Wrapped in tradition
Nafisa Jiah Khan is a British import but she loves wearing saris. And without a blouse, too!
Growing up in England, I would see my mother dress in the most impeccable saris and I fell in love with the idea of the sari immediately," recalls actress Nafisa Jiah Khan who, despite her English upbringing, swears by saris. Even when she was a toddler, she says she used to steal her mother's dupattas and drape them like a sari. "And I used to dance like Raveena Tandon in front of the mirror," she laughs. "That's how my love for Indian traditional clothes started."
Of course, Khan doesn't need to borrow her mother's dupattas anymore, although she could easily drape one around her like a sari considering how petite she is. "That is why I love saris. They give me curves. And if they can give me curves, imagine how sexy a bodacious woman would look," says Khan. Ironically, she owns only one sari and has no blouse at all. "I don't mind going without a blouse!" A big fan of minimalism, we ask. "You bet!"
Rules? What rules?
As much as she loves saris, Khan doesn't like heavily embellished ones. "That's just boring." Not the one to go by convention, she admits she'd much rather wear a kitschy sari with jeans than wear a Benarasi silk one. "I once wore a sari over sheer leggings with a bikini top to my friend's sangeet ceremony. The look was so rock-chick-rebel meets desi diva. Everyone loved it," she says.
Extremely quirky in her style, she thinks nothing of picking up saris from the streets. "I could easily wear a rasta sari on the red carpet but I would accessorise it well." And she is quite a jewellery junkie considering she couldn't keep her hands off the jewellery our stylist brought. "I want all of them!" she gushes. "I love going heavy on the neck and absolutely adore waist chains," she adds.
Blessed with stunning sultry features, Khan loves to accentuate her doe-shaped eyes and full lips to match her outfit. "Winged-eyes look gorgeous with saris. Other than that, I would just apply some lip gloss," says Khan who is exploring her Indian-ness by learning Kathak and Hindi. "Everyone tells me that I have very Indian face. Might as well exploit it!"
Crack the look
Doesn't she look gorgeous? Here's Khan's own step by step guide to looking this good
1. I love dramatic eye makeup - dark, winged eyes and heavy mascara. But I don't use kajal. It makes my eyes look smaller.
2. For the rest of the face, I would mostly go nude with highlighted cheeks and some gloss.
3. Since I have long hair, I usually leave it open. But I also love a messy French braid.
4. I always drape my sari after hair and makeup. Also pin it up wherever possible. It'll give you a great shape.
5. I love chiffon saris in lime green and orange. Wear them with a contrasting blouse to mix things up a bit.
6. Since I am a jewellery addict, I always accessorise. A hand clutch, maybe a maang tika and a waist chain. But, I rarely wear earrings.
7. Some perfume, a quick look in the mirror and I'm ready!
It's that simple ladies.
Khan almost gave our stylist a heart attack when she announced that she was keeping the blouse. She was kidding, of course
Sex up the sari
Drape to shape: Make sure you pin it at the right places, get the tucks in, get the pleats right and you will look like a goddess.
Show some leg: Cut your petticoat to just above the knee and wear a sexy chiffon sari to show a sexy length of calf.
Jewels forever: Ditch heavy jewellery. An antique silver anklet and a waist chain is enough to get the men swooning.
Sky high: Always wear high heels with a sari. Not only will it give you a great posture, the sari will fall beautifully as well. Never wear platform heels with it.
What blouse: If you dare, go without a blouse. Or at the very least, wear your sheer sari with a strapless blouse or a tube top.
Bikram Saluja is unfazed by changing fashion trends and loves dressing for comfort
Back in the day, when documentary filmmaker and actor Bikram Saluja was a model, he used to browse though international fashion magazines to cut and keep clippings of the looks he liked. "I used to buy the magazines from the raddiwaala. I liked knowing what the international fashion scene was," says Saluja. But, now he is more influenced by people, cinema and the life around him. "I think I've finally grown up. Now, culture inspires my style," he adds.
Saluja, who is currently working on a sports documentary, is definitely a grown man with a fine taste in dressing. His style is very subdued, casual and comfortable. He sports a stubble and is fond of earthy colours. "I love brown. I think earthy shades are very soothing to the eye and go very well with my skin tone," he says. "I like comfortable clothes - a simple pair of cargo pants, a linen shirt and smart chappals. I truly believe that comfortable clothes not only look great but also give out a positive vibe." And that sounds plausible considering Saluja's personality is very easy-going. He speaks only when necessary, but his presence is very warm.
Dressing for the occasion is the most important aspect of fashion for Saluja. He is never under- or over-dressed. "If I am going for a brunch with friends and family, you will see me casually dressed in palazzo pants, a shirt and sandals," he says. "But, if I am going for a brunch with co-workers or potential clients, I will never be that casually dressed. I will wear fitted pants with a shirt and a formal jacket." He also enjoys wearing natural, organic fabrics and has a strict no synthetic and leather policy. "Synthetic clothes are just uncomfortable. They stick to your body and make you sweat. As far as leather is concerned, even though it looks good, it's inhuman. And faux-leather is just ugly."
He does not believe in being too overtly stylish and buys clothes that catch his eye. "I am always looking for something unique but nothing too over-the-top. It has to be smart,
simple and easy to wear," he says. His style is understated and yet very trendy. But he never follows trends blindly. "Just because everyone is going kitschy does not mean I have to as well. I know I cannot pull it off," says Saluja. "A trend is just an indicator of what can look good. It should never dictate your style. Your style should be dependent on your mood and body type."
