New Culture Revolution

New Culture Revolution is a blog co-created by stylist & yogi Sima Kumar and actor & producer Kristin Kreuk sharing about arts & culture, travel, beauty, fashion, health & wellness, literature & film.


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NCR: Documentary > Fed Up

The sugar cartel. This movie is a must watch. A severe wake up call.

NCR: Monday Wisdom > YSL

One of the greatest fashion designers of our time and the man responsible for making the female tuxedo, Yves Saint Laurent helps us keep it real. Happy Monday! ~ Sima

NCR: Joan Rivers > Who Are You Wearing?

It was Joan Rivers who changed the fashion & celebrity relationship by being the first person to ask the question "Who are you wearing?" while interviewing celebrities on the red carpet.

This had a profound impact on the partnership between fashion and the film & tv industry. So in turn she had a profound impact on my career. Much of my work as a stylist took place in dressing celebrities for the red carpet. This post is to honour a very funny lady and one who was a game changer. May she rest in peace. ~ Sima

NCR: Yoga > How The Sun Sees You 

Here’s a really great visual to  inspire you to take care of your skin - your largest and only visible organ. ~ Sima


And so a great spark has returned to the divine. 

Renown yoga master B K S Iyengar has passed away. He was largely credited with bringing yoga (asana) to a wider western audience.

I enjoyed going to the Iyengar studio in London’s Maida Vale neighbourhood on a regular basis. An oasis at the end of Randolph Avenue - the studio was loyal to it’s namesake. A very strict physical practice it was through Iyengar yoga that I healed much of a chronic shoulder injury.

Iyengar was quoted as saying “I always tell people, live happily and die majestically”. ~ Sima

NCR: Sima Says > A Year In Review

Living to 44 has been mind blasting for me. A lot happened and so much changed. Ultimately each of us must decide how we want to live and learn how to be more discerning. We will all meet shiny people who blind us with their brilliance but wait before running off with them so you may see the ones that have a steady flame in the centre and will go the distance with you.

A number of people asked me to write a post about a few things I’ve learned along the way. I endeavour to carry these lessons with me from today onwards and promise to surround myself with people who will remind me if and when I forget.

1. Release ALL expectations from everything & everyone. This is pretty much a mind f*ck and takes daily practice. But it is so worth it. Because you create space to experience people, places and things closer to what they truly are in that moment vs. what you expect them / it to be. Expectation is directly linked to Attachment. Attachment is the source of much of our suffering.

2. It’s the information age & the highway of technology sees everyone speeding. My advice: SLOW DOWN. If you receive a harsh email from someone who tells you a) you suck at your job b) you’re a horrible human being c) points out all the things wrong with you d) gives you unsolicited advice or opinions (I’m 100% guilty of this one) e) all of the above - DON’T RESPOND. Be patient. Someone else is taking the time to formulate another message to you. They are the match in the darkness. Wait for their message. It’s coming. This message is one that is a) supportive b) kind c) loving d) points out how you contribute goodness to the world & their life e) all of the above. 

If you’re someone who tends to send thunder thumbs or trigger finger volatile messages: STOP. Your words are harming another human being but they are mostly harming you. Anger & Hurt are blinding. When you regain your vision you may not have anyone around left to burn.

3. The middle path is the best path. When you find something that feeds your soul - this could be another person,  yoga, religion, church, philanthropy, knitting, reading, running, cross fit, food, sex, binge watching Netflix, house cleaning - pull back and find your centre. Anything you do that turns your life into a lop-sided lorry means you probably need to redistribute your load so you don’t cause a major accident. Get the balance right. 

4. Don’t gossip. I qualify this as talking about someone when they are not present and saying things you would never say if they were present. It will ruin more than your relationships - it will eat away at your health and rob you of miracles that are earmarked for you. Stop this one thing and watch your life profoundly change. 

Note: Pretending like you don’t do it doesn’t count. 

5. Have the courage to be authentic. Being fake is literally a waste of your life. Ask yourself: What could I be doing that is more truthfully me. You’ll become a game changer. And that is what you were put on the planet for. 

6. Be of service. If you can connect someone to help them get a job, meet someone they may fall in love with, offer advice that has been solicited, provide an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on, directions, a lift, hand me down clothes, personal or household items you no longer need but they do - do it. Sharing expands the heart. The heart is your only indefatigable muscle. Think about it. It keeps beating even while you sleep.

Note: This doesn’t include being an accommodator whose available for things people can Google and don’t because they are lazy. 

