Queen West and Ossington, with sky-rocketing rents driving many even deeper into the city’s west end. “I love Cabbagetown, it’s perfect! It’s like a little town!” After knocking down walls and installing lights and polished wood floors, Fourth Eye was born, its name calling forth the chakras: “In South Asian spiritualism you have the two eyes you see with, the third eye is the inner eye. The fourth eye is how you see yourself and how you see the world, it’s a fourth dimension. Think about it.” When it comes to curating a show, Chaudry relies on her bilateral relationship with the South Asian art scene. “I’m getting a lot more artists coming up to me with their work from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, they want to be represented here in Canada. I will do a lot of research and look for artists, I’ll constantly be rifling through profiles of artists and asking for recommendations, and going to thesis shows. It’s all about choosing the right artists so that I don’t end up showing anything and everything.”
Past shows have focused on the diverse works of South Asian women, as well as one in particular dedicated to graduates fresh out of art school called PakistanNOW. In Chaudry’s words “No single show has been an outright flop” and as the gallery slowly carves a presence for itself in Toronto’s vibrant art scene, it will offer art lovers a completely new flavour and point of view. “Indian and Pakistani art is getting so big, [the artists’ works] are just getting snapped up from the second they graduate. A lot of people are buying online from aboard, it’s a fabulous market.” Chaudry is hesitant to reveal details of her next show, saying only “I’m going to focus on Bangladesh, it is very underrepresented. I was there in the spring, I was shocked. There the art schools are separate from India and Pakistan, and because they had their own revolution, there was a revolution in the art world as well. There is a lot of hope in their work.” Decades of being taught Western art history and Western painting technique has caused a wave of rebellion in today’s South Asian art scene. This rebellion extends to the reimagination and transformation of some of South Asia’s oldest art disciplines as well. “There is this old traditional style of miniature painting, where the work is done with a brush that has one hair, you prepare your own paint, make your own paper, start to paint at the break of dawn. You really respect the method. You sit on the floor, cross your legs, all of that. You do not distort or rip, or disrespect the medium in any way. And then we have this young lady who is doing very well, she’s earned quite a reputation for the fact that she’s very subversive and she’s taken subject matter that is not typically traditional, but she’s doing it in traditional techniques. It caused a lot controversy.” Chaudry points to a tortured looking piece hanging above her head, adding, “we can see the conflict in their work, and we can see them picking and choosing and creating their own vocabulary, and its quite exciting.” Over the course of our conversation, Chaudry let me in on a little known piece of art gallery trivia. Apparently it can take upwards of six tries to attain the right shade of white for a gallery wall. “I got it right on the first try” she said. It would seem that luck is on Ameena Chaudry’s side, along with determination and indomitable optimism. “I will continue to do what I do, I refuse to buckle. Art will always be something that will start a conversation.” Fourth Eye Gallery is located at 438 Parliament Street and is open Tuesday-Sunday. Check out their website at www. fourtheyegallery.com for updates on upcoming shows. Dropins welcome!
SHE CANADA 65
Dazed & Confused My friend and I have known each other for the past three years and our friendship has grown with time. When we first met I was interested in someone else, and he was just coming out of a serious relationship. However, over the years the dynamics of our relationship have changed and the lines are starting to blur. Just when I began to feel like there’s something more, his actions confuse me. We spend all our evenings talking and watching movies together. He rarely picks up his phone when he’s around me. Yet, when we hang out with our mutual group of friends, he completely changes. He doesn’t really acknowledge me, does not make eye contact and is very secretive about our meetings. The other day, when all of us friends were together, he did not say a word to me, however on reaching home I received a text message asking me if I wanted to watch an episode of The Big Bang Theory at his place. Is he embarrassed to be seen around me? Am I his guilty pleasure? Or does he really like me? HE Said: If I like a girl, it’s simple, I show her off and I want people to know, ‘yes, we’re together.’ If this behaviour continues, I suggest either confronting him about it, or moving on, going out with other guys, and seeing if he notices and tries harder to chase you. You definitely want to find out if he’s planning on acting secretive and hiding you if something romantic does happen between you two. SHE Said: Getting into a guy’s brain can be an impossible task. You mentioned that you share a mutual group of friends – fish for information from them. I have it on good authority that when a guy likes a girl, he talks to his friends about her. Pay attention to any subtle cues in his body language, you say he doesn’t make eye contact. Is there anything else he does or doesn’t do? Is his body faced in your direction when you’re out together with your friends? Maybe he looks at you when you’re not paying attention? Regardless of the outcome of this situation, know that whoever you end up with should never feel the need to hide his feelings in public. Going the Distance I have been in a long distance relationship for the past 3 years. I live in Toronto, whilst he works in London. We both grew up in South Africa. Recently two really good female childhood friends of his just moved to London. Whenever I call him over the weekend, he’s always hanging out with them. I have never really liked them since childhood. I know he loves me, but it’s actually starting to bother me now. Any time I try to 66 SHE CANADA
bring it up, it usually ends with us fighting. I no longer know how to approach the situation. HELP! HE Said: Ask yourself what would happen if the situation were reversed. What if you had a couple of male friends that you spent a lot of time with, would your partner be justified in acting paranoid, and could you see yourself getting defensive? The distance is no doubt putting some strain on your relationship, and it might be magnifying problems that would be much easier to solve in person. Above all you should listen to your intuition, if you keep on fighting about this issue, maybe it will make you re-consider where you stand on continuing going long distance with your boyfriend. SHE Said: You say that you’ve never really liked the girls your boyfriend spends time with. Could the issue be stemming from your feelings about these girls, rather than any distrust you feel towards your partner? You haven’t known these girls since childhood, so I think it’s harsh to judge their behaviour, when really, you hardly know them. Maybe your boyfriend is irritated because he doesn’t like the animosity you feel towards his friends. Weighing my Options My husband and I are newly wed. In about six months, I have gained 15 pounds. I see his behavior has changed towards me. I feel worthless and lonely. The weight gain does not affect me, but looking at his reaction, it may be a cause for concern and that distresses me. What do you think I should do? HE Said: I suppose your husband feels like this isn’t what he bargained for. You have two options: use the way you’re feeling as motivation to get back to your former weight or accept things as they are and hope that your husband does too. SHE Said: You need to figure out what is making you feel worthless, the weight gain or the way your husband is reacting to it. Demand his support, not his criticism, and though activities together (evening walks, more frequent trips to the gym or cooking healthy meals) you’ll start getting back into shape. Marriage is hard work, and in your case, that might mean breaking a sweat.
By taking a look at men’s Spring/Summer 2013 read-to-wear suits, anything goes when it comes to colours, fabrics, and patterns. Shorts suits, metallic fabrics, retro patterns, and sneakers made their presence known on this season’s runways in addition to easy-to-wear accessories such as bow ties and hats. It’s safe to say that this year, men’s fashion will be anything but everyday.
