FAULT: What would you say was your primary inspiration for starting Bambah?
Maha: Bambah started off as a one off high-end vintage boutique in Dubai. I’ve always had a passion for vintage – I’ve been a collector for almost 10 years now and I’m always traveling around the world and hunting for unique, one-off pieces.
I’ve noticed that as fashion tilts towards past generations for inspiration, the timeless, classy looks inspired by the likes of Audrey Hepburn, Jackie O, and Marilyn Monroe have become a modern day look once again. Contemporary styles are no longer the ultimate source of fashion satisfaction and ladies ‘in the know’ are looking for those one-off pieces that reflect a unique expression of who they really are. The red carpet is now a showcase of vintage glamour as well, with celebrities like Sienna Miller, Rachel Zoe, and Julia Roberts demonstrating how gorgeous second time fashion really is.
So it was my love of vintage that also triggered my motivation to start my own line. I must admit that interacting with my customers on a daily basis and understanding their needs and what they love about clothing has also helped feed this inspiration.
Bambah’s origins lie in its evolution from vintage boutique to full-fledged fashion label, but, beyond that, what/who are the main influences behind the label – if any?
This first RTW collection is inspired by my love for vintage and the elegant flair of the past. It focuses on the main trends of the ‘50s: feminine, flirty, elegant and effortlessly chic. I was looking at different silhouettes and trends that make women feel beautiful by accentuating their feminine figure.
Routing it back to the Bambah Boutique, and the mental journey through my own fantasy world of fashion, I wanted each piece to speak a different language and bring something unique to the table – with an emphasis on ruffles, bows, flowers and polka dots.
I learned from growing up with my grandmother that style comes from within and is a pure reflection of one’s inner beauty. My grandmother is my role model and I will always live by her precious advice: laugh a lot, move a lot, and always have fun being you! And that is the roadmap to my new collection and everything I do.
What are Bambah’s unique features, in your opinion?
Bambah’s ’50s-inspired debut collection draws on the concepts of time. The 1950s looks were born out of a need to break away from the previous decade of conservative and minimal fashion, offering new, life- bringing colour, volume, and decadence back.
The Orchid collection will always remain my hero collection. I worked so hard on customizing the print just for Bambah so it’s very dear to me. It was developed in-house from scratch and is inspired by my favourite flower – the Orchid. The flower was hand painted and seamlessly integrated into a pattern that was then printed onto a 100% pure silk organza.
The collection is all hand made in-house using highly qualified seamstresses that spend hours on just one piece; and, although this is fairly time consuming, I feel it adds to the charm of the collection.
There seems to be a strong element of Hollywood, particularly the so-called ‘Golden Age’, in your first RTW collection. The main styles of this collection all have a ‘title’, a ‘story’ – Orchid Daydream, Duchess Blossom, Midnight Noir and Vivid Grace – each of which seem to draw inspiration or in some way correspond to iconic filmic figures. What was the motivation behind that?
In general, Bambah focuses around creating feminine clothing with soft rounded shapes and full flowing skirts to ‘bring back beauty’. The individual styles pay homage to shapes of the ’50s using decadent fabrics and layering to give beautiful hourglass shapes that ooze opulence. The Bambah silhouette focuses on perpetuating the hourglass shape using icons such as Grace Kelly, Ava Gardner and Sophia Loren to inspire and influence the signature look. Nipped in waists and sweetheart necklines mixed with sumptuous jacquards and layers of tulle are showcased next to simpler styles which can be worn throughout the day.
On the topic of styles that can be worn throughout the day: your branding seems to promote the idea of simple, practical elegance underpinning the label – something which, many would argue, is at odds with the contemporary cultural reference points usually associated with the Gulf region. Specifically, the latter is often regarded as idealising the flamboyant and over-elaborate rather than the simple and sophisticated. Is that a fair point, in your opinion?
I have worked very closely with customers in my boutique for the past three years and this has given me a fresh outlook on Middle Eastern trends and tastes and what ladies in this part of the world love and lust over. I have noticed that my customers subconsciously look for obvious past trends while shopping, such as nipped in waists, exaggerated sleeves, princess skirts. I also noticed that there was a pull towards certain styles, particularly their love for oversized bows, pleated midi skirts, dramatic clothing including balloon sleeves, circle voluminous skirts, and big polka dots; which are all elements that I have tried to integrate it into my own designs in a way that allows me to bridge both worlds and create a timeless look for every woman.
