Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Working Backstage at Pakistan Fashion Week

Me with Seeta and Sima
There's always an aura and feel of being backstage at a fashion show that you see on television. The madness, the divas and the tantrums. I wish I could tell you that that's not really the case...and that we live in a world where there isn't a resounding hierarchy in a supposed materialistic industry as 'fashion'- But I would be lying. Disguised as a dresser, but actually a blogger -the unmitigated pandemonium that I experienced this weekend at 'Pakistan Fashion Week'  (Being held in Kensington, London) was jaw dropping.

Being a somewhat undercover observer,  I would have thought 'up and coming' models would have lapped up this opportunity to strut their willowy selves on the runway. Nonetheless, the amount of unprofessionalism I witnessed was at times torture. I was under strict orders to replace models straight away if they threw a tantrum (some were eventually replaced). This was put to the test early on in the weekend when I had an encounter with a model who was trying to change her make-up in the toilets. It didn't go down too well and we both walked away from each other stressed, red faced and angry. Later on I saw her approaching me again and I thought to myself 'oh god here we go again'...but to my surprise she grabbed me and apologized....something about being Welsh which made her sound rude apparently. Hey, immense respect to her. I apologized back and MY GOD felt so much better. However,that model run-in wasn't as big as the 'great' MEHREEN SYED.

Princess Mehreen Syed
Mehreen was flown in from Pakistan. The 'supermodel'. With years in the industry every designer wanted her as their 'show stopper'. It didn't matter that she offended all the other models and staff. It also didn't matter that people were pushed out of the way by Mehreen's skeletal frame....that orders were barked across the room.....that backstage photographers were ordered to stop taking photos, that I was told to 'shut up and not speak if I didn't know anything'. Oh and did I mention that it also didn't matter that on the second day of the show she took hostage of the ladies loo. Her fragile assistant turned desperate girls away whenever they entered the toilet. Personally I forced myself in. The assistant whispered at me to hurry up before Mehreen arrived. Grief and panic were etched across her face. I took my time. I have 99 problems but a b*itch ain't one.


Charlotte Girdwood
One millionth of the chaos
Racks of clothes
Curiosity got the better of me and I came home and googled Mehreen. Yes I'm not ashamed to admit that. I wanted to see what the fuss was about. I watched a couple videos and wanted to jump through the computer screen and scream, yell and kick up a fuss that she wasn't as lovey dovey, humble and grounded as she mimicked in her interviews!!! On the other hand I have to give some other models credit. In particular, Harriadnie Beau and Charlotte Girdwood- extremely professional and great to work with! Also, all the male models were relaxed, carefree and changed into each outfit without a fuss. They cracked jokes, busted out dance moves and put a smile on everyone's faces.

However, designers tried their damnedest to continue the tantrum pact. I think at some point or another I  heard every designer threatening to walk out if they didn't have things done their way or have the models they wanted. Drama at it's finest. I have to give it to them though- their collections were gorgeous- Especially Maria B, Nauman Arfeen, Opera House, Rana Noman, Waseem Noor, Gul Style, Falak Naz and Batur. Personally, I still don't think that their hard work and success should account to rudeness. We were trying to make the show run as smooth as possible, but instead we got random yelling fits and busted eardrums. A couple poor models with dare i say it FANTASTIC bodies, were told to work out more and bluntly labelled  'fat' right to their face. Some designers barely looked at me...you could almost smell the stench of disgust when they saw my body type. No room for a size 12 in that joint. I also had a strange feeling that I was getting pushed around by people more that I ought to, as I had on my all-black assistant dress code. If they would have known I was blogging about the backstage experience, I'm 100% sure that I would have been treated differently.
Yogi and Seets !