7. Spend time in Nature. Don’t wait to go outside when the weather is nice. We go out in the world when we aren’t particularly nice but somehow punish Mother Nature by withholding ourselves from her until she gives us what we want. In that way - we are all bratty kids. Smarten up. Notice how every person who has blown your mind engages with Mother Nature regardless of what she’s giving us? Yeah - that’s not a coincidence.

8. Stand in the light of kindness. Even and especially with those who present themselves as adversaries and enemies. Be kind. It’s good for your health.

photo: taken by my father, David Kumar. August 1976 - sixth birthday party. 

NCR: Sima Says > Trend vs. Style

Trend: A general direction in which something is developing or changing

Style: A distinctive appearance, typically determined by the principles according to which something is designed  or Elegance and sophistication

both definitions via The Oxford English dictionary.

We’re well into summer in the northern hemisphere and undoubtedly the warmer temperatures mean a lot less clothing. Something about the sunshine and breezy summer air that makes us feel more adventurous. People jump off cliffs into pools of freezing cold water, go on nature adventures, book trips they usually save up all year for… 

The adventure continues when it comes to fashion. One go to trend is the denim short shorts. This year its back with a vengeance. Through my travels from point A to point B I see this look everywhere. I like this trend. It’s fun, there is something tough yet sexy about it - giving an air of ballsy broad to whoever is wearing it. Here’s the thing … and I’m sorry if I’m bursting your bubble - NOT EVERYONE WHO IS WEARING DENIM SHORT SHORTS SHOULD BE WEARING DENIM SHORT SHORTS! 

Just because something is a trend and you like it doesn’t mean it’s something that is going to look good on you. Here are my personal guidelines for this look. Firstly, this look is age specific. It looks best on teenagers and women in their twenties. Yes there are women in their early 40’s who can pull this off and they are called Cindy Crawford and Jennifer Aniston - perhaps living in Malibu gets you a pass - but once you’re into your 30’s trends are best evolved into personal style. The only person in my rule book exempt from this age cap for denim short shorts is Kate Moss. The second qualifier is… is your body in good shape to pull this look off? Be honest - and if you’re not capable of being honest call your most honest friend for a second opinion. Please do not mistake the honest friend to be the person who makes you feel the best about yourself - more often than not - this person is never housed in the same body. Here is the thing - with all the women’s empowerment and girl power going on in the world - which I’m a huge supporter of - doesn’t mean everything you wear will look good on you. It means we support the idea that you can wear whatever you want to without consequence. This post is about style not politics. Part of empowering your inner style icon is developing the skill of what suits your body type and what does not. This look is NOT flattering on all body types. If your crotch is eating up the fabric this look should be a pass. Now before you start writing me with protest comments - this is NOT about being skinny. It’s about being fit. There is a difference. If you’re confused - Google "Beyoncé denim shorts". Where does this style work best? -  at summer festivals - a place that requires comfort & durability. My last and important guideline - if your beautiful bum cheeks are peaking out to say Hello! - say goodbye to your denim short shorts.

Instead - think of harnessing the summer short shorts look with something a bit more stylish and with classic design. I’ve trolled through Pinterest and found examples which I’ve included in this post. Wearing shorts that fit well and suit your body and incorporating a look that is proportionate is the key to pulling this off. If you’re in the category of “crotch eats fabric” - a pair of shorts that is made with more tailoring and structure will be better suited to you. An easy way to achieve this is with a higher waisted look as shown above. Taking a more classic approach to pulling together outfits and pairing them with more refined fabrics and well chosen accessories is what can take the denim short from a trend into the land of personal style.

I once enjoyed wearing denim short shorts myself. I cut off my over-priced Big Star jeans in the Nineties and hit the streets with them cut off a little too frayed, a little too short and styled them with Doc Marten black boots and a plaid shirt and a perfectly placed slouchy knit touque on my head - we called it… Grunge. I was in my early twenties and was going to the Free Tibet and Lollapalooza concerts. Kurt Cobain was still alive. My point: this look has a time and place. Check your expiration date (usually achieved by looking at your backside & bare legs in a full length mirror) and enjoy your short and sassy summer! ~ Sima

compilation photos: via Pinterest

Photo of Kate Moss: via Mango campaign 

NCR: Sima Says >Happy Weekendering

Hurricanes couldn’t remove you from my mind. You’re my world and I’m incapable of not loving you. ~Billie-Jo Williams

NCR: Sima Says > Remembering a lady named Parvati

To me, my grandmother was and is always Nani. To her children she was Maiya, Ma or Amma. All variations of Mother. 

