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The return of the kaftan

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If I had to describe my dressing style as a season, it would be ‘Summer’, so it is surprising that I only discovered the kaftan after moving to Dubai five years ago. When the sea of billowing, beautiful kaftans at iftars and suhoors made sense. So for my fist Eid here I pulled out a kaftan that was actually upcycled from a white chikan duputta my mom had bought 20 years ago—originally made for a beach holiday, it was the perfect fit as many of the kaftans worn in Dubai are Made in India. “Indian aesthetics have always appealed to the Middle Eastern market, and the quality and finish of the kaftans that come from India are comparable to those by international design houses and better priced,” says Dubai based Mukta Shahdadpuri aka The Style Circuit, who has hosted pop-ups for Tarun Tahiliani, Shivan and Narresh and Anushka Khanna. Dubai-based influencer Rosemin Manji often posts pictures of herself in Delhi-based design studio D’Ascoli’s silk digital-printed kaftans and at Abu Dhabi’s Ataya (a landmark exhibition held prior to Ramadan under the patronage of HH Sheikha Shamsa Bint Hamdan Bin Mohammed Al Nahyan), Anita Dongre’s stall is always a major draw. For designers like Malini Ramani, Payal Singhal and Namrata Joshipura, regulars on the Dubai pop-up circuit, kaftans are always a strong part of their line-up. But it isn’t just Dubai; this breezy and forgiving robe is positioned for a comeback across the world, courtesy the pandemic.

Boho to ‘wedding-ready’

Singhal has included kaftans in her collection since 2010 – her embroidered versions are suited to occasion wear, especially those priced around ₹49,286 on her website. She also has laid-back digital kaftan-tunics, made for beach holidays (around ₹8,719) and notes that there has been a surge in clients taking to the silhouette. At this time of the year, as summer is taking off, global designers from Gucci to Pucci have always highlighted the kaftan. After all, while its origins can be traced back to the Mesopotamian era, this silhouette first achieved high fashion status in the Swinging 60s when Yves Saint Laurent, Balenciaga and Dior included it in their collections. Over a decade later, Elizabeth Taylor wore a Gina Fratini multi-colored, kaftan-style dress to her second wedding to Richard Burton. Perhaps following in her chic footsteps, two years ago Sonam Kapoor Ahuja turned to an ivory chikan kaftan by Abu Jani Sandeep Khosla for her wedding reception afterparty. Adding “new bride” glamour to its bohemian vibe, Bollywood’s favourite fashion girl layered it with uncut diamond neckwear. Jetsetters have pulled off the beach to ballroom upgrade with the right accessories. Beaded, metal or precious jewellery – anything goes, thanks to the kaftan’s exotic personality. “I’m surprised more Indian designers have not looked at this style until recently, while international designers have them as wardrobe staples,” observes Singhal.

Sonam Kapoor in a Sabyasachi design

From celebrity drawing rooms

Growing up, many of us may have seen our mothers and grandmothers wear kaftans as housecoats. Perhaps the rise of resort wear as a category made the kaftan haute? Ask Malini Ramani, one of our first resort wear designers, for whom kaftans, jumpsuits and paréos are a staple. “Blending style, sophistication and comfort, it can be worn as sleepwear, on the beach or to a black-tie event. What could be more versatile?” she asks, also pointing to its popularity in this time of social distancing. It helps that a picture of actor Kareena Kapoor Khan at home in a block-printed yellow Masaba Gupta kaftan went viral, with fashion magazines immediately pronouncing it “the coolest ‘at home’ outfit’’. Popular labels include Anupama Dayal, Shivan and Narresh and Anjali Patel’s Verandah, while couture darlings Sabyasachi and Anamika Khanna have given it a formal feel with craft-based embellishments and sequins. “Kaftans can also be paired with pants, which is one of my signature looks and a chic alternative to a kurta,” says Anjali Patel, referring to another go-to #WFH silhouette.

From Malini Ramani’s collection

From Malini Ramani’s collection  
| Photo Credit:
Malini Ramani

The upgrade

The kaftan is as, if not more, flexible than the kurta. Ramani is already full of ideas on how she will be taking this ‘destination’ essential forward: from new lengths, to adding pockets, to matching them with masks and scarves. Verandah’s Anjali Patel also sees reinvention happening around this shape. Her label is known for their vintage oversize take on the kaftan but now she will add more structured shapes, and shorter, belted and maxi-dress styles. Kaftan dresses also feature in the much-anticipated H&M x Sabyasachi collection, expected to drop at the end of summer. With a dash of daring, courtesy slits and other details, this style is inclusive, working for all shapes and sizes, says Gupta, adding, “The days of the kaftan being associated with a house gown are over. It will all change now. The house gown is the new runway gown!”

The writer is a former editor, luxury consultant and author.

