India's premier luxury lifestyle women's magazine
Verve People
October 15, 2008

India’s Best Dressed List 2008

Text by Shirin Mehta, Nisha Jhangiani and Sohiny Das

This year’s Verve list identifies the three Cs in each of the ladies. They are varied in profession, personality, opinion and attire. Yet they are threaded together by distinction, which sets them apart. These fashion-forward women certainly deserve kudos for being the nation’s style-guides in their own inimitable ways.

Akanksha Nanda
JET-SETTING ROCKER

Signature style “Changes with my moods – sometimes punk-rock, at other times pretty, sometimes edgy and sometimes classic.”

Designer element “Aaaah! Too many – all so individualistic and talented in their own right!”

Fashion inheritance “My friend’s mum’s gold dress from her party days in the ‘70s. My own kin gave me the ‘travel bug’!”

Sartorial soulmate “My ‘free falling’ (Aparna and Norden) white cotton dress.”

Colour code Red, bright blue and brown. Strong colours and unpredictable combinations.

Style icons Madonna, Dita Von Teese, Audrey Hepburn.

Addictive accents Shoes.

Fashion abhorrence Ugly shoes.

Favourite fashion moment “All my birthday dresses over the ‘youthful’ years.”

Big passions “Exploring all possible realms of fashion/design/aesthetics that I enjoy. Travelling. Growing up, along with my little boy.”

Priya Kishore
POLISHED PUNK

Haute trail “I’ve taken the scenic route to retail and fashion – from studying politics, philosophy and economics at Oxford, to working on strategy for Harvey Nichols advertising. Bombay Electric is a combination of my interest in anthropology, luxury retail and an unbridled optimism about the future.”

Signature lip colour “M.A.C’s Russian Red.”

Fashion forecast “Tahera, the designer that I have worn in the Best Dressed shoot is one of my hot tips for the coming year. I was seduced by her perfect and complex cuts. Who can resist classic vintage shapes in unexpected hues?”

Trendsetting moment “When I wore jodhpurs two years ago everyone thought I was pretty quirky, but I guess they’ve become pretty mainstream now.”

Brands vs high street “I have to confess, there is nothing like having a designer make pieces customised to your size. What a luxury to have every dress fit like a dream!”

Individual choice “I usually wake up in the morning feeling a certain colour (whether accessories or dress), and take it from there. As long as you go by how you feel, you can’t go wrong.”

Fashion with a conscience “On 2nd October we will celebrate Gandhiji’s birthday with a week long exhibition called ‘By Hand’, a concept that is very close to my heart. We will celebrate the simple aesthetic, with pieces only made by hand, featuring collaborations with several like-minded NGOs and designers. Sustainable fashion is the responsible path forward; there is no reason why clothes should not be beautiful, luxurious and eco conscious.”

Big passion Music and dance. “I am lucky to have amazing friends who are musicians, who play me new things, and teach me to listen differently. Talvin (Singh) often plays me tracks and takes me on a musical journey, and Sunali, Roop and Reewa Kumar Rathod have introduced me to a whole new genre of music.”

Maithili Ahluwalia
EFFORTLESS ENTREPRENEUR

The legacy “The Bungalow 8 concept is a tribute to my mother and grandmother who have influenced my style aesthetic more than anyone else. The store’s philosophy is essentially about opposites – old/new, high tech/high craft, Indian/global – sitting cheekily but effortlessly next to each other.”

Closet winners “The Lanvin shoes I am wearing in the Best Dressed shot for Verve. Any pieces from my mother’s jewellery collections. Hand-me-downs which include a black and silver meshed Paco Rabanne clutch. My Marni dresses. My gara saris and a vintage Pierre Cardin coat from a thrift shop.”

Gay Paree “My fiancée is French and his apartment on the 16th arrondisement is my island. I frequent my favourite restaurant there and watch the glamorous mamas in their fur coats with pooches popping out of their Chanel bags. I always go to designer Isabel Marant, Le Bon Marché and museums like Palais de Tokyo and Museé Guimet.”

Versatile style “I would probably wear a Dries Van Noten couture dress with Converse sneakers during the day and just switch to a pair of high heels for the night.”

Coming up “We have a new Bungalow 8 coming up in Colaba, Mumbai this October. I have devoted a whole new space in my wardrobe to stock with our in-house designer Mathieu Leguillon’s clothes!”

Big passions “Yoga, my fiancée and family to an almost unhealthy extreme!”

Ayesha Thapar
CHIC ‘IT’ GIRL

Signature style “A fusion of classic, casual chic and Bohemian with accents of India. My sense of style is in constant evolution, which parallels my own personal evolution. Also, it is decidedly different based on where I am, which means dressing differently in each place. New York dressing for me is completely different to Miami or LA dressing.”

