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Bollywood divas who damn the fashion police

Bold, experimental, quirky and bindaas — there are some women who break away from the ‘assembly line production’ to wear what they feel truly stylish in — the fashion police be damned

Don’t be into trends. Don’t make fashion own you, but you decide what you are, what you want to express by the way you dress and the way to live.” — Gianni Versace

Take a look at the red carpet pictures of any event and you’ll understand that most female celebrities have not taken Versace’s mantra to heart (they might be sporting the brand though).

Maria Goretti
Maria Goretti

Fashion pundits may harp for hours about how style is an extension of your persona, but most of our divas seem to prefer the tried and tested stuff. Somewhere, they seem stuck in the rut of LBDs, gowns and Anarkalis, especially on the red carpet. However, there are a few women who hold up the torch of individuality, sporting clothes that they feel visibly comfortable and stylish in.

Kiran Rao
Kiran Rao

Wearing 'me'
She’s seen in glamourous outfits on TV but off camera Mini Mathur is a modern desi girl who loves her saris. Her sari is her gown. Mathur says, “Individuality’s very important when it comes to fashion. You don’t have to be a clone. If I love a trend I will sport it but only after adding my personal touch. For me, a lovely sari with a pair of mojaris is as sexy as a gown.”

Kalki Koechlin
Kalki Koechlin

Mini’s good friend, Maria Goretti who is quite quirky with her wardrobe has a similar funda. “Comfortable and quirky is my style statement. Fashion is all about attitude. I should feel pretty in what I wear. Period.” It’s a fact that most women wear what others feel looks good on them. “For me, fashion means personal and creative freedom. Our culture does not really encourage any kind of original expression. We are conditioned to conform to norms on all fronts. Developing a ‘point of view’ is, in my opinion, an important part of being able to contribute meaningfully as an adult, and more so, as an artiste. Fashion is another means to do so while enjoying beauty and aesthetics,” says singer-composer-lyricist Sona Mohapatra, who is known for her eclectic fashion quotient. Fashion designer Nishka Lulla states, “Style is a part of who you are. Sona is bold while Mini is the elegant contemporary Indian woman. I feel they have an evolved sense of fashion. I feel that mainstream actresses such as Sonam Kapoor, Jacqueline Fernandez and Kalki Koechlin, too, have interesting wardrobes.”

Kirron Kher
Kirron Kher

Talking trends
With international fashion making inroads in India, the desire to be in vogue has become stronger than ever. But what looks great on a Western woman might not be as flattering on an Indian one. Fashion designer Shruti Sancheti says, “I feel it’s healthy when women don’t allow themselves to be dictated by fashion trends. The average Indian woman does not follow fashion. If you look at Adhuna Akhtar or Mini Mathur, you know that they understand their lifestyle and have a secure attitude towards life.” Maria tell us, “I do get links to fashion blogs and read them once in a while. I have never felt the need to sport what’s in season. It never mattered to me.”

Mini Mathur love saris
Mini Mathur love saris

Brands don’t matter
All of this sounds very surreal, considering these ladies are part of the swish set. Sona says, “I love celebrating my roots and give a ‘desi’ twist to all my ensembles. I don’t have a fixation with brands but do enjoy the luxury of a few. At the same time, I enjoy donning stuff that I get from Rajasthan’s Pushkar Mela or the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul.” Sona further says that she understands the need for stylists in this glamour industry but feels that many compromise on their individuality. “When you just pose as a mannequin in an outfit ‘put-together’ by a group of people or in borrowed clothes, you’re definitely not exercising your choices.”

Neha Dhupia has an individualistic sense of fashion
Neha Dhupia has an individualistic sense of fashion

Kiran Rao, Neha Dhupia, Jaya Bachchan and Kirron Kher are some of the others with an individualistic fashion sense. “Kiran carries off a simple dress with equal flair as an expensive one. Her clothes are classy but don’t shout out the price,” states Mini. A practical shopper, Maria confesses that she’s never been after brands. “Most of the items are so exorbitantly priced that you don’t like to spend your hard-earned money on them. I only spend on expensive items that I know I will use and reuse.”

Sona Mohapatra gives a desi twist to her ensembles
Sona Mohapatra gives a desi twist to her ensembles

Yay or nay
The world of fashion is a haughty one and celebrities are always under scrutiny. With every aspect of an outfit being dissected and open for public debate online, the pressure to look good had never been greater. Maria, however, takes all of this very lightly. She says, “All of us are free citizens and entitled to an opinion. If a fashion critic says something, it’s okay. After all, he or she works in a particular space and knows it better. In case, she feels I will look stunning in something, she can bring it to me and I will wear it (laughs out loud).” Mini has a stronger opinion though. “I don’t give a damn for the fashion police as I don’t dress for others. I dislike this concept of sitting in a chair and passing judgments on the choices of others. There has to be a human element in fashion. Lastly, they are nobody to tell me not to repeat my clothes, as they don’t fund my wardrobe. I wear my own clothes and don’t borrow stuff for every occasion.” This nonchalance is further reflected by Sona, who asserts, “I have always walked my own path, as pompous as it might sound (laughs). Of course, being appreciated is wonderful but not at the cost of my uniqueness. It’s a total no-no! Success on your own terms is the only success worth having, don’t you think so?”

fashion favourites

>> Mini Mathur says, “I love the clothes Payal Pratap and Shantanu and Nikhil design. I adore Chanderi and Garhwali weaves.”
>> Sona Mohapatra says, “Kallol Dutta, Anita Dongre, Rohit Bal, Payal Khandwala are my favourite designers. I like BCBG Max Azria too.”

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