Do you think that your initial success with Bambah – for which you recently won a prestigious Emirates Woman of the Year (2011) award – is indicative of a change in mindset in the region – perhaps a move towards the (slightly more) understated?
Ladies in the Middle East are very confident, have very fine taste, follow the best of trends, and appreciate good craftsmanship and high quality pieces. They are very stylish, very pretty and admire beauty like no other. They love to dress up, experiment with fashion and what they wear is a reflection of who they are. They love to laugh, have fun and enjoy life. This is the framework that I have kept in mind while designing these pieces.
Although the concept of ‘real vintage’ is relatively new in the UAE and the region as a whole, I’m glad to say that so far people have received my new ‘vintage inspired’ collection very well! There seems to be a strong need for speciality boutiques that offer personalized attention, one-off pieces, and a pleasant and fun shopping environment. My customers have repeatedly quoted Bambah to be “very refreshing”, which serves as a nice change from traditional malls. In addition, people are constantly on the look-out for unique and exclusive pieces that complement their style and personality with a guarantee that no one else will be wearing the same piece.
Do you have a favourite piece from your debut collection?
The bow tube top!
Who would be your dream client to design for/work with? Both in terms of your day to day ideal customer and a potential red carpet customer?
Grace Kelly! She was my main source of inspiration for this first collection. She creates fairy tales in my mind- I love how she moved, talked and carried herself. I find her very elegant, feminine, and extremely confident – which I believe are all traits that would make any outfit look beautiful.
What are your plans to expand the line? Where does Bambah go from here?
I am currently working on my FW ’15 collection. I would love to see Bambah reach new territories, such as Europe and Russia. It would be nice to see how different cultures interpret the brand and take a look at how each piece is worn differently.
What is your FAULT?
The first one that comes to mind would have to be my excessive attention to detail.
For more information on Maha or Bambah, visit Bambah.com
No matter what you might have heard, you do not have to be signed to a major label to become a full time musician. Just ask any of the hundreds of indie groups who are doing it their own way, every day: Pomplamoose, Zoe Keating, Amanda Palmer, Jonathan Coulton, and, well, everybody else who is doing it for themselves (and doing it well!).
There is, obviously, a learning curve involved. Amanda Palmer didn’t go from being the Ten Foot Bride handing out flowers on the street to headlining her own tours and raising a million dollars on Kickstarter overnight. Pomplamoose, for all of their recent controversy over their tour spending choices, worked really hard to get the attention they now enjoy. Everybody makes mistakes and stumbles. It happens even to huge musicians…or haven’t you heard about how Michael Jackson bought all of the rights to the Beatles’ songs out from under Paul McCartney?
Most of the learning you do will focus on one of a few themes: setting (and being okay with) boundaries, protecting your work, and diversifying your income sources.
Setting (And Being Okay With) Boundaries
When you’re first starting out, your impulse is going to be to say yes to everything – no matter what. What makes this problematic is that there is this still this idea that creatives should be creative for free; that, somehow, getting paid for the work you do delegitimizes your worth. If you buy into this mindset (and many people will pressure you to do so), you could spend years working your tail off and never see a penny for it. How can you do music full time if you have to work four jobs to help pay for the work you’re doing for others for free?
As early on as possible (like, right now), decide what you will and will not do for free and what you will and will not do as You The Musician (as opposed to You The Human). If you want to get paid for your work, ask to be paid now. It is much harder to start asking for pay once you’ve gotten a reputation for doing work for free than it is to start getting paid from the outset. Hold tight to these boundaries and rules you set for yourself. Yes, sometimes you’ll feel like a jerk but you have to protect yourself and your work.
N.B: This also applies to favors for fans and friends.
Protecting Your Work
You love your music. You’ve worked hard on it. So, you decide to just release your music into the wild and whatever happens, great! The money will come eventually, right?
STOP. When you are learning how to publish music, the first thing you need to do is learn how to license your music. Yes, many artists release their work under Creative Commons licenses and basic copyrights but there are still rules involved. The last thing you need is for someone to grab your license-less music, pop it into their soundtrack and then use it (in part) to earn thousands (or even millions) of dollars from it for themselves, right?