This photo was taken in Greenwich, London sometime in May or June of 1982. I was 11 about to turn 12. I’m pictured here with my Nani, my maternal grandmother. She was then and remains to this day my all time favourite person. She passed away on August 15, 1991. It was the first time in my life I felt drunk on grief.

I’m not sure how I came to be so attached to my Nani. There were years that my life felt dependent on my proximity to her - such was my attachment. What do I mean by this? I mean I would cry when she left my family home to go to another relatives home. My heart literally ached for her. She was the first person I experienced many of the feelings we do in relationship with another person. I was besotted with my Nani. I loved the way she looked with her long silver hair. I loved her scent -a mix of “old person” and something altogether more exotic. I loved the way she dressed - with eyelet embroidered blouses and an array of pastel coloured cardigans and long skirts. I loved the way she plaited her hair and rolled it up in a bun and tucked it up without ever using a pin. I loved the way she held her tea cup. I loved the way she let me stand on a chair next to her & Mummyji in the kitchen and make dahl. I loved the way she called out to my younger brother while standing in the doorway to his room each morning. I loved that she saw my specific type of crazy and accepted it. Most of all I loved the way my Nani loved. It was steady, quiet and felt complete and non-judgemental.

My mum told me it was my Nani who spotted my mole in the arch of my right foot at childhood and said that I would never be still in one place. That mole would give me itchy feet to go out in the world. That has been mostly true.

My Nani was the first person I experienced a wide range of emotions with: joy, infatuation, adoration, fascination, happiness, deep sorrow, sadness, heart ache. Put into an emotional tumble dryer this mix of emotions came out feeling warm. I called it: LOVE.  

She was a priority in my life. When I was 18 & 19 I told my then boyfriend that I would go to wherever she was each Sunday for dinner and our weekends had to accommodate that. I told the same boyfriend when we went travelling around the world that should my Nani fall ill while we were away for the year - I would return home. It was a non-negotiable.

When my Nani passed away it was a sunny day. I remember being attached to her body. When her coffin was being taken away for her to be cremated it is an understatement to say “I lost my shit”. Her funeral was on my 21st birthday. It was a profound coming of age.

Today - my Nani remains my greatest source of inspiration and the person whose personal traits and qualities I admire the most. If there is one way I could describe her it would be UNCONDITIONAL. In a world where we throw around the phrase “unconditional love” or “unconditional support” as if we have an idea of what we’re talking about - she truly was the only unconditional person I knew. I now wear two gold bangles on my right wrist that belonged to her. At my wedding I had a cotton hanky tucked into my bra that was once hers. I keep one of her cotton sari blouses in my wardrobe at all times. If I close my eyes and hold the blouse up to my nostrils and inhale deeply I can convince myself that I can smell her essence - even though the blouse was washed many times long ago. I still wear two necklaces she won at bingo games at the extended care hospital she was in. I smile like sharing a secret with a best friend when I receive a ridiculous amount of compliments on those two necklaces. It’s kind of an inside joke I have with her when people “ooooh! and aaaah!” and ask what European city market I found these vintage necklaces!  

When in times of conflict or confusion I meditate and find her crouched on large rock in a clearing in the forrest with one of her palms cupping the other - open, of course, just as she was - in the centre of her palm is an Om symbol. Every time I see this image during a meditation I feel an overwhelming sense of calm and ease. A warmth washes over me and I trust that we are souls & our bodies only temporary homes.

I grieved so intensely in the moment for my Nani after her death that I seldom feel the loss of her in my life. She’s in some way always there. It’s only in times that I spend with my nieces’ and nephews’ that I find myself wishing those kids knew her simply because she was so kind. And in the end, kindness is all that matters. ~ Sima

photo credit: Mrs. Sarla Shankar

NCR: Sima Says > Wife Life

INTERMARCHÉ > Inglorious Foods

I’ve noticed something very interesting - a lot of my fashion, film, music and advertising friends are becoming passionate about food. Myself included. I think this is an organic (no pun intended) evolution - food is creative! 

For me - the decision to marry The Italian has meant me returning to my hometown of Vancouver and being somewhat “grounded”. I am currently actively in the process of applying for an EEA Family Permit visa and a EU Residence card for the UK. So I’m going to be more of a local in BC as I get ready to forfeit my passport. A scary thought for a frequent flyer such as myself. Mummyji has joked that she never grounded me as a kid but now the process through the UK Home Office is grounding me!

