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Why ivory is the new red for Indian couture in 2021

Source: Vogue

The superior shade of the season? Ivory. How to wear it? Head-to-toe

There’s an innocuous-yet-impactful ivory chikankari kurta edged with gota patti crafts that has claimed top-drawer status in my occasion wear closet for years. Pujas to pre-wedding celebrations, with palazzos and lehenga skirts, I have repeated, repurposed and restyled it in more ways than I can count. For such a serene shade, ivory has had a surprisingly tight grip on Indian couture, holding the de facto title of “classic” colour for a long time now. Rightly so. The new neutral is anything but boring—you can wear it solo, sport it in a panoply of silhouettes, splash it with accessories, cover it with a vibrant jacket or dupatta.

2021’s love for ivory is a welcome palette cleanser to all the colour and chaos that make a typical wedding wardrobe. Does this mean that a new age is upon us, one where crimson reds and blush pinks live in harmony with ivory? Couture loves a (colour-coded) dictator, and ivory and all its iterations, makes for a suitable heir. 

The couturiers who embraced ivory in their new collections  

Ivory’s pared-back put-together aesthetic points to a shift in priorities post pandemic—the lightness of being we have all been yearning for. Sartorially speaking, “it’s the perfect neutral (like black) and lends itself beautifully to several surface treatments. For me personally, ivory has been a favourite start point for any new collection. The key goal being to create something which stands the test of time and yet is modern and luxurious. In our new Rumeli line, ivory can be found extensively in both menswear and womenswear,“ JJ Valaya tells me. 

The rawness, versatility and simplicity of this spectrum is echoed by several other couturiers. Anita Dongre. Anamika Khanna. Tarun Tahiliani. Sabyasachi. Manish Malhotra. Rahul Mishra. Falguni Shane Peacock. All designers are gravitating toward the neutral and have populated their latest couture collections with pieces in the palette. Dongre’s ‘An Ode to Bhuj’ 2021 festive outing is replete with investment-worthy lehengas paired with strappy blouses, exquisite jacket-style kurtas and sumptuous sharara sets for the bride and her tribe. You’ll find ensembles accentuated with the veteran couturier’s signature gota patti and mirror work, but without the tonnage. Anamika Khanna’s India Couture Week 2021 edit is another prime example of ivory couture, cut in weightless fabrics and lined with luxurious crafts. 

If anyone swears by this point of hue, it’s Tarun Tahiliani, who has culled out a niche for his frothy tulle lehengas and concept saris. For his latest collection ‘Artisanal Couture’, “beiges have been the mainstay”, but it’s given a 2021 makeover. Think kalidaar lehengas and anarkalis, different cuts of blouses, draped garments and even crop tops + pant sets.

Bollywood brides who aced ivory wedding outfits

The recent crop of celebrity weddings suggest that ivory’s stubbornly photogenic, timeless reign will not be nearing an end anytime soon. When producer Rhea Kapoor tied the knot in August 2021, she eschewed tried-and-tested saturated shades in favour of an ivory sari by Anamika Khanna. Doused in tone-on-tone thread work, her six-yard was teamed with a half-sleeved blouse and topped off with a cape in tones of ivory and gold. She even gave traditional dupattas a raincheck and instead made a statement by picking a veil crafted using thousands of little pearls, a vintage piece from Birdhichand Ghanshyamdas. Her reception look, customised by one of her go-to designers, Abu Jani Sandeep Khosla, was a Mandala off-white organza circular dress paired with a box pleated organza cape with dramatic sleeves, all hand embroidered in delicate resham work.

The ivory streak was already incubating when Sonam Kapoor Ahuja wore an ivory chikankari lehenga by designer duo for her mehandi in May 2018, and made it the dress code for her star-studded guest list. “Ivory and tones of off-white are a divine palette. Add to it the pristine beauty of chikankari. It is unparalleled because of the finesse, delicacy and elaborate mix of stitches and motifs, along with the tone-on-tone colour palette that makes a chikankari bridal ensemble impossibly refined,” the pair reveal. Thumb back to December 2018, and you’ll also recall Deepika Padukone’s Abu Jani Sandeep Khosla ivory lehenga-sari worn for her reception in Bengaluru.

