The P&P Project

Star Speak, By Shaheen Abbas: A Note To Every Woman Who Has Felt She Is Not Skinny Or Beautiful Enough


Star Speak is an ongoing series of columns, penned by celebrities we are used to seeing on these pages. This is their space to write about their take on fashion, the fraternity and whatever else catches their fancy.

This week’s column comes from jewelry designer, Shaheen Abbas who shares four life lessons that will serve every woman well. You can follow Shaheen on Instagram here and on Twitter here.

For every woman who has felt she is not skinny or beautiful enough: life lessons from someone who has been there, done that, and emerged (a little bit) wiser.

I used to be one of those women, who would feel guilty for having zero control over food and berate myself for all the junk food that I ate, get pissed at the mirror over the slightest hint of a frown line, and obsess over those few extra kilos and grams on the weighing scale. How flawless I looked in that bodycon dress was the only (and truest) measure of my beauty, right? So damn wrong!

Why are we women so hard on ourselves? The abs are never washboard enough, the arms never lithe enough, the skin never glowing enough… it’s like we take some sort of perverse pleasure in brooding over our flaws. We are addicted to bashing ourselves over our appearance. We’ll say YES to crash diets, unsupervised workouts, and complain about how “fat” we are, but it’s always a NO to the beautiful person that stares back at us in the mirror.

Something stirred inside me during the last year of being in my 30’s (I turned 40 this March, in case you were wondering!), and yanked me to a state of self-awareness. I decided to say a giant “F**k you!” to all these unhealthy insecurities that weigh us women down. I mean, after 14,600 days of dealing with these doubts and worries, it was about damn time that I felt like I had enough! If I wanted to celebrate myself (and not just the number of candles on my cake), there was no better time than now. So here I am.

The Roundup


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The Seven Somethings


While many of us are still struggling with the February Already syndrome, India’s first fashion week of the year has come and gone. Held at Mumbai’s JioGarden from February 1- 5, Lakme Fashion Week Summer/Resort 2017 transported me to a mostly Mai Tai state of mind. I say mostly because sometimes I found myself in a sangeet.

Anyway, a little over a week later and here are the seven things that I still find myself thinking about…

1. You Go Gen Next!
Starring a bunch of talented designers, LFW’s Gen Next Show kickstarts each edition. Some of these debutants go on to launch super successful labels, others win coveted awards and a few manage to do both. Two labels that caught my eye this season were Soumodeep Dutta for his unmistakable Bengal school of fashion vibe and Poochki for their billowing breezy separates.

Soumodeep Dutta (Left) And Poochki

2. The Exploding Galaxy
Not the Samsung phones but just the ridiculous number of stars that descend down on one fashion week. (The ridiculous number of fashion weeks is a whole other column). Sushmita Sen, Bipasha Basu, Tabu, Diana Penty, Malaika Arora Khan, Daisy Shah, Padma Lakshmi. Sophie Choudry, Vaani Kapoor, Aditi Rao Hydari, Nimrat Kaur, Preity Zinta, Swara Bhaskar, Ayesha Takia… Showstopper. Overkill.

L To R: Anushka Manchanda, Nimrat Kaur, Diana Penty And Vaani Kapoor

L To R: Sushmita Sen, Malaika Arora, Aditi Rao Hydari And Swara Bhaskar

L To R: Bipasha Basu, Disha Patani, Tabu And Preity Zinta

L To R: Daisy Shah, Karisma Kapoor, Padma Lakshmi, Sophie Choudry

3. I Need Some AM.IT In My Life
Patola fused into plastic in AM.IT by Amit Aggarwal’s collection aptly titled Seamless. His pieces occupy the top 10 spots in my wishlist. Discarded saris, signature metallics and green means (and end) of fashion, this collection makes the right noises and looks equally fabulous. Now if only I can pre-order one of those dramatic pieces. And then find an OMG enough place to wear it to.


4. DeBo IS A Thing
Thanks to my blogger friends Priyanka and Payal who very helpfully coined the acronym DeBo (Desi Bohemian ICYMI), I am now convinced more than ever that DeBo is legit. Especially since nothing else seems to describe some looks from Label Ritu Kumar’s Maharaja Pop.

Label Ritu Kumar

Star Speak, By Mini Mathur: Why I Don’t Feel Naked Without A Birkin


Star Speak is an ongoing series of columns, penned by celebrities we are used to seeing on these pages. This is their space to write about their take on fashion, the fraternity and whatever else catches their fancy.

Mini Mathur, one of Indian television’s most popular faces takes on fashion policing and follies of stereotyping “looks”. You can follow the model, presenter and actor on Twitter here and Instagram here. But first, read on.

star speak-hhc-mini mathur-1

Mini Mathur


Why I Don’t Feel Naked Without A Birkin

Writing about fashion on the very blog that makes me run for cover and adjust my sari pleats when I spot cameras. Brave. Rather brave.

As someone who wears many hats and has run the gamut of being a Dilliwaali from advertising (read: management student, handloom lover) to an MTV VJ ( read: lets paaaahrty in fun, shiny corsets & thigh high boots) to a reality TV host ( Ummm.. its called ‘general’ entertainment for a reason) to the wife of a film director (Read: glam bhabhiji), I pretty much can’t figure out what my “look” is supposed to be. Or if I should even HAVE one. Because as much as folks love slotting folks into neat little fashion stereotypes, some of us are tripolar. And whichever person residing inside wins the argument on the given day, decides the on-duty look. Besides, isn’t a “look” only what you create for a character in a soap or a film? Surely real life doesn’t work like that! Why should one be happy trying to project just one fashion persona? For me, there’s so much perverse fun & madness in dressing a Barbie in a combat fatigues with her hair all oiled and tied back and black streaks on her cheeks.

