Sonam Kapoor: In Her Own Skin
“Coco Chanel. Isabella Blow. Yves Saint Laurent. Katherine Hepburn. Madonna. Jean Paul Gaultier. And Maharani Indira Devi of Cooch Behar.” This is Sonam’s rapid fire response on being asked who her style gods are. “Hepburn changed how people viewed women in the 1950s just as Chanel had done a few decades ago. These individuals were trendsetters, game changers, individuals who pushed boundaries.” They followed no ones’ footsteps, rather, they created their own. Just as Ms. Kapoor seems to be doing.
Judge her as you may, the fact is that she does create a sensation with her wardrobe choices and her style is one that you cannot ignore. But she’s wise not to let the pressure get to her. “I’ve always had fun with fashion, you know that about me. If I feel the pressure, I will lose my identity – I choose to dress only for myself. I definitely accept a sense of responsibility though; I will promote new talent and will mix an established name with an unknown one. I bought four pieces from Nachiket Barve’s first collection; a couple from Sabyasachi’s first as well. Rahul Mishra and DRVV’s Dhruv Kapur have been on my radar recently. I’ve even approached emerging international designers like Toni Maticevski to send me stuff to wear – they are shocked that I’ve even heard of them but I’m all for discovering someone new.”
It’s more the old that she grew up learning about though. “My mom and maasi (Kavita Singh) are the women I grew up admiring. They wear a lot of Indian textiles and that’s how I learnt to appreciate this country’s craft. Phulkari, raw silk, bandhini, got as much importance as Chanel or Dior. They made ethnic elegant – maybe that’s why I’m such a sucker for Indian wear.”
And it’s the mantra of embracing the traditional that has helped her choose absolute winners like the Anamika Khanna dhoti pants and cape at Cannes, the chikan Abu Sandeep for a Khoobsurat (her new film) promotion or the Anuradha Vakil anarkalis she chose to don for her role as Sakina in her first movie, Saawariya. That definitely doesn’t mean she won’t grab the Balenciaga motorcycle boots or vintage finds from websites like “1stdibs.com, resurrectionvintage.com and frock.com”.
This is the Sonam I have always known. Resolutely and unapologetically sticking to her fashion choices. “It’s just who I am. I wear my clothes, they don’t wear me. Why must I go down a beaten path when I can make my own road?”
It’s a journey that has seen her evolve surely, but the essence of the Sonam of 10 years ago is still very much there. “Why shouldn’t it be?” she counters. “I love people who aren’t following trends and ones who adhere to their own taste. Look at Kalki, she’s always got that French chic vibe going. Vidya is her own person as is Rekha and I admire that individuality. Twinkle Khanna and Dimple Kapadia have it. Anamika Khanna sticks to her look – soft clothes with a hard element and smokey eyes with poker straight hair. Style cannot be manufactured,” she states and you have to agree when she backs it up with her astute observations.
Some things do change, as they must. “Look, I am predominantly the same. But I’ve grown up, my body has changed, I’m not a fat girl anymore! I love experimenting and I’m a true Gemini so my dressing is usually mood-based; I can’t predict what I will want to wear. I know I won’t wear knee length or mid thigh cut dresses anymore; it’s more maxis, midis or then really short. I do deeper necklines now. But the basics never change; I still shop from Equipment, Rag & Bone, Alexander Wang and GAP – I hoard GAP.” Note to reader – she hoards everything. From books to clothes to bags to shoes.
Her walk-in wardrobe is a fashionista’s delight. “I’ve been living out of a suitcase for the past year so things are a bit haphazard but I have OCD so I do know where everything is.” This almost fanatic attention to detail extends to her involvement in film and the red carpet as well. “I am very involved with the stylists as I feel it’s my job to complete my character to the fullest. For Delhi 6, we found 800 rupee outfits as that was the requirement; for Khoobsurat, it was about trendy but affordable pieces from River Island, asos.com as well as a bunch of new Indian designers. I lent myself to colour and quirk this time around and I accessorised like crazy – I do love to play dress up!”
Like her cupboards and her piles of accessories, her handbag and beauty kits are stacked to the gills as well. “Mouthwash, hand sanitizer, hand cream, wallet, lip balm, mascara, phone charger, extra phone charger, hair brush, perfume, notebook, pen, Ipod, earphones and mints,” she counts when I question the contents of her purse. The toilet bag is equally loaded. “Day and night creams, sun block, eye cream, heat protect hair serum, nail cleaner, foot scrub, shampoo, conditioner, face cleansers, shower gel…” she rattles on. The make-up pouch is surprisingly sparse though, “Lip and cheek tint, mascara and concealer.” Like I said, this woman adheres to her own set of rules. “I drink a lot of water, eat anti-oxidants and opt for facials and body massages twice a month. I don’t need a beauty regime beyond that.”
Enhancing her wardrobe with things she finds beautiful, is par for course, because for her, “Fashion is Art.” She will buy things she may never ever wear or find in her wardrobe years later and fall in love with again – “like the fringe bag I bought from Prada six years ago and only recently started to use!”
This has resulted in many a reality check from her disciplinarian mother, “who would only buy one bag a year. My parents taught me value for money; my first designer buy was made with my own earnings. When I was younger, I loved to splurge on fashion. Today, however, I don’t feel the need – I’m dressed up all the time and I would rather spend my money investing in art, books and jewellery. Of course I will buy some Dior as I love what Raf Simons is doing with the brand and I won’t hesitate to pick up a Gucci bag or two Indian outfits come Diwali. But I want to be a connoisseur, a collector. Not an entitled princess.
“I shop even now, but it’s more controlled. I am happy to repeat my clothes. I would rather donate my money to a charity or help someone in need when I have extra. To me, that’s my growth, my evolution.”
Perennial style. It defines your life choices and makes you the person you become. It’s the legacy you will leave behind. And it’s doing a great job with Sonam Kapoor so far.
Catch all the behind-the-scenes action from our cover shoot: