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‘Stitch Three’ Spring Edit – Luxury Spring/Summer trunk show

South Asian, High Fashion Studio presents a day of Seasonal Shopping at Stitch Three Spring Edit

Stitch Three | The Maharani Diaries

Dedicated followers of fashion are in for a seasonal shopping treat as South Asian high fashion retail and studio concept, Stitch Three, presents Stitch Three Spring Edit on Thursday 10th March, 11am – 7pm, The Baglioni Hotel, 60 Hyde Park Gate, London SW7 5BB.

Connoisseurs of premium, South Asian fashion brands will be able to shop latest prêt collections by some of India and Pakistan’s most sought after designers such as Sania Maskatiya, Maheen Karim and Pasho. Exquisite embroideries; on trend, graphic prints and luxe fabrics will be thematic at the trunk show, giving shoppers the chance to pick up coveted pieces at Indian and Pakistani retail prices ahead of the summer months as a UK exclusive. Additionally, curated accessory, jewellery and homeware collections will be presented by leading brands such the latest, must-have bag label, Sanetti, and the exquisite Deevara Jewels. Complementing the concept store shopping experience will be sumptuous hospitality throughout the day, making it a must-do diary entry for fashionistas and their friends.

Stitch Three has established itself as a leading powerhouse across the South Asian fashion landscape in the UK, driven by three of the sector’s leading influencers and tastemakers – Aisha Tabani Chowdhry, Aamna Lakhany and Radhika Hasan. Stitch Three curates in the UK a discerning edit of the leading design talents from India and Pakistan’s fashion scenes for a UK audience – household names such as Umar Sayeed, Maheen Karim, Sania Maskatiya and Nida Azwer from Pakistan and Tarun Tahiliani, Gaurang Shah, Rina Dhaka and Anita Dongre from India. Powered by a multi-channel platform that comprises retail distribution, exclusive fashion events and studio, Stitch Three connects consumers with leading and top tier South Asian fashion brands.

Stitch Three Spring Edit takes place on Thursday 10th March from 11am – 7pm at The Baglioni Hotel, 60 Hyde Park Gate, London SW7 5BB. 

*For further press information and enquiries, please contact Tony Gill of Media Hive via email, tony@mediahiveworld.com or call, +44 7970 034 636.

Aashni + Co Wedding Show 2016

Aashni Show - Designers | The Maharani Diaries

A few weeks back I was fortunate to have attended one of the biggest South Asian bridal fashion events in the northern hemisphere. Aashni + Co presented their second wedding exhibit showcasing the work of India’s most illustrious designers as well as eminent Pakistani designer, Faraz Manan.

Since its inception in 2012, Aashni + Co has fast become the one stop shop for luxury and tailor made Asian bridal fashion, meaning brides no longer need to make a trip to India.

Now in it’s second year running, the Aashni + Co Wedding Show has proved once again that there is without a doubt a demand for high-end bridal couture in the UK. Brides and grooms have the chance to purchase their entire trousseau with first hand assistance from the designer themselves.

On speaking about the success of the show, founder and creative director of Aashni + Co boutique, Aashni Anshul Doshi (Shah) expressed her utter delight officially announcing that it was a “tremendous success.”

We were conscious that we needed to surpass the high benchmark we established with the event in its debut year, 2015. I feel we’ve achieved that based on the response from the designers and visitors here today unanimously. We’ve brought a studied curation of luxe, South Asian couture and bridal wear to the UK’s doorstep, meaning brides and grooms to be and followers of Indian high fashion have been able to meet the designers themselves and shop entire bridal trousseaus or one-off pieces against a fittingly couture backdrop.” – Aashni Anshul Doshi (Shah)

Held at luxury 5 star hotel, The Dorchester, this year’s event drew in large crowds and featured exquisite designer wear from the likes of Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Manish Malhotra and Varun Bahl. Brides, together with their entourage were flocking to the stands throughout the entire day, picking up gorgeous one off lehengas, saris, gowns and the list goes on.

Upon entering the ballroom, The Dorchester’s Gold Room was transformed into enchanting woodlands with visitors taken on a journey through a magical forest filled with fresh blooms, berries, rustic bouquets and sparkling emeralds and rubies gracing the pathways. We were greeted with the harmonious tunes of birds chirping amidst almost bare trees and surrounded by beautiful couture from Faraz Manan, Manish Malhotra, Rimple and Harpreet Narula, Sabyasachi Mukherjee and Varun Bahl.

Zita Elze | The Maharani Diaries

As per last year, award winning floral artist, Zita Elze wowed with her creative design concept. The spectacular display left everybody in absolute awe including myself.

Aashni and Zita have collaborated on a number of projects now and have developed a wonderful creative dialogue.

Amazed by her floral mastery, I asked the gifted florist to give us a few thoughts about how the theme was conceptualized.

