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
Charlie Simpson rose to fame as a member of multi-BRIT Award-winning boyband Busted, with sales of over 3 million records, and a win for Record of The Year in 2004. Prior to the band’s split in 2005, Charlie began as the lead vocalist, guitarist and co-lyricist of Fightstar, releasing 3 albums and an EP. His debut solo album Young Pilgrim was released in 2011, and followed up in Summer 2014 by Long Road Home, which entered the UK Independent Albums chart at number one. Charlie sat down with FAULT to discuss writer’s block, Warped Tour and life as a newly married man.
FAULT: You have spoken about the process of writing Long Road Home, in terms of going back to the drawing board and the obstacles that come along with that. Was the process of putting it together an enjoyable one?
Charlie: A bit of both- I always love working on a record but this was the first time I had experienced a bit of writer’s block. I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind and needed a break from writing. Luckily, it matched with me going off on the Vans Warped Tour in the US- I played 28 shows in a month and it was just a nice way to separate myself from the situation. I think I wrote some of the best stuff on the record after that happened. It feels like a record I had to fight for, which made it all the more sweet to finish working on. I’m really proud of it.
It’s interesting that you have referred to the ‘journey’ of writing Long Way Home, and it came out of your time on the road with the Vans Warped Tour. Do you find that being on tour helps the writing process?
Yeah definitely. When you’re writing at home the environment can become quite stale; being on the road adds fuel to your creativity. The album felt like a journey from one point to another where I sort of found myself again.
Since releasing the album this summer, are you now able to identify certain undercurrents and themes, or do you go into the process wanting to say something specific?
It’s strange because my last record was a lot more melancholy and I always find it easier to write sad songs, but when I started on Long Road Home I had just got engaged and so I was feeling pretty good about everything! I had to tailor the writing around that kind of mood, which was actually a great challenge as I’d never done it before. It was really good to express that kind of emotion on the record.
In terms of ‘tailoring the writing process’, what are the distinctions between writing as a solo artist and writing as a group?
As a solo artist I get complete creative freedom. In a band, it has to be majority rules; if you write something you really like and one other member doesn’t like it, it really makes you question things. With this album I was able to take it in any direction, which is why I think it took me longer to write. With that creative freedom comes more responsibility because it’s all resting on your shoulders.
When you are struggling with writer’s block, is it a case of producing a lot and then throwing a lot away, or is it just hard to produce anything?
It wasn’t so much that I couldn’t come up with anything, just that I wasn’t writing anything I loved! I’m my own worst critic and I have actually ended up with about 20 unfinished songs I didn’t use. It’s cool because maybe I will revisit them at another time, but it’s a really strange process.
Returning to your time on the Vans Warped Tour, how does the live experience and performing impact your songwriting?
When I’m songwriting in a solitary environment, the lyrics are a lot better. But musically, I can be anywhere- on the Warped Tour I had my guitar on me the whole time. I tend to write the music first, and then I go into my little hole and write the lyrics, but I’ve always been a melody man first.
Do you start with a vision for songs, or do they evolve with time?
Yeah sometimes I’ll literally have a vision of a song in my head, and I’ll go to my studio and just make it happen. I like for there to not be a formula to the songwriting- when it comes, it comes. I always equate it to fishing; sometimes you go and nothing comes, and sometimes you catch a big one!
You’ve worked with a lot of different set-ups and sounds. Are your influences quite varied?
It’s completely varied but it’s always been centred around heavier, Rock-ier sounds. I love Deftones and Metallica, but my Dad also put me onto artists like Jackson Brown and those West Coast bands from the 1970s like The Eagles and The Beach Boys. Whatever form of music it is, I have always just loved vocal harmonies and making big sounds with voices.
It’s interesting talking about your childhood influences and you mentioned music has been in your family for over 200 years, from composers and musicians to a former head of the Royal College of Music. Now you are married, is it fair to say family is an important focus for you?
It’s actually the most important! One of the themes of the record is how you can be in a dark place, and be unsure of what is going on, but the one constant is family. I’m really blessed to have a loving family, and that will never change. I’ll always have my family, my wife, and (hopefully) my kids.
Is that easily compatible with the music industry?
