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India’s Best Dressed List 2012
Text and Interviews by Sitanshi Talati-Parikh
Published: Volume 20, Issue 10, October, 2012
 

The eagerly awaited annual Hall of Fame for India’s Best Dressed women is finally here! There are some new entries on the list, some have been here before and then there are the Perennials – those who rarely put a sartorial step wrong.

(For the complete list of the best dressed women with interviews including the ones done by Shirin Mehta see Verve’s site.)

PAYAL KHANDWALA
For reinventing herself, but remaining true to form

 

A FASHION NO-NO
Wearing clothes that are two sizes too small, too tight, too short, too uncomfortable and especially with the wrong type of undergarments. Clothes have to work for you, not the other way around. It’s always nice to leave something to the imagination, a little mystery is nice.

 

WARDROBE STAPLES
Well-fitted pair of blue jeans, a long multipurpose scarf I can wear many ways, one comfortable pair of heels and a pair of flats, a Benarasi sari, palazzos, colour blocked separates to mix and match so I can curate my own wardrobe, one wide leather belt, aviators, a string of beads and some vintage silver jewellery.

 

STYLISH ICONS
Audrey Hepburn, Gayatri Devi.

 

YOUR FAVOURITE FASHION ERAS
The grace of the ’20s, the freedom of the ’70s with the androgyny of today.

 

KIND OF ART (ERA/STYLE) THAT YOU CONNECT WITH YOUR FASHION STYLE
Without a doubt abstract expressionism and minimalism. Dramatic but subtle at the same time.

 

AN OVERDONE TREND
Evening gowns, ballroom dressing and the eternal princess/doll hangover.

 

YOUR FASHION SOUL CITY
New York.

 

YOUR FASHION INSPIRATIONS
Orchestrating a palette of colour is central to my designing process, therefore especially art and some architecture. Tribal costumes and jewellery from across the world, origami and the minimalism of Japan, weaves and colours of India, flea markets and street fashion.

 

DO YOU LOVE DESIGNER LABELS OR HATE THEM?
I think it’s pointless being a slave of any brand. You must be your own brand. I don’t see the point in wearing something because someone made it, you must only buy it because you love it and it speaks to you in a special way.

 

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ANUSHKA MENON
For standing tall in her boots

 

YOUR SIGNATURE STYLE
Skinny jeans (jeggings) a loose tee and a pair of military boots.

 

YOUR CURRENT WARDROBE FAVOURITE
Faded and ripped denim shorts from Zara.

 

THE KIND OF ART/PHOTOGRAPHY YOU WOULD CONNECT WITH YOUR FASHION STYLE
Strong and edgy.

 

BLACK AND WHITE OR COLOUR?
Both, but I prefer black and white.

 

YOUR FAVOURITE FASHION ERAS
Now.

 

DRESSING RULE FOLLOWED BEFORE LEAVING HOME
Try not to look like you are going to the gym!

 

AN OVERDONE TREND
The geek look.

 

YOUR FASHION SOUL CITY
New York.

 

YOU’RE PASSIONATE ABOUT
Living.

 

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IRA DUBEY
For switching over from rock chic glam to just chic

 

YOUR SIGNATURE STYLE
Comfy stylish with a statement accessory, less is more. I play with bright colours or lots of whites, nudes and blacks, depending on the season. I don’t like figure-hugging clothes so I generally wear looser silhouettes teamed with tights or skinny jeans.

 

A FASHION NO-NO
Fur in Mumbai! Sequins from head to toe. Red lips and red nails with a red outfit.

 

A FASHION EXPERIMENT THAT WENT WRONG
Palazzo pants (wide leg trousers) that I tried elongating with sky-high heels – which still looked all wrong because of my petite frame.

 

FITNESS MANTRA
Yoga three to four times a week, a walk twice a week, eight hours of sleep, lots of water and a happy healthy positive state of mind.

 

A FASHION SECRET
A statement accessory on only one body part. Keep the outfit simple and focus on letting that accessory shine, balance the look with killer heels and an embellished clutch and you’re good to go.

 

DRESSING RULE BEFORE LEAVING HOME
Perfume, well-ironed outfit and quick hair fix (which needs nurturing as it is wavy, thick and long).

 

CHANGES IN YOUR DRESSING IN THE LAST YEAR
Simpler, cleaner, lot more nudes, hint of sequins, longer silhouettes, more feminine. Three years ago I was more rock star chic/glam – now that’s changed!