“Aashni gave me just a few words for the brief and I was very happy to interpret these into a narrative for the Gold Room at The Dorchester. The starting point was in her shop, with some of the beautiful dresses, picking out jewel colours. This combined with Aashni’s dreams of trees and birds brought about the design. I work instinctively so many of the finishing touches were decided on the day, although everything else was planned in great detail as we only had a few hours to create the whole room. The short lived ethereal nature of these creations is part of their magic – the show lasted just one day.” – Zita Elze

Amongst the designers I had the opportunity to chat with celebrated designers, Manish Malhotra and Sabyasachi Mukherjee. The two inimitable designers who have a strong connection with London shared fond memories of working and studying in the fashion capital, often referring to it in conversation as their second home.

I asked Manish about how he thinks the UK bride and differs to the brides in India.

“I feel in the past brides from the UK were not that aware and for those who didn’t travel they didn’t know that India is changing so much. But today thanks to social media, now they are aware and they know what’s going on. Events like these, where the originals come to you is a step forward. I think all Indian and Pakistani designers should take that step and go to different countries to make brides aware of what’s available.” – Manish Malhotra

Manish at stand Manish

Manish needs no introduction of course. Renowned for creating iconic outfits for Bollywood stars and beyond, this designer leaves no stone unturned when it comes to bridal wear. When questioned about replicas Manish expressed concern and went on further to say that through Aashni + Co, his work remains credible and international audiences can recognize the difference.

Sabyasachi | The Maharani Diaries

Sabyasachi | The Maharani Diaries

When one thinks of glamorous bridal couture and weddings, no other name springs to mind but Sabyasachi. I just couldn’t resist, but I had to ask the designer about how he feels the Indian wedding market is changing.

“Indian weddings are going everywhere. It’s almost become like the visiting card of India because Indian weddings talk about everything that’s beautiful in India. It talks about clothing, food, music, jewellery, textile culture etc. So basically if you want to know about India in that event, then the best way is to get invited to an Indian wedding. Indian weddings by themselves have become the cultural brand ambassador of the country.” – Sabyasachi Mukherjee 

What attracts many brides to Sabyasachi’s couture is his incredible knack of being able to fuse modern with traditional aesthetics. The designer is a purist and this sentiment is echoed in a number of his interviews. Once again he reinforced this theme with his latest collection and it was such a treat for me to see his beautiful couture in person.

I also had a brief conversation with Anamika Khanna about how instrumental she has been in re-inventing the way the humble sari is draped in today’s times and what her thoughts are on why it has been appreciated so well amongst brides and fashion bloggers alike. 

“I feel that the younger generation has stopped wearing saris completely. I was thinking one day.. without killing the elegance or essence of the sari, what can you do with it that it becomes more modern? That’s where I started and then I moved on and realised there’s a lot of potential. It’s not just for Indian girls. You can get away with it by not wearing a gown or a dress. Indian women can not wear gowns or dresses as well because our bodies are different.” – Anamika Khanna

The designers were thrilled with the response of the event and here are just a few of their thoughts.

Aashni’s show is terrific. She always manages to get an avalanche of people in. It was exhausting but it was very well organised and I think she has become the most important interface between Indian designers and NRI brides who don’t normally get to meet the designers face to face.” – Sabyasachi Mukherjee

“What a fabulous platform to show wedding clothes. Aashni has done a fantastic job and it’s well organised with lovely girls coming in to try on our clothes and making me feel so proud.” – Anju Modi

“It’s such a pleasure to be at the Aashni + Co Wedding Show. I am really enjoying it. It’s spectacular, it’s beautifully put together, it’s curated, the space is beautiful, and all the designers are here. The amount of people that were here today is overwhelming. Well done Aashni.” – Anamika Khanna

“The crowd here is great today. London loves to take risks in fashion, which is great for me. And what an incredible event. Aashni has done a wonderful job in putting this all together.” – Gaurav Gupta

“We’ve pretty much sold out in the first two hours, which is great, so I hope to be back next year and I hope that there are a lot more exhibitions like this from Aashni. She has a great eye for picking out the best talent from India and featuring a great mix of designers.” – Masaba Gupta

In terms of organization, the designer’s booths were very well displayed and it was incredible to see the amount of intricacy and detailing in every single gown or lehenga for that matter. Chatting with some of the bloggers, it was like as if we were in bridal heaven! A sea of elegant, bespoke, handcrafted wedding wear displayed ever so beautifully in one of the most luxurious event spaces.

Models looked graceful, sporting various outfits, jewellery supplied by Deeya Jewellery and statement hair and make up looks from Summaya and Shamalah over the course of the day.

Summaya + Shamalah | The Maharani Diaries

Elegant and Wild Wedding Photography set up a vibrant Indian themed photo booth featuring handmade paper flowers and gold bicycle, encouraging patrons to let their hair down during the event. Even the models and bloggers got in on the fun!

