Wednesday, 24 April 2013

With Love, from Manipur...

An interview with Asa Kazingmei
by Somipem Keishing

Photo courtesy: Asa kazingmei 

Asa Kazingmei is not an easy man to reach. I chased this beautiful genius for almost a month before he finally had the time for me. I had barrage a number of questions for this rising star of LFW 2012. His creation 'Immortal' created quite a stir. I spoke to him at length about his work, the journey and lots more

Lakmé Fashion Week 2012 was the usual fanfare with topnotch models wearing the creations of some of the best designers of India and the world. But what caught the attention of me and many others was that fiery red dress that stood out from the rest.

The abstract black and red print of the Tangkhul tribe was the unique and outstanding feature of the collection Immortal that caught the world off guard. The moment I saw the familiar print of my tribe, I instantly connected with this new designer Asa Kazingmei and I couldn’t wait to get my questions across to him. In his line, he had adeptly fused the ancient with the contemporary.

The traditional shawl of the Tangkhul tribe is known as the Rivat Kachon. It symbolizes bravery and courage of the warrior tribe who wore it. This hand woven cloth of the native tribe of Manipur, was given a unique and fresh perspective with artistic creativity by the young designer Asa. Through his collection ‘Immortal’ the age old story of culture and lineage was re told in the most modern way.

Photo credits:Envynde
In Northeast India, where the influence of South Korean music and entertainment is prominent, Asa grew up being inspired by K-Fashion. Thus the grooming of a fashion designer with a unique inclination to Korean taste began at an early age in the small town of Ukhrul, in Manipur.

Asa confesses, "To be different has always motivated me. As a youngster I always used to rework my cloth, never wore them as they were. It started way back as a teenager designing for myself and for my friend. Having learned stitching mere out of curiosity, which helped me understand the technical aspect of the subject, it is now helping me immensely in design execution".

He came to Mumbai with the hope to further his dream to becoming a Fashion designer. Asa, a post graduate of the INFID (International Institute of Fashion Design) Mumbai, has completed a one year professional course in IBM. His shot to fame came when he was selected, from among 250 applicants all over the world, to debut as one of the 7 Gen Next Designer by Lakmé Fashion Week in 2012.

Speaking of his Collection Immortal which was showcased in the LFW 2012 he says “The theme of my collection ‘Immortal’, as the name suggest, is the never dying art form of our Nation. My inspiration is from the beauty and the intricacies of hand woven textile from NE. My theme revolves around the mesmerizing beauty of the NE. I tried to create a confluence of traditional and modernity.
‘Immortal’ is a line where silhouette are simple but very well constructed and structured.
The main feature of the line is textile of the Tangkhul Naga Tribe which is very rare to see and is beautifully hand woven with traditional geometric, zoomorphic motif besides other”.

Like a true artist, every piece that he creates, he does it with utmost care in that familiar systematic procedure. His first step to designing a line is to get a “theme for the inspiration”, next he makes sure he “spends some time to get good finishing (of the cloth)”. Last step and the most important of all is the tailoring, “I should say tailoring plays a very important role for the success of my collection” he adds.

Besides couture, Asa has also designed ready to wear, casual outfits. Till date his favorite garment, designed by him, remains to be the collection which he showcased at the LFW. Though he adds willfully that more are still yet to come.

Starting early he found his way through the labyrinth of struggle that we are known to be sure to face in the cruel world of fashion. When asked about his experiences he says “Oh.... My journey has not been so easy and I have gone through those ‘hard times’....I believe that there is never an end to the hard work. You cannot succeed until and unless you have that fire, that passion, in you”.

Asa is a man forever dedicated to the art of fashion, he says that “Fashion has always been the only passion I find in my life, which is incomplete without it”. He likes to characterize his style as “experimental, edgy, exuberant and limitless”. And that, according to him, “is what defines Asa Kazingmei”.

With utmost curiosity, I dared to ask if he is working on any new projects lately. To which, he replied; “I am currently working on my new collection which will be showcased at fall winter LFW on August 2013”. There is no detail on what his new collection will be, and on what themed it will focus, however an anticipated wait is expected from many of his fans, including I.

India is defined by its diverse culture and uniqueness of each state. The collection of Asa stands as a potent example of it. Featuring the colors of the hill tribe of northeast, Immortal becomes a symbol of the great talents of the region, many of whom are still yet to be discovered.

