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Fashion
February 19, 2010

Bollywood Style Awards 2010

Text by Sohiny Das. Photographed by Ritam Banerjee and Ramanuj Dutta. Styling by Sohiny Das and Rishika Roopchand. Realisation by Lamya Bhatri. Assisted by Nirali Mehta

Celluloid. Characters. Charisma. Clothes. Tinseltown is getting democratic, with the concept of a singular dominance slowly fading. Mainstream fashion is stepping in. Cine-couturiers are also setting out to conquer the real world. Star stylists still rule, but quiet underdogs are creeping up. Verve observes this evolution and selects four fashionable films from the previous year’s releases which impress with their sartorial assertion

It was the year of the uniform in cinema. No, not starched shirts with ties and mirror-polished shoes, but costume wardrobes comprising variations of the same theme. There were enough options to place a new outfit in every scene, but mostly, these were minor deviations in the predominant silhouette, or a tweak in perhaps another colour. A supermodel-surgeon wearing minidresses, or a man-boy never venturing beyond T-shirts, a university professor in crushed skirts, or a Dilli belle in pretty kalidar kurtas.

True, the clothes are character appropriate. As ace costume stylist Aki Narula puts it, “It’s all about the script.” In real life, we know people who have 25 black/white shirts in their wardrobe and refuse to step out of certain sartorial boundaries that they create for themselves, but everyone is not as ‘contained’. There are those whose professions demand razor sharp business suits, but during social calls, a cotton chikankari kurta set may gain preference. It is this rounded, 360 degree approach that is still missing from our cinema costume, though greatly stylish leaps have taken our film fashion quotient up by a multitude of notches.

But we are not cynics. The benefit of the doubt will always lie with our very competent set of costume designers who have commendably created style chronicles for Hindi cinema. Sid in Wake Up Sid is a lazy boy, so it is fair that he lives in the easiest apparel item – the tee. Simrita in Kambakkht Ishq resides in Los Angeles, is body beautiful and in sync with the non-fuss, physique-worshipping glamour culture; therefore all the minis and more minis in her branded wardrobe. Avantika in Kurbaan is a teacher living in Delhi, and is a more ‘fashion’ version of the city’s arty-handloom brigade that thrives on Anokhi, Fabindia and Dilli Haat. Surprisingly, Bittu in Delhi 6, daughter of conservative middle class parents, has the most ‘complete’ wardrobe of all – ‘decent’ kurta sets that mum and dad approve of, and more ‘risqué’ options that are shoved and hidden in the dark depths of her cupboard, to be stealthily taken out and worn only around friends.

With boundaries blurring between ‘mainstream’ and ‘film-dom’ designers and stylists, we are beginning to see more connections between trends, styles and updates in these two worlds. Aparna Chandra and Arjun Bhasin for Luck By Chance and Sabyasachi for Paa have shown their versatility by creating looks which are different from their glossy editorial shoots and runway collections, but still detailed.

What adds an edge to our selected set of four for the 2009 list? A common element – assertion. There are very ‘definite’ styles that all these characters have which are successful in creating instant visuals whenever we name that particular film.

So the next time you ask your personal stylist to deck you up in the Kambkkht Ishq mould for an evening out, there is simply no scope for any confusion. A minidress (preferably sequinned) is the way.

Urban Sass  Kambakkht Ishq
Aki Narula for Kareena Kapoor

The movie is headache inducing, to say the least, but the Aki-Kareena magic continues with another successful year. Zone out on everything else and focus on the pretty clothes of Simrita, played by the not-so-size-zero but still fabulously svelte Ms Kapoor, and maybe you shall survive till the end credits.

Simrita is an oxymoron – no, we are not being abusive, but what else do we call a ‘supermodel cum super surgeon’, who wears a dangling wristwatch while performing an operation, and better still, leaves it inside the patient’s stomach?!!  (Oh, by the way, the watch sings, from inside this unfortunate – who turns out to be the lucky guy – victim’s tummy!)

In terms of the wardrobe, there are lots of haute picks here. The black sequinned sheath that Simrita wears to a friend’s wedding. The most inappropriate but sexy silver pleated off-shoulder minidress worn to court. Also, the coral, flowy number in the concluding scene, with an acid-hued underlayer peeking out. The film is a stylishly stiletto-ed step forward in the sense that Narula shuns ‘matching’ and chooses complementing contrast accessories. So with a yellow shift, there are indigo peeptoes; with an ivory satin blouson dress, there is a cerulean bangle. The unapologetic brand flaunting is done in a classy fashion, sans screaming logos. “There was a Rodeo Drive kind of vibe; hence we brought in the brands. I also worked on the concept of colour blocking with accessories, which was previously not done in Hindi cinema,” Narula tells us.

