SOME SERIOUS THROWBACK IN EAST LONDON:
WANDERING IN VINTAGE, SHOOTING IN ANALOGUE.
HOLD ON TO THE MEMORIES, THEY WILL HOLD ON TO YOU.
In the blink of an eye another year has passed and it's New Year's Day again. While party season carries on in full swing around me, it's the time of year where I reflect on the months gone by and set personal goals and targets for the upcoming year. 2017 has been an incredible year of highs and lows and learning experiences. There were many instances when I felt dejected and low, in several aspects of my life (personal, professional and academic) - I was ready to give up time after time. By some miracle I managed to pull through and, looking back, I'm so glad that I never stopped and kept going. What's for certain right now is that I couldn't be more grateful for all that has happened.
Some pinch-me moments of the year include when my photography was featured on a Vogue.com article, when the Evening Standard decided I'm among the top 25 influencers to follow in London, when I survived university and when I was asked about empowered dressing by the Huffington Post. I mean... somebody pinch me! I'm always learning and growing as a person and it's such a blessing to have you with me on this journey. I truly am thankful from the bottom of my heart for all the support I've received, whether you've been following from the start or if you've just stumbled across FixatedF recently. Here's to a 2018 full of prosperity, mindfulness and emotional stability. Thank you and I love you.
JAZZ UP YOUR LOOK WITH LAYERS
THAT YOU ALREADY HAVE
In the last couple of months I've started to distance myself from the fast paced world of fashion and social media in order to focus on mindfulness and being present. When you work in close proximity to the fashion industry, it's scary how easy it is to get conditioned into a mindset where you're always thinking about your next move. This is not to say that I'm not interested in fashion anymore, but rather that I'm more aware of things now which has ultimately created a shift in my consumption behaviour. Something that I came across recently and really enjoyed was Sarah Lazarovic's "Buyerarchy of Needs" - and I'm happy to say that everything in this look was put together with pieces I've had in my closet for a while now, including this £1 vintage trench coat. In fact, I've worn this entire look several times and even posted it here previously.
A lot of times when my friends are putting together looks for a night out or special occasion, I always hear "I need to buy..." - I'm here to tell you to take a second andrethink that statement. An easy way to put together an exciting look is through monochrome dressing. It elevates your ordinary pieces instantly. As extra as I can be with what I wear (case in point here, here and here), even I can't be arsed to wear a statement piece every single day. There are times where I barely have a second to think as I rush out for my day. By simply pulling pieces from a similar shade of colour - be it red, grey or camel - it's a surefire way to make heads turn when you're walking down the street.
A CURATION OF
PONDERINGS AND PATTERNS
THAT CHARACTERISE MY
It's a gloomy Thursday. My thoughts race against each other as I compartmentalise upcoming appointments, things to do and university deadlines. I let out a deep sigh and make another mental note to pick up a new schedule planner, almost not noticing that I can see my breath now. In the physical world around me, my feet are racing the setting sun, in a bid to get home before dark. Again, I almost miss another indicator of the changing seasons - that distinctive crunch of golden foliage beneath my feet. It’s a sound both comforting and unnerving.
Comforting because it’s the most beautiful time of year in London, I can start going wild with wearing layers and it’s the perfect weather to consume copious amounts of chai. Unnerving because the days are getting shorter and the winter blues will begin to kick in soon... but most of all it’s a reminder that the calendar year is coming to an end and I haven’t achieved nearly as many things that I had wanted to at the start of 2017. But that’s a separate story in itself, which I will speak more on in the coming weeks. Let’s bypass the impending doom and focus on what's at hand.
It’s funny to think that while nature is bursting in bright hues, the sartorial sense of the general public jumps straight from summer into the dismal depths of winter. Just take a look at any tube station at rush hour - you’ll be surrounded mostly by a dull sea of black or grey overcoats and puffer jackets. I always try to incorporate colours into my outfits. Ordinarily my palette for fall would consist of your typical autumn shades, reminiscent of pumpkins and hot chocolate. However, recently I’ve started throwing textures and patterns into the mix.
If it isn’t already obvious at this point, tartan and plaid prints have been a staple of mine over the last few weeks. It’s part of my new new philosophy on dressing warm. My typical advice to others on looking chic in colder weather has been either to wear multiple layers of heattech or to think warm thoughts. The latter is mostly met with eye-rolls and scoffs. My third and latest mantra will probably illicit a similar response - wear warm patterns. But hear me out.
