HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE?
As a clothing designer, I represent myself with well made, outside the box , one of a kind colorful creations. My style is uniquely my own, for sure, comprised of: India designer eclectic, rustic chic, colorfully aligned. I’m timelessly inspired by the cultures of many faraway places I’ve both visited and lived. I love upcycling and repurposing some Americana vintage into my designs, as I have one foot in this country and another in India. I did a couple of coats this season in which I incorporated vintage velvet paintings from the 50’s, and some vintage mohair blankets which I rendered into coats, adding hand embroidered tribal patches.Truly one of a kind nostalgia, recognizable by many and adding a hint of Indian exotic. And I adore anything with insect motifs.I love bugs, beetles, moths, grasshoppers. Always a surprise hint of irreverence or antiestablishment, wherever I can fit it in.
To many who don’t know me they might say that I have an unidentifiable look in that it’s a bit euro, a lot of India, and much that needs a finer lens of discernment as to its origins.My look has a bespoke quality to it, in that there’s a story behind the making, designing, procurement of each element.When I see fabrics, I look for a handcrafted aspect to it: has it been touched by the human hand?With a needle? A loom? A brush or a block? Some unique signature that tells me a human with an artistic eye and creative mind added their touch. It reaches deeply into my heart and soul.
WHAT INSPIRES YOUR SIGNATURE STYLE?
Truly and profoundly India, as it has been a huge part of my life for the past 30 years. As a young globe trotter I fell in love with exotic India during my first trip there, in 1990. I felt a gravitational pull to its colors, textures, fabrics. I am ALWAYS wearing something from my own collection of Indian textiles. The handcrafted fabrics are sensational and awe inspiring.
When I see the hand involved in a piece of cloth, I immediately want to design with it and drape it over my body. In the mid 1990’s I received a Fulbright Scholarship to study Indian textiles, as an artist at large.That year of living in Bhuj, in the desert of the western outreaches on the Pak border, has had a long lasting effect on my design aesthetic.To this day I find myself in India twice a year, designing a small collection of unique one of a kind coats, kimonos, kaftans & kurtis which I sell primarily in my boutique in Oakland,California.
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As a kid we couldn’t afford store bought clothes. Champagne taste on a beer budget. So mom taught me how to sew. I got my first merit badge in Girl Scouts in sewing, and have ALWAYS made my own clothes. It’s been a lifelong personal art form of mine. And now I make much of my jewelry too! My creativity is my lifeline. I tap into it with each outfit I put on, each garment I design, every necklace I create. Being unique and individualistic is one of the ways I avoid boredom: both being bored and being boring.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ACCESSORY?
Aside from my canine bff ISHA, it’s definitely SCARVES.Rarely just one. I am a true scarf whore. When you combine a long neck, short hair, and India, scarves are an obvious trifecta of harmony. I will wear a scarf or shawl on my neck, my head, my shoulders, as a corset, as a hip wrap, and as a cozy blanket. When women come to my shop and ask for a scarf for their upcoming trip to Egypt, Morocco, or India, I advise a huge cotton sarong, colorfully hand woven & printed.Perfect for a towel, beach wrap, sunshade, burp cloth, napkin, bed sheet, and just as a shawl. Such versatility in a piece of cloth! And it adds that finishing touch to any outfit. I mean, how can you live WITHOUT a scarf, or a hundred? My dressing room has a 5-ladder shelf, 3 baskets, 1 drawer, and many hangers allotted to the display and storage of my personal collection. And of course all organized by color and fiber. It’s like bread with butter, cocktails with friends.They are a natural accoutrement to any outfit. I even occasionally put them on my shop dog ISHA. And then there’s my home which is draped with shawls, quilts, textiles…it thankfully never ends!
Another favorite accessory is a HAMSA. Hamsa, aka: khamsa, hand of Fatima, are spiritual talismans represented by the human hand, fingers pointing down. Originating from Judaic and middle eastern cultures, it’s a recognizable icon known to ward off evil. I am slightly obsessed with this image and its spiritual powers. Almost daily I wear one of my many hamsa necklaces.Again it’s the hand, my connection to the hand and the power of the hand.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE COLOR COMBINATIONS?