Bloggers at Aashni Show | The Maharani Diaries

From left: Vic from London Ki Ladki, Mandavi from The Red Notebook, Nazma from Asian Fashion Blog, Rabbia from Asian Wedding Ideas, Poonam from The Maharani Diaries, Safeera from Habibi Lifestyle and Arti from My Asian Wardrobe. Image courtesy of Elegant & Wild Wedding Photography. 

What sets this bridal exhibition apart from others is the fact that you have a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with the designers. Each designer has something different to offer and it’s so great to see so much depth and diversity in the collections.

The event featured work from established fashion houses to more up and coming, new-generation talent.

It certainly exceeded my expectations and I can’t wait for the 2017 show!

To get a true sense of what the event was like, check out the official film –>

The Aashni + Co Wedding Show was presented in association with Mustang Productions and official charity partner, The British Asian Trust.

Aashni + Co is a luxury multi-designer boutique situated in Notting Hill. Ever since it’s inception in 2012, Aashni + Co has carved a niche for itself as one of London’s most sought after destinations for luxury Indian fashion, garnering attention from fashionistas and celebrities in the UK and Continental Europe alike. For further information, visit http://aashniandco.com/.

Model | The Maharani Diaries

Did you attend this year’s Aashni + Co Wedding Show? Would love to hear your thoughts. Let us know in the comments below. 

*Images courtesy of The Maharani Diaries, Adnan Qazi, Rona Wheeldon of Flowerona and Elegant & Wild Photography.

Introducing, Leena Mistry of ‘Ratanji Rani’ – bespoke wedding invitations, rakhi’s & more!

Ratanji Rani | The Maharani Diaries

Leena Mistry is a woman of many talents. An accountant, a part-time beauty therapist and if that isn’t enough, a stationery designer!

Originally from the UK, Leena always had a creative side to her. She has been hand crafting rakhi’s (threads) for raksha bandhan (Hindu festival celebrating the bond between brothers and sisters) as well as custom invitations and wedding stationery for many years.

Now based in the beautiful beachside suburbs of Sydney, Australia, she is continuing her passion for creating gorgeous stationery whilst also successfully running Ratanji Rani – The Beauty Room.

LEENA MISTRY OF RATANJI RANI

LEENA MISTRY OF RATANJI RANI

Welcome to The Maharani Diaries vendor directory, Leena. Tell us about yourself and your amazing talents?

I’m British born, currently living in Sydney and married to an amazing man. I had a standard Indian upbringing and an education in accounting. I was always creative but I don’t think it fully unleashed until after my year out travelling and a few years in the working world, I realised I had little interest in climbing the corporate ladder. I wanted to be my own boss and experience as much in life as I could (life is short as they say). I wanted to learn something different on the side so I took evening classes in massage therapy and beauty.

Back in London it was actually quite difficult to strike the right balance. I would work as a full time accountant and then in the evenings I would either be with a client or making stationery. It was tough and a little tiring but it is a passion of mine, so I had to make it work.

When we moved to Sydney, my priority was to find a balance between all of this. So I chose to take on part time accounting and spend the free time on building the business. I couldn’t have done it without my husband’s support – honestly he has been my rock! It can still be a struggle, but I really value the time with loved ones and now I get to spend evenings with my husband and friends.

Leena Mistry of Ratanji Rani | The Maharani Diaries

How and when did you start Ratanji Rani?

I turned my hobby into this little venture three years ago. I wanted to share my love for natural beauty, wellbeing and traditional crafting with everybody. I always knew I wanted to set up my own venture and after creating the stationery for our own wedding, I felt that it was time to give it a go.

Could you tell us a little about the story behind the name, ‘Ratanji Rani?’

Well I actually set up the business in memory of my maternal grandparents, Mr Ratanjibhai and Mrs Rattanben Mistry, so it’s a name close to my heart and full of childhood memories. Growing up, my mother’s side of the family would often spend weekends and holidays together. My dads side of the family is very male dominated which I love, but it was always refreshing to have some sisterly company.

The girls all had a traditional Indian upbringing (meaning learning how to be a domestic goddess and mastering how to make the perfect round roti), so during our visits, we would help my grandmother, mum and aunty. Naturally the older we became, we would enjoy spending more time getting ready and catching up on gossip than finishing our chores. My Mum and aunt would always tell us to hurry, calling us “rani’s”, meaning queens! The rani name surprisingly stuck and we’d always joke that we were the Ratanji Ranis’ – Ratanji Queens.

Such a delightful story. Take us through the various styles of wedding stationery you create.

Well, I’m not an expert digital designer, (I am slowly learning with help from my very talented cousin, Mitesh) but what I do have, is a passion for traditional crafts. I love to source pretty papers and patterns, incorporate old crafts like binding, embossing, stamping and wood block printing. More importantly, I handcraft each invitation from the first cut to placing the last embellishment.