Your 101 to style an ivory Indian ensemble

As weddings get intimate, brides, bridesmaids and even wedding hoppers want to invest in pieces that will not be relegated to the back of their closets. And ivory makes for the perfect, most refreshing candidate for Indian wear. Ivory and gold has not just been the colour of the season, but years to come. The neutral’s present-day revamp allows its wearer to thaw its staid, serious trope. Ivory today means minimalist or maximalist. It’s timeless. Trendy. Flattering for all. It’s the colour of the woman who owns her femininity and the woman who favours comfort. 

Ivory serves as the perfect canvas to merge different influences together. You can wear an ivory organza sari and team it with a traditional weave, be it a blouse or a dupatta. While you can incorporate a hint of contrasting colour, wearing ivory head-to-toe makes for the best look. “Embroideries like zardozi in gold and silver add a richness and regal sheen to ivory. One can also incorporate bursts of colour with borders and finishes in jewel tones. The blouse of the lehenga can also be an absolute contrast to the ivory. We work with lace and crystals to create statement blouses. A dupatta in any other colour, from the softest pink to a vermilion red is a fabulous way to break the ivory,” suggest Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla on making the ivory your own. Your silhouettes don’t need to be limited either. Complement an ivory drape skirt or sharara pants with a metallic blouse or embellished top or waist coat for a friend’s pre-wedding celebration or slip into a slip dress and layer it with a jacket. 

As a palette, it also allows you to mix and match your jewellery as you please. You can layer diamonds with polki, or temple jewellery with a hint of pearls to add freshness to your traditional look. 

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Three ways beauty and personal businesses can gain back lost revenue due to admin, ahead of summer

Attributed to: Samina Hussain-Letch, Executive Director, Square UK

The entrepreneurial beauty and personal care sector in Britain amounts to a whopping 36 billion pounds, but the pressure of manual labour endured by business owners is an obstacle for converting revenue and growth.

Our recent industry study highlights that nearly half (43%) of British barbers, spas, nail salons, personal trainers, tattoo parlours, and piercing studios are not using digital platforms or tools to automate bookings, ultimately losing over a full working day each week to administrative tasks alone. This equates to approximately two months lost per year, to manual admin tasks for beauty and personal care businesses.

We’ve listed three ways beauty and personal care businesses can gain back revenue ahead of summer:

  • Detoxing manual admin

Admin tasks are the equivalent to Pandora’s box for beauty and personal care businesses. The tasks may constitute using paper diaries to schedule appointments, manually rescheduling appointments, or taking bookings and sending reminders by message or phone call.

These seemingly minor chores can be a large time drain for businesses that rely on manual processes. The research found filing down time between client appointments to be one of the most difficult challenges, with 39% of the sector facing this over the last year, alone.

Businesses should identify how they could set timings to the specific duration of each service and still build in cleaning time after the appointment. Digital tools like an appointment booking software play a crucial role. By automating manual admin, owners can offer bookings with a wide booking window, allowing them to spend devoted time on each customer, resulting in the allowance to foster a loyal relationship that will keep them coming back, while giving their workforce time to clean up after the appointment.

  • Tapping into the power of technology

The solution here may sound simple, but business owners should again lean on technology to transform manual labour.

With time back, salons can give their workforce time to speak to customers on what other services they can offer to expand business offerings.

With the integration of tech tools for beauty and personal care businesses, nearly half (48%) of business owners would like staff to treat themselves to finishing work on time, while identifying new training for their team. Adopting a technology solution can unlock efficient management for businesses as appointments can be booked online and reminders can be sent using the software.

With the research showing that 42% of consumers want to book appointments on the weekend or after hours, working with the software promises ease for customers that are looking to make reservations after businesses are closed for the day.  But how can beauty and personal care business owners look to drive up their revenue when switching to an appointment software?

  • Driving up the revenue road

Our research also highlighted that only 1 in 5 of beauty and personal care businesses are automating marketing campaigns or inventory management. This sheds light that not all beauty and personal care businesses are optimising their toolset.

The time gained back from using automated appointment software allows businesses to think more strategically about marketing and pricing. Integration of an automated software readily links up with an online store that allows salons to not only manage inventory more effectively, but offer new products to clients on different channels of their choice.

With new offerings, businesses have extra opportunities and routes to drive up revenue. Selling products online is a sure-fire way of creating new business, as well as keeping their back end organised and offering consumers more options when it comes to buying products that are used within or after their appointment – as take home collateral.