Drakes of London Paisley Tie $145 Armani
Michael Kors Stainles Steel Watch $250
Aldo Loafers $100
SHE CANADA 67
So begins the story of Dishoom; “One day, an old Irani Café, creaking slightly at the seams, made the long trip from Bombay c.1970 to London in 2012. Tired from the long journey, it shuffled into an empty space in Shoreditch and made itself comfortable.” Dishoom, first opened in Covent Garden in 2011 and more recently the trendy neighbourhood of Shoreditch, is filling a void not previously recognized in London’s vast gastronomic scene. Designed by Russell Sage Studio, the café layers Bombay’s Art Deco and Art Nouveau styles popularized in the middle of the 20th century peppered with aged furnishings and haphazard décor, overlooked by ever-pervasive retro mirror paneling. In preparation for the décor, the design team met with the above mentioned Bombay-based cafés’ founders to discuss certain elements and what exactly make up their distinct personalities. As a result, the smallest details in Dishoom have significance. For
DISHOOM /dishu:m/ n. ∙ The old Bollywood sound effect produced when a hero lands a good punch, or when a bullet flies through the air ∙ Similar to popular slang usage of the expression “Mojo”; e.g. “He’s got that Dishoom”
hen I moved to Mumbai back in early 2010 to work for Vogue, one of the few touristy things I knew I had to do was visit Colaba Causway’s famed Leopold Café. A century plus old Mumbai landmark, the Irani run café was immortalized in Gregory David Roberts’ epic tome Shantaram as a popular hangout and meeting place for its main characters. It gained further infamy during the 26/11 attacks on affluent Mumbai back in November 2008 when gunmen sprayed bullets into the café along with the Oberoi Trident and Taj Mahal Hotels. In fact, on my first visit to the Café, the bullet holes left from the attack had yet to be dry walled and painted over, with staff claiming them a part of their history, albeit a sometimes tragic one. One has to experience life in Mumbai (better yet Bombay) to fully understand
68 SHE CANADA
these Irani establishments. Zoroastrian Iranis arrived in India in the early 19th century in search of better lives. Not to be confused with the well-heeled Parsis, Iranis arrived to initially work in Parsi households as caretakers. In the evenings, the Iranis would meet up to reminisce about the world they left behind and future prospects in their new land. At one of these meetings, chai was sold and a business idea born. Among these cafés were Leopold Café and Brittania & Co. Restaurant famed for their inexpensive, hearty, home-style cooking and fresh fruit juices. During their peak of popularity in the 1960s, there were around 400 to be found in and around Bombay, but sadly alongside the happily nostalgic memories from that time, Irani café culture faded—today there are only 30 remaining.
example, Leopold’s second floor is called a permit room—in reference to the fact that in these cafés a separate section of the restaurant must have a permit to serve liquor (for those familiar with Leopold’s, this room is on the second floor). Brittania, known the world over for their famed Chicken Berry Palav, has an unforgettable list of “rules” posted on the wall for patrons (including No Fighting, No Spitting, No Combing and No Change). Both of these elements have been adopted by Dishoom and integrated into its design. Finally, how can we not touch on the food? While Dishoom has created the nostalgic atmosphere of our favourite culinary Bombaybased hotspots, Head Chef Naved Nasir’s menu is what will keep the foodies coming back. Open all day, serving breakfast through dinner, Dishoom serves up every signature dish you know and love from your most beloved Irani eatery. Known for their “almostlegendary” Bacon Naan Roll, House Black Daal—slow-cooked for over 24 hours— smoky Gunpowder Potatoes and their house special Lamb Raan—a whole leg of lamb marinated in chili, garlic and ginger, braised overnight with spices and then flame grilled, the menu, although reminiscent of old-school Irani cafés, includes a gourmet and contemporary final touch. Other highlights on the menu include:
Masala Prawns: Succulent large grilled prawns, each one charred slightly at the edges
Chicken Berry, Vegetable or Kacchi Lamb Biryani: Slow-cooked, layered and aromatic—cooked in the traditional ‘dum’ style
Dishoom Tikka: A family recipe, using a marinade of sweet vinegar, laced with ginger juice, turmeric, garlic and green chili
I caught wind of Dishoom by several of my London friends who visited their pop-up stall at Southbank appropriately titled “Chowpatty Beach” after Mumbai’s famed coastline off Marine Drive. The innovative atmosphere in which the eatery presents its dishes, beverages and snacks is unparalleled this side of the East Indies and certainly worth the visit by locals and tourists alike.
Pau Bhaji : A bowl of mashed vegetables with hot buttered pau bun, Chowpatty Beach style
Dishoom is located at 12 Upper St Martin’s Ln London WC2H 9FB, United Kingdom, +44 20 7420 9320 SHE CANADA 69
Indiaâ€™s First Wedding Documentary to Enter an International Film Festival By Parveen Singh
70 SHE CANADA
one are the days of countless hours of wedding footage that make you wonder what exactly you paid for. It’s always “I wish they had captured this, done this differently” or it’s simply a video so yawn inducing that you fast forward through it once, and then leave it to collect dust. Heartbeats by the Wedding Filmer has taken this concept and modernized it. So much so, the team is getting festival recognition for it. Heartbeats was shot by Mumbai based production company, The Wedding Filmer. The trailer for this wedding documentary has over 28,000 likes and growing on the company’s Facebook page. It’s also India’s first wedding documentary to be accepted into international film festivals including Short. Sweet. Film Fest and DIY Film Festival. After seeing the reaction of my peers at the SHE office while viewing the trailer, I knew we had to find out more. The Man Behind the Camera Vishal Punjabi has over ten years of experience in Bollywood. He has worked in production and visual effects for Bollywood movies such as Main Hoon Na, Paheli, Don and Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd. He’s been involved in the direction and production of commercials and documentaries for the who’s who of Bollywood. Punjabi has even been recognized for his technical work and ads with numerous awards. Creating content that is captivating has always come naturally to him. It isn’t ironic that the idea to start his own company began while editing footage from his own wedding. His wife insisted on having a wedding video but because Punjabi was camera shy, he opted to shoot it himself, with the help of some friends. With emotions running high, weddings can be a blur (a sentiment all couples can relate to). The video, Punjabi says, enables them to relive the moment. The footage translated into a two part short film that was really appreciated and led to a full-time gig. Since the trailer released, Punjabi says the love hasn’t stopped pouring in—“The phones haven’t stopped ringing and inboxes are overflowing. Honestly, it came like a wave for all of us as we were just finding our feet in the studio! We were totally unprepared. It’s been seen over 9.6 million times over… and that’s just on Facebook!” Just like social media can create stars and break the latest scandal, it can also distribute a film. “The response has been overwhelming from both the East and the West. Technology allows us to see where the film has been viewed and I was delighted when I saw it reached places
as far as Angola and Argentina! Our films have an emotion called love that is relatable globally.” I asked Punjabi about what being entered into Independent film festivals such as Short. Sweet. Film Fest and DIY Film Festival has meant to him but realized that this was the natural next step. “Fans of our films have been pushing us to do it for quite some time since our films tend to stand out more for their storytelling than for being gimmicky, stylized wedding videos. People actually want me to release the film for everyone to see!” Watching the trailer you would never know that Heartbeats was an intimate affair, complete with a beach party, sangeet with flash mob, a wedding ceremony in an ‘enchanted forest’ by the sea, and a reception that involved fireworks and glow sticks. Wait, did I mention the after parties? Heartbeats is a two hour long journey, of the now famous couple, Devrath Sagar and Kanika Gandhi, from various perspectives. “Wedding videography doesn’t have to be obtrusive and blinding. Neither does it have to be rehearsed, staged or scripted.” For Punjabi, his job is to shoot the wedding, he believes the couple are the ones who make the film. Couples he chooses already have a great love story. With a plot already in place, the narrative unfolds from there. He makes sure to meet with couples prior to the big day so he has an understanding of who they are and what to expect. This allows him to capture moments as they transpire because you only get one shot at it. Punjabi recently completed filming a wedding song sequence for Dharma Productions, a very hush-hush project so he wasn’t able to reveal the name of the movie just yet, but exclaims how much fun it was to be back on a film set. “I could decide how high the fire should be, where the crowd should be, when to throw the flowers! It was amazing! On a real wedding, it’s backbreaking manual labour without the assistant directors and you have just one take! You can’t ask them to go round the fire again!” The Wedding Filmer has been capturing weddings for the last two years. If you haven’t already checked out Heartbeats, I suggest watching it plus their other work because it really does speak for itself. Heartbeats will also be released soon in full-length, so stay tuned for that. Punjabi and his team have even more weddings lined up for 2013, that extend from Barbados to Bihar, I’m told. He is also venturing further into direction, with plans to make his first feature film. With the promise of his next wedding documentary to be his best yet and a feature film in the pipelines the future looks bright for The Wedding Filmer. SHE CANADA 71