In respect to the recognition for his work, a strong line of fans follow him, many of whom are immensely inspired. To them, Asa says “believe in yourself and your dream”
Asa Kazingmei*


Special thanks to Asa kazingmei
Submitted to Leo Fernando
The above article is solely for the purpose of University project and not for commercial reasons.
It may be subject to copyright of the publisher.



Saturday, 13 April 2013

Media Literacy


 Photo: In the studio with Proffessor Dr. Muhammed Zin Nordin and P.hd research scholar Manolakshmi Pandey Raj. (photo courtesy: Ronak Singh) 

A few weeks back I had the privilege to interact with Professor Muhammed Zin Nordin, faculty of ‘Modern Languages and Communication’, Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris, Malaysia. The discourse was on Media literacy in the present world today. Media literacy as far as I know, has been overlooked by almost everyone.
Media literacy does not only confine to the knowledge of using computer and being able to access the internet or having a set of smart TV. Media literacy refers to the way in which we access information. It brings under its realm the security issues of the internet and the content we access.
Internet is now not only the game of the professionals but also the requirement of the students, housewives and the common masses. Its usage is widespread and boundless unlike any other form of media. Also it is the only form of media which is least censored and globally available with the utmost ease.
Dr. Zin Nordin had conducted a research on ‘Media Literacy Campaigns for Children’. The results of the research were not pleasant but expected. It is the common practice of the schools and teachers to provide assignments to the students on various topics. As the topics are usually comprehensive, it has become a practice to check the internet.
Without my reminding anyone, it is a commonly known fact that the tradition of copy and paste has become quite frequent after the introduction of assignments to syllabus and Wikipedia to internet. Many of the students, according to the research, were a victim to this practice.
 It was also depressing to note that the teachers, with their already over burdened tasks, are not able to rank their students fair. Scary enough was the fact that these teachers are satisfied to mark their students’ assignments, which had been copy-pasted, with comments such as ‘excellent’ or ‘great work’. It is obvious that they are not really interested in the accuracy of the content or the process of acquiring it.
The other side of the picture is even grimmer. On being interrogated the students admitted that they are not really aware if the contents that they have acquired are actually true or false. That is to say, they have no clue which website they have visited, the authenticity of the website, the security issues concerning the website, or a single knowledge of their assignment for which they have been marked ‘excellent’.
With more ignorant and underage users the security issues on internet becomes a bigger concern. However, do not be mistaken that it is only the ignorant and the underage that fall under the radar of the internet risk. So far I have only been stressing on the finds of the research.
To talk about internet security, begin with passwords. Experts say that more than 90% of the internet literate do not follow the protocol of changing their password every 3 or 5 days. Forget what the experts say, consider yourself and question if you regularly change your password every few days?
I, as a communication student, a media literate, do not bother to change my passwords for the numerous accounts I have online. To tell a lay man to change his password therefore seems a lost cause.
Here, Media literacy, comes into play. It is basically to inform people about the various risks online and the threat it can be to their lives. It believes in using the internet in the right way, so that it does not have any rebound effect.
It also teaches the people access the right contents the right way. Self censoring and self regulation play an important role in media literacy. Like I have mentioned earlier, censorship is least effective in internet. It is a medium where pornography and Doraemon are available side to side.
A senior of mine mentioned that when her 6 year old niece accessed the Youtube to watch a certain cartoon show, the half nude add of Old Spice is shown as a preview. It is in such cases that regulation becomes essential. For an under aged minor, parental guidance and elder supervision is necessary.
This guidance can be carried on until the child is old enough to know and judge for himself.
 I, a major propagator for freedom of speech, do not believe in censoring the internet so that it does not harm the innocent or the sentiment of the people. For, every rule can be by-passed, every restriction can be sidestepped.
Instead, the noble idea of self regulation should be propagated more vigorously. For, the human mind can be controlled and restricted only by him and not by any law or censorship. They should be provided with choices, so as to choose what is morally right without anyone forcing the morale down their throat.
Media literacy aims to educate the people about the various features of media and the ways to access it. It basically teaches the people how to use internet the right way so that they are benefitted without being at risk and also not being a risk to the people around them.
Special thanks to Professor Gopalan Ravindran
HOD, Journalism and Communication
University Of Madras