Style philosophy “Your outside style should reflect who you are on the inside.”

Key pieces “My new red Birkin bag. Though the most important piece in my wardrobe changes on a daily basis, depending on my mood.”

Closet staples “Adriano Goldschmied Jeans, white Vince or Testament T-shirts, Rucoline sneakers, Krieger watch, rudraksh beads….”

Splurge stops “I like to shop anywhere and everywhere, any chance I get. It varies from Bergdorf Goodman in New York to a vintage store in Miami to a flea market in Goa.”

Retail therapy “For me, shopping is something I do when I am happy, that only takes my mood to the next level. I do not shop when I am down to make myself feel better.”
Feels an affinity to Hermès, Prada, Zac Posen, Alexander Mcqueen.

Footwear fetish Giuseppe Zanotti, Casadei, Christian Louboutin.

Style inspirations “Travelling is my greatest style inspiration, each destination, be it Istanbul, Australia or Kerala, brings out a different Ayesha, that then inspires a whole different style that is authentic to what I am feeling at that moment.”

Big passion “To live life to the fullest.”

Celina Wadia
SUPER CHIC MOM

Signature style Fresh, flawless, sometimes daring, always elegant.

Fashion fundamentals Fitted jeans, belted silk tunics, pointy-toe designer footwear.

Is drawn to Tonal dresses that accentuate her willowy figure.

Derby style Cool knee-length, wrap-around dress in geometric print and high ponytail, both perfect for a warm but chic afternoon.

Nasreen Qureshi
CLASSIC DRESSER

Style philosophy “I learn from everybody and feel proud of every woman who looks good.”

Wardrobe peek A wardrobe full of Chanel – jeans, jackets, skirts, dresses….

Caught out  “Right now, I am wearing a grey Armani vintage dress, paired with Giuseppe Zanotti slippers with crystals, to brighten up the look.”

Feels an affinity to “Karl Lagerfeld is my god and in India, Tarun Tahiliani has got what he has – glamour and class.”

Unforgettable encounter “I went up to Karl Lagerfeld at his couture show in Paris in January and told him, ‘You are my God!’ He asked me, ‘Why?’ I said, ‘Because you make women look beautiful.’ He was so happy.”

Defining piece  “Tarun Tahiliani’s white chikankari sari which I wore for the Swarovski show in Paris. Mr Swarovski himself came up to me and said, ‘I love what you are wearing.'”

Best dressed moment “The day I got married. I wore a Farshi gharara made by my mother that I cherish to this day.”

Fashion mantra “Fashion is not meant to make heads turn – it’s how you carry things that makes you graceful and elegant.”

Katrina Kaif
FLIRTY FEMME

Personal style Simple salwar kameezes, tank tops and multi-pocketed trousers, Juicy Couture track pants, silk camisoles, Tarun Tahiliani chiffon saris, ‘skimming rather than fitted dresses’. “I do not feel it necessary to dress in keeping with current trends and fashion. Loud-loud things are not me. I prefer to keep it all simple, feminine and appealing. I am a zero accessory person, I never have any jewellery and I never wear any. I would probably buy one handbag a year.”

Quote unquote “I do not feel a person’s clothes should be noticed first. Your presence should speak, you should be noticed. And then, maybe 20 minutes later, people should notice your clothes, like ‘hey, that is a great shirt you’re wearing!’”

London halt  Shopping in one’s home base does result in a few favoured haunts. “Miss Sixty, Diesel, the boutiques of Carnaby Street and flea markets.”

Stickler for finish “I am not comfortable in a badly made garment; even if it cannot be seen on screen, a certain quality is absolutely necessary.”

Fashion in film “The style quotient can definitely be upped…a lot of times, we are scrambling for outfits just before shooting a song. It’s pretty difficult.” Having said that, “In the last two years, there has been a rise in awareness in Bollywood, with international designers coming in and Indian designers paying more attention.”

Designers and icons “My favourite designers are Tarun Tahiliani, Rocky S, Gauri and Nainika and Jenny Packham.” Loves the style of “Sienna Miller and J Lo.”

Riddhima Kapoor Sahni
PORCELAIN PRINCESS

Style mantra “At times a lot of bling, at times understated. At night, I love to dress glittery. In the day, a pair of jeans and T-shirt is great.”

Mother influence “I have learnt from her to be understated and to carry myself with elegance. My mother never wears anything over the top. Everything I do is inspired by her – she tells me what to eat, plans my workout…I follow it all blindly.”

Priceless gift “It would be my wedding. The things that my parents did, they did not have to.”