Specializing in: Modern yet Traditional Pakistani Wear Casual, Semi Formal and Bridal Wear Pakistani Jewellery now available 72 SHE CANADA
2980 Drew Road Unit 121 Mississauga, Ontario L4T0A7 647-402-5584 firstname.lastname@example.org facebook.com/sequence.byroohi
SHE CANADA 73
Actors, writers, directors and musicians taking their best shot at educating girls around the world By Liz Guber n our increasingly photographed world of Instagram, tweet pics and pinning, it seems that for many of us, oversharing is the new norm. That new pair of shoes, a gourmet meal or a fresh manicure—if we didn’t take a picture and share it via social media, did it really happen? Whether you’re one of the filter-applying masses, or on the sidelines wondering where it all went wrong, there is little denying that image sharing is the way of the future. Back in Fall 2012, Hilary Clinton and Meryl Streep snapped a “selfie” at the Kennedy Centre Honours Gala, both ladies looking radiant. Although it did make a splash across numerous tabloids, the photo would go on to do far more good than the average amateur shot. The picture was donated to a charity, wittily titled Shutter To Think. Started by actress Tracy Middendorf who is known for her television roles on Six Feet Under, Boardwalk Empire and House MD among others, it boasts a unique, yet simple concept. Photos taken by famous actors, musicians and writers are donated to the Shutter to Think website, where the images can be purchased with proceeds going towards a charity to benefit the empowerment and education of girls. The best part perhaps is that the buyer gets to choose a charity from Shutter To Think’s roster, which includes Plan, Care and The Girl Effect. The purchase of a framed and professionally mounted print from Shutter To Think can go toward such causes as helping the victims of sex trafficking and child poverty alleviation. Middendorf was motivated to start Shutter To Think after reading at the Women of the World summit in New York where she heard countless stories of girls whose lives have been changed by the opportunity of education. As an actress Middendorf is well connected to prominent industry insiders, many of whom travel to exotic locales and photograph their journeys. A fan of photography, Middendorf learned to develop film at the age of ten from her grandfather, a WWII photographer. Merging these two worlds 74 SHE CANADA
for a charitable purpose would seem like a natural decision for Middendorf, who combined what she knew with who she knew to create an organization like no other. $100 dollars could purchase a photo taken by Blue Valentine writer Cami Delevigne of Ryan Gosling holding a baby. $175 is the price on Jhumpa Lahiri’s “Bookstall in Calcutta” and the now famed Clinton/ Streep selfie, so popular that it is the only picture on the site bearing a watermark, can be yours, with letter of authenticity and autograph from the photographer (Streep herself in this case) for $200. Other Shutter To Think ventures include the Bags into Books campaign, which provides a girl with one year’s worth of textbooks with the purchase of a canvas tote bag. Although a noble, necessary and admirable cause, the question is still often asked “why girls?” Girls spend 85 percent more time on unpaid care work than boys, leaving them with far less time to keep up, let alone attend school, and for every 10 percent rise in girls graduating from secondary school in the developing world, there is a 3 percent growth in the economy. Even in cases where governments have granted girls equal access to education, as in Rwanda, this doesn’t always translate to equal access. According to the Global Campaign for Education nearly 61 million children are deprived of education across the globe, 60 percent of them are girls. The costs of not educating women are high, and the benefits of equal access to education stretch far beyond the classroom. Research has shown that focusing on girl’s education can lift families out of poverty, end epidemics, improve agriculture and reduce unemployment. Shutter To Think is turning our hunger for images on its head, and changing the world for the girls that inhabit it, one photograph at a time. To browse their gallery of signature and limited edition prints and to learn more, please visit www.shuttertothink.org.
SHE CANADA 75
By Priya Kumar
As 2012 drew to a close, the town of Newtown, CT buried 20 of its tiniest, most vulnerable citizens and the half a dozen adults who safeguarded them. It’s an understatement to say that mass shootings have become a problem in both the US and Canada. This month, we analyze the need for change at home to avoid such tragedies in the future— what we uncovered about the issue surprised even us. The gun control debate has raged on for years. Decades even. Michael Moore brought the discussion to the global stage 10 years ago when his documentary Bowling for Columbine won an Academy Award. Despite facilitating a global discussion on the issue of gun control, very little was done legislatively—in fact, Moore was branded a socialist at best and troublemaking anarchist at worst. After all, the film attacked the 2nd Amendment (the right to bear arms) to the United States Constitution, thus putting only one side of the debate on display. But gun control laws in the US are not what we’re debating here. What we are debating is the prevalence of gun violence in our own Canadian backyards. Ten years ago, such an exposé would have been laughed at. Canada boasts the highest standard of living in the world and that is especially true when considering public safety. However, in recent years we have seen a massive shift in the perception of security in our glorious and free land and quite a bit of it has a little to do with what’s happening down south. Let me explain: 2012 has been dubbed the year of the mass shooting in the United States. Recalling the assault on the Aurora, CO movie theater, the attack of the Wisconsin Sikh Gurdwara—labeled domestic terrorism, as the shooter was white, attacking a place of worship of another race—or most recently the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT, 2012 has been a particularly severe year for gun violence. The latter, perhaps the game changer in the US gun debate, 76 SHE CANADA
saw the slaying of 20 beautiful 6 and 7 year olds, who had a lifetime ahead of them, along with 6 adults who dedicated their lives to nurturing and educating the little ones of Sandy Hook Elementary School. This was all at the hands of one mentally unstable young man whose mother so happened to be a gun collector. In actuality, she taught him how to load, aim and shoot her guns. This all occurred in not only the wealthiest, most Democratic state in the US, but also the one with the most stringent gun control laws—in Connecticut, one cannot so much as purchase a gun without being granted a permit to do so by the State. According to Moore, guns are so prevalent in the States because Americans have been programed to be afraid from the nation’s founding, beginning with their pilgrim roots to gaining their freedom from the British (resulting in the 2nd Amendment) to slavery to the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement leading to the fear of the black man (breathe) resulting in the availability of over 300 million fire arms around the country for civilian use. Fast forward to Florida, the Sunshine State, on February 26, 2012. An AfricanAmerican boy named Trayvon Martin, 17, is gunned down by a self-appointed neighbourhood watchman. The man followed Martin, reported what he perceived as suspicious behaviour (the fact that the teen was walking through his gated community, wearing a navy blue hoodie and eating Skittles) to 911 and proceeded to shoot him at close range in the chest, exercising Florida’s “Stand your Ground” law. The public outcry that ensued reversed the county’s decision not to charge the gunman in the months that followed; he is currently being held behind bars awaiting trial for what occurred on that rainy, Sunday night. This all happened because he was scared of something that hadn’t yet occurred and judging by the way events unfolded never would have, had he not possessed this unrealistic fear for his own safety to begin with.