It is important to properly license your music before you start publishing it through portals like iTunes, BandCamp, CDBaby, Amazon, wherever. In fact, most of these portals will require you to have licensing in place before your music can be approved for sale on any portal outside of your own website. A lot of independent musicians turn to music publishing companies like TuneCore that already know how to publish music and have streamlined the licensing and submission processes. These companies also make it easier to track down people who have used your music without a license.
Diversifying Your Income Sources
Most bands already know that they need to have merchandise for sale, both online and at their shows. Merch is just one source of income diversity.
Taking Commissions: Sometimes this might mean composing a jingle for a company to use in a radio or television commercial. Sometimes it means writing a full song for an event. Making music for hire can be incredibly lucrative and helps bridge gaps while you’re working on albums or in-between tours or gigs.
Crowd Funding: Yes, a lot of people hate Amanda Palmer for making a million dollars through Kickstarter. That doesn’t mean, though, that you shouldn’t consider your own Kickstarter campaign. If you’re trying to raise a chunk of change to, say, fund studio time, Kickstarter can be a great way to do that.
Another option for crowd funding is Patreon. Patreon allows fans to give you money for every month or every project that you create through the Patreon system. It’s a fantastic way to earn money for the smaller things you do that you’ve that might be harder to place in your repetoire.
There are a lot of decisions to make as a working musician. Don’t be afraid to take chances or make mistakes. Just make sure you’ve set up a good safety net first.
Photographer: Blake Ballard
Model: Sarah Bailey
MUA: Christiana Reagan
Hair: Christine Francis
Fashion Editor: Blaire Ballard
Photographer: Raen Badua – www.raenbadua.com
Stylist: Brendon Alexander
Makeup Artist: Eric Vosburg
Hairstylist: Simone Grant
Model: Ulla Reiss | SILENT Models
The BJM‘s new EP, ‘+-‘ (that’s right: plus minus), is out today – and it’s a cracker. While we’re pretty sure that Anton (Newcombe, the front man and sole consistent member of what has eventually become more of a musical collective and general concept) was just trying to fuck with music writers everywhere when he decided on the internet-unfriendly name for the record, his latest offering shows few other signs of messing about.
+- is a return to the classic, timelessly awesome style that saw the BJM establish themselves as the figurehead for ‘real’, guitar driven, psychedelic rock music way back in 1990. Anton and co have largely eschewed the changing trends and passing fashions of the hits list ever since and the release of their latest full album, Revelations, earlier this year stands as a testimony to their enduring popularity with an admittedly niche but definitely devoted audience.
The +- EP has since been released off the back of a highly successful European tour, which cemented Anton’s undisputed position as the ‘Granddaddy of Psych’, and exhibits both the trademark tones and wide-reaching diversity of the BJM at their best. A key influence for the likes of the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, the Horrors, Tame Impala, the Black Angels and many more, a simple call to action for on-the-fence readers is that all-too-clichéd come-on: “You’ve tried the rest, why not sample the best?”*
*Ed: OK, so we may have overplayed our hand a bit there because there’s no real ‘best’ out of those bands. But the BJM, and this EP in particular, are pretty damn good.
“I’ve always known what I’ve liked and I’ve always gone in the opposite direction of everyone else. I get bored easily of seeing the same thing over and over.” – Corrine Day
Few women have changed the face of fashion like the late, great Corrine Day. Beginning her 20 year career as a self-taught photographer in the eighties, Day grew to become one of fashion’s most celebrated, prominent and well-loved characters – not only for her groundbreaking work with publications such as Vogue, i-D and The Face, but for her gritty, personal documentary photographs which captured a frank and disarming snapshot of nineties post-rave London from the clubs and council estates where they transpired. Four years on from her untimely death in 2010, the anti-glamour photographer’s unquestionable nous for capturing glimpses of happiness, sadness and incredible beauty in everyday, kitchen sink situations remain as seminal now as the day they were taken.
