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News

LA council votes to delay community center update

LA council votes to delay community center update


Ellie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
The Los Altos City Council voted to delay adoption of a community center conceptual design plan last week. The plan includes elements from a design charette held earlier this fall, left.

The Los Altos City Council last...

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Schools

Scientists bring experiments into MV classrooms

Scientists bring experiments into MV classrooms


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
During a Science is Learning geology lesson, Theuerkauf Elementary School students learn about igneous rocks by observing how sugar changes form when heated.

Hundreds of local elementary students perform experiments w...

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Community

Local actors star in PYT's 'Oklahoma!'

Local actors star in PYT's 'Oklahoma!'


Courtesy of Peninsula Youth Theatre
PYT’s “Oklahoma!” features, from left, David Peters of Mountain View, Jenna Levere of Los Altos and Kai Wessel of Mountain View.

Time is running out to catch Peninsula Youth Theatre’s production of “Oklahoma!”...

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Sports

Eagles advance

Eagles advance


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Los Altos High’s Carmen Annevelink, left, and Kristen Liu put up a block against Mountain View. Annevelink totaled 20 kills.

Mountain View High’s out-of-the-gate energy could last for only so long against rival and he...

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Comment

Coping with addictions: Haugh About That?

Preparing to deal with my lifelong addiction, I stood in front of the mirror ready to confess the shame I’d been hiding. The first step to healing, I reminded myself, is to admit something is wrong.

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Special Sections

NASA, Google agreement preserves Hangar One

NASA, Google agreement preserves Hangar One


Bruce Barton/Town Crier
Hangar One, pictured here last January, will be restored under an agreement between Google and NASA.

NASA and Google Inc. forged an agreement last week that allows Google to lease a portion of NASA’s historic Moffett Fede...

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Business

State Street science center closing Nov. 30

State Street science center closing Nov. 30


Ellie Van Houtte/
Helix at 316 State St. is closing after the completion of a one-year grant from Passerelle Investment Co. The science center became a popular destination because of its various exhibits. Town Crier

A popular downtown destination...

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Books

Children's author signs books at Linden Tree

Children's author signs books at Linden Tree


Author Tiffany Papageorge is scheduled to sign copies of new her book 11 a.m. Dec. 6 at Linden Tree Books, 265 State St., Los Altos.

Papageorge’s “My Yellow Balloon” (Minoan Moon, 2014) is a Mom’s Choice “Gold” winner. In the book, the Los Gat...

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People

JAMES WINDELL SMITH

JAMES WINDELL SMITH

January 11, 1939 – November 6, 2014
Resident of Mountain View

James Windell Smith, a 40 year resident of Los Altos, passed away from complications after a post-surgery stroke November 6th, 2014 in Los Gatos, California.

Born on January 11, 1939 on...

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Travel

Olive Sonoma: There's more to the quaint town than wine

Olive Sonoma: There's more to the quaint town than wine


Eren Göknar/ Special to the Town Crier
While many day-trippers may think that Sonoma is all about the grapes, the region boasts other delights. Try a biplane ride over the patchwork landscape.

Sonoma, a scenic two-hour drive from Los Altos, boa...

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Stepping Out

LA Stage Company opens 'Fairway'

The Los Altos Stage Company production of Ken Ludwig’s new comedy “The Fox on the Fairway” is slated to run Thursday through Dec. 14 at Bus Barn Theater, 97 Hillview Ave.

A tribute to the English farces of the 1930s and 1940s, “Fox” is a romp that p...

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Spiritual Life

Author of Jewish historical novel slated at Congregation Beth Am

Author of Jewish historical novel slated at Congregation Beth Am


The Beth Am Women have scheduled “A Conversation with Author Maggie Anton” 7:30 p.m. Nov. 20 at Congregation Beth Am, 26790 Arastradero Road, Los Altos Hills.

Anton, winner of the 2012 National Jewish Book Award for Fiction, will discu...

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Magazine

Christmas At Our House home tour celebrates 26 years

Christmas At Our House home tour celebrates 26 years


Courtesy of Christopher Stark
Homes on the St. Francis High School Women’s Club’s Christmas at Our House Holiday Home Tour showcase a variety of architectural styles.

The days grow short on sunshine but long on nostalgia as the holidays approach...

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East Meets West in modern wedding gowns


Courtesy of Bel Inizio Photography
Namrita Chettiar, left, created a custom Southeast Asian-inspired wedding dress for Tanya Mulvey. To bring the bride’s vision to life, Chettiar made sketches, above, after introducing Mulvey to her studio collection.

Snow-white gowns with trains running a mile long may be a popular choice for a walk down the wedding aisle in the United States, but some local brides are embracing a new look – the color, vibrancy and allure of ensembles that use the rich silks found in couture fabric shops in India and opulent Bollywood movies.