But I digress, again! We’re not talking about our gunloving siblings to the south—after all, the British are still very much a part of our everyday lives as Canadians. The issue at hand here is gun violence in Canada. Did you know Canada’s first school shooting occurred at Brampton Centennial Secondary School in 1975? A 16-year-old walked into the school with two loaded rifles hidden in a guitar case—he proceeded to load the guns in the boys’ bathroom where he gunned down and killed a fellow classmate John Slinger, 17. He randomly shot at other students in the bathroom, hall and music room where another intended target of his was conducting a class— music teacher Margaret Wright, 25. He then proceeded to turn the gun on himself, ending the rampage that left two dead and thirteen wounded. In his suicide note, he laid out his motive for the murder-suicide as revenge as being “fed up with life.” Since this horrific event there have, believe it or not, been more than a dozen school shootings across Canada. The most deadly occurred in the late ‘80s when a student who was rejected admission to L’Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal, targeted and shot dead 14 women in an Engineering lecture hall before taking his own life. History repeated itself in 2006 again in Montreal. A gunman (of South Asian origin, in fact) fired several guns at Dawson College—a school for CEGEP students. This particular case really hit close to home, as my apartment was mere blocks from the incident at the time, proving anyone, anywhere could be a victim of such callous behaviour. Violence has not spared Toronto this past year with gun violence up 34% from 2011. High profile crimes included the Eaton Centre shooting (that left two dead and 12 wounded) followed by the street fight that broke out on Danzig Street in Scarborough, killing a 14 and 23 year old, and injuring 23 others. This brings us back to the question at hand: What is it that Canada can do to curb this violent behaviour? It’s easy to say gun control is the answer. It is my personal belief that in the US a little more gun control will go a long way, but Canada already has some of the strictest gun control sanctions in the world. In fact, handguns and assault weapons (arms that are automatic and semi-automatic in function and primarily used in military combat) are banned. Unfortunately, it’s a spectrum of variables that need to be revaluated. The shootings that occurred this past year in Toronto were predominantly in lower income neighbourhoods, carried out by street gangs. I have chosen to omit the names of the gangs involved with the Danzig Street brawl and Eaton Centre attack to make a point—they do not require anymore notoriety than the media has already given them. I will even go so far as to say that if the media did not sensationalize the mass murders committed by these thugged out wannabe gangsters they would have no need to take down innocent bystanders with their enemies. Wait. I think we’re onto something here!
Many of these Toronto-based crimes are centered on revenge. “You are not going to suffer insults, you are going to protect your honour, you will use violence to protect your reputation,” University of Toronto criminologist Scot Wortley said in a Toronto Star interview back in June. Street gangs thrive off the attention the media gives them and use the dangerous reputation garnered from public attacks to enhance their street credibility and power over their domain. Wortley, who interviewed upward of 200 gang members, says: “Enforcement alone is not going to stop this problem.” That said, as a member of the press, I will do my part. In this piece I have made the conscious effort not to highlight the names of the perpetrators of any of the above acts of violence—it wasn’t as easy as it looked. Canada’s battle against gun violence is much more nuanced than that of the States. As opposed to tightening the grip on our nation’s already constricted gun laws, perhaps siphoning the public off from any infamy a perpetrator might incur from being involved in a public brawl will discourage those prone to gang violence from acting out. Once their names are ignored in the media, coupled with harsher gun crime penalties for anyone so much as associated with gang activity, it will become immensely unfashionable to harm 13-year-old children from Cobourg visiting the Eaton Centre on a sunny Saturday afternoon with his family. I’ll leave you with this: In a review for the film Elephant in 2003, famed film critic Roger Ebert recounted an interview with an NBC reporter who asked if he believed violent movies were to blame for the rash of school shootings (particularly Columbine) in the US. Although the interview never went to air, looking back in retrospect, it probably should have: “Events like this, if they are influenced by anything, are influenced by news programs like your own. When an unbalanced kid walks into a school and starts shooting, it becomes a major media event. Cable news drops ordinary programming and goes around the clock with it. The story is assigned a logo and a theme song; these two kids were packaged as the Trench Coat Mafia. The message is clear to other disturbed kids around the country: ‘If I shoot up my school, I can be famous. The TV will talk about nothing else but me. Experts will try to figure out what I was thinking. The kids and teachers at school will see they shouldn’t have messed with me. I’ll go out in a blaze of glory.’” As the saying goes, hindsight is always 20/20.
SHE CANADA 77
September Lodge, Village Way, Little Chalfont, Buckinghamshire, HP7 9PU Tel +44(0) 1494 762 063 email@example.com Website: www.ladyfatemahtrust.org UK Reg Charity No: 1072270
Thank you for answering the call of the Orphans and the cries of thirst emanating from Iraq in places like Kerbala, Najaf, Basra, Al Kurt, Baghdad and across to Iran where Iraqi & Afghan orphans are to be found. Your response shows the words of Imam Jaffer Sadiq (a.s.) saying â€œEveryday is Ashura, every land is Kerbalaâ€?, ring true today as when they were spoken and will continue to do so to the end of time. We pray that Allah puts you in the proximity of the Holy Prophet in Jannah for responding to the Prophets to care for the Orphans. To see what other worthy causes you can contribute towards to make a real difference to the lives of those who are less fortunate than us, all around the world, please visit: www.ladyfatemahtrust.org
78 SHE CANADA
These young eyes were witness to the atrocities that befell the residents of Kerbala and live their lives emotionally scarred and often without one or both parents. As a result of several wars and years of summary execution under Saddamâ€™s tyrannical rule, millions of innocent lives were denied the love and care of their parents. If our children have a rough day we read them a bedtime story to lull them into sleep. But these children would fall asleep alone only to be woken up to the sound of gunfire and exploding bombs to be instantly reminded that they had lost their father or mother or worse still, both. These young minds must have wondered if this was how they will live the rest of their lives as once again they realise that their loved ones are gone forever.
Your concern and support will restore some hope for their future. You can reach out to an orphan in Kerbala today and change a life for the better. The Lady Fatemah (A.S.) Charitable Trust has worked in Kerbala for over 10 years and has overseen several such projects. By signing the Gift Aid Form you are assured that for every $1.59 dollars donated up to $2.03 is actually received by the needy with no deductions made for administration or any other associated cost.
The Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) highly recommended caring for the orphaned child and you can answer the cry of such a child by offering them some comfort in their traumatic lives. At a cost of just $24 dollars per month (less than $1 a day) you can ensure that the child is housed (preferably with close family) educated, clothed and fed.
SHE CANADA 79
What We Eat
Shedding Light on the Food Additive Mystery
When was the last time you picked up a product off the shelf and read through the ingredient list? And when was the last time you recognised even half of said ingredients? I rifled through my cupboards, read through the ingredients in my daily snacks and indulgences, and did some homework on the matter. By Liz Guber Whether itâ€™s the traces of a new yearâ€™s resolution, a life long commitment to healthy living or the start of swimsuit season, we all have reason to watch what we eat. As our time grows more precious and grocery store aisles become more perilous, it becomes more crucial to educate ourselves about the ingredients in the foods we consume. Below are five of the most commonly debated ingredients in our foods. 80 SHE CANADA
Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) Aspartame
Whether found in a skinny vanilla latte at Starbucks or hiding behind brand names, no other ingredient on this list has been the subject of more heated debate. Commonly used in an attempt to control weight and body fat, this questionable food additive has been shown, repeatedly, to stimulate the appetite, increase carbohydrate cravings and stimulate fat storage. The notion that aspartame is a means of fat control is much less fact than carefully orchestrated deception. Real sugar allows the body to register that it has received enough calories and satisfy hunger, the same cannot be said for artificial sweeteners.
Bromintated Vegetable Oil
Known also as BVO, this synthetic chemical was first patented as a flame retardant. And now it can be found in citrus flavoured soft drinks as it acts as an emulsifier, preventing flavour from floating at the top of the drink. BVO is made by bonding vegetable oil with the element bromine, which belongs to the same elemental group as iodine. Too much bromine can cause the human body to stop absorbing the iodine it needs and can lead to skin lesions, memory loss and nerve disorders. The resulting deficiency of iodine from too much bromine consumption has been shown to lead to breast, ovarian, thyroid and prostate cancers. BVO is found in 10% of soft drinks in North America, with Fresca, Mountain Dew and Gatorade all containing this questionable chemical.
High Fructose Corn Syrup
Another ingredient with no redeeming qualities, high fructose corn syrup is a sweetener commonly found in processed food. Often used because it is cheaper, yet just as sweet as sugar and prolongs product shelf life. A recent study conducted by scientists at Yale University compared the way our bodies react to glucose and fructose using MRI brain scanning. Scans revealed that consumption of fructose shuts off the part of our brain responsible for reward and desire for food. As a result, we continue eating; the function in our brain telling us to stop, is suppressed. Although there is not concrete conclusion on weight gain as a direct cause fructose, including high fructose corn syrup, it is evident that it can cause us to eat more, and eating more, as we know all too well, can lead to weight gain.
Most people have heard of MSG, but I’d venture to say that few can name even one reason it is a harmful food additive. It is a flavour enhancer commonly used in Chinese restaurants. The common misconception is that MSG has a taste, when in fact, it tricks the brain into thinking a food contains more protein and tastes better, more robust and hearty. MSG has been called by prominent neurosurgeons an excitotoxin, as it overexcites cells to the point of damage. Other adverse effects linked to the over consumption of MSG are obesity, fatigue and depression.
Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA or BHT)
This chemically derived antioxidant is used as a preservative in edible fats and oils and the foods that contain them. Commonly found in chewing gum and potato chips, BHA can also be found in cosmetics, animal feed and rubber and plastic products. In studies performed on animals, BHA was shown to be cancer causing, and although a direct carcinogenic link is yet to be found in humans, animal test results are cause for concern.
So maybe that vegan friend of your’s doesn’t seem so crazy. Keep in mind, we’re not asking you to drastically rearrange your life, throw out everything not purchased at health food store, or give up late-night Chinese. Simply put, the phrase everything in moderation is the best way to balance healthy eating with the realities of life. Read the labels and don’t be afraid of asking “what’s in my food?” Knowledge is power.
SHE CANADA 81
by Sabyasachi at 51 Buckingham Gate
By Priya Kumar
he Taj Group never fails to disappoint. This month when SHE was faced with featuring a new project by the Taj, The Cinema Suite at 51 Buckingham Gate jumped out at me. A stones throw from Buckingham Palace itself, 51 is located in the heart of Central London. Besides the basic amenities one would expect of a five star luxury hotel, this particular Taj hotel features its signature butler service, the Michelin starred Quilon Restaurant, a peaceful garden courtyard and the very exclusive Sap 51. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, it’s time to move onto The Cinema Suite. Designed by famed Bengali designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee, the suite is a one of a kind experience within the walls of this Taj property. “The inspiration behind the cinema suite at 51 Buckingham Gate was cinema of course. World cinema, cinema from Hollywood, cinema from Bollywood, Indian cinema, cinema from all across the world,” declares Sabyasachi. The suite features rich film inspired paintings and mahogany furniture adorned with Sabyasachi’s signature rich textile design (see: appliqué, block printing and brocade). The living room, according to Sabyasachi, is the epicenter of the suite. It features several oil paintings of movie stars, tapestries and a charming brown, leather chesterfield. He selected this piece first because he wanted to maintain a sense of British culture. That said, one cannot overlook the element of the living room that lends its name to the suite: the expansive home theater set-up. With a state-ofthe-art sound system, the 85-inch high definition television offers a cinematic experience at home. Whether you’re a fan of 3D movies or the classic
82 SHE CANADA
black and whites, Sabyasachi says he feels it is the best feature the suite has to offer. This takes us to the dining room. Reminiscent of the Art Deco period, the dining table is earthy oak surrounded by padded leather chairs. The crockery and silver were carefully sourced from across the world along with the antique crystal glasses by Baccarat. Finally, onto my personal favourite aspect of the space—the Bollywood Bedroom. Inspired by the Maharajas, the room features a grand four-posted bed framed in luxurious textiles. The hues are rich and according to Sabyasachi, perfect for a cold winter’s night. When he designed the room, he had an American actress visiting 1950s Paris in mind. “It almost has a boudoir-like quality and it can’t get anymore glamorous than that.” This suite certainly feels like a well curated home of a filmmaker with impeccable taste in antique furniture, home accessories and art. The amenities including the home theater (with daily “Cinematic Platter”), full butler service and stellar location in London are simply bonuses. Sabyasachi goes onto say, “I design clothes. I’m not someone who designs hotels. So as an outsider I wanted to design a hotel suite that felt like a home because I stay a major part of my life in hotels so I know what it feels for a long haul traveler to stay in a hotel. I wanted to do something that looked like a well travelled home with a lot of diverse cultures which kept someone excited even if someone had to stay for 20 days at a time.”