Being grounded has led me to spend more time with family & close friends. Readers of this blog will know how close I am with Mummyji - she and I are close friends as well as Mother & Daughter. Mummyji is also a brilliant gardener - of flowers and food! As I spend more time with her at her home this summer I have marvelled at the joy of gardening! The flowers are sources of beauty and great pleasure. In full bloom they appear each morning on the patio & garden like well dressed friends ready to greet you to a day of unbridled possibility. The food is literally a source of nourishment. I have had the pleasure of eating the most delicious salads and bean curry dishes - all ingredients straight from Mummyji’s garden. What I love most is how much the food tastes like REAL FOOD! Watering the garden and helping her pick the produce and smell the dirt has sparked my senses in a brand new way. It’s exciting and of course I’m styling all the photos! 

What struck me most was how beautifully imperfect - or REAL - the food is. This got me doing some research as I am all about the European Union education these days. I found out Europe was taking a stand against food waste in 2014. A prominent supermarket called Intermaché in France is leading the way.

Much like in fashion - the food industry also has ridiculous standards of beauty. And if the food doesn’t meet that visual standard - it’s chucked out. Well… not anymore! This food has been given pride of place at Intermarché and I think this is definitely a New Culture Revolution! 

As I prepare to move to the UK to join The Italian, I hope UK supermarket giants such as Tesco, Waitrose and Co-Op also incorporate this system! What a brilliant idea! The more time I’m spending watching Mummyji grow her own food and share it with others - it’s really an incredible feeling to experience how being connected to where my food comes from and how it’s grown increases my consciousness about consumption & waste. I would suggest everyone place their knees on the ground and fingers in the dirt before the end of summer! ~ Sima

NCR: Sunday Soul > Rumi

Be with those who help your being. ~ Rumi

NCR: Sima Says > Life Is Not A Popularity Contest

I receive a lot of questions about boundaries, especially from spiritual seekers of many different faiths, belief systems and religions. There seems to be a confusion that to be “spiritual” means to be an accommodator. Not true.

You know that saying “time heals all wounds”? Well, I don’t believe in that saying. I believe time is a very valuable commodity we must recognize as a gift afforded to us to build ourselves and learn skills that help us understand and integrate experiences. Our wounds are great teachers - yet quite often we never show up to class. Instead we posture and wax ecstatic as though we are healed. No wonder the world is populated with the walking wounded. 

The passing of time spent suffering or pretending like something that bothers you doesn’t bother you - is a waste of time. Life has a way of presenting us with the opportunity to measure our growth. Time can pass and when something that once wounded us is presented in a new experience we really get to know where we are at. Avoidance (people, places, situations) and the passing of time, to me, is not healing. I’m not saying go out and seek the people, places and situations that have wounded you in a way that stunts growth but suggesting an active exploration and the peeling away of our many layers of hurt - to get to the place that is most raw - is healing.  We live in a world that is so uncomfortable with being uncomfortable. We post positive affirmations on social media sites that have no relevance to our lives.

Practice is what brings about change. Practicing new and healthier behaviours, practicing healthier boundaries, practicing telling the truth “even when your voice shakes”. Practicing upholding your ethics and values - in real life when it’s called for - not just as a post on Facebook.

Quite often people mistake being a spiritual seeker to mean we must accommodate all sorts of people and behaviours. It’s actually quite the opposite. Committing to your well-being means knowing who and what to let go of with a loving kindness. Life is not a popularity contest. 

Rumi said ‘the wound is the place where the light enters you”. May each of us have the courage to let the light in and know the difference between a door and a door mat.~ Sima

NCR: Show Your Pride

I’m back in Vancouver and attending my first Pride Parade today. I’m going with a childhood friend whose in town from Louisiana. It’s something her 18 year old daughter really wanted to do on their visit to Vancouver. My 17 year old niece Yasmeen will also be attending with her friends. This is her second pride celebration. I am fascinated by these young women who are so open and excited to explore and experience the culture of all people. This wasn’t the case when I was their age.

Some of my closest friends as well as family members are gay. This quote by Sir Ian McKellen really resonates with me, “It’s only fair that stable gay relationships of long standing should have the same rights and responsibilities as married couples. I know the image of gay marriage is to some people horrific and ludicrous.” 

As a recently married person who is going through an immigration process to join my husband, it became more clear to me how much inequality there is. I feel fortunate to be moving to a country that recognizes the rights of all relationships. But it got me thinking, with every step I have to take to prove the authenticity of my relationship, one thing is never called into question - the traditional man/woman nature of my relationship. 