The hair and make-up (by Mickey Contractor) are fresh. Kareena’s versatile face is a great canvas for both caked-up and toned-down looks, and this is aptly exploited. A break from a blow-dry overdose is also welcome. Scrunched wet hair, a sleek ponytail, poker straight mane and soft cascades provide variety. Details go right down to the nails – French manicured fingers holding a scalpel are always wonderful to see. The lovely Ms Kapoor seems to be getting lovelier and chicer by the day (at least on screen) and deserves to be the current best clothes-hanger in tinseltown.

Now if only our hospital surgeons looked and dressed like that….

Aki Narula, we hate you! You made us watch this mess, just because the wardrobe was totally ishq-worthy.

Model: Black pleated skirt and satin halter top, both from Emporio Armani; broad stretch belt, from a flea market. All part of the film wardrobe. Diamante ring, at Shimmer Shack, Mumbai. Aki Narula wears his own clothes and accessories.
 
Make-up and hair by Billy Bow. Model courtesy: Archana Vadnerkar, Elite Model Management.

Ethnic Elegance Kurbaan
Aki Narula for Kareena Kapoor

“It was a conscious decision made by Karan (Johar), Rensil (D’Silva) and me to introduce colour for a very brief period in the movie,” Aki Narula speaks of the wardrobe that he created for Kareena-Saif’s romantic scenes in the film that he calls his “most evolved project till date”, his first solo costume venture for an entire cast. “We put together seven to eight outfits comprising separates, which were mixed and matched with each other, the same way that we do in life, every morning.”

Sartorially, Kareena’s character Avantika, a teacher by profession, has two phases. Apart from the few scenes that include bright hues, the rest of the wardrobe is very dark, almost monochrome. But good things come in small packages, and the pretty colours create a sort of oasis, surrounded by an expanse of grimness.

There is a strong Sabyasachi flavour here, but cleaner. Even the colours are placed in ‘off’ combinations, like blackberry teamed with yellow, or a wine sweater with an orange patterned shawl. The layering of pieces tackles a tricky balancing act of voluminous and streamlined shapes. Crushed gherdar skirts with borders are worn with churidars underneath and skinny jersey or knit tops, with a patterned shawl completing the ensemble. The assortment of solid hues in large expanses with a dash of printed or woven motifs works well.

Even the hair and make-up in the film go from subtly bold to minimal as Avantika’s life transforms. The side-parted sleek, blow dry gets covered with head-scarves. The dramatic eyeliner (a deep midnight blue, not black) is taken off very soon. Though the coloured liner is a nice touch, in some shots it tends to look very hard and caked-up, because of its application on both upper and lower eyelids.

What could have been a safe ‘Fabindia’ route is tweaked with a calculated but adventurous aesthetic. This measured ‘push’ elevates mere costume into a style statement, especially in a film where one needed to be careful, so that the fashion did not overshadow the story. A job well done.

Model: Jersey top, crushed cotton skirt, ruched churidar and patterned pashmina-mix shawl, all part of the film wardrobe. Studded mojris, at Joy Shoes; embellished bag, at The Oak Tree; gold minakari jhumkas, at Roopchand Jewels. All in Mumbai. Aki Narula wears his own clothes and accessories.
 
Make-up and hair by Billy Bow. Model courtsey: Sneha Upadhyay, Elite Model Management.

Youth Cult Wake Up Sid
Priyanjali Lahiri for Ranbir Kapoor

Last year we had Rock On!  This year we have another film that uses the same apparel item to create waves, but in a different capacity. Uniform of the youth. Unisex. We unanimously pick the T-shirt.

Unlike the music band/ punk-grunge image of 2008, the T-shirt got picked for being the most preferred garment of another clan in this country – the Gen Y yuppies. The image is cleaner, more colourful. The weapon of choice is not barbed wire and tattoo-inspired prints, but animation characters and witty text. Humour, humour and yes, more humour. The graphic-slogan T-shirt is saluted.

A picture is worth a thousand words. On a T-shirt, words conjure a thousand images. Or at least one, instantly. Impact, attention, a point of view or revelation of the facets of your personality is easy, if you are ably assisted by the Super-T. A fuss-free way to set yourself apart in a crowd, with minimal effort. An economic wardrobe option for all you first paycheck kids, a lot of whom are ‘overeducated but underemployed’ (Tantra T-shirt). And if, after a hard day’s work, you are too tired to change, the comfortable jersey fabric can function as sleepwear too! Bliss.

