Notes on style
Four top musicians, known as much for their take on fashion as their cutting edge music, discuss with The Guide their personal style stories
Style ka Badshah
Taking a look at musician Badshah's videos, one might think that his style revolves around big cars, big brands and big Rollies. Surprisingly, he admits that he wasn't always brand conscious and when not on the red carpet, you are sure to find the Kar Gayi Chull singer in shorts! He defines his personal style as casual and comfortable and when we ask him who his style icons are, he cheekily replies, "Kanye West, Virgil Abloh and me?" An impulsive shopper, Badshah always keeps an eye out for exclusive, limited-edition pieces by big brands. "I really don't think music influences my fashion. I just wear what I feel. However, I do believe in making a change in the street fashion scene in India, hence I launched my brand Badfit. I try to keep my style quotient expressive in my music videos," he says.
Some of his biggest and valuable purchases are his Balenciaga, Off-White, Louis Vuitton and Dsquared pieces and he says that there is no key to making a luxury purchase — just buy it if it fits your identity and if you feel you can carry it off without any fuss. "One memorable luxury purchase for me would be my first Rolex. It was more of a dream achievement for me than buying a brand!" he says proudly. He prefers to shop in Dubai, the luxury mall haven, and is proud of the fact that everyone in the industry says that he made Balenciaga popular in India, which might be true as he is often seen in logo jackets (remember the Koffee with Karan episode?) and luxe street-style pieces from the brand. His weakness: jackets and sunglasses.
STYLE MANTRA: Be confident of what you are wearing and you will be able to carry it off.
Quite naturally, Naezy
It's no secret that rapper Naezy (real name: Naved Shaikh) likes to rap about life in the gullies of Mumbai and defines his style as classic street. "I look up to old school and new rappers to strike a balance. My style is mainly western, but I used to shine in a kurta suit too, before getting into rap. Things that I write reflect my personal style. I get in with the rhythm, which separates me from other rappers," says the Aafat hit-maker. Naezy reveals that he shares an equal amount of passion for music and fashion, and they go hand-in-hand. But before he could afford to buy the biggest brands, he would scout the malls in Mumbai for the latest affordable pieces. "I would also buy cheap branded second-hand clothes. I always had a unique fashion sense and used to dig places like Fort, Fashion Street, Colaba Causeway and Bandra's Linking Road. Mumbai is a cool place to shop for the latest trends," says the true Mumbai boy. Now that he performs across the world, he also loves to shop in Dubai and London and confesses that he spends half of what he earns on fashion. "Brands amuse me. That's why I only wear such clothes. I love sneakers and sunglasses," he says. He might have many big labels in his closet today, but there is one item that he cherishes the most — a pair of Diesel jeans, "I was about to launch Aafat Waapas at the Wankhade Stadium this year; it was a big day for me. So, I bought a pair for close to `50,000!"
STYLE MANTRA: Wear what defines you and be subtle in your approach. Keep it minimal, rough and natural.
Dad's the way
When it comes to musician Benny Dayal, one always knows that he will make a statement. "I like to keep it fresh and wild, but disciplined," he says about his flamboyant style. Often seen in dapper suits (even purple ones that would make Prince proud), Dayal credits his style sense to his father, who worked at a British company in Abu Dhabi. "My dad was always well-groomed. He worked around foreigners, whose work culture was characterised by sharp suits, a focus on shoes, and how you wore the tie. That's what he instilled in me," he reveals.
When we inquire about his love for statement spectacles, he says he picks the dominating ones so that his "head looks proportionate"! He has about five good pairs.
"I have learnt a lot from Troy Costa. The way he makes suits and tuxes is unique. And music has helped me find my style, so for me there is no one like Michael Jackson. I also love Justin Timberlake's style. He has a dope sense, which is casual but neat. And by following him, I also discovered Tom Ford, because of my love for suits," says Dayal. He is a sneakerhead and isn't afraid to experiment with colour, especially the '80s synth pop shades, and recently bought a pair of pink and indigo Nike shoes.
STYLE MANTRA: Always alter store-bought pieces to fit you perfectly. I only use coconut oil for my beard.
Singer Raja Kumari is proud of her roots, and isn't afraid to show it. That's why, be it at the red carpet of a big music awards night in LA or at a local pub in Bandra, Kumari always has a bindi in place. She says that being away from India during her childhood made her want to connect with the country more, and fashion was the perfect bridge. So her style statement till today remains colourful, cultural and bold, with jewellery always being the focus of her outfit. "Even if I am dressed casually, I will wear an Eye of Ra pendant as I always like to wear pieces that mean something to me," says the City Slums singer. As for her love of bindis and bold make-up, she credits it to her roots as a classical Indian dancer. "I feel a bindi makes my face look symmetrical, and I am obsessed with symmetry. When you get ready as a Bharatanatyam dancer, there is always so much make-up, hair, jewellery, flowers — it's been like that for me since I was six years old," she says. Also, not many know that she is a DIY queen, and you will often see her scouting for cool fabrics in Khar, especially at Saroj Fabrics. "I also like to repurpose things. I turned a shawl I bought from an airport gift shop into a jacket, and a lehenga I wore for my brother's wedding into a cape. Even if I repeat an outfit, I wear it differently every time. A simple DIY you could do is cut a cool print from a T-shirt and stitch it on a jacket," says the musician, who has a sneaker collection of over 200 branded pairs, which she keeps catalogued. She loves wearing Indian designers and feels we have the best textiles and craftsmen in the world.
STYLE MANTRA: Have fun and be free. Fashion is an expression of yourself. If you like a piece but are unsure, try it and think about how you can make it your own.
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