It’s an abstract idea but it works… for me, atleast. Historically, tartan came from Scotland, was made exclusively from wool and was used predominantly for kilts. Stir in a few decades of globalisation and the result is an extensive use of this print in all types of apparel, from high street to high fashion. There’s something about the sombre nature of the pattern that lends it a heft, which automatically inclines me to feel snug and cosy - even if it’s just in my head.
Even if you think my crazy methods of staying warm aren’t going to work for you, you can’t deny the fact that adding a tartan layer is going to elevate you from shabby to chic. If you aren't a fan of more classic shirts (my personal favourites can be found here), fret no. There is an endless selection of more contemporary interpretations by design houses this season - something for everyone. Till next time, kids.
One of my earliest memories of racism was when I was 9 years old. It's a memory that's always going to be with me, but for all the right reasons (you'll find out why soon). It was during a time when I started noticing that I wasn't like most of my friends or the people around me even. I was darker. I studied Urdu, instead of Chinese, Malay or Tamil. I didn't eat pork, but people were quick to assume that it was beef I didn't eat. But mostly it was because the colour of my skin was not as light as everyone else's. Other children were noticing it too, and a day wouldn't go by where I wouldn't hear about it.
This particular incident happened in my primary school, during those twilight moments between periods where one teacher left and we waited for the next to enter. It was a classroom of 45 third graders with 3 minutes of unsupervised freedom. Some might call it chaos. Me and Deepika, the only other Indian* girl in my class, happened to be sitting next to each other. We were minding our respective kid-businesses, when this Chinese** boy comes up to our tables...
"Eeeeeeeeeeeeee. So smelly! Smelly Indians!"
Being the non-confrontational person that I am, I look back down and ignore him.
"So dirty, never take shower! Go home!"
I shoot up a quick glance and return to ignoring him, feeling annoyed and scared at the same time. I hadn't done anything to him, why was he here bothering me?
"So black! You are black shit!!! Chao da!***"
I feel a surge of anger rushing up to my head, on the verge of yelling something dumb like "go away". But before I have a chance to react, I hear Deepika's high pitched, Hermione Granger-esque know-it-all voice - tinged with fury. She was coming for blood.
"Excuse me? Are you blind? My hair, this, this is black. Look at me. Look at my skin. This is not black."
At this point already I was internally screaming and clapping for my homegirl. You tell him! Dish out those facts! But then it gets better, and the following words have ever since been engrained in my soul.
"My skin is the colour of gold. I am golden."
My jaw may have dropped. I didn't know it then, but I was like literally shook. That's what empowerment felt like. I had never in my 9 years of existence heard anyone refer to me or my skin as something so beautiful, so valuable, so universal. It was the first of many revelations to come. It was a declaration of self-love. What a profound thing for a child to say. I often wonder who instilled her with this sense of confidence. They would have been so proud of this moment. Even when I think about it now, it's still so pleasantly surprising to me. It was life-altering. My world turned upside down and I was seeing things from a new perspective - one that didn't involve me constantly wishing I was like everyone else.
Verbal abuse and taunting is an unpleasant experience for anyone to go through, especially children, and I wish I could tell you that this was my only experience of it. Incidents like these turned out to be far more common than people would like to acknowledge it to be. It gets swept below the rug under the guise of "just being kids". But when we grow up, it masks casual racism as socially acceptable behaviour. Thanks to Deepika though, I learnt an important lesson from the onset about self worth and not taking crap from haters. I can confidently say it was after this day that I stopped being ashamed of a lot of my differences. I started opening up about things that I would usually try to hide.
Like the fact that I didn't know any Western music. At that age, I only knew and listened to Bollywood songs, because that and BBC News were the only things that played in my parents car.
Like the fact that I ate with my hands at home. It was much more efficient than clumsily struggling with a fork and spoon, constantly switching them between my hands - I could never remember which hand was meant to be used for which utensil.
Like the fact that I loved to wear shalwar kameez, but I rarely would in Singapore. I'd be so afraid that I was going to be made fun of, that I only wore them on Eid, Diwali or at weddings. This year I wore one while attending the Mulberry show at London Fashion Week. What a long way I've come.
This post barely scratches the surface of all the important and varying race issues (and all it's intersectionalities) that still need to be discussed, but for now it's a celebration of those golden words and the significance it's had in shaping who I am today. May we all have such empowering experiences. Stay golden.
Artwork by me.
Wearing: shalwar kameez from Amir Adnan, Junaid Jamshed and my tailor in Karachi.
* In Singapore if you're any kind of South Asian, you're simply labelled as Indian.
** The racial majority of Singapore. Equivalent to white people in a Western country. Yes, Chinese privilege is a real thing, guys.
*** Chao da = Burnt