SHE CANADA 83
lthough it was technically dry season, the air in Kota Kinabalu was so hot and sticky, it was as if the atmosphere had just turned into water to save rain the trouble of falling. Sections of the town, located on the north coast of the world’s third largest island, were flooded. Other parts fared better, since Kinabalu’s wooden water villages have tall stilts to prevent such catastrophes. The city even has a beautiful floating mosque. I imagined a Borneo of dense tropical forests and exotic wildlife, and I was not to be disappointed. The island is divided into three countries : Indonesia, Malaysia, and the wealthy sliver of Brunei (with enough oil to fuel one of the world’s richest men). My plan was to explore Malaysian state of Sabah, which offers all the jungle goodies with the added bonus of Malaysia’s delicious sweet-spicy cuisine. “Mr.Gonzo, please, a rest! I need some oxygen replenishment,” says my guide Dell, promptly lighting up another cigarette. It was raining hard on the steep, muddy steps of Mount Kinabalu, the tallest peak in Southeast Asia. Towering at over 4000m, the hike to the top is a must-do for more adventurous visitors to the region. I had decided to give it a shot, even though I lacked the proper permits, equipment, and anything resembling fitness. We made it up halfway before turning back, as thick sheets of water began to fold from the sky. Dry season on rainforest islands means “less rain than usual”. Later, I explored a colorful market downtown, smiling at curious locals not used to many western tourists. Sabah is made up of Muslim Malays, Buddhist Chinese, and indigenous tribes largely converted to Christianity. Like the rest of Malaysia, the state is politically stable, with everyone seemingly united by bad American wrestling on TV, and love for English soccer. Further north near the town of Sandakan, I went to look for those remarkably expressive redheaded primates native only to Borneo. Orangutan means “man of the forest” in Malay, and since they share 96.4% of our DNA, man is not far off. Unfortunately, with the encroachment of Malaysia’s ubiquitous palm plantations, orangutans are now an endangered species. The Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary is the world’s largest, and covers a protected 84 SHE CANADA
jungle of 43 square kilometres. Orphaned babies are reintroduced into the wild, and today there are hundreds of these colorful apes swinging in the forest canopy. Visitors are allowed near a feeding platform twice a day, and tourists pack in to watch an admittedly rather zoo-like affair. It’s the old “conservation vs. satisfying the tourists” debate, but I did hope that out here in the jungles of Borneo I might get a little closer to the orangutans than in a city zoo. Fact is, you need special permits and a blood test before the rangers will let you near an ape, as human diseases can quickly wipe out the local population. I was disappointed to come so far and having to stay so far, but the orangutans seemed safe and happy enough, and that’s the point of any sanctuary. In my hand, a tiny turtle hatchling was flapping away with surprising strength, considering it was just minutes old. With several hundred siblings, it was ready to be released into the warm South China Sea from the beaches of Selingan Turtle Island. Another protected sanctuary, the island is one of several in a marine park where giant turtles, weighing as much as 150kg and up to 100 years-old, crawl onto the beaches to lay their eggs. Rangers collect the eggs, incubate them in protected nests, and release the hatchlings into the wild to help ensure their survival. It was just past midnight, a warm breeze enveloping the island, when the ranger yelled “Turtle
Time!” sending a group of visiting tourists rushing to the shore. A giant female, ancient and majestic, laid 84 ping-pong ball eggs. Even with the park’s protection, only 1% of the hatchlings will survive. The rest feed the food chain of sharks, lizards, birds, and humans. Under the moonlight, I blessed my little friend and watched her shuffle into the sea. If she makes it, in about 40 years she’ll return to the same beach she was born to continue this amazing cycle of life. It’s like March of the Penguins, with shells and flippers. About three hours drive from Sandakan, I’m looking for horny monkeys on a small boat in a big river. It was only a few hours later that I realized the native “promiscuous monkey”, when not misheard, is more accurately the “proboscis monkey.” Several lodges catering to all budgets line the massive Kinabatangan River, which flows through a protected jungle that houses monkeys, exotic birds, bush pigs the size of cows, crocodiles, and a rare species of pygmy elephant. The proboscis monkeys, meanwhile, have floppy, fat noses and potbellies – the Dilberts of the monkey kingdom. I was surprised to find a satellite TV this deep in the jungle, so together with a few villagers, it was an all night English soccer fiesta. With its wildlife, landscape and friendly locals, there’s no doubt that visiting Borneo had been a major score.
Vancouver-based Robin Esrock is the co-host of the OLN/CityTV series Word Travels. You can follow his adventures at www.robinesrock.com SHE CANADA 85
Besides being one of the most recognizable names in talent representation, MAX Agency is also a onestop shop for all of your promotional needs. Whether putting together a fashion show, print advertisement or marketing campaign, MAX has you covered for a fraction of the cost of an ad agency. MAX also has access to an extensive roster of art directors, choreographers, photographers, make-up artists and hair stylists available to complete your project from start to finish. Regardless of the size of the project budget, we are available to you.
2063 Yonge Street, Suite #202, Toronto, Ontario M4S 2A2 tel: 416-482-5392 | fax: 416-482-4109 | firstname.lastname@example.org 86 SHE CANADA
Are you a new actor/model looking for a head start in your aspired career? Talent Shop Academy can open doors of learning and opportunity for you. Are you a seasoned actor/model? Talent Shop Academy can make sure you are getting the right training, preparation and representation. The insight you will gain as our student will give an incredible boost to your acting career. Our classes are taught by industry professionals who can transform amateur actors into stellar performers.
Talent Shop Academy 1999 Avenue Road, Suite 202 Toronto, Ontario M4M 4A5 Tel: (416) 644-7790 Fax: (416) 482-4109 Email:email@example.com SHE CANADA 87
MARCH BEAUTY PRODUCT REVIEWS KISS Everlasting Pro Led Gel Lamp and KISS Gel Polish Starter System Finally, a way to get gel nails without going to the salon! This DIY gel nail system (LED lamp sold separately) is great for girls looking to have pretty, perfect nails on a budget. After trying the product, I can say that I was quite happy with the results. My nails had a nice shine and a salon inspired finish. The gel held up well over the next two weeks with minor chips. My only suggestion is to have patience because the system involves a few steps for application and removal.
Garnier Olia Oil Powered Colour This ammonia-free hair colour is anything but traditional. It applies comfortably, with zero messy drips and no irritation to the scalp. The medium brown colour came out looking rich, glossy and vivid, while covering grays. What sets this product apart from all the others is the pleasant, floral smell. Now, colouring hair at home is no longer a messy, nose-scrunching effort.
Demeter Fragrances I would definitely give Demeter Fragrances the award for most imaginative scents in the business. They’re a nice change from the typical notes and ingredients found in most fragrances, but I think it takes a certain experimental type of personality to be able to pull off some of these scents. My recommendation: don’t get thrown off by names such as Egg Nog, it actually smells delicious! 88 SHE CANADA
Maybelline New York Master Duo by EYESTUDIO Well done, Maybelline! I haven’t used liquid liner since high school because I’m too impatient when putting the product on and almost always make mistakes. These mistakes are usually making one line too thick and the other too thin, but Maybelline has gone an rectified this problem with their new Master Duo by EYESTUDIO two in one glossy liquid liner. Master Duo is a liquid liner, but it has a tip that is broad on one angle and fine on the other. This varied tip allows you to control the size of the line lessening the chance of a mistake. With liquid liner, practice makes perfect and I expected to have to try this product a few times before achieving the perfect line— this was not the case. In one try I got the look I wanted. My only comment is the brush kept getting caught in my lashes, but at only $11.99 you’ve got nothing to lose. The end result is great.