Precious collectibles “At the time of my wedding, my mom gifted me her heirlooms.”

Feels an affinity to Dolce & Gabbana, Rock & Republic, Ed Hardy, Juicy Couture.

Designer inspiration “People around me inspire me; their attitude towards life. I go out a lot and meet a lot of people. I also have myself in mind when I design. I draw all my designs myself.”

A label is born “ARA means ‘a piece of jewellery or decoration’, in Persian. Bling is our basic USP.”

Retail high “Shopping! I am the most impulsive, compulsive shopper. If I am upset, I just have to go out and buy!”

Harathi Reddy-Rebello
STYLE SIREN

Silhouette reduction From size 10 to size six. “Last year, I took a huge, major step – I hired a personal trainer. You can buy the most expensive designer things, but if you don’t have a canvas to match, it is of no use. Best thing you can do for yourself, is to get a great body.”

Riding the waves “I could wear a white bikini in Thailand! Strolling down the beach I felt like a million bucks.”

Haute makeover “I have had long black hair since I was 16 and with my new size I decided to do something about my tresses. I went to Raksha who trained under Adhuna Akhtar and for six months I just watched her cut hair. The first time I went to her, she sent me away. But slowly, she layered my hair while keeping it long so it looks really different.”

Style tip “I would recommend to all the women who spend so much time and money on hair and fashion to go work out in the gym.”

Wardrobe staple “White shirts that I can wear to a board meeting or to a soccer game and then go for dinner after. I love the clean cotton ones from Calvin Klein as well as the stunning white silk blouses from Rakesh Agarvwal.”

Big passion “Now that I have a 26 inch waist, I love belts. I have a broad Fendi belt, a Gucci belt with a silver buckle and gold body and a gorgeous antique gold one that I bought on holiday in Thailand.”

Kalyani Chawla
VERSATILE MODERNISTA

Dior Diva “Wearing something from the season’s collection along with comfortable shoes are a must during fashion week in Paris.”

Personal stylist Daughter Tahira-Tara. “She has quite an aptitude for taking things out of my wardrobe and putting them together and is someone whose opinion I respect and follow.”

Fabulous 5 “The saddle bag and my black velvet ‘Lady Dior’. The Dior ‘Karenina’ now from our winter collection. I also love my Balenciaga and want to own an exotic skin ‘Birkin’ someday….”

Sentimental inheritance “My grandmother’s solitaires and my great-grandmother’s gold bangles and chain which goes down till my knees – I wear it in many different ways, knotted mostly!”

Travel gear Juicy track pants and Gap round neck t-shirts, Dior sneakers.

Multi-tasking schedule “My 12-year- old export business of fashion accessories is my mainstay. I work in my Dior office as well and help my mother with her art gallery called Montage Arts. Weekends are spent with my daughter Tahira-Tara – she is my stress buster; the innocence and purity and unadulterated love from her makes life beautiful!”

Primping routine “The secret is to look effortless, which takes the maximum effort! I can’t do without my black kohl pencil and eyeliner and a gloss during the day, but I experiment when I am out at night.”

Big passion “Travel and fine dining. I take a lot of trouble to find the right hotels to stay in and always plan restaurants to eat at in advance which I refer to in the CNN Traveller or on websites.”

Sanchita Ajjampur
BRONZED BELLE

Style inspirations “Strongly linked to art, not by casual choice but because of my past cultural exposure. An intersection of the different languages of art-fashion-design, influences that I meld together to achieve a timeless expression through techniques of representation.”

Sartorial soulmate “My indigo wide-leg J Brand Janis Joplin jeans.”

Foot fetish “Shoes of any kind – flat or heeled, bland or bejewelled!”

International quotient “It is inspiring to interact with great designers, both past and present – experiences with Issey Miyake, Romeo Gigli, Veronica Etro, Alber Elbaz and others who go further than just designing fashion, who see the modern woman not as an object, but as a person who contributes to society and wants to assert her own individuality. My input starts with sample ranges for them and evolves from there to final production of the store pieces.”

The past “In the past, I have dressed Beyoncé in beachwear; Laxmi Menon, the face of Hermès and Givenchy; Daniela Morera, art curator and close friend of Andy Warhol and my mother, whose grace and elegance is a continuing source of inspiration.”

The present “If I had to choose women to dress today, I would pick Dita von Teese, Tabu, Iman, Jodie Foster and Malia Jones, the champion surfer from Hawaii.”

Big passion “Valrhona bitter-sweet chocolate!”

Priti Devi
ROYAL GLOBETROTTER

Signature style Understated, classic.

Palatial upbringing “The one thing my upbringing embedded in me, is ‘dress appropriately for each occasion’. So unlike the barely there sari blouses people wear at weddings today, mine are rather old fashioned and modest! And I tend to favour sparkly regal chiffons without bling.”