Hands down the AUTUMN palette. I don’t stray from the colors that Mother Nature bestowed unto me: rust, persimmon, olive, teal green, avocado, amber, butterscotch, papaya, & pumpkin. Teal with lime, rust with pine needle green. I don’t wear black per se, only a hint here and there as I find it too heavy and standoffish Nor do I wear blue! I am one of the black sheep in the blue world of navy, indigo, and sky. It’s not in my natural coloring. And add to that, I don’t owna single pair of BLUE jeans. Given that I design clothes from Indian textiles, I have so much color at my fingertips. I can always find, make or dye to order those unique colors that work for me and my color savvy customers. I LOVE ALL COLOR, but not all color loves me. I am satisfied with staying in my lane of rich autumnal splendor. However I love playing with all color depending on each and every client who comes in my door. I recognize that we each have a unique color DNA, and we shine when we honor it.
DO YOU HAVE A SIGNATURE PIECE THAT DEFINES YOUR STYLE?
Belts and Fur collars. Anything fitted at the waist, anything that wraps my long neck and keeps it beautifully warm. An hour glass shape like mine always needs definition at the waist, unless I’m in India mid summer, where it’s not about showing my shape but staying cool with layers of loose cotton. In the winter, I love a richly textured hand embroidered coat with a big fur collar. Adding a heavy leather belt creates an hourglass silhouette. Definition of my waist either under or over the coat is necessary. There are about 5 months out of the year I wear a scarf on my head and/or around my neck.Oh, and loads of jewelry.
I love a heavy, chunky look; textured chains, rough cut stones, mixed metals with patinas.
Bronzes, golds, and burnished metals bring out where a hefty fur collar, or pashmina wrap is a go to look, stylishly keeping my neck cozy.
WHAT ARE YOUR STYLE STRENGTHS?
Layering with harmonious colors. I’ve been studying style through the lens of a particular color stylist from LA, Jennifer Butler. I have learned that as an autumn, one of my assets is abundance. I am not a lightweight dresser; I tend to wear multilayers. Living in the San Francisco bay area, we are prone to abrupt climate changes, so being able to strip off when the fog rolls back is essential. I will wear a fitted flared leopard pant along with a long butt hugging camisol. Over which is a collared shirt or Indian kurta, a wide belt to anchor it down. Add a kimono, or a richly textured tribal coat from my collection. Of course my warm skintone & red hair. I rarely wear silver, unless its a dark oxidized and antiqued look, which harmonizes with the deep green of my eyes.
DO YOU HAVE A STYLE MUSE?
I honestly get loads of inspiration from working with my customers. The exchange is mutual: I impart my fashion wisdom and share my styling concepts, and they in turn inspire me to try new combinations as well. I love working closely (pre-corona) in the presence of my women, as I get to go into their world, their heart, their soul for awhile. But if I had to pick a muse, I’d say the entire cast of ADVANCED STYLE WOMEN! One Hollywood Muse: Claire Danes, in the powerful role of Carrie Mathison, who imbibes my ‘I’ll go anywhere and get it done’ spirit.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE BEAUTY PRODUCTS,AND WHY CAN’T YOU LIVE WITHOUT THEM?
Hair wax, hairspray, hair dye, and mascara. Mascara EVERY day since I turned 16 enhances my large green almond shape eyes. I like Borghese State of the Art bronzo WITHOUT eye makeup I feel naked. Lately I’ve been doing magnetic false lashes and I LOVE them!
Hair product that makes my baby fine hair look twice as voluminous, as it is naturally, is my aim. I am hooked on Got2Be FreezeBlast hairspray, and their spiking glue to keep the wisps flying high.
Naturtint is a great natural hair dye, I can do it at home and be done in an hour. It’s neither stinky nor messy. I mix 2 shades to get the color I want: copper blonde & honey blonde. It does fade, as all reds do, over time. But I enjoy the various shades that I get over the 5 weeks between coloring. This allows me to adjust my clothing color palette accordingly, and give me more color options.
WHAT ADVISE DO YOU HAVE FOR WOMEN OVER 50?
Relax and don’t obsess about being perfect! Where fashion can be an industry dictation, personal style is everlasting and authentic. Don’t rush out and buy a color or style because some current trend says “it’s in”. Wear the colors that you love, and if you really understand color, then you will wear those that reflect your eyes, hair & skintone. As for style, by now you should have cultivated your own. And being an older woman means you know who you are, what works, what doesn’t. Women over 50 are more self aware, and relaxed about making choices that best reflect their soul and nature.