When I was younger I loved just getting out on the road, and I still do. I love making music, but I love getting out and playing it just as much. But that’s getting harder as I get older. Family life and being a musician aren’t that compatible, there has to be a balance.
You scored the British film Everyone Is Going To Die, which debuted at the SXSW Film Festival in March 2013, and you’ve mentioned this as something you’d like to pursue more extensively later in your career. Can you talk more about the relationship between the music and the visuals in your work?
It’s huge! I love film as much as I love music and the marriage of visuals and music is such a wonderful thing. With scoring a film, someone else tells a story and it’s your responsibility to bring out the emotion in it. When you’re writing your own music, you constantly feel that it’s not just music but somehow a representation of your entire make-up. It’s nice to take that pressure off a bit!
You’ve now been a touring musician for over 10 years. What changes have you seen in the music industry?
The industry is almost unrecognisable. Facebook, YouTube, Spotify – none of these things existed! The landscape of the industry has changed so much, you’ve just got to go with it. Whether streaming or downloading, as long as people are still consuming music (legally!) it’s a good thing.
What is your FAULT?
You should ask my wife! (laughs) I would say I’m pretty impatient, which can be a good thing. I get quite frantic and when you’re in the studio that can be a good thing, but in other situations it can be a nightmare.
Last week we made our way to Proud Camden for the launch of their collaboration with Sony on an exhibition called ‘Studio to Stereo’. This is a show that brings together iconic music photography and Sony’s innovative hi-res audio technology, to bring to life some pivotal moments of recording history. Curated by Alex Proud and presented by DJ Tom Ravenscroft (BBC 6 Music), each of Proud’s infamous stables plays host to a different music icon, from Coldplay and Bob Dylan, to The Doors and Tame Impala, by way of Paul McCartney, Black Sabbath and Pink Floyd.
Alongside intimate and unseen photos of each act in the studio, Sony has laid on various devices playing re-mastered tracks from the associated albums- music landmarks such as The Doors’ LA Woman and Coldplay’s X&Y. The idea is that the Hi-Res Audio technology allows for the music to sound as if it’s fresh from the studio, showcasing subtleties apparently missed the first time round (one label noted that when recordings are converted for CD, only 3% of the original sound quality remains.)
Recapturing this ‘lost magic’ is a bold ambition, and on some tracks it was definitely more successful than others. However, no-one can argue that this show isn’t an exciting sensory experience. Alex Proud writes that he wanted to showcase “the different and unique ways that artists set themselves up in the studio […] the rooms they choose, the way they set up the instruments and spread themselves across the space, the clothes they wear and the look they project while they’re recording, it all has an effect on the end sound”. Seeing these historic photos on display, with the songs playing full-blast and the moody red lighting of Proud Camden overhead (a venue with so much musical history of its own), the exhibition came together to brilliant effect, doing real justice to the legends on the gallery walls.
Here are FAULT‘s exclusive highlights from the show.
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.
Words: Liz Connor
Team FAULT are excited to be attending yet another showcase event in London’s ever-growing menswear calendar: Off the Rails London. Taking place in the trendy-yet-relaxed setting of the Old Truman Brewery on London’s Brick Lane, the emphasis of this sartorial pop-up bonanza is one of inclusivity and affordability without compromising on quality. In fact, the standard of men’s style on display represents the pinnacle of contemporary London-based design, with trailblazers such as tailors Markus Lupfer and Richard Anderson, shoemakers Oliver Sweeney and Barkers and the immortal Christy’s Hats - among many others (70 in total) - all holding court at this year’s debut.
With additional incentives including special discounts on many current lines, a pop-up ‘old school’ barber shop in the form of Shoreditch’s own Murdock London, personal styling sessions by Topman and booze and grub supplied by the Mr Hyde Bar and Patty and Bun Burger Store respectively, there seems to be few reasons for any self-respecting man about town in London NOT to attend – especially as tickets are available from just £6 each if bought as a pair (or more).
The event runs from today, Thursday 30th October – Sunday 2nd November at:
The Old Truman Brewery, 91 Brick Lane
London, E1 6QL
For event times and more information, visit www.offtherailsldn.com