Saluja likes a well put-together look and does it effortlessly. "There are days when I will dress up in formals complete with cuff links and a formal jacket," he says. For formals, he swears by Shahab Durazi and Rajesh Pratap Singh's designs. But when it comes to casual, preppy clothes, he's not brand-conscious at all. "Some of my favourite kurtas are from Goa's flea markets. They look really nice and funky."
He has quite a big collection of belts and bags but won't reveal how many he owns. "I love belts and bags. They are simple accessories that add that extra zing to any outfit. But, I hate big buckle belts," says Saluja. He is not much of a shopper and almost never goes shopping without his wife. "She picks out clothes for me. But, often we fight while shopping because I like pastel colours and she wants me to try more vibrant stuff."
Boys listen carefully. Bikram Saluja is dishing out his grooming secrets
Wash your face: Being a man does not mean growing blackheads all over your face. Wash up at least four-five times a day.
Clip your nails: No woman wants to be seen with a man with nails longer than hers. And remember, your toenails also grow. So clip them.
Shave: Keeping a stubble does not mean growing a bush on your face. Trim it.
Dress for the occasion: If you are going on a date, don't wear your torn jeans. Wear a smart pair of trousers with a shirt.
Be courteous: Respect everyone especially women. That's the best grooming tip.
Work out at least three to four times a week. Eat healthy and avoid smoking, advises Saluja
Fit for life
Hey good lookin'
Doesn't he look dashing? And it took him less than five minutes. Here's how
Suede jacket: Fitted suede jackets look really smart. But remember, this is a winter look. Do not wear a jacket in summer.
Sheer black shirt: If you don't like wearing sheer materials, wear a classic white or pastel linen shirt.
Palazzo pants: Palazzo pants are ideal for tall men. They are extremely comfortable and funky. But do not wear them for a formal
Leather chappals: Wear strappy leather chappals. You can decide the colour based on what you're wearing. Black and brown go with almost everything.
Killing them softly
For Gauahar Khan, evening gowns offer an alter ego - powerful, vivacious and sexy
Nothing beats the glamour of the Forties - the gowns, the elaborate head pieces, the scarlet lips and the classic side bun - it was all very classy," says actress Gauahar Khan as her hairstylist curls her long wavy hair. One thing is clear, Khan is a purebred retro kid. She loves everything old school - the music on her iPod, the movies she loves and their chic fashion. "In that era, it seemed like everyone was walking the red carpet."
Khan looks every bit like the '40s divas she deeply adores. Dressed in a snug Gauri and Nainika peplum gown, she says, "Gowns are my weakness. Look at this one - it accentuates my curves at all the right places." And the Rocket Singh actress truly believes in the power of curves. "Showing the right curves is more lethal than showing skin," says Khan. "And what a gown can do is divine." And honestly, what she can do to a simple flowing garment is heavenly too.
The diva diaries
You can actually see her transform in to a diva as soon as she slips into her gown. Even the fear of asphyxiation doesn't bother her. She just smoothens out the creases, puts on her high heels, winks at herself in the mirror and says, "Doesn't this fit me like a dream?" Then she laughs, "See, that's the power of a gown. It makes you feel like a queen - a very sexy one."
Evidently, the camera is Khan's slave as she eyes, teases, pouts and laughs for it. Even when she stops for touch-ups, the camera seems entranced by her diva-esque personality. "As long as I can remember, I've been a diva," says Khan. "Even when I was five years old, I used to wear frilly frocks and carry a small purse."
She may be a diva in real life but she has no qualms about picking dresses off the street. In fact, at a recent event, Khan actually wore a dress she bought for `250. "That dress was such a hit and I am sure people must be wondering who designed it," she laughs. "I just teamed it with the right kind of accessories and wore my sexiest pair of heels. And I felt as much of a diva as I do right now."
But once she slips out of a gown, she is just like any other girl who is very comfortable in a pair of jeans and a ganji. "But, it has to be trendy as well. I love wearing palazzo pants with a crisp shirt, high waist jeans with a flowy sheer top, cute day dresses etc." However, she is also open to experimenting with her looks. She likes pairing ethnic jhumkas with classic Western cuts. She sees nothing odd about wearing mojris with straight pants. "You should be able to pull it off. Remember Soha's outfit at Saif and Kareena's sangeet [Soha wore a sari over leggings]. The ethnic-Western mix was perfect," says Khan as she caresses her gown one last time and kisses it goodbye. You can see she'll miss it tonight. n
Crack the look
Love Gauahar Khan's vintage look? It's easy to crack. Just follow these steps
Hair: We gave her a messy side bun. The vintage look is created with the help of a glam head scarf.
Well-fitted gown: Gauahar is wearing a Gauri and Nainika peplum gown.
Makeup: Eyes are kohl-lined and lips are deep red.
Shoes: She is wearing towering heels to give her the perfect posture.
Learn how to tie a rosette scarf and a captain knot wrap at www.scarves.net
Go glam with Gauahar
Gauahar Khan knows how to sex up a simple dress in a few steps and she's divulging the secrets:
l If your dress is really simple, then do something glamorous with your hair and make-up to grab attention. How about soft curls, bun on the side and rosy lips?
l Wear something blingy like diamond chandelier earrings or a solitaire rock on your finger.
l Carry a smart clutch.
l Belts add a lot of character to a dress.
l Remember that heels can make or break a look. Wear your sexiest heels and strut like you own the red carpet.
This story appeared in the Brunch Quarterly, the new lifestyle magazine from Hindustan Times. Out on stands now.
Photos: Aparna Jayakumar
From HT Brunch, April 14
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