Time management was imperative and we were continually running around in a daze pinning models into their clothes, finding shoes, seeing what outfits we needed next and finding models who decided to vanish. It was kind of surreal and at one point when everything was going insane, I stopped and stood in the middle of the room and suddenly everything around me turned into slow motion. I don't know if it was the lack of sleep, food or my piercing heachache, but at times i felt incredibly weird and dehumanized. I was part of the stringy glue holding the show in place and at times I don't think I was treated as well as I should have from the  'important' people of fashion. On the other hand, there were times when I got a buzz when my efforts were running smoothly, my models looked fantastic and I got them to the stage on time.
Serpenti's Vision Board

I have to say a massive THANKYOU to the team I was working with! We had each others back and worked really well as part of a team. Yay to Seeta Ashra, Yovna Peenith, Ishika Sharma, Nadia Butt, Mohammed Sa'ad, Scenario Hussain, Asifa, Pia, Koii and Daniva (Sorry if i forgot someone !!!). Working under 'Serpenti' was a great experience and I was forever impressed with Tabinda Shah, Sarah Shah and Kiran Khanna. They led us well, kept us calm ( well tried to) and were extremely professional to work with. Check out their website at http://serpentistyle.com/ . To work in fashion it's crucial to have backstage experience. If you can handle the chaos of fashion week, then you can handle anything. It's true when they say fashion is 'cut-throat', but don't follow the pack- work hard, be humble and you have the opportunity to change the industry.

Filming

The more relaxed male model side

Catwalk at 8am

Model at fittings

Make-up section

The make-up process took forever !

Luca- the Italian model and actor

Model and actress Nargis Javany with one of the nicer designers- Batur

Finale boy for one of the shows

Pakistani fashion dahling!

Designer is full strop mode

Catwalk from upstairs

Rehearsals

The Boys !

Shafraz, Tom and Ali

The girls getting a bit too excited
Finally duckface in the loo before Mehreen Syed comes and bitch slaps me out.

The views and experiences expressed in this blog post are all my own and are in no way affiliated with 'Serpenti' or anyone else :)
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Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Bebe Rexha - Rising Star

Music persona of the moment? Bebe Rexha. Originally she joined US band 'Black Cards' created by Pete Wentz in 2010. Earlier this year, she announced she was leaving the band to pursue a solo career. Career move potential? Enormous. She has a moving tone to her voice, coupled with an emphasis on her haunting material, that she's given us a sneak peak of with 'Ride Till You Die' featuring Voli, shown below. Also, check her out covering Lana Del Ray and Frank Ocean. I wanna see more of her across the pond ! I don't know about you, but I want her to write the theme song to my life !


For further information on Bebe visit  http://beberexhamusic.com/

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Wednesday, 16 May 2012

The Shocking Cyntoia Brown Case - Free Her!


Flicking through the channels and coming across a programme on BBC Three called 'The 16 year old killer', I automatically braced myself for another case of a long time bullied teenager, carrying firearms into his local school and engaging in a shooting spree. So it caused me to raise an eyebrow or two, when I was faced with a documentary on a young female, who whilst working as a prostitute killed a man in self defence.

Cyntoia's Brown initial life choices didn't come as a surprise. She was abandoned at an early age by her mother and grandmother, who both dealt with drug and alcohol abuse and had a disturbing history of extreme suicidal behaviours. Even when she was eventually adopted, she decided to appoint herself onto a life on the streets abusing drugs and being forced to have sex with men, by a 24 year old robber and drug dealer, aptly named 'Cut-throat'. She would make him great money and in return he would threaten to kill her if she left. It was one fateful day when she was ordered to go home with a middle aged real estate agent - Johnny Allen. It was there, she witnessed Allen reaching for a gun, when she shot him first in a form of self defence. She was tried as an adult and at 18 was sentenced to life in prison.

Her 16 years of life are an astounding factual realization that there are children who are growing up way too fast and fall through the cracks of the justice system. Every child has the right to feel safe and looked after.
Her adoptive mother made a remarkable discovery to her own actions when she mentioned- 'Where was I when all this was happening?'.....it makes you wonder what the point of adoption is.

The fact that this girl was being tried as an adult made me absolutely furious. She was 16 years old when she YES -killed someone. However, justifying it as murder is arrestingly exceptional, when all her life she was a by-product of abuse. For a girl who went through so much in life, it was easy for her to follow the same suicidal patterns as her predecessors. When she thought Allen was reaching for a gun, what stopped her from allowing him to kill her? She was covertly a wise girl and even though through the initial forensic psychiatric testing she seemed monotonous, she still had spirit left in her. She wanted to live. I also felt that the justice system failed to link Cyntoia's supposed 'mood swings' to the typical behaviour of adolescents. Using 'mood swings' as evidence against her as a cold blooded killer is absurd. She may have personality problems after everything she went through but building it up and referring to it as 'split personality disorder', was a step too far.