Safari style “My husband jokes that I always take huge bags even on wildlife trips because I simply don’t know how to travel light. Not true, as a globetrotting career woman, I have travelled across continents for meetings, with one nice suit, three shirts and one pair of shoes in a carry-on bag…. But a girl needs what a girl needs to keep stylish even in the jungle!”

Heirloom chic “I have a beautiful pearl and diamond necklace and a pair of earrings that belonged to my maternal grandmother, that my parents gave me. I cherish these. My husband also gave me an absolutely stunning Cartier tutti-frutti style necklace for our wedding. It’s breathtaking. I love my gold and red zari wedding sari which my mother had worn too.”

Is drawn to Armani and Alberta Ferretti. “Their cuts and style suit me and my personality beautifully and their clothes are timeless. No fuss, no clutter.”

Mother influence “For her regal sense of style, poise, intellect and elegance and her complete self-confidence in everything she has ever worn.”

Style legacy “My sense of humour! My daughter, Shaiyra, is the most non-materialistic young lady ever. She receives many gorgeous things, but does she care? I think not. I am proud of her.”

Big passion “My family and the projects I get involved in. I try to do everything to the best of my ability. And of course, like every woman, I love shoes.”

Devaunshi Mehta
POWER DRESSER

Signature style As sharp as it gets. Tailored separates in classic cuts and immaculate fit.

Sartorial soulmates Crisp white shirts and single-pleated trousers.

Style statement Her signature hairstyle. Sleek, non-fussy, and the epitome of posh.

Colour code Black, white, pale grey, silver, light pastels.

Addictive accents Broad or narrow belts in neutral tones, leather handbags, high heeled pumps or court shoes.

Design detail Tone-on-tone pleats, seam-placements, geometric shapes. Crease-free elegance.

Subtle bling Elegant diamond trinkets that add an edge to power dressing.

Anju Taraporvala
COMFORT CHICA

Signature style “Comfort. Especially in daywear – it’s very important. But at the same time, not sloppy… It’s about personal style, rather than trends.”

Designer element Saris by Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla, Pallavi Jaikishen and Tarun Tahiliani. “Anyone would feel like a princess in their creations.”

Internationally, Armani. “Less is more, and the garments have a timeless appeal.”

Fashion inheritance Vintage crocodile handbags, metallic mesh bags, antique zardozi saris, old jewellery – “All from my mother.”

Sartorial soulmates Jeans, T-shirts and little black dresses.

Colour code “Black, black black! But also pastels, and bright accents.”

Style icon “So many Hollywood actresses carry off red-carpet glamour fabulously…it’d be unfair to name only one.”

Addictive accents Handbags. “They complete any look.”

Fashion faux pas “Poofy hair, puffed skirts and airplane wing-like shoulder pads in the ‘80s! But I guess at that point they were fashionable…now I cringe!”

Fashion abhorrence “I stay away from loud prints.”

Style statement “A bit of décolletage as I like showing off collarbones and shoulders.” Also, good grooming. “Clean hair and nails are important.”

Splurge stops London and Rome. “I love shopping with my girlfriends. The chatting, the lunches – they’re great experiences.”

Mandira Nath
BEAUTY INSIDER

Signature style Casual chic.

Prime indulgence “I love accessories, especially shoes, watches and bags.”

Feels an affinity to Manish Arora, Monisha Jaising and Tarun Tahiliani.

Sartorial soulmate “My big white patent leather Zara bag.”

Fashion quirk Loves fun bags for day (big bags these days) but “I am not a night bag person.”

Beauty musts Carmex Lip balm, La Mer refining facial and Vichy sunscreen.

Big passion “Good food, sunny beaches and my three boys by my side.”

Feroze Gujral
GLAMOUR GODDESS

Couture chameleon “I am definitely schizophrenic when it comes to style. I play a lot of roles – working with the WWF to save the Asian elephant; being Mrs Gujral, from New Delhi’s premiere political family; also ‘Fizzy G’, the ditzy chick who hangs out with the gay boys; running an event company; heading the Gujral Foundation with my husband Mohit. So my wardrobe choices could veer from salwar kameezes to jeans to black-tie outfits all in one day.”

Skin secrets “No alcohol or cigarettes and barely any meat. A glycerin and rose water rinse every morning. Salt scrubs and daily maalish if possible, because our bodies need that oil. An active lifestyle that includes golf, riding, swimming, diving. I do buy all the expensive creams but don’t have the patience to use them as recommended.”

Offbeat path “Visited Milan to check out the mens’ fashion week for a change – watched good-looking men instead of crabby women!”

Buying habits “A 100 per cent instinctive and impulsive. I don’t waste anything I buy, I’ll either use it or gift it. Whether it’s 10 rupee postcards or 20,000 rupee prayer beads from Bhutan that I wear as a necklace, everything does get used.”

Wear not, throw not “I have inherited a real fur which is so beautiful – you have to wrap a real fur around you to know how it feels. But I will never wear it – for ethical reasons. It is only precious because it holds memories from a different time and place.”

Fashion favourites “I am a total Indophile and will especially wear Indian designs when abroad. My wardrobe holds a lot of Monisha Jaising and 11 outfits from Kavita Bhartia’s Fall/Winter ’08 collection alone. There’s a lot of Roberto Cavalli right now as well.”

Big passions “Food, sex and babies!”

Pia Pauro
FREE SPIRIT

Signature style Extremely experimental. “I am not fixated on any one look. I dress according to my mood, expressing myself in what I wear.”

Sartorial direction “I love being in sync with the seasons. In summer, I dress casual, Bohemian, beachy. In winter, in Delhi, I am more formal – I love wearing overcoats, boots and sweaters.”

Feels an affinity to “I like unique aesthetics like a really nice T-shirt with embroidery or accessories that are really different.”

Current look Bohemian.

Top buys A bright yellow Fendi handbag for day for the summer and a pink Gucci clutch. Turquoise Jimmy Choos, ballerinas from Prada, tan gladiators from Dolce & Gabbana, Burberry wellingtons.

Sartorial confession “I love bags, I love shoes, I love everything…it’s a disease!”

Big passion “To open up a really eclectic, cutting-edge fashion store merchandising aesthetically cool products, fashion and lifestyle, from around the globe.”

Tina Tahiliani Parikh
STYLE SETTER

Most stylish moment “It is about everything…. It is about your life.”

Fashion philosophy “Be comfortable in your own space and with both your body and mind. Never do something because it is in fashion. Do it if you love it. A Rs 100 handloom sari is supremely stylish if you accessorise it the right way.”

Fresh finds Vineet Bahl, Gaba on the Indian scene. “Internationally, I have bought a lot of Donna Karan this year and have really liked what I have been seeing on the catwalk at Ferragamo and Marni.“

Wardrobe staples “Still white shirts and chiffon saris. I am also swaying towards handloom saris which I used to wear 15 years ago. I seem to have come full circle.”

Favourite silhouette “Drapey stuff. Also, the royal, vintage look – colours like coral, aqua, jade green with contrasting borders.”

Big passion Trekking, travelling, beautiful spaces….

Rita Dhody
HOLISTIC FASHIONISTA

Fashion, the movie “I can see myself in bits of the movie but it is never about one style. You need to incorporate the style that the script demands. It is a holistic project. My 20 years of experience in the fashion business went into this project.”

Style effect “Fashion has been the most challenging project of my life. How has it affected my style? I have just been wearing jeans, shirts and chappals. I think I will need a personal stylist soon!”

Best buy “Dolce & Gabbana is my favourite and I pick up a lot from them, in terms of jackets, black dresses, evening dresses…. For me the best buy is always something that I can use through the year.”

Feels An Affinity To “A great fitted pair of jeans.”

Day bag Balenciaga. “I tend to use the same bag all the time. I grow with my bag. It’s like carrying a piece of yourself out of your house.”

Great accessories “I love the current concept of beautiful belts. A vintage belt on a pair of jeans is like a piece of jewellery.”

Signature look “I like mixing the old with the new. I don’t like anything to look too new.”

Designer dream “I have developed an eye for things that are not easily identifiable. Even with designer wear, I would rather choose something where the craftsmanship comes out but does not scream the label. Things that stay with you forever.”

Prerna Goel
FUSS-FREE BOHEMIAN

Signature style “Boho chic. I like simple, straight lines, nothing clingy, just an element of freeness. Mostly pastels. There’s nothing fussy in my wardrobe.”

Chanel chic “I have 2-3 limited edition vintage Chanel bags, one of which I picked up when I was shooting for the brand’s documentary feature in Paris. I also have some of their delicate pearl neckpieces and tweed jackets that I wear in December with ganjis and jeans.”

Retail philosophy “I never make a shopping list but nor do I buy impulsively. I’ll see something, keep it in mind if I like it, look around at other things and then return to buy it, if I still want it.”

Splurge stops “Rome, Milan and Paris – the hubs of good shopping. I especially love Capri; I have found some beautiful and exclusive things there. I go for whatever catches my eye – Balenciaga, Stella McCartney, Prada, DVF, Marc Jacobs, Alexander McQueen.”