 

PRECIOUS INHERITANCES
A beautiful topaz antique ring my mother bought with her first pay cheque when she was 18 and my nani’s pearl and diamond earrings.

 

FAVOURITE DESIGNERS
Tom Ford, Stella McCartney, Anamika Khanna, Sabyasachi, Ritika Mirchandani, Chloe, Alexander Wang, Shahab Durazi.

 

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POORNA JAGANNATHAN
For adding a new dimension to the Bollywood look

 

YOUR SIGNATURE STYLE
Things that are really comfortable.

 

A FASHION SECRET – SOMETHING THAT WORKS LIKE A LUCKY CHARM
Double-sided tape: it lets me wear more edgy outfits without the risk of a wardrobe malfunction.

 

A FASHIONABLE MOMENT LAST YEAR
For the Filmfare awards, I wore this regal looking dress from Chanel’s Byzantine collection. The fit was impeccable.

 

YOUR FASHION CRINGE MOMENT
Delhi Belly success party. Thanks for taking me back!

 

RECENT SPLURGE BUY
A beautiful and classy dress from Drashta.

 

RECENT BARGAIN BUY
80 per cent off Charles Kammer shoes in Paris.

 

STYLISH FILMS
Hands down, the movie Grease. (Did I just date myself?)

 

FASHION ICONS/ INSPIRATIONS
I love Keira Knightly’s fashion sense. And I like Skylar Grey’s take on dark.

 

ARE YOU A PLANNED OR SPONTANEOUS DRESSER?
In my head, I’m a planned dresser, but the way it actually works out is last minute and spontaneous.

 

SOMETHING THAT DOES NOT WORK FOR YOU BUT YOU WISH IT DID
Nine inch heels. It’s not that I wish I could wear them, it’s more like when I wear them, I wish I didn’t topple over.

 

YOUR CURRENT WARDROBE FAVOURITE
Combat boots by All Saints.

 

FITNESS MANTRA
Stay calm and drink coconut water.

 

YOU’RE PASSIONATE ABOUT
Good theatre.

 

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SANA REZWAN
For treasuring chiffons and leather equally

 

YOUR SIGNATURE STYLE
Minimal with a rock chic attitude.

 

A FASHION NO-NO
Tight mini dresses showing excess cleavage.

 

FITNESS MANTRA
Yoga three times a week combined with walking twice a week.

 

A FASHION SECRET
A pair of skinny jeans and ankle boots always work for me – night or day.

 

A FASHIONABLE MOMENT LAST YEAR
A one-shoulder 3.1 Phillip Lim dress that I wore to the launch of Maison.

 

DRESSING RULE BEFORE LEAVING HOME
I never walk out of the house without applying kohl in my eyes.

 

PRECIOUS INHERITANCES
My grandmother’s very trend-forward sari that I cherish to this date, which is an electric blue chiffon with badla embroidery.

 

WARDROBE STAPLES
A pair of heels from Giuseppe Zanotti, jeans from Acne, jersey basics from Alexander Wang and a leather jacket from Rick Owens.

 

FAVOURITE DESIGNERS
Cedric Charlier, Azzedine Alaia, Rodarte, Celine and 3.1 Phillip Lim are a few favourites.

 

AN OVERDONE TREND
Bling is no more in!

 

A RECENT SPLURGE BUY
A pair of black suede ankle booties from Giuseppe Zanotti with a gold metal heel.

 

A RECENT BARGAIN BUY
Leather leggings from Topshop.

 

THINGS YOU ARE PASSIONATE ABOUT
Food, art and my cat, Alex.

 

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PRATIMA BHATIA
For having a staple for every occasion

 

YOUR SIGNATURE STYLE
I don’t have one – imagine losing the spontaneity because you have to conform to a definition!

 

A FASHION SECRET
Really high heels, Mumtaz Deluxe Kajal, Jo Malone Red Roses, a blow dry and I could rule the world.

 

YOUR CURRENT WARDROBE FAVOURITE
A Maison Martin Margiela dress with a feather vest – it’s fashion foie gras! Also a yummy colour-block cami dress from Marni and an Abu-Sandeep sari with a peek-a-boo blouse that I wore to the launch of the duo’s India Fantastique.

