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NYFW Day # 5: Love & Waris

February 11, 2013

With Valentine’s Day coming up, I thought you guys might like some love and relationship advice from one of my favorite designers and style icons on the planet, Waris Ahluwalia. I thought you also might like to see a photo of him in heart-shaped glasses, even if you don’t bother reading the rest of this post.

waris ahluwalia nyfw valentine's day

“Waris Ahluwalia—actor, designer, explorer at large—traverses many worlds, armed only with wit, tact, and a sharp black suit. Thus we thought him the ideal person to offer advice on some of the knottier questions of twenty-first-century life. To petition the sage yourself, write him at

Dear Waris, 

If we keep away from wanting, keep away both fear and hope, what does love feel like? Are relationships a trap, another construction to narrow the capacities of the mind?

Dear Seeker,

Why would we keep away from wanting, fear, and hope? These are the basic building blocks of our emotional makeup, just as amino acids are vital to every part of human function. These feelings arise all the time—it’s how one addresses them that’s important.

Love, in all its variations—the Platonic kind, the romantic kind, the love of self, devotional love—is an absolute mystery to me. It is a boundless force. As for many who have come before me, it is the inspiration for all my work, for my being, my raison d’être. It confounds me to no end. Roxy Music was on the money when they proclaimed, “Love Is the Drug.” Recent scientific studies have proved that the effects of being in love have similar neurological effects on your brain as taking certain recreational drugs—not that I recommend these. Why would I, when there’s love?

In their studies of MRIs of people in love, Drs. Fisher and Brown of Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York say what they learned from lovers’ brains is that romantic love isn’t really an emotion. It’s a drive that’s based deep within our brains, right alongside our urges to find food and water.

And you wouldn’t go hungry, would you?

Dear Waris, 

What is your position on sex tapes? Until now, I have avoided making videos with my partners in the bedroom. But I’m starting to think I’m being old-fashioned and missing out on something. Are you for or against this kind of amateur filmmaking?

Dear Seducer,

As a gentleman who supports the arts in all its myriad forms, I’m not against any consensual artistic endeavor. As with all things in life, I would say do what feels right and trust your instincts. What I’m amused by are sex tapes (can we still say tapes?) that are “accidentally” released before an album or movie comes out. I apologize now, dear readers, if one of my tapes is “accidentally” released right before a new collection comes out. Not that I have any such tapes.

But to your question specifically, I’m assuming there’s no pun intended? That would be a whole other column.

Dear Waris, 

I’m on a never-ending quest to succeed. I have trouble finding my place in this huge world of fashion, style, and jewelry. I know I’ve got it. If I were given a chance, I could be legendary. But I seem to be rejected over and over again, forced to be two-faced with high rollers in the industry that I really have no interest in talking to. Is there a way to retain one’s values, stay human, and to make it, without having to be someone you’re not?

Dear Striver,

Your question is an honorable one. What’s the point of “making it” if you lose yourself in the process? I’ve always lived my life, personally and professionally, within the realm of values I was taught by my family. To me, it’s not just the doing, it’s how you do it. As for the rejection, it’s part of the process. Don’t be afraid of failure. Cherish your mistakes and learn from them. It’s your persistence that will make the difference. There’s an old Buddhist saying that comes to mind: “If we are facing in the right direction, all we have to do is keep on walking.”

You’re already legendary in my mind. Now get to it.

Dear Waris, 

How do you explain to straight men, en masse or individually, that what they wear is as important to many women as what we wear is to them? Men so often do not know how clothes should fit: Their shoulder seams hang, depressingly, somewhere between shoulder and elbow, and they are swimming in their suits and dress shirts. When I see a man whose clothes fit him well, I am positively purring inside. Whereas, when I see a man who looks like a kid in his father’s clothing—like 80 percent of straight men—it makes me want to spend more time with my dog and my favorite sweatpants.

Dear Stylish,

It’s not shallow to want to be aesthetically pleased by your partner, or by men in general. There was a time when the general male population cared about their appearance. It feels like we may be returning to that time. However, I have noticed when men do pay attention, they get branded metrosexuals. Name-calling is not positive reinforcement. Men, like children, need encouragement. But we are in agreement. Style is not about brands, but about fit. Offer to take your male friends shopping, and teach them this. I’m envisioning a reverse Pretty Womanscenario. In defense of men, no one teaches us about fit. Have pity on us.

Dear Waris, 

Now for some serious style advice: What are three must-have wardrobe items for a woman in her thirties? And what type of tea should one drink while wearing them?

Dear Steeper,

I would suggest wearing nothing while drinking House of Waris tea (on shelves by the end of the year). Especially if it’s a tea party.

Yours faithfully,


He is divine, isn’t he? See the original column here.

P.S. It’s my friend, brilliant illustrator and creative powerhouse, Jessica Repetto‘s birthday today, and I’m thrilled to share my interview with her my on City Eats NY: Food Meets Fashion column.

You can catch up on my other posts if you missed any and find out where New York’s brightest and boldest tastemakers are eating out.


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