Is drawn to “I’m a very old soul by heart. I love the ethnicity of Abu-Sandeep, Anamika Khanna and Sabyasachi; the vintage gotas and shararas of Hyderabad and Kolkata; my mother’s pure gold and silver saris that are in tatters, which I have patched up and worn again.”

Ready and out “I take 20 minutes to get ready. I’ll choose from a couple of options, add an accessory or two and I’m done.”

Sartorial soulmates “My two white chikan lehngas from Abu-Sandeep. An Alessandro Dell’Acqua cobalt blue dress and a white Chanel dress that I wore for their couture show.”

Big passion “My daughter, Akanksha.”

Preity Zinta
DESIGNER DIVA

Signature style Contemporary chic.

Designer element Manish Malhotra, Valentino, Chanel, Fendi, Surily Goel.

Style statement Ever-changing hairstyles – cascading curls to fashionable fringes to chic sleek.

Sartorial soulmates Elegant calf-length dresses in bright hues.

Design detail Collarbone flattering low V-necks, satin sheen.

Fashion quirk Mixing designer with street. “I am not a label person.”

Fashion splurges Footwear and jewellery. She can “spend like crazy” when something appeals to her.

Addictive accents Statement belts, retro-shades, high heels and wide-brimmed hats.

Fashion evolution From sport-and-street to fashion-forward diva.

Indrani Dasgupta
RUNWAY SCORCHER

Signature style Quirky casual.

Designer element  Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Alberta Ferretti, Rajesh Pratap Singh, Marc Jacobs, Anupama Dayal.

Fashion inheritance “Everything I see around me inspires me. Closer home, I hope to inherit the stylish ease with which my mom wears her saris. And the Benarasi saris that she’s had for over 30 years. They don’t make them like that anymore.”

Sartorial soulmates Black Jodhpur trousers and a wrap dress from Karen Millen.

Design detail The fit and the cut are extremely important.

Style icons Madonna and Nelly Furtado.

Colour code “Classic black. And I love bursts of bright colours like red, fuchsia and peacock blue.”

Addictive accents Big black wooden bangles and gladiator sandals. “I love shoes, shoes, shoes!”

Fashion abhorrence “Back-combed hair!”

Fashion faux pas “Been a few… stepping out in jeans when everyone else is dressed for the Oscars… or vice versa.”

Fashion eccentricity  “I like trying out different things with my hair.”

Current obsession “I try to read a book a week. Reading is my weakness.”

Haseena Jethmalani
BOHO CHICSTER

New loves “A really nice long sea-green dress from Anamika Khanna. Separates from Hussein Chalayan.”

Sartorial soulmate “My silver and purple sequinned Miu Miu shoes. With a black or white dress, they really stand out.”

Arm candy  A yellow Jamin Puech handbag for day. Devi Kroell’s small wooden clutch with coloured rhinestones for night.”

Retail philosophy “I am out of this whole Gucci, Prada thing. I look for something really different. When travelling, I don’t walk into the predictable stores. I ask around for the new young designers….”

Is drawn to Anything appealing. “A dress, handbag, the perfect suntan cream….”

Kareena Kapoor
SCREEN NYMPH

Signature style Clean, chic and casual.

Designer element Manish Malhotra, Aki Narula, Ed Hardy.

Style statement Natural, non caked-up freshness. Kohl eyes.

Sartorial soulmates Well-fitted blue jeans, graphic T-shirts, elegant structured dresses.

Fitness Formula Power yoga and vegetarianism.

Fashion splurges Diamond bracelets. Statement earrings.

Addictive accents Retro shades, the occasional red lipstick.

Fashion mantra Cleanliness is Goddess-liness!

Favourite fragrance Dune by Dior.

Fashion faux pas Coloured straw-blond hair, excess sequins and boot-leg trousers. But that’s all in the past now.

Fashion moment on screen T-shirt with patiala shalwars in Jab We Met.

Sonali Bendre
BOLLYWOOD SWEETHEART

Signature style Minimalist.

Style statement A trendy, sleek bob – the hairdo of the moment.

Designer element Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla, Rajesh Pratap Singh.

Colour code Red, black, wine and plum.

Sartorial soulmates Well-fitted jeans, and formals by Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla.

Fashion inheritance “A beautiful Maharashtrian Chanderi sari from my mother, and chiffon saris from my mother-in-law.”

Addictive accents “My Omega watch and solitaires.”

Top notes Fragrances by L’Occitane – fresh floral and tea scents.

Sonia Gandhi
UNDERSTATED POWERHOUSE

Signature style Crisp, sharp and desi.

Has an affinity to ‘Paithani’ saris, white cotton kurta sets.

Style statement Pinned up hair, slightly retro-buffant style. Kohl eyes.