Today is a great day to think about where each of us holds a prejudice. I can’t imagine living in a body that is biologically programmed towards same sex relationships and hiding in the confines of that body out of fear of rejection & ridicule. Whether that rejection comes from our family and friends, religion, government, society - we must look at equality. We are all essentially on the same team - the human team.

I believe in LOVE. Not love with gender boundaries. We’ve come a long way. But we still have a long way to go. Happy Pride to those who are celebrating. ~ Sima

NCR: Sima Says > Style Counsel

How to translate style reference & inspiration to realisation

I recently posted a photo of myself form my wedding on Facebook. It is always surprising and humbling to receive an outpouring of compliments. What was more fun and interesting was the messages and texts that came in asking how I came to decide on my wedding “look”. A lot of people commented on how it was “So You”. This to me, is the highest praise and marker for success.

So I thought it would make a good blog post to share my process. To give a broader scope and because this blog is shared with Kristin, I’ve included how we came up with her look for Comic Con in 2013. A much more casual aesethic, but one that did have a very distinct style reference and inspiration.

My underlying ethos is to always extract the person into the thread of creating a persona. I feel this is what gives authenticity to the end result. Whether it’s creative directing and styling a client or myself. 

For Kristin, pictured above - we had spent many days together over the course of a year where she expressed wanting some kind of change. Something subtle that would be very her while not sabotaging the look she needs to have for her role as Catherine on Beauty and the Beast. 

The look for Comic Con was birthed out of Kristin wanting new specs. I took her to a tried and true favourite of mine called New World Optical in Vancouver that sells great vintage frames. The eye wear was inspired by a young Charlotte Rampling. While researching I loved the image of her in an easy button front shirt. Her hair and low maintenance look just oozed a laid back confidence. I presented the idea and inspiration to Kristin - she loved it and I started pulling pieces to bring the original reference into a modern day representation. It was that easy.

For my wedding - I researched a young Sophia Loren. Someone I’m often compared to when I dress up mostly because of my big eyes and love of eye liner. I pulled together some old photos that showed the kind of hair and eyeliner I would like to have on my wedding day. Sophia Loren has been around forever - so these images were OLD. I didn’t want my look to be retro. I wanted a modern day interpretation of it. Which led me to a shoot with Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt for W Magazine from a few years back. The shoot with Angelina Jolie was styled with a vintage flair. Similar to the original look of Sophia Loren I referenced but more current. I then took these two looks and shared with them my two friends and wedding guests Angela Victory (who styled my hair) and Zabrina Matiru who executed my make-up. Because we are all visual artists - it’s always best to show vs. tell. Share photos and try and articulate how you would like to feel. Both ladies are professional make-up artists and we’ve enjoyed working together on various jobs throughout the years. My hair brief for Angela was “the morning after the night before” and for Zabrina it was “I want winged eye liner and false lashes”. I’m not a fan of overly styled hair. My default vibe always has a hint of Bohemia in it yet I love a bit glamour - especially from days gone by when women used to dress up. My dress had a 1950’s silhouette which I’ve always been a fan of. I didn’t want to hold my breath or suck any body parts in. I wanted to be relaxed and comfortable and present. Having a team that understands you is part of the success of executing a look and being happy with the end result. This is why so many celebrities who partner with stylists and hair and makeup artists keep the same person with them for an extended amount of time. For me, having two women I am friends with and who are both married themselves and understand what it’s like to be the bride was a bonus. There was no stress, no re-dos or tension or tantrums. Like all good relationships there was team work and trust. It’s important to recognize the difference between inspiration and imitation. My goal was not to re-create a look that had been done before - it was to take elements of styling and make it my own. For me - I never checked or double checked what Angela and Zabrina were doing. I trusted them, looked in the mirror when they were done and was happy with what I saw. I flipped my hair upside down once and ran my fingers through it with Angela on stand by - we looked at each other - I picked up my bouquet and we were out the door. 

And that is how I came to look the way I did on my wedding day! ~ Sima

Wedding Portrait by: Darian Wong, bts. courtesy of Marnie Herald.

Angelina Jolie images: from W Magazine. All other images via the web.

NCR: Sima Says > Perspective

Always be yourself, unless you can be a mermaid, then always be a mermaid (obviously).

If your thighs touch then you’re one step closer to being a mermaid so who’s the real winner here …

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