Plus lets not forget...what on earth was 46 year old Allen doing with a 16 year old anyways??? Nonetheless he wasn't the only one- it broke my heart when Brown went over her 'sex lists' in front of the camera. She made organised lists in her immaculate handwriting, of who she had sex with and how many times. Going through the lists she would cover up her painful memories with a smile. Is this honestly how we fail our youth, especially living in the West where we pride ourselves on freedom? Maybe this highlights the US's selective justice system. Why was she being tried as an adult when she was at most, endearingly a child? Were they simply locking her away for the fact that she was a 'nuisance' child and had already paved out her future? Life in prison...Oh pleeease -child molesters get less time than she did. It also took them 2 years to begin the trial. What evidence could they possibly be gathering in 2 years?? She was fierce and fiery...but she was also blunt. Any idiot could tell that she was telling the truth. Tennessee's criminal justice system should have provided her with support and a safe stable home and moved onto criminals who were actually going to be a threat to society.

Everyone should have the opportunity to witness this documentary. As well as being utterly disturbing and nail bitingly tense as the court reaches its verdict, it was also enlightening and educational. Brown displayed next to none emotion when she heard the courts verdict and as chilling as that seems- I don't blame her. She's seen more of the world than anyone of us would want to see. The final footage of the documentary shows her serving her time at Tennessee's Prison for Women, where she has now grown into somewhat of a lady- a polite and intelligent woman with a real future ahead of her. Hear her momentous thoughts that she wrote down in a letter below.

Today she is 22 and her case will be revisited this Autumn. Fingers crossed that justice will finally be served and she will be free. Please take 2 minutes of your time and sign the petition to free her at http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/free-cyntoia-brown.html . Thankyou !
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Friday, 11 May 2012

Competing in Miss.Universe Great Britain 2012



I've used this past week as a mini holiday to catch up on my lack of sleep. Yet I still woke up Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday with sore eyes and an urge to hit the sack straight away. I've just started getting my groove back....

Competing this weekend in Miss.Universe Great Britain 2012, I didn't really know what to expect. I packed everything I could think off. I also took my notebook and pens as I thought I would have the time to write...BOYYYY was I wrong! My older brother was kind enough to drive me to Birmingham. Me + fat suitcase and tonnes of bags/hangers/makeup cases+ trains= recipe for disaster. I spent the rest of the day attempting to practise walking in my heels and dresses in the hotel room. I'm quite glad I did that as I got some rather embarassing trips and misses out of the way. I also spent a half hearted half an hour in the hotel's gym, which I was actually freaked out by.....scary looking machinery...by myself....I was up in my room in a jiffy.

The next morning I was greeted with the bright and early arrival of Sophia Wilmot-Josife. Together we went off to meet the other girls at rehearsals. Rehearsals consisted of practising our walk and the opening number dance sequence. I'm not a dancer and don't claim to be but it was fun to try something new. However, I can safely say that r'n'b and hip hop dance really isn't my forte, but our pursuit to perfection was inevitable. After rehearsals me and Sophia spent hours in the gym practising the dance, along with fellow contestant Neuza Vika a.k.a Nelly. Nelly was great and talked about her previous pageant experiences vividly (She competed last year with Leila Lopes- Miss.Universe 2011 at Miss.Angola UK). I think me and Sophia relied on her dance skills quite a lot to get us through it!!!



The next day I had to get up extremely early. For those who care or don't know, I'm the worst morning person you'll ever meet! However, I didn't have time to be a moody cow as we headed straight to Birmingham Town Hall for a hectic morning full of dress and technical rehearsals, following straight onto hair and make-up. In-between, Vibe PR managed to treat us all to a lunch at Bella Italia. My only proper meal of the weekend. The rest consisted of nuts and fat free yoghurt's. The interview round dauntingly awaited us and I have to be honest and say that it turned out to be my favourite part of the pageant. I didn't do too well on the appearance front and rocked up to the interview with my rollers still in (whoops). I sat down with a large group of judges staring at me around the table. They asked me about myself and I let them know what I'm all about and my future goals and dreams. I didn't want to treat it like I was being judged and made myself sound conversational and relaxed- like I was talking to my friends. I left with a positive vibe and felt as if I had given across my personality well .