Textile trends Cotton, khadi, handloom silks. Various weaves in saris which are handpicked from different corners of India.

Design detail Temple and rudraksh borders in saris, ikat weaves, a touch of gold threadwork.

Colour code White, cream, earthy ochres and browns, indigo, deep maroon.

Addictive accents Scarves, stoles, subtly printed dupattas and pashmina shawls. Quality leather footwear and watches with leather straps.

Low-key dazzle Simple and elegant pearl strands and earrings.

Dramatic drape Teaming sharply tailored jackets with cravat-like sari pallus during her diplomatic visits abroad.

Big passion The study of art and historical monuments.

Gunita Sodhi
COOL CLASSICIST

Signature style Classic with an edge.

Designer element Giorgio Armani, Rohit Bal, Proenza Schouler, Diane Von Furstenberg, Malini Ramani, Halston.

Colour code White, nude, pale gray. “Right now I am drawn to jewel tones like emerald, amber, plum and deep purple.”

Wardrobe peek Dark straight-leg jeans, wide faded jeans, lots of white blouses, short shifts and classic fitted black dresses.

Favourite fashion moment Halston revived.

Fashion abhorrence Anything overdone!

Addictive accents Nude wedges and black satin platform stilettos.

Kadambari Lakhani
RENAISSANCE WOMAN

Signature style “On the fringe of being edgy but not over the top.”

Sartorial strategy “When I travel abroad, I go to the smallest shops and look, not for the big name designers, but the younger, upcoming ones. People tend to go to the usual places but there are a lot of nice things out there if you look – ask for people’s recommendations.”

Fashion philosophy “I tend to be simple. Don’t like over detailing or too many colours on one garment.”

Jewel box “I don’t go by designer names but each piece and how it will go with my wardrobe. With older, more detailed pieces, I prefer wearing something simple while with simple pieces I would wear something more elaborate. I play my jewellery against my clothes so that everything is not screaming for attention.”

Favourite bag “I like my Marc Jacobs bag which is elegant and yet large enough to throw everything in.”

Prime indulgence “Most of my footwear is from Italy because they understand arch support and construction. Especially for day, it is worth the investment so that you don’t have problems with your feet. For evening, I go for the aesthetic value.”

Style inspiration Penelope Cruz. “Her clothes complement her personality rather than stand out. Clothes should reflect your personality, not make your personality.”

Big passion “I create new passions since I keep changing my goals all the time.”

Samantha Nayar
UNDERSTATED FASHIONISTA

Signature style Has embraced a lot of Indian style since she got married and came to India. Is as comfortable in a traditional kurta or sari as in a stylish dress.

Feels an affinity to Rohit Bal, Tarun Tahiliani, Ranna Gill.

Shops at Ensemble, Muse, The Oak Tree….

Sartorial soulmate Her 6 inches heels! Even when she was pregnant. She can balance on her trademark heels with two kids, one in either arm.

Colour palette Looks fabulous in red.

Fashion secret Mixes brands with high street buys. She does not have to carry the IT bag or wear the most important labels.

Sonam Kapoor
VINTAGE VIXEN

Style philosophy “Fashion is art to me. I like mixing vintage pieces with current ones; I repeat my outfits often, but wear them differently each time around.”

Accessory alert “I love antique jewellery, watches, unique shoes and bags from Chanel, Jean Paul Gaultier, Balenciaga and Prada. And, I love my Loubs!” (Christian Louboutin).

Fashion influences “Audrey Hepburn, Greta Garbo, Marilyn Monroe. I am inspired by old Hollywood and old Bollywood, when dressing was feminine, sensual, romantic and mysterious.”

Wardrobe peek “A David Brooke sequinned vintage dress from Frock, New York. A green plaid Chantilly lace Chanel dress. A Yves Saint Laurent blue and black dress from the ’80s. Anything by Anamika Khanna!”

Fashion jaunts “Jeffrey and Bergdorf Goodman in New York to Bombay Electric and Ogaan in Mumbai. From Anna Sui to Sabyasachi, Comme des Garçons to Anuradha Vakil, from Karl Lagerfeld to Manish Arora”, the list of coveted designers is almost endless.

Beauty secrets “Sun block, moisturiser and some make-up, all of which act as protective bases for the face. I am a spa addict; I go for hair treatments at B:Blunt and body massages at Sva.”

Dressed for success “Trousers and jeans in every cut and style possible – flares, bell bottoms, skinnies…. I like a simple look with them – a white vest, Dolce & Gabbana snakeskin belt and of course, my high, high heels.”

Big passion “Art and paintings. And books, loads of them. I reread The Unbearable Lightness of Being time and again.”