A one-time international model, Day begun to toy with cameras in the mid-eighties whilst bored on set in the company of Mark Szaszy – the former male model who would later become her husband and treasured life partner. With no formal training, she began shooting her surroundings with a natural instinct that would follow her throughout her career. In 1989, Day had an interview with Phil Bicker, art director of The Face. Through Bicker, Day met stylists Anna Cockburn and Melanie Ward, with whom she was to create some of her most iconic images. Photographing an unknown 14-year-old Kate Moss, plucked from the fringes of Croydon, the unlikely cockney duo shot the notorious ‘Third Summer Of Love’ editorial (had the second really ended?) for The Face whilst having a lark together in Cambersands. The eight-page shoot saw a rambunctious Moss frolicking on the beach clad in Romeo Gigli, Joseph Tricot, battered Birkenstocks and the most magnificent (albeit impractical) feather head-dress from the now defunct Covent Garden boutique World.
“I was just having a laugh,” Moss is quoted saying of the shoot. “Corinne just wanted to bring out everything I hated when I was 15. My bow legs, the mole on my breast, the way I laughed.”
She would then take Moss with her to Vogue, subsequently forming a formidable friendship that would last until Corrine’s untimely death (Corrine is credited with being the first photographer to shoot Moss for a Vogue cover.) In 1993, Day was commissioned by newly appointed editor, Alexandra Shulman, to inject some much needed reality into proceedings. In the UK, Bjork’s debut portrayed the Icelandic songstress messy haired and clad in an oversized grunge knit, Blur had just released their seminal album Modern Life Is Rubbish and acid house raves were evolving into darker jungle and happy hardcore all-nighters. Cool Britannia was just around the corner, magazines like i-D, Penthouse and RayGun were reporting from the counter-culture underbelly whilst Vogue still touted the impossible and antiquated beauty of supermodels Cindy, Naomi, and Michelle.
Shulman was to receive the much-needed injection of gritty realism that Condé Nast so desired. A waifish and milky-limbed Moss posed nonchalantly in the scruffy Brewer St flat Day occupied at the time for Under-Exposure. Grubby carpets, visible pubic hair, an uncovered duvet, tan tights pulled halfheartedly over sheer underwear. This was the first anti-glamour shoot Vogue had displayed of its kind. The on-paper lingerie shoot took a life of it’s own, paying homage to Day’s haunting personal photography style outside of the fashion world. Corinne Day later said that she took the famous ‘fairy lights’ shot on a day when Kate had been crying after a fight with her then-boyfriend, resulting in the vulnerability that turned this into one of the most iconic and controversial images produced in the ’90s. It’s the most reproduced image of the entire editorial, but the clothes (pink Liza Bruce vest and Hennes chiffon knickers) are rarely remembered, or credited.
The strapline on the March issue of Vogue that year read ‘London style…London Girls!’, but upon its release, the tabloids whirred into a frenzy, proclaiming the shoot promoted ‘heroin chic’ and ‘bordered on paedophilic’. In the wake of controversy, Day retreated from fashion, choosing instead to tour America with genre band Pusherman, documenting her travels in her lo-fi, grunge aesthetic. The result was her celebrated tome and exhibition of works of works, Diary. Released in 2000, the book contained graphic, raw and honest photos of Day and her friends – most prominently unlikely muse Tara St. James.
Shot amongst the shabby sofas and peeling wallpaper of run-down tenements of Soho and its surrounding areas, the collection documented the sex, drugs and squatting of her bohemian circle of young dreamers. We see Tara crying, smoking, nursing her baby, running around the flat in a string of tinsel, laughing amongst a grotty 3-piece bathroom. The photographs would be deemed voyeuristic were it not for Day’s proximity to and involvement with her subjects; in a harrowing few entries she documents her own brain-tumor diagnosis in 1996, preparal for surgery, and later recovery. By then she was extremely ill and no grizzly details were spared, omitted, censored, a true testament to her unquestionable skill for spotting beauty amongst ruins and diamonds in the rough.
Corinne was diagnosed with a slow growing, grade 2 brain tumor called in November 1996, during which time she was given a prognosis of 8 years to live. Despite her sudden death in 2010, Day’s presence is still felt in the industry today – so often we flick through a fashion glossy and spot some reference, homage or small semblance of Corinne’s celluloid thumbprint. To view her photos is to be invited into her world, one of honest realism – a raw energy that photographers still seek 20 years on.