 

YOUR WARDROBE TREASURES
My Jay Ahr gown, a Jason Wu Daphne satchel in ivory and Tabitha Simmons pumps. A rangkaat sari from Benaras from my trousseau, my grandmother-in-law’s heirloom laadli necklace with Basra pearls and Sabbia Rosa lingerie.

 

A RECENT SPLURGE BUY
A diamond ring from the early 1900s from a vintage boutique Au Vase de Delft on Rue Cambon in Paris.

 

A RECENT BARGAIN BUY
A 1960s fawn and coral Emilio Pucci kimono I got in a little boutique in Rome. And a jewel of a petit point little clutch I found in Chor Bazaar for a steal.

 

YOUR FAVOURITE FASHION ERAS
Today. Fashion is most empowered today – there are no rules and you can borrow bits from past eras. Imagine living with rules that dictated a whole era – how depressing!

 

DRESSING RULE FOLLOWED BEFORE LEAVING HOME
Madonna, a glass of Moët and a mambo in my walk-in closet.

 

ARE YOU A PLANNED OR SPONTANEOUS DRESSER?
I decide in the shower and it’s madness thereafter. Unless of course it’s a black tie or a sari moment. Then I plan.

 

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DRASHTA SARVAIYA
For her no-nonsense attitude to style

 

YOUR SIGNATURE STYLE
Cat eye liner.

 

A FASHION NO-NO
Underwear over pants.

 

A FASHION SECRET – SOMETHING THAT WORKS FOR YOU LIKE A LUCKY CHARM
The ’50s silhouette.

 

YOUR CURRENT WARDROBE FAVOURITE
Drashta’s printed pantsuit.

 

A RECENT SPLURGE BUY
An iPad.

 

A RECENT BARGAIN BUY
None!

 

ARE YOU A PLANNED OR SPONTANEOUS DRESSER
Spontaneous!

 

AN OVERDONE TREND
Hipster glasses.

 

YOUR FASHION SOUL CITY
Paris.

 

WARDROBE STAPLES
Trousers.

 

WARDROBE TREASURES
Currency quilted winter coats from my AW2010 line.

 

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SUHANI PITTIE
For always thinking vintage and always looking inspired

 

YOUR SIGNATURE STYLE
Relaxed. Generally layered with a waistcoat or jacket or something that completely offsets it. Lots of whites and blacks. Clean and crisp. But almost always embracing India in some way.

 

A FASHION NO-NO
Skimpy sari blouses with all that bling!

 

A FASHION SECRET
An A&T waistcoat with my jewellery, laced with oodles of sense of humour!

 

YOUR CURRENT WARDROBE FAVOURITE
Two. An amazing embroidered waistcoat from Anamika Khanna that I wear with everything! And a really old charms necklace that my grandmother gave me. The charms include a lantern, horse carriage, cannon, a mini clock and a mini pen. The craftsmanship gives me goosebumps!

 

RECENT SPLURGE BUYS
I’m not a shopper. But I did buy nearly eleven kilos of Rajasthani jewellery from Jodhpur last year. Also recently, eleven books on architecture, two on bar designing, three on light design and one on the future of car design.

 

RECENT BARGAIN BUY
An enamelled eagle ring from a mela in Hyderabad. It’s brilliant!

 

FAVOURITE FASHION ERAS
Men’s fashion from the Regency era. So dapper with their cravats and tailcoats.

 

DRESSING RULE FOLLOWED BEFORE LEAVING HOME
To always check myself sideways. I once walked around an entire sangeet with my skirt not properly worn. Someone asked me if I was wearing a tutu!

 

CRAZY ABOUT
Vintage things. I can spend all my money on old fabrics and old garments and history books. And also on Anamika’s clothes, but those I never have to pay for! (That’s what sisters are for.) I’m also passionate about my DSLR and Casio watches.

 

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KULSUM SHADAB
For making pretty chic

 

YOUR SIGNATURE STYLE
I tend to focus on simple elegant silhouettes and add a statement piece of jewellery that always stands out.

 

A FASHION NO-NO
Never wear an outfit that’s smaller than your size and never go for a look that isn’t your age.

 

FITNESS MANTRA
Fitness is a way of life for me: I combine my 10k run with weight training and yoga.

 

A FASHION SECRET
My smile! It instantly brightens my face.

 

DRESSING RULE FOLLOWED BEFORE LEAVING HOME
I always make sure I’m wearing comfortable shoes.