We all know how difficult it is to maintain a flawless appearance throughout Canada’s bipolar changes in weather. These products will ease your transition from winter to spring because they can be used all year round.
L’Oreal Revitalift Eye Cream
Eye creams can be used starting from any age, as a preventative measure. Since the skin around our eyes is extra sensitve, using a product like revitalift can ensure that our eyes are getting the right amount of moisture, while the product also reduces the look of wrinkles, firms skin, and reduces the “morning puffy look.”
Foundation Primer - Oil Free 1.7 oz. $32 Oil controlling ingredients ensure long wear and flawless application. Meant to be used prior to foundation, creating an invisible layer that acts as a buffer to outside elements. Leaves makeup looking fresh & colour-true the entire day
Sometimes the greatest beauty remedies can be made yourself using household ingredients. Mix equal parts brown sugar, honey, and olive oil to create a scrub for your lips. It’s a great moisturizer and and it creates the perfect texture for applying lipstick.
Eight Hour Skin Protectant 1.7 oz. $19.50 Top Eight Reasons to use this cream (all of which are true!) 1. Skin Saver 2. Shine Factor 3. Eye Opener 4. Cuticle Conditioner 5. Treat for Feet 6. After-Sun Soother 7. Flight Tool 8. Leg Wear
Juicy Couture Viva La Fleur 5 oz. $90 Juicy’s newest scent is an updated version of the classic Viva La Juicy. It’s the perfect scent for spring and comes in a pretty bottle.
SHE CANADA 89
Q & A with
Global Makeup Artist at Laura Mercier By Summun Jafri
s the Director of International Education and Promotions for Laura Mercier, Tayaba Jafri knows a thing or two about cosmetics. She studied Fashion Arts at Ryerson University and slowly climbed her way up to one of the most highly coveted jobs in the cosmetics industry. Jafri began her career with Laura Mercier as their National Makeup Artist, a position which she landed in 2003. As the company has grown, so has her career. The Brand Laura Mercier Cosmetics was established by French makeup artist Michele Mercier. Mercier grew up in France, and made her move to New York City to work as a make-up artist for many of America’s top magazines and various high-end ad campaigns. In 1996 Laura Mercier Cosmetics (Michele had changed her name to Laura) was co-founded with Janet Gurwitch of Gurwitch Products (the manufacturer of Laura Mercier Cosmetics). The line has proven to be a huge success as it is now sold in over 1,100 stores across 27 countries worldwide. Among the line’s most recognizable products are the Flawless Face collection and the Foundation Primer. Mercier had the idea of creating a primer once she realized that the product was missing from the cosmetics industry. So for the purpose of obtaining a flawless base for make-up application the Foundation Primer was born.
Being raised in a South Asian household (where doctors and engineers are the most admired professions), did you ever feel pressured to pursue a career outside of fashion and cosmetics? Very fortunately, I had an uber-progressive mother who just encouraged fulfillment no matter what the field. What would you say are some of the highlights of your career so far? I have been very fortunate in my experiences but the important ones to me do not involve large success or celebrity. I remember having my own company with my best friend and partner right outside of Uni, and that exciting time was truly a highlight for me. Having the ability to connect with so many people in so many different cultures and still speaking the universal language of beauty is also a highlight. What does a typical month in the life of Tayaba Jafri look like? There is no such thing as a typical month to be honest. Depending on the time of the year I am usually gone on two different trips during the month, and if I am lucky they both will not be overseas.
What are the best cosmetic brands and products for South Asian skin? The “best” is no longer coveted, as there is no such thing. You want to look for products that give results based on your needs. Many Jafri has collaborated with many major international magazines brands have grown up and realized that there is a whole world out including Harper’s Bazaar and major events such as New York Fash- there of different ethnicities. There are loads of great products on ion Week. She has become an international traveler, as her work the market to choose from. takes her to locations like London, Paris, Singapore, and Dubai regularly. This month Jafri took some time to answer a few questions for SHE regarding her career, make-up tips, and South Asian beauty. How did you begin your career in the cosmetics industry? Makeup was always a passion. I starting freelancing as a teen, and eventually ended up at the head office of a large cosmetics firm in the marketing department as a co-op job before I started University at Ryerson. That [experience] fostered my career in the industry. How did you land the position of Director - International Education and Promotions at Laura Mercier Cosmetics? I have been with Laura Mercier for 10 years working closely with her as an artist and trainer and in my current role, manage the needs of our international partners in the area of artistry, training and PR. 90 SHE CANADA
Jafri working with an artist palette at a press event in Hong Kong
Where do you find inspiration for the beauty looks you create? Usually from the person on which I am creating that look. As a South Asian female living in the GTA, I find that many makeup artists can’t identify with my skin type. What colour palate best suites a medium/dark skin tone? If you steer clear from brown - you should be alright. The darker the skin, the more ability you have to wear colour. Many South Asian females still feel brown shades create a natural palette, and in most cases it really brings down the skin tone. Nude or muted Pink / Violet/Berry tones usually work easily on most South Asian skin tones. Eyeliner is a staple for many South Asian women’s make-up routine, which are the best eyeliner products you’ve come across? Using a creamy blendable eyeliner that dries to the texture of skin is the best choice for all occasions. Kind of like the texture of traditional Kajal, but you want to look for a long lasting formula. This can be achieved with a smudgy pencil too. Careful with liquid liners that look painted or shiny - they lend more of a made-up look. Gel liners dry down naturally as well and last a long time. Application is key. What three beauty products should every woman keep in her purse at all times? Lip products of the day, lash curler, and touch up powder. What’s the best way for a woman to keep her face looking fresh after a long day of work or class? Compact Tinted Moisturizer and crème blush will instantly make you look fresh. Winters in Canada can be extremely dry and hard on the skin. How do you recommend keeping skin looking moisturized and healthy? 1. Exfoliate. Combination - Oily skins can exfoliate every day - I recommend keeping an exfoliator in the shower. 2. Hydrate. Skin should never be without a good hydrator - if you are over 25 start using a good hydrating or vitamin serum before your moisturizer to lock in moisture as well as treat deep within. Don’t forget your SPF. Did your mother pass down any good old fashion beauty rituals to you? Of course! Many traditional South Asian Beauty solutions were based on the benefits of natural products. I still put natural coconut oil in my hair as well as use traditional Fuller’s Earth with Rosewater as an at-home masque. What does 2013 have in store for you? More international expansion for the Laura Mercier brand will be taking me to South America and parts of Europe.