Having an automated booking software for beauty and personal care businesses is a great way to unlock further revenue, train a workforce with time back, spend more time connecting with clientele and ensuring the business is driving bookings even while the salon is closed. It’s a win-win situation that will position businesses for success this year. Because as we all know, a business is only as successful as their customer satisfaction.

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Revolutionizing Women’s Relationship with Power using Avatars

Dr. Debbie Bayntun-Lees – Professor of Organisational Development & Leadership at Hult International Business School

The complexity of leadership power dynamics

Leadership power is the influence that leaders exert over their followers, rallying support for their initiatives and securing compliance with their directives. The intricate interplay of leadership power dynamics holds profound implications for workplace culture, employee motivation, and overall performance.

Effective leadership requires not only acknowledging power but also employing it with care and thoughtfulness. Leaders who can master this delicate dance positively influence their employees and colleagues, contributing to the overall success of the organization. However, how leaders use power effectively is a complex matter, demanding a nuanced understanding of its implications.

The truth is that many women grapple with recognizing themselves as powerful leaders. Leadership is an art of influence, guiding individuals toward greater accomplishments through the effective use of power. Frequently, women tend to associate power with manipulation or control, leading them to distance themselves from that type of leadership. Instead, they often embrace terms like ‘effective’ and ‘influential.’

Power, in its essence, is neither inherently good nor bad—it is the manner in which power is wielded that determines its ethics and impact. Our research used avatars to dive into the crucial question of how women can cultivate a positive relationship with their own power.

So, can the medium of avatars in a VR environment help women learn to appreciate the value of relational power in the workplace?

Harnessing Avatars to Probe Power Dynamics

Participating in a Women’s Leadership Program, female leaders engaged in a virtual session, assuming the identity of avatars within a confidential virtual reality realm. Leveraging innovative virtual reality technology, they crafted personal scenarios and underwent a guided reflective process to explore and gain insights into their personal power and voice within their professional spheres.

Post-exercise, participants engaged in guided reflection, journaling, and shared their experiences within small breakout groups. The research collected data from 70 women through an online survey and in-depth exploration in seven online discussion groups, aiming to unravel the impact of this experiential learning on their perspectives and actions in the world.

Transformational Learning: Paving the Way for Positive Change

Respondents overwhelmingly acknowledged the value of the avatar session in providing a dedicated space for reflection and in-depth analysis of work-related challenges. In particular they reported that the experience was beneficial when it came to:

  • Shifting perceptions of power: Avatars can serve as catalysts for shifting perspectives and instigating behavioral changes concerning how women perceive and wield power in the workplace. This immersive experience allowed leaders to gain a multidimensional understanding of their power, prompting a reframing of their view of ‘power’ in a more positive light.
  • Elevating Self-Awareness. The amalgamation of survey and focus group data underscored heightened levels of self-awareness among participants. This increased awareness of personal responsibilities for workplace challenges empowered these leaders to generate solutions and make tangible progress in their respective professional spheres. As one participant put it: “I feel more empowered…I was not aware that others may perceive me as a threat to them, or maybe a bit afraid of me (someone told me this). So yes, I feel empowered, but I also have to be aware of their and my position, I do not want to endanger them, so I must pay attention to how I behave and use my power”.
  • Heightening Empathy: The study’s findings suggested that virtual worlds, particularly those using avatars, effectively foster empathy and perspective-taking skills. Avatars in the ProReal virtual landscape empowered participants to recreate work situations, enabling guided exploration and encouraging the examination of challenges from diverse perspectives.  

The outcome was an increase in empathy, with participants expressing a deeper understanding of their team’s dynamics and challenges. One participant relayed how seeing things through other people’s eyes has made her more empathetic with her team: “It can be frustrating when people in my team are not achieving the dates we have set for example, for delivering a report. Then I am trying to guess what has been happening this week and so on. I would often imagine there is no explanation…so there was no empathy. Now I find out and try to see all the things that are going on, and if they have all the information they need.”                         

Avatars – an innovative medium for organizations

Our research not only affirms the potential of avatars in virtual reality as a tool for learning but also positions them as an innovative medium for female leaders.