ISHA in a dog collar available at SERRAHNA
TO ORDER NOW ITS A PHONE CALL AWAY!
“WINSTON HAS ONE AND I HAVE TO SAY HE IS VERY DASHING IN IT!”
“Perhaps we need one for BANKSY TOO?!”
ISHA models our tulle tinker bell ruff! Made in my small workshop in India, these ruffs range in size to fit a small chihuahua or a large St. Bernard. Available at Serrahna in 7 vibrant colors.
For the circus dog in every canine!
DO YOU HAVE ANY STYLE RULES THAT YOU LIVE BY,OR DO YOU CHOOSE TO BREAK THE RULES?
My thing, my way. I am the only one on the hiking trails NOT in mountain gear and hiking clothes. I am the anomaly in the forest, wearing dramatic coats, silk tunics, funky hats, colorful shawls, and stylish chunky boots good for hiking. As long as I have good footwear, (never tennis shoes please!) I will wear anything and everything to the forest. It makes for more beautiful portraits. And same goes for on the streets as well. As our modern culture has become increasingly casual, I make it a point to always dress well. And in a sea of blue jeans, yoga pants, and polar fleece, it sometimes feels like I AM THE ONE breaking the rules. So be it. Happy to oblige! Being a LEO leader on any front must come from desires deep down inside. And I’m not short on those!
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE ONLINE AND OR BOUTIQUE SOURCES?
I recently discovered a fantastic SOCK source: www.XOAB.us They are a mom and pop operation and make THE BEST socks! For both women AND men, colors, patterns, sizes, and even compression socks. I own 4 pair and they are so unique! AS98 Italian footwear is amazing. They have very interesting sandals and boots to die for. I LOVE my boots chunky with 2” heels, studs, buckles, and trims. Over the knee all the better.
DO YOU HAVE A PARTICULAR DIET OR EXERCISE REGIME THAT YOU FOLLOW?
I am an omnivore, and variety is the spice of life.Traveling and living in many different parts of the world has taught me to be open to so many different types of food. I eat whatever I want, and have a healthy appetite. Middle eastern food is one of my favorites, and Turkish Air, business class, is an airline that delivers!
Exercise is basic home yoga postures and stretches, light weight lifting (with teal and orange poly coated barbells), daily dog walking of my pitbull ISHA, & 25 crunches in the bathtub a relaxing ritual. I’ve been doing leg lifts when I brush my teeth for as long as I can remember. Squats when I towel dry my hair. Since the corona outbreak, I’ve been practicing my deep controlled breathing techniques. I am not a sedentary person and find it hard generally to sit still. So I consider all my work habits & house cleaning rituals as part of my daily workout routines. I see exercise as more of a lifestyle integrative approach. And I’m always in favor of using the stairs, rather than the elevator.
DO YOU HAVE ANY ANTI-FOODS OR SUPPLEMENTS THAT ARE YOUR GO TO’S?
I am not a vitamin or pill popper. I’d like to think I get my nutrition from my food. I love ginger, garlic, chilis, turmeric, lemons and anything zesty as I feel that these keep my metabolism strong and nutritiously maintained. I feel that eating a variety of healthy foods and getting lots of sleep: 8 is great, is what my body expects from me. Although I use body lotion and a basic facial moisturizer, I am not bothered with the plethora of skin products in our market. However, I do like an occasional facial from my favorite Polish aesthetician. I don’t smoke, never have, and feel that that choice was my wisest anti-aging discipline. For an instant mood elevator, I reach out & touch someone (virtually) .There’s always someone who’s on my mind, and checking in helps to retain the sense of community. Getting out of my own head, especially in these challenging days of quarantine, is an instant mood lifter.
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There you have another AGELESS STYLE WOMAN over 60 who has a shop in Northern California and is always willing to help COMPLETE YOUR LOOK! I BET SHE WOULD EVEN FACETIME WITH YOU IN HER SHOP!I hope you enjoy these POSTS that Cindy and I put together it’s always so much fun to see WHO we have PICKED for the MONTH!
Now please pop over to Cindys post for another AGELESS STYLE BEAUTY!
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