She might have spent her first salary on a Gucci belt, but actor Ira Dubey believes that style is something personal. She tells Ananya Ghosh that she would rather mix and match brands with lesser-known labels than look like a clone of someone else
The stage has always been Ira Dubey's friend. After all, the 30-year-old actor is theatre veteran Lillete Dubey's daughter. After studying theatre at the Yale School of Drama, she established herself as an intelligent and talented actor back home in India, with movies such as The President is Coming and Aisha and plays such as 9 Parts of Desire. And each time we have spotted her at events and social gatherings, the young lady's casual and cool style of dressing has always caught our attention.
Ira in her favourite Sunaina Puri LBD. Pics/Datta Kumbhar
When we meet the actor at her Cuffe Parade residence on a Sunday afternoon, Ira has just returned from walking the ramp for a jewellery brand. In her tattered jeans and casual top, the only giveaway that she was out being a clotheshorse is that she's still not parted with her stilletos. Over the top is not her style and she stresses on that. According to her, style should be individualistic. "Clothes are an extension of who I am. What is the point of looking like carbon copies of each other?" she asks.
Not a brand junkie
Ira's favourite labels include international names such as Tom Ford, Gucci, Elie Saab and adores Isabel Marant. Closer to home, Indian designers including Anamika Khanna, Rohit Gandhi, Anand Kabra and Sabyasachi among others. However, she refuses to call herself a brand junkie.
"I don't believe in being covered from head to toe in labels. I appreciate the value, artistry and durability of luxury products, but I enjoy using them when it is affordable. I have never followed the philosophy that you need to own X,Y,Z to be considered 'fashionable'," she adds. However, she does reveal that a large chunk of her first salary was spent on a Gucci belt! "I was just out of college then. But it took me almost six months to muster the courage to go up to mom and tell her what I had done," she laughs.
Ira had picked up this funky jacket from a local Hong Kong boutique
Exclusivity matters to her more than brand names. "I look for the unusual, unique and the eclectic, while shopping. I might pick a dress from a small but exclusive store and pair it with chappals from Colaba Causeway and an interesting bag to create my own look," she says.
Comfortable yet stylish
Cotton pajamas, tracks, vests, shorts and jeans are her go-to clothes. However, she doesn't shy away from a little experimentation once in a while. "I like to keep it simple but I do play with my style even if it is casual because I enjoy fashion. In recent times, I have moved from bright colours and prints, and feminine tailoring to more structured and monochrome clothes. But what I wear varies with the occasion and my mood.
I believe less is more and usually add a statement element—it can either be an accessory or a dash of bold colour. So, even if it is jeans, I will throw in a pair of colourful mojaris with it," the actor says.
She loves high street shopping for basics and although Zara, Topshop, H&M are her all-time favourites, Ira likes to pick up items from local designer shops abroad. "Recently, I stumbled upon a versatile Isabel Marant dress at a local shop in Hong Kong. Last year, when I was in New York for my acting course, I had picked up some lovely vintage dresses, clutches and earrings from the local boutiques. I bought a pair of earrings originally priced at 150 dollars, for a mere 30 dollars!" she tell us. But, a true-blue Mumbaikar, her wardrobe sees copious contributions from Colaba Causeway.
Ira loves to pick up interesting pieces of jewellery whenever she travels and her collection is a mix of quirky and classy
Mum is the word!
Having a mother like Lillete ensures that Ira has access to her mother's wardrobe, consisting of beautiful sarees. "I often raid my mom's wardrobe for vintage stuff. She has hundreds of sarees. My sister Neha and I often pull out one of those and pair it with a contemporary Anamika Khanna or Sabyasachi blouse. I have an Indo-western shirt kurta from Anamika which I absolutely love," she says. When it comes to Indian clothes, she likes creations by Rakesh Agarwal, Tarun Tahiliani, Monisha Jaisingh, Ritika Mirchandani, and Shehla Khan. "I like feminine, classic, and striking Indian clothes. Again, less is more!" she says with a smile.
She loves elegant pieces
Ira is not shy to profess her love for accessories. According to her, accessories can make or break a look. From BCBG to Chanel to local boutiques like Amrapali, Bombay Electric, Bungalow 8 and items off the street, her collection is a quirky mix. "Whenever I travel, I keep my eyes open for pieces that are unique or something that really stands out. Also, I always stack up on gold and silver jewellery, which goes with everything. And for semi-precious stuff, you have enough options closer home," she adds.
Talk about shoes and she fishes out her current favourites — a leopard print Louboutins. But she is quick to point out: "It's an iconic brand but good only if you are wearing it for a brief period. We don't realise how damaging heels can be. Shoes, like clothes, need to be comfortable." Ira is big on mojaris and often picks them up from Amritsar and Delhi. "Gossip and Joy Shoes are my favourites for jewelled flats which are a great way to add a bling quotient to a look," she says.
Her taste for shoes range from comfortable Amritsari mojaris (centre) to sky-high Louboutins (left) and sneakers (right)
However, the actor confesses that she has a soft corner for pointy toes, strappy sandals and peep toe pumps. "I'm not a wedges or small heels person. It's usually flats or sky-high heels. My favourite brands include Steve Madden, River Island and Salvatore Ferragamo. I would love to own a pair of Lanvin ballet flats and a pair of Nicholas Kirkwood heels," she says wistfully.
She's got it in her 'jeans'
Like mom, I too am a denim person. I am petite and that means I have to look really hard for a good fit. The distressed pair I am wearing is by Diesel and they are very comfortable yet fashionable. The green casual top is by Pinkyotto. It is part of a set and has a maxi skirt of the same colour with it. But I mix and match it with other stuff. Green is my favourite colour and somehow I believe it is lucky for me! These gold and tan Aldo sandals are among my current favourites and add a dash of bling to the look. The neckpiece is from a local Hong Kong boutique.
Black is back
I love this Tommy Hilfiger A-line silk shirt. It is very light and has a lovely fit. The leather detailing on the neck is very in these days. You can either tuck it in or wear it casually. I feel a black skirt, like the little black dress, is a must-have in any girl's closet. You can pair it up with anything. The one I am wearing is by Bebe. To add a little bling, I have thrown in a chunky Zara neckpiece and these earrings are by BCBG.
We Indians tend to go a bit OTT when it comes to ethnic wear. I usually opt for sarees for traditional events. But I picked this one as I have designed it and it is just the kind of stuff I like—not too gorgeous or heavy. The gold and nude combination complements my skin and the lace and net makes it classy, feminine and soft. With it I have worn polki earrings from Amrapali (which I have flicked from my sister). The nude shoes are by Zara.
These are a few of my favourite things
This Herve Leger hot pink bandage dress is my current favourite. It fits me like a glove! Apart from this, there are three diamond bands on my finger that I seldom part with — one I got from my grand mum, the second was 'gifted' (well I actually stole it!) by my mother, and I got the third one made. It is three generations and I keep them together. Also, I absolutely love my Cartier Pasha watch and my heart-shaped gold and ruby ring.
Fellowship of the ring
I absolutely love my diamond and emerald ring. I also own a vintage topaz ring, which is an heirloom
For a Sunday brunch
I would opt for either a maxi skirt in a bright colour and a fitted tank top with chunky accessories or a flowing one piece in a bright pop tone or a bright kaftan with shorts