SHE CANADA 91
“How many cares one loses when one decides not to be something but to be someone,” Gabrielle (Coco) Chanel once said of her career. Not only did Chanel revolutionize women’s fashion by introducing collections that embraced comfort and simplicity completed with a feminine finish, but she also created a niche for herself in the working world as a successful, self-supporting woman—an unthinkable life-choice for the then inferior gender. With a past shrouded in secrecy, Chanel forged on through two World Wars—the second of which nearly destroyed her empire— countless lovers, zero children and ultimately being the name behind one of the most renowned fashion houses of our time.
situations to come to conclusions about the notoriously private Mademoiselle’s life lessons. Chanel was born impoverished in 1883. Her mother died young and father left her and her many siblings with various relatives. When these relatives were no longer able to care for the Chanel brood, they found themselves at an orphanage run by the church. So began little Gabrielle’s uphill battle for success. From dancing and singing at turn-of-the-century nightclubs to living at a rolling estate as a courtesan’s mistress where she tended to the thoroughbreds to pass time to the opening her first boutique Chanel Modes on 21 rue Cambon in Paris, Chanel’s struggle to the top was riddled with obstacles she was only able to overcome by employing her own charm to its full extent. Her story is without a doubt one that deserves to be told. Unfortunately, I take issue with how The Gospel told it. Karbo is obviously American. She does not let more than a few pages at a time go by without reminding the reader of this fact. Whether through comparing the high-profile nature of Chanel and her various lovers to “Brangelina” (she uses this cringe worthy moniker several times) to chronicling her search (with little luck) for a $47 original (non-Lagerfeld) Chanel bouclé jacket…on eBAY, one has to wonder on what authority this book is written. Simply dripping in “American in Paris” syndrome, the silly language starts off as cute and quirky in Chapter 1, but ultimately tires and actually detracts from the story itself. The novel comes off as a caricature of fashion’s most notable figure as opposed to an elegantly woven tale profiling the subversive life of a woman who against all odds makes every one of her dreams come true. And don’t get me started on how Karbo continuously illustrates that Chanel actually wanted to marry and have children (because why would she want anything else?) but loved her career and growing her empire more than this conventional dream (she even puts together a ‘what if ’ scenario— had Chanel only lived today, she could have had it all!)
While I would never speak ill of the grand empress of French fashion, Karen Karbo’s effort to convey the greatness of Chanel left much to be desired in The Gospel According to Coco Chanel. Written in a way that allows Karbo to analyze Chanel’s philosophies on a smorgasbord of themes—power, money, elegance, love, etc.—The Gospel intertwines Chanel’s life story and how she played certain 92 SHE CANADA
Ultimately, Karbo never did find her excessively under-valued Bouclé jacket on eBay (shocker). Instead, she walked into a fabric shop in Paris that sold bouclé, found a colour she liked, used her atrocious French to discern that it was real Chanel and made her own jacket out of it. She even contemplates splurging on real Chanel buttons to complete the piece. If there is anyone who completely missed the point Chanel may or may not have tried to make about lessons learned in life (one spent striving for excellence and exclusivity in style and believing personal satisfaction does not necessarily mean maintaining the status quo) it was Karbo herself. (Out of 5)
Illustration by George Xu
I just turned 30, have a good career, am single and live at home. Turning the big 3-0 can make one reflect on their life and I have decided that I need to move out. Despite being happy and doing well career wise, I can’t escape the constant nagging from my parents and if I have to explain one more time why I’m not married when all my cousins and friends are, I will scream! My parents are super traditional and I know that they think I will only leave home when I’m married. This will be a total shock and they will try to emotionally blackmail me into staying. How do I break the news to them without having a huge confrontation and make them understand this is something I need to do?
Recently, my ex-boyfriend and I have started to reconnect. It started out when he reached out to me a few weeks ago and from there we have been in constant communication. Things were going great until he just all of a sudden stopped responding to my messages. At first, I didn’t think too much of it but then after a few days I messaged again and still nothing. After a few more days, he responded and said that his phone was having issues. I’m not sure what to make of this, I’ve been hurt by him in the past and felt things could be different this time around. I want to believe it was just technical issues but I don’t want to seem desperate or naïve. How do I see where this leads without getting hurt?
Dear Miss Independent,
We millennials live in a completely different world than our parents. As recently as the mid-90s marriage was for 20-somethings and babies for 30-somethings. Our generation has gone and turned this age-old rhythm on its head. For now-adults born in the ‘80s and ‘90s, real life just seems to be starting out slower with many of us interning well into our twenties. If it takes extra long for one’s career to take-off, how can we be expected to settle into a full adult life with a spouse and children?
Technology has provided yet another excuse for boys to avoid our messages when they don’t want to be reached. His Facebook is acting up, his screen broke and can’t read your What’sApps, he read your text but because his index finger broke he couldn’t respond. By the sounds of it, if you had it your way the relationship would have never ended to begin with. Tread lightly in this situation because there’s a good chance your second time around may end with the same result. The reality of the situation most likely is that he was feeling down and out when he messaged you last. Perhaps his current relationship was on the rocks. All of a sudden when he patched things up he forgot all about you. This is just speculation, however.
Back to the issue at hand: You want to move out and you’re afraid your parents will try to convince you not to. Have you tried broaching the topic with them? Make your case—in your letter you did not elaborate on why you wanted to leave home besides having your own independence. State your case to your folks, get them to try and see your side of things. From personal experience I can tell you that just about every South Asian girl I know who has done the whole “independent” thing has ended up returning home for one reason or another. Before you roll your eyes, let me elaborate. Living on your own when you’re single is good and fine, but do you really want to come home to an empty apartment everyday? You’ll notice that we have a culture that has not yet adapted to this aspect of life to the North American way. Hear me out. Find a temporary lease that doesn’t tie you down for more than 6 months to a year. See how it goes. You may love living on your own and can renew the lease before it expires! (Thus, making my above rant completely irrelevant) OR you might feel just as I’m suggesting. Homesick and lonely. It’s a classic case of nature vs nurture. South Asians love the company of their family and would give up the freedom of not living under the same roof as mom and dad to keep it.
A wise woman once told me you should be messaging him for every three times he messages you. I know it sounds manipulative, but unfortunately men need to get a feeling of not having full control over you all the time. In fact, they thrive on the hunt. You’re making it way too easy on him—after all, he let you get away once. He certainly does not deserve you wondering why he’s not replying to your gchat messages. Here’s an idea—if he’s really making you so anxious, go out and find a hobby you love like a sport, butterfly catching or bird watching and meet another nice boy to hangout with while doing so. You don’t need to entirely forget the ex, but the second he catches wind of the fact that you have better things to do than reply to his BBMs he’ll be begging to have you back. And you know what? You’ll be far too busy living your fabulous life to care. I believe it was Coco Chanel, the high priestess of fashion herself, who said, “As long as you know men are like children, you know everything.”
SHE CANADA 93
“A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous.” COCO CHANEL
“If women are expected to do the same work as men, we must teach them the same things.” PLATO, THE REPUBLIC
“As a woman I have no country. As a woman I want no country. As a woman, my country is the whole world.” VIRGINIA WOOLF
“In politics, If you want anything said, ask a man. If you want anything done, ask a woman.” MARGARET THATCHER
“I sometimes wonder whether women’s greater empathy with nature and concern for their children’s future might not help the world to find a new, more sustainable, less consumerist path of development.” SONIA GANDHI
“Give a girl an education and introduce her properly into the world, and ten to one but she has the means of settling well, without further expense to anybody. ” JANE AUSTEN
94 SHE CANADA
“The people who resent me do so because I’m a woman, I’m young, and I’m a Bhutto. Well, the simple answer is, it doesn’t matter that I’m a woman, it doesn’t matter that I’m young, and it’s a matter of pride that I’m a Bhutto.”
“I love classic beauty. It’s an idea of beauty with no standard.”
SHE CANADA 95
96 SHE CANADA