Bindu Vadera
HAUTE HOMEMAKER

Signature style Simple, elegant, understated. “I don’t like to wear things that are easily recognisable.”

Custom made “I sit down with Tarun (Tahiliani) and he designs my saris for me exactly as I like them. He knows exactly what kind of blouses I like, which fabrics I like and he drapes them on me and styles them.”

Feels an affinity to Donna Karan. “My whole cupboard is full of Donna – from simple linens for the day to beautiful long dresses with gold embellishments for the evening.”

Evening glam dresses and saris. “I never wear salwar kurtas.”

Day carry-on A beige Prada bag. “I am not into anything too branded.”

Evening shine “Burberry clutch and with saris, pouches by Surekha Jain.”

Big passion “Discovering new places.”

Queenie Dhody
TSARINA OF GLAM

Style philosophy “It’s totally not about what you do…. It’s more about how you do it.”

Signature look “Over the years, I have not had a signature style – I have always been very experimental. But I have to say, I am very comfortable in glamour. I can be in jeans and T-shirts but I am more attracted to glamour.”

Sartorial exploration “In the last one year, we have seen so many new designers with so much creativity that I am exploring that and having a lot of fun. These designers have sown their souls into fashion and it is really exciting to see Indian fashion taking on new heights.”

New designers “I like very glamorous designers like Rakesh Agarvwal and Nachiket Barve is extremely talented. Internationally, I have recently gone into Cavalli and Dolce & Gabbana.”

Fitness routine Power yoga three times a week.

Prime indulgence “Clothes, shoes, bags, jewellery…it’s terrible…I just love it all.”

Big Passion “I melt when I see a great piece of jewellery.”

Parmeshwar Godrej
ICONIC DIVA

Signature style Daring, unique, inimitable, forever young.

Sartorial asset An hourglass figure that slides into couture effortlessly.

Most stylish accessory Her phone book which is a roll call of the international who’s who.

Famous for Her legendary parties and international connections.

Feels an affinity to “I am partial to Hervé Léger’s couture.”

Big passion “My passions are work related to diminishing the ignorance that surrounds HIV/AIDS, and the development of design and aesthetic.”

Koel Purie
QUIRK QUEEN

Signature style “Anything that’s an extension of my mood and expresses my individuality.”

Designer element Kokololo Boutique in Paris, Malini Ramani, Amii Grewal and Manish Arora.

Mother influence “A penchant for loud colours and mad combinations.”

Sartorial soulmates About 500 bikinis!

Colour code “Red, red, red!”

Style icon Audrey Hepburn. “Always elegant, even as a tramp.”

Addictive accents “Lots and lots of shoes.”

Fashion faux pas “Allowing people with a conventional sense of style, to style me.”

Fashion abhorrence “Wearing an outfit that costs more than your rent.”

Favourite fashion moment “Wearing translucent blue wings to my first ever premiere. As crazy as that was, I loved having the guts to do it.”

Eccentric move “If I’m feeling like it (more often than not), I will walk out of the house and into a black tie do in my track pants and ganji, and maybe put on a pair of heels on the way out.

Simone Singh
POISED PERFECTIONISTA

Signature style “It’s nuanced.” Elegance, glamour and poise are the constants in her looks that have ranged from Bohemian to gypsy to classic vintage.

Has an affinity to Well-cut trousers and classic white shirts. Also, graphic prints which are not overt.

Style statement A flawless complexion. Subtly impactful hair and make-up that pull together any look.

Addictive accents Statement belts – wide or narrow. Quirky handbags – printed, beaded or shiny patent.

Design detail Structured and fluid silhouettes. Great separates.

Splurge stops New York, Paris, Milan, Delhi and of course – Mumbai.

Splurge and splurge Unconventional and unique jewellery.

Fashion quirk “Bringing together disparate elements, mixing it up!” A touch of the whimsical is essential.

Fashion abhorrence “Predictability and trendiness.”- A phase that she admits having passed through.

Lesser known passion Travelling. Hosting fundraisers for an NGO that works for children’s education.

Priyadarshini Raje Scindia
CONTEMPORARY PRINCESS

Trademark look Blue jeans and a black T-shirt.

Style sensibility “Being a royal has not effected my sense of style. In Gwalior I wear saris, anywhere else, it depends on the mood or situation.”

Sartorial scales “Balance is not a conscious decision, however it seems to have become second nature due to the various environments one has to accommodate and be part of in today’s world.”

Style mantra “I’m more confident in my own style…so I don’t really follow the ‘it’ trends unless it’s something that I think suits and works for me.”

Addictive accent Her Balenciaga clutch.

Big passion “My kids and working towards realising my dreams for Gwalior.”

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