The actual on stage final went by in a whizz. As much as I knew in an instant being around the other girls that I didn't have a hope in hell to win, getting up on stage was a BIG deal. It didn't happen without a few troublesome cries in the loos- but I soon realised I wasn't the only one feeling nervous. I calmed down a few girls myself who I caught on the verge of hysteria. The winner ended up being Holly Hale from Wales. I wish her the best of luck for her year ahead and I know that she'll have the best time representing Great Britain at Miss.Universe. From the weekend I learnt that whilst it was a great experience, the thought of being judged on my looks alone did trouble me. Some of the other girls had competed many times before, were on tip top form and you could see it in their eyes that they wanted it. The astounding low of being backstage after the top 5 were announced happened to disturb me. Girls were sprawled in seats with disappointment and rejection etched across their faces. I mean I understood what they were feeling (the initial 'all that hard work, building my confidence up, promoting myself for nothing??'). I wanted it too and I truly enjoyed my experience and meeting the other girls, but I knew I wasn't ready for it. I've realized that just being a finalist was a HUGE deal. On the other hand, it has given me the confidence to focus on what I want in my future. I need to look at the bigger picture and take small and steady steps to get there.




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Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Heading to Miss.Universe Great Britain 2012!


So I leave for Miss.Universe Great Britain 2012 tomorrow morning. Rehearsals start Friday and the final is on Saturday night. Other than being ridiculously excited...am I stressing ? ... Nervous?....A little anxious? Yup. In a weird way I wonder what I've got myself into. I'm not a model, nor am I a seasoned pageant pro with confidence dripping off me in bucket loads. However, I must say that it's been quite a ride from sitting in a corner by myself at the London castings feeling utterly intimidated by the leggy beauties around me to running around Chelsea trying to find the perfect evening gowns.

At first I was concerned and embarrassed to tell people I was a finalist. I didn't want anyone to question my finalist position. I mean I had wanted to enter the British qualifier for Miss.Universe ever since I was 12. The woman who were crowned Miss.Universe were admirably confident, radiant and elevated spokeswomen. I thought to myself that one day I'll hopefully possess those qualities to compete. The fact that Vibe PR ( the company organising Miss.Universe Great Britain) saw potential in those traits, gave me a reason to question my years of obscurity and self doubts. I was flabbergasted when I opened my acceptance letter and for a short while told only my nearest and dearest. Then one day the monumental bulk of the competition hit me and for a split second I deemed myself an idiot for not blissfully letting the world know. I began telling more people and the incoming response was utterly positive. People were so excited for me and my future. With that new energetic rush of support I joined the gym and started my preparations.


In true pageant style my room is currently an organised mess. Shoes litter one corner. Paperwork in another corner. My make-up is splashed across the desktop. A huge section of my wardrobe is annihilated in dedication to my opening number dress, evening gown, swimsuit and rehearsal outfits. I've never been hugely girlie so it's a bit of a shock to the system to see my room filled to the brink with items. It's weird because that's the one thing I take pride in - my room.....even though my mind is such a chaotic mess, my room is always spotless and clean ( I guess the fact that my mum likes to clean is a bonus). Packing is exciting but I'm scared that I'll forget something at home... although it's assuring to know that I'm not the only one in the same position. In late March we had a pageant training day run by Miss.Universe Great Britain 2011, Chloe Beth-Morgan, where I've engaged in some friendships. I'm particularly good friends with Sophia Wilmot-Josife. We've had some panicked stricken conversations over an early morning 'Joe and the Juice' and late night calls about trains and hotels. However, we're both so proud to be part of such an established competition and wouldn't exchange our experiences for the world. I know that I've learnt so much about myself and the people around me. I know if I want help or if want to tell people things I shouldn't be afraid too. Even my driving instructor this week ended the session with the killer cool sentence...'Good Luck Jabeen. I may see you splashed across the newspapers this time next week'.......I replied with 'I doubt it'. But this time it wasn't my insecurity speaking....it was my humbleness and modesty speaking.


PS. If you have a spare minute, remember to vote for me by sending 'vote jabeen' to 82085. All phone votes cost £1.00 plus the standard network charge. Lines close at midnight on Friday 4th May. Visit www.missuniversegb.co.uk for terms and conditions.

PPS.  Come along to the event. It's being held in Birmingham at Saturday 5th May. £30 per ticket. Under 5s are free. Visit http://www.missuniversegb.co.uk/tickets-mugfbgrandfinal2012.html for details.



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