The look reflects cultural changes that run deeper than what is seen on the surface.

“It’s a growing trend,” said Namrita Chettiar, a bridal-wear designer who operates from her home studio in Los Altos.

Chettiar described the transition she’s witnessed since opening her small custom bridal design business six years ago.

“When I started this business, I was doing very traditional dresses,” she said. “The people who come in today are looking for something brighter, beaded, something Asian. Most of the couples that come to me are cross-cultural. … A lot of Caucasians are getting married to Indians. … It’s a growing spectrum.”

Approximately 80 percent of couples that Chettiar now dresses for weddings are cross-cultural, a trend she attributes to the growing diversity of the Bay Area. The Pew Research Center’s 2012 study on “The Rise of Intermarriage” reinforces the perception, reporting that between 2008 and 2010, nearly 22 percent of all newlyweds on the West Coast married someone of a different race or ethnicity.

Fusion fashion

Although Tanya Mulvey didn’t have much experience with Indian weddings when she began planning her big day, she knew that she didn’t want her dress to be too traditional or “overdone.”

A bit apprehensive, Mulvey reached out to Chettiar for a custom bridal gown on the recommendation of a friend.

“She somehow took my blurry vision of nontraditional Indian-American wedding dress and created the most beautiful wedding dress I’d ever seen,” said Mulvey of the three-piece Lehenga-style dress Chettiar designed for her.

On her wedding day last fall, Mulvey shone in a brocaded corset framed by delicate gold and red straps that flowed into a multipanel skirt adorned with silver, gold and red beadwork. The silky skirt fabric layered atop tulle grew slightly more voluminous as it culminated in a strip of shimmering gold trim and a delicate edging of red beads. A translucent gold pallu-style wrap wound around Mulvey’s gown to add continuity to the piece.

“I loved everything about it,” Mulvey said. “It was perfect for the whole event, bringing two cultures together.”

Stitching together a niche business

For Mulvey and many other brides planning a multicultural ceremony, Chettiar is not only a gifted designer, but also someone who has the ability to fuse cultures.

According to the designer, many of her multicultural couples seek to blend the artistry and traditions of their Asian roots with a more contemporary American look and feel for their wedding gown and bridal party attire.

“I understand where they’re coming from,” said Chettiar, who grew up in India. “They want the best of both worlds.”

As a child, Chettiar was mesmerized by the tailoring work of her grandfather, an Indian atelier, and the fashion flair of her aunts. Pursuing an education in engineering and science took precedence over her creative aspirations, so it would be a number of years before Chettiar rekindled her passion for fashion.

After completing studies at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in San Francisco, Chettiar launched the first Indian bridal design house in the Bay Area.

Inspired by American designer Vera Wang and the glamour and color of Bollywood and Indian royalty, Chettiar’s work is extravagant yet simple. She noted that the traditional thinking for Southeast Asian wedding attire is that “there is nothing you can’t do to outdo someone else.” Chettiar’s dresses celebrate the small details that accentuate the beauty of the bride rather than detract from it.

“As much as my collection isn’t like (Vera Wang’s), it’s very modern, updated and reflects the desires of the modern American woman,” she said. “I love color, but I’m very controlled in the way I use it.”

Demand for her custom-designed bridal wear has steadily increased from a few walk-ins a weekend to as many as 45 appointments with prospective clients on the average Saturday. To balance demand with capacity, she currently meets by appointment only.

Each custom dress Chettiar designs begins with a visit to her studio to view and try on different dress styles. Working with her client’s desired style, colors and tastes, she creates hand-drawn sketches that become the basis for the manufacturing and beadwork completed in her partner shop in Delhi, a process that can take up to six months. Chettiar said her clients’ budgets range from $500 to $5,000. As a small business, she takes on 15-20 brides per month.

Chettiar also offers a ready-wear bridal line, VASTRA, “garment” in Hindi. The ready-made options make for a one-stop shop for the trousseau. And given the growing influence of the Internet as a wedding-planning tool, more and more of Chettiar’s prospective clients discover her work through her online collections.

Looking ahead

As Chettiar prepares to unveil her 2014 collection, scheduled for release in March or April, she is picking up on some trends for the new year.

In addition to the rise in popularity of the Pantone Color of the Year 2014 – Radiant Orchid – and hues of the lush purple that are not new to the color palette in South Asia, Chettiar sees requests for the infusion of other colors and elements, including lace.

“Lots of golds, creams, reds and traditional Indian colors … tones of pinks,” she said. “After dinner, I see more blues and shades of green.”

Regardless of how styles evolve, Chettiar expects to dress even more brides for their multicultural weddings as her business grows.

For more information, visit namritachettiar.com.

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