This platform provides a unique opportunity for women to gain a nuanced understanding of their power dynamics and navigate the delicate balance between power and effective leadership.

Consequently, it make sense for organizations to create strategic opportunities for all leaders – but in particular women – to refine their power dynamics, harnessing the opportunities afforded by these kinds of technologies.

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Ushering in a more personalised healthcare system

Subhro Malik, Senior Vice President & Head Life Science, Infosys

Millions of users across England are using the NHS App to quickly access various digital services such as scheduling doctor appointments, checking their records, referring to repeat prescriptions etc. The UK government wants to extend the app’s usage with ambitious plans to enrich its features over the next couple of years, and eventually accelerate the digital revolution in healthcare. By March 2024, the government hopes to have at least 75% of the adult population relying on the app for a wide array of healthcare services.

These ambitions clearly indicate the growing acceptance of technology as an enabler of healthcare on a massive scale. In the modern context, public healthcare needs to be patient-centric, holistic, anytime and anywhere, and stakeholders are increasingly depending on technology to deliver at scale. Digital interventions can truly transform the way healthcare services are delivered and bring these in line with end-user expectations.

Technologies such as the Internet of things, artificial intelligence, big data analytics, blockchain, and wearables can enable remote monitoring, exchange, and capture of relevant patient information. Studies show that healthcare providers harnessing such technologies and digital solutions are better placed to improve patient outcomes. The use of data enables more accurate diagnoses, better decision-making, self-management, and personalization of care. Medical device companies are also adding value by embedding digital assistants and apps into their products to enable a more personalised user experience.

For example, patients ailing from cardiovascular diseases, diabetes mellitus, chronic pain, or spinal disorders are required to strictly following prescribed medication, exercise, and nutrition regimens to manage their condition. It calls for a high degree of health and nutrition literacy and support in tracking and monitoring regimens, while remaining mindful of ambiguities and consequences. Patients already grappling with chronic conditions often feel overwhelmed by the complexities involved. They tend to lean heavily on professional supervision and interventions, expecting support on-demand.

In such situations, digital health platforms can become their lifelines. By seamlessly integrating real-time data from medical devices, wearables, mobile apps as well as other digital devices, these platforms enable clinicians to remotely monitor each patient’s progress. Digital health platforms also aggregate and analyse data to produce insights tailored to help each patient. They focus on enabling self-management of chronic conditions, and forming positive habits, thus helping them work towards a better quality of life.

A host of digital tools such as virtual coaches and digital diaries are available today that make patient-centred care, a reality. Patients with chronic pain can record, monitor, and access their pain data, closely trace patterns. These insights that can inform and push them towards choosing a better diet, exercise routine, and lifestyle.

Patients want more accessibility to their healthcare provider and may require support anytime. However, this support can be hard to come by, especially at odd hours. On the other hand, one of the biggest advantages of virtual tools is that support is available anytime, anywhere. This makes them an ideal solution for patients with chronic pain to avail on-demand support. In the absence of a consistent in-person supervisor, they can use a virtual coach who remotely monitors and guides them through their medication and exercise regimens that are integral to pain management. They are also able to log their pain patterns, moods, sleep data, and activities and understand whether their coping strategies are effective or need improvement.

Undoubtedly, digital platforms are valuable in the management of patient care with their strong alignment to each patient’s expectation and needs of personalised care. They can play a key role in enabling easy access to reliable information, on-demand support, user-friendly navigation etc. There are challenges, however, that could derail the radical changes, which technology can bring to healthcare systems. For instance, research suggests that patients feel a natural reticence in sharing highly personal/confidential health data on an app or online tool. Patient sensitivities over data privacy and security breaches can override the advantages of any feature or functionality these apps promise.

After all, the success of personalised digital health systems depends on the extent to which patients can trust the healthcare provider with regards to: “Is my confidential data in safe hands? And is my care provider using the most relevant insights to deliver the care I need when it matters the most to me? Health care providers and medical device manufacturers investing in digital solutions need to address these concerns and plug systemic vulnerabilities, on priority. Some of the measures that have proved to be effective include implementing physical and digital access controls, electronic audit trails, and risk analyses. Of course, giving the patient the choice to share their personal information voluntarily and the choice to opt out is important too.

Ensuring the data safety and empowering patients with knowledge and choice will be key in shaping the future of digital healthcare.

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