Priyanjali Lahiri understood Ranbir Kapoor’s character Sid, which can be summed up in one word – lazy. Hailing from a wealthy family, having never actually worked to achieve anything (with mum picking up his dirty laundry), the ‘just chill’ breed prototype assumes that his nonchalant humour is best reflected on his chest, accessorised with a shoulder shrug and zoned-out expression every time the word ‘responsibility’ crops up. Lahiri also played with the boy-man ratio by teaming bright tees with button down shirts, and always, always, jeans. The orange ‘Danger Mouse’ has been the poster-boy (and mouse) for the film. ‘Mr Lazy’ is proudly sported, sleeping on a cloud. Bert and Ernie adorn another one. Clichéd, sure, but for Sid, stretching the imagination beyond this also may be too much of an effort.

The success of the film led to fashion brands scurrying to produce their ‘exclusive’ lines of Wake Up Sid tees – myntra.com and Provogue being among them.  Even though the reference was picked up from real life, the T-shirt got re-trended, yet again. Clever girl, Lahiri, knows her merchandising well.

Of course as the film progresses, Sid does get a job and inspired by his arty girlfriend, so he dons a few kurtas too. But we are not interested in those.

Wake up kids, it is time for tee.

Model: T-shirt, from Pepe Jeans; watch, from Toy Watch; sneakers, from Converse. All in Mumbai. Skinny jeans, model’s own. Priyanjali Lahiri wears her own clothes and accessories. Sneakers, by Converse, Mumbai.
 
Make-up by Reshma Vaid. Hair courtesy: Ishita Thakkar at Bangd, Mumbai. Model courtesy: Surelee Joseph, Celebutante Talent Management.

Desi Fun Delhi 6
Anamika Khanna for Sonam Kapoor

A young woman (more of a girl), born and raised in a conservative middle class family in Chandni Chowk, striving to break free from the ordinary life and its mundane regularities, but is not vociferous about her wishes. She is not quite the rebel, but is also not a meek acceptor of the ‘conventional’ fate charted out for her by her father. She tries to take steps towards her aspirations on the sly. She is clever, or so she thinks.

Sonam Kapoor’s character Bittu is all that. Sweet and enchanting with an edge maybe, but a large part of her appeal lies in her appearance. Of course she is exceptionally pretty with a dazzling smile, etc etc… but the key to her onscreen freshness is the look that she sports – wardrobe, hair, jewellery et al. Very Indian, vibrant yet subtle, with a sense of fun. In the end, everything has to look natural and effortless. Not easy at all, so rope in the style queen for that. “I insisted on designer Anamika Khanna for Delhi-6,” Kapoor told Verve in an earlier interview. “Her sense of fabric, colour and print has made my ‘simple girl’ look in the movie so different.”

The Khanna-Kapoor duo had been making news since 2008, as the screen newbie was spotted many a time sporting Khanna’s quirky-sexy creations (not gowns, thankfully!) with élan, and there was even a runway appearance. Therefore, the couture queen was familiar with the body type of tinsel town’s self confessed “Audrey Hepburn with a twist”. A generous dose of Khanna’s favourite fabric, mul, was block and screen printed, sometimes with Mughal-Jaipur motifs, sometimes with a watercolour floral effect. Long kalidar kurtas teamed with vibrant dupattas were flowy and summery, complementing Kapoor’s height and structure. The finishing touches were the simple, long braided hair and pretty jhumka earrings. “Indian girls look so pretty in kalidars,” Khanna observes. “It’s such a beautiful silhouette – sensuous yet non-fuss. I wish more young women would wear these.”

Now the kalidar also served another purpose for Bittu’s naughtier side, the trying-to-be-sexy side. In real life, how many girls from conservative families have worn skimpy, flimsy things underneath voluminous tunics and shed the outer layer at a club restroom, to emerge as the ‘hot girl’ for some giggly fun with friends, and change back into her demure self before going home? Bittu’s alter-ego wardrobe comprised halter tops, smocked harem pants and bandannas. Understanding this ‘wannabe’ side of a young woman, Khanna presented it with a humorous touch – the belly dancer coin belt, jangling earrings, crimped hair and a somewhat tarty red lipstick shade that made us all go ‘awwww…’

Model: Turquoise cotton panelled gherdaar tunic and floral printed cotton dupatta, both by Anamika Khanna. Matte gold ghungroo earrings and bangle, both by Suhani Pittie. All in Kolkata. Anamika Khanna wears her own clothes and accessories.
 
Make-up and hair by Abhijit Chanda. Model: Ushoshi Sengupta.

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