My styles are simple. A fusion of modern print and traditional finishes, which is perfect for the modern bride looking for something a little different.

What is your design process when creating wedding stationery for the couple?

I love to sit with my clients and discuss their ideas, work with them on a one-to-one basis to create stationery that is unique to them. Sometimes it isn’t always possible to meet, so if the client is abroad or living in another city, I try my level best to keep them updated at all times. If they already like something they see, then that makes my job easier. But more often than not, I’ve found my clients come to me, as they are looking for something unique and personal.

Do you prefer that the couple has an idea of what they want to create for their wedding or do you like to work with a blank canvas?

I do love to work with a blank canvas. In fact I am in the midst of doing exactly that for an invitation I’m working on at the moment. It does help if the couple have an idea, no matter how small or silly they think it might be. I have had some brides bring in invitation samples of a concept they like. Every couple’s wedding is an opportunity for me to create something new or to mix and match my previous designs. I love that each order has been slightly different from the others.

Do you like to keep up to date with the latest trends in wedding stationery?

Yes, most definitely! I’m always researching and getting inspiration from Pinterest, Instagram and reading great bridal magazines/blogs. It’s good to know which colours are on trend or if certain themes are arising amongst the creatives. I don’t necessarily follow it but it always gives me ideas to experiment and create.

What advice can you give to a couple when choosing their wedding stationery?

Be prepared to pay a little more than you expected for your wedding stationery. Amazingly, a lot of couples don’t budget well for stationery and it ends up being one of their bigger costs. Keep it simple but striking. Having one beautiful element on your stationery can tie in your whole wedding theme and that’s what I’m here to do for you.

Be open to ideas and don’t be afraid to share your own ideas too. Handmade stationery takes a lot longer than a digital print process, so when planning, ensure that your invitations take the first priority on the ‘to do list.’ It’s good to start this process early with your stationer if you are opting for the bespoke range.

Ratanji Rani | The Maharani Diaries Ratanji Rani | The Maharani Diaries

You also create cards for various other occasions and beautiful hand made rakhi’s for raksha bhandan. Tell us more about that.

It seems the era for putting pen to paper is slowly dying so I love it when clients get in touch and ask me to make a custom greeting card. There are still a few of us out there who enjoy writing and sending things by post. Making other paper goods, keeps my creative mind active and allows me to experiment with new and old traditions. I really enjoy it.

Raksha Bandhan has definitely grown over the years! I’ve been making my own rakhis since high school. I’m very family orientated and my brothers mean the world to me, so making rakhis for them is special and my little way of saying I love them. A few years ago, I had a few requests from friends and I posted the photos on to my Facebook page and well, since then I’ve had a lot more requests.

I use 100% cotton and traditional macramé knotting techniques to hand make each rakhi. You may often find me making rakhis on the bus or in a café, just to make sure I keep on top of orders.

I believe in giving back too, so every year I donate a percentage of my rakhi sales to the Meningitis Trust. My younger brother had meningitis when he was born and without these guys, he wouldn’t be here today. I am very lucky and forever grateful.

What do you enjoy most about creating/designing and have there been any memorable moments to date?

What I enjoy most is bringing ideas to life. I love the freedom to experiment and test my ideas. Not everything works out but that’s all part of learning.

Some of my memorable moments have actually been learning. I learned an old tradition of book binding and incorporated it into my stationery. I also had an opportunity once to have a go at letterpress printing using the traditional plates. That was amazing!

Who or what inspires you?    

Lately fashion has been a huge inspiration for me. From the amazing designers on the runway at Lakme Fashion Week to the modern geometric prints I’ve seen on the rails at Sportsgirl and Country Road (Australian Fashion stores).

I find a lot of inspiration on my travels too. For instance, patterns engrained on trees, the vivid colours of the ocean, printed fabrics or even tattoo art on indigenous Maori people.

Being Indian and learning about my own culture and background is also very inspirational. We come from a heritage of great craftsmanship, and its fascinating!

Thank you so much for your time Leena. You are so inspiring and it goes to show that with a little determination, you can achieve anything in life. All the best for the forthcoming wedding season. If people would like to get in contact with you or purchase your creations online, how can they do so?

Thank you.

The easiest way to get in touch is to send through an email (even just to say hello). I also have an Etsy Shop where at the moment I sell a selection of my paper goods and rakhis but I’m hoping in the next few months to add my wedding stationery collection on there too. For the social butterflies, there is always Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

If any of Leena’s work caught your fancy, follow the links on our vendor page.

*Aussie brides to be, Ratanji Rani will have a stand at The Annual Wedding Expo at Sydney Showground, Sydney Olympic Park on Sunday, 23rd August 2015. For further information visit the Wedding Expos Australia website here.