 

PRECIOUS INHERITANCES
My mom’s emerald necklace, which was passed on to her by my grandmother – it’s priceless. Also, a beautiful traditional waistband from my mother-in-law, which was passed on to her by her mother-in-law…it’s timeless.

 

WARDROBE STAPLES
A great fitting white shirt – it’s classic chic and goes with everything, a pair of well-fitted pants, a timeless black dress, a pair of sexy yet comfortable shoes… and bold accessories. They always give your outfit ammunition – for me it is a bracelet and a standout handbag.

 

TOP DESIGNERS
International designers are Alexander McQueen, Emilio Pucci, Issa and Dries Van Noten. Among the Indian designers, my favourite is Gaurav Gupta.

 

AN OVERDONE TREND
Juicy Couture.

 

A RECENT SPLURGE BUY
A stunning pair of rose-cut earrings.

 

A RECENT BARGAIN BUY
A Chloe party bag from Maison.

 

THINGS YOU ARE PASSIONATE ABOUT
My family, exploring new cultures, food and fashion.

 

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NIAMAT BAKSHI
For knowing the difference between day and night dressing

 

YOUR SIGNATURE STYLE
I have two very distinct signature styles. Day: quite conservative; slim-fit jeans, flats and well-fitted button down shirts. Night: I love to ‘dress up’; body-conscious dresses that have sharp silhouettes and very high heels to finish off each look.

 

A FASHION NO-NO
Wearing stockings with sandals.

 

FASHION FAUX PAS
Trainers with cocktail dresses à la Kristen Stewart.

 

YOUR CURRENT WARDROBE FAVOURITE
A Haider Ackerman gold peplum jacket.

 

A DRESSING RULE FOLLOWED BEFORE YOU LEAVE HOME
As Coco Chanel said, ‘Less is always more’. Before I leave the house, I look in the mirror and remove one accessory to ensure that I am not over doing it.

 

AN OVER-DONE TREND
Sequinned shorts, sheer baby-doll tops, metallic mini skirts and beaded jeans are all done to death.

 

ANY CHANGE IN YOUR DRESSING IN THE LAST YEAR
I don’t think there has been any significant change. But, I have started to wear more prints than I used to. I usually wore monochrome or two-tone dresses but I have started experimenting with designers such as Peter Pilotto and Michael Van Der Ham who are known for their digital/floral prints.

 

A FASHIONABLE MOMENT LAST YEAR
It was at a fashion show organised by the Taj for the revival of the Benarasi sari. I very rarely wear saris and here I wore a very traditional, hand-woven ethnic one!

 

YOUR WARDROBE STAPLES
Balenciaga leather jackets in black and brown, Lanvin ballerina flats (cannot have enough!), J Brand jeans in all colours, Yves Saint Laurent blazer.

 

A WARDROBE TREASURE
My wedding lehenga designed by Rohit Bal which was a deep red and covered in salma and crystal work.

 

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KALKI KOECHLIN
For establishing different looks for her on-screen and off-screen persona

 

YOUR SIGNATURE STYLE
High-waist loose trousers, T-shirt, waistcoat, brockets and hat (basically Annie Hall).

 

A FASHION EXPERIMENT THAT WENT WRONG
As a teenager, I wore really tight leopard print pants…I thought they were really cool. Disaster!

 

A FASHION SECRET – SOMETHING THAT WORKS FOR YOU LIKE A LUCKY CHARM
A little black dress I found in a flea market in London for two pounds. I’ve worn it on red carpets and to formal dinners and it always works.

 

A FASHIONABLE MOMENT LAST YEAR
I had to make an effort for Cannes this year…I wore Dior and Sabyasachi: kind of represented my French and I
ndian background.

 

A RECENT SPLURGE BUY
A dress by Thierry Colson.

 

A RECENT BARGAIN BUY
H&M shoes on sale for 15 pounds.

 

FAVOURITE FASHION ERAS
Twenties’ flapper girls and the ’60s.

 

STYLISH FILMS
A Single Man, Pretty Woman, À bout de souffle, Sin City.

 

ARE YOU A PLANNED OR A SPONTANEOUS DRESSER?
Mostly spontaneous, except when I’m very nervous about an occasion. Then I plan from head to foot.

 

DRESSING RULE FOLLOWED BEFORE LEAVING HOME
Must carry lip balm, flat shoes and sunglasses.

 

FAVOURITE DESIGNERS
Sabyasachi, Nimish Shah, Preeti S Kapoor, Marc Jacobs, Thierry Colson.