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Fashion & Style

Amazon’s ‘Big Style Sale’ Aims to Boost Retailers Impacted by COVID-19

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(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Amazon Prime Day may be postponed this year, but Amazon is still planning to hold a summer sale this month for those retailers hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a memo sent to sellers, and viewed by CNBC, Amazon will host a “Fashion Summer Sale Event” starting June 22. Expected to run for seven to 10 days, the digital spree aims to “drive excitement and jump-start sales,” the document said.

Less than three weeks ahead of the affair, details are still being finalized. Amazon is working on landing pages and has reportedly asked sellers to submit deals with a discount of at least 30 percent, CNBC said. It’s unclear whether items will be reduced for all shoppers or only Prime members.

“The ‘Big Style Sale’ is slated to take place later this month and will include seasonally relevant deals from both established and smaller fashion brands,” an Amazon spokesperson told PCMag in an emailed statement. “We are delighted to help brands connect with our vast global customer base for this event.”

The novel coronavirus is wreaking havoc across the world, bringing chaos and disorder to the health, education, and business sectors. Everyone from local Mom-and-Pop stores to global conglomerates have felt the effects of this pandemic. Amazon’s annual Prime Day shopping event, normally held in July, appears to be postponed until later this year, according to Reuters.

The e-commerce giant, flooded with online orders, has been prioritizing those for essential goods like groceries, cleaning items, and medical supplies. Shipping times for purchases have slipped to five days or longer, even for Prime subscribers. Despite trying to hire an additional 100,000 workers, some warehouses have reported cases of employees contracting coronavirus. The risk of infection, along with staff protests, has prompted Amazon to distribute face masks and conduct temperature checks.

All of which suggests that holding Prime Day during a crisis would be a logistical nightmare for the already overstretched company. (Last year’s event sold a record-breaking 175 million items to members worldwide.) How Amazon will handle a summer sale instead remains to be seen.

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Four simple games that will keep your unruly kids entertained for at least 20 minutes

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It’s been a long time since lockdown started. For some of us that’s meant weeks of mindless TV-watching and worrying about the future. For anyone with kids, it’s been hectic, busy, chaos, juggling jobs with being a parent and teacher 24/7. Don’t fear if you’ve run out of ideas for fun things to do. We got Mike Rampton, author of new kids’ games book ‘Open in Case of Emergency’ (Pop Press, £9.99), to reveal four you can play with minimal effort, minimal mess and minimal outside. 

1. Beasts in the tundra

A bit of preparation the night before and everyone becomes an archaeologist.

Age Four and up
Players Two and up (dependent on freezer space).
What you need One plastic box and one toy per player or team, a freezer.
How to play Freeze the toys in water in the plastic boxes the night before. Action figures or dinosaurs are ideal, and you can consider adding food colouring to the water to make it that bit wackier. Players then have to release their creatures from their frozen slumbers – just like Captain America – before their opponents do. Breathing heavily on to the ice, rubbing it or wrapping it up might all work, or (with adult supervision) heat and gravity can work wonders…

2. Blow football

A huffing, puffing, indoor version of the world’s most popular sport.

Age Five and up.
Players Two.
What you need Two straws, a ping-pong ball and something for goals: margarine tubs, books, whatever works.
How to play Mark out a pitch (or use something that already has two ends, like a rug or a table) using tape if needed. Work out where the centre line is, and go for it [blowing the ball through the straws], trying to score goals against your opponent. If anyone touches the ball with their hands, the other player gets a penalty from the centre line. The first to five goals wins.

Or blow skiing

Make a slalom course around a table using whatever is to hand – clumps of Blu-Tack with toothpicks sticking up out of them and a little paper flag make very nice ski gates, for instance. Take it in turns to do time trials [blowing the ball] around the course, with a ten-second penalty for every flag hit and a 30-second penalty if the ball falls off the table.

3. The great sock hunt

A scavenger hunt that makes up in ease for what it lacks in glamour.

Age Five and up.
Players Two and up.
What you need As many different pairs of socks as you wish.
How to play Hide one sock from every pair around the house, then present players with a pile of odd socks. Within a time limit (which depends on how big the house is, how many socks you’ve hidden, how good at hiding socks you are, and how good at finding socks they are – start with five minutes and experiment), and never carrying more than one sock at a time, can they reunite all the pairs?

Or super secret sock search

Hide the odd socks apart from one, which, instead of being hidden somewhere around the house, goes in your pocket. Players take it in turns to spend one minute each searching for socks, with each one they find eliminating one option as to what your pocketed ‘secret sock’ could be. The player who correctly describes that sock wins.

4. Five pence hockey

Air hockey tables cost a fortune. This alternative costs less than anything.

Age Seven and up.
Players Two.
What you need A table, tape, two 2p coins, one 1p coin.
How to play Don’t play on a table that is likely to get scratched – that’ll make the game a lot more expensive. Use the tape to mark out equally sized goals. Then stand one at either end and play hockey: slide your 2p around with your middle finger, using the penny as a puck. First to ten goals wins.

In homeschooling hell? An expert reveals how to make things as good as they can be.

What to stream if you’re in lockdown with kids.

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Amazon announces its 10-day summer fashion sale Video

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