When I joined MTV, I remember angst-ly leaving my khadi wardrobe back in Delhi as it was just not cool for a hip VJ to be seen in a cotton sari. Girls in Bombay only wore saris at a wedding, or a festival.. complete with the ‘costume-y’ big bindi, bangles & jhumkas.. like they were dressing for some ‘part’. For me saris have never been about the great Indian overkill. I grew up watching the super cool women in my family wearing it with such ease & spunk that saris did not seem out of place even at an all night rager. Neither did it feel aunty-like or particularly ‘decent’. In fact I felt rather sexy wearing colorful mulmul over lycra, linen over lace and tussar over net. I still do. That said, I also love my ripped denims and on-duty draped gowns.

Yet every time I depart from my beloved sari, the readers of this blog feel “I should stick to my look” or “I am trying too hard”. If I ever felt like changing up my sari with brogues or a belt, well, “I should not mess with how a sari is worn”. Bruh… I know how a sari is worn traditionally, but there are 84 styles in which a sari is draped and not each one is bullseye all the time!! I find it so much fun to experiment occasionally. I get so happy when my niece also tends to think of it as a red carpet worthy garment, without always having to look like the blazingly beautiful but traditional Rekha in a kanjeevaram.

Star Speak, By Tisca Chopra : An Open Letter To Women’s Wear Designers


Star Speak is an ongoing series of columns, penned by celebrities we are used to seeing on these pages. This is their space to write about their take on fashion, the fraternity and whatever else catches their fancy.

Tisca, a theatre and film actor (who also happens to have a book to her credit) is no stranger to the red carpet and the attention that comes with it. This week, she has a beef with women’s wear designers and let’s it be known in an open letter to them. Read on, and after that, take a look at her short film here.



(On behalf of women who actually wear clothes and not just pose in them)

We must accept that when it comes to attire, as females of the species, we have not created the best reputation as possessors of wisdom. We will buy, wear and do almost anything, so long as the word fashionable is prefixed. Fashion victims, they call us. And with good reason. Think Armadillo shoes, hobble skirts, stirrup pants and conical bras.

We may have, inadvertently, led manufacturers/designers into believing that we are ok with just about anything, so long as we see a person half our width and double our height look amazing in it. What we don’t know is that there is great lighting, expert makeup and hair, and of course Photoshop involved in their seduction of us. So, on behalf of the average woman I felt, it might be time to address some truly grave concerns that affect us deeply, day to day. The ginormous popularity of this blog made me think it best to list these key concerns here:

Clothes. Bags. Shoes.

Some may say that we are being superficial and talking about trivialities. But dressing up is serious business. 3 trillion dollars serious. It accounts for 2% of the world’s GDP. So, it’s shocking really, that there is no conversation between those who think up women’s clothes and those that wear them. Don’t corporates have conclaves, conferences and conventions in deluxe hotels at exotic locations, for lesser reasons?

Grouse #1

What would be the point of making a wash and care label from a material that could survive a nuclear holocaust? In the event of a tragedy, I have visions of billions of wash and care labels littering the Earth, while the clothes that once bore them have turned into radioactive ash.

I do wonder if manufacturers realize that most will use a simple domestic scissor to cut the label and not an industrial laser. And why are small books printed on labels? If besides manufacturing garments they have a deep secret desire to turn author, they must. They should try self-publishing. Just not on my skirt.

Why can’t a label simply read?

Dry Clean (at a good laundry)

The label should be attached to my garment in a way that after I have finished reading the wash and care instructions, I should not have to carry those instructions around everywhere I go. After all, what are the chances that I will take the garment off during a pee break from a meeting, quickly find a washing machine, set it to forty five degrees and wait semi naked for forty minutes, while its on spin cycle?

It stands to reason that the woman who afforded herself that garment would also have the brains to remember basic care instructions. They should just have a sticker with a small picture of the garment, which we can stick on the inside of our cupboard and just like that, we are done.


Grouse #2

The old adage ‘no pain, no gain’ is quite literal when it comes to heels.

Any fashionista knows that the taller one is, the better any outfit looks. Many a girl will add a liberal two inches to her height, if asked. Long legs will take you far. And that’s not just simple physics, it’s simply fashion.

Ergo, heels become a necessary evil. Footwear manufacturers are all too aware of the star performers in their shoe line-up, so design elements are always focused on the impractical, teetering stilettoes. Stilettos have wings, bows, chains and spirals. Someone even did a mock lipstick for a heel. I think it was Alberto Guardiani. But for some reason the designers won’t focus on putting a cushion near the ball of the foot. And that’s the part that makes women leave parties.

Don’t believe me?

The wise girl at FitFlop, Marcia Kilgore, sold 4.8 million pairs of FitFlops in less than two years. The real moolah is in the mommy heel. Walking on sunshine is the feeling we want, not walking on pins. So, if someone can put kid leather inside a stiletto and a cushion under the ball of the foot, this will be the making of the next Fortune 500 Company.