How comfortable you make others feel in your company reflects class. How comfortable you feel in your own skin determines style. Is style then more a measure of comfort, than clothes? It depends. You just know it, when you see it.
If someone can pull off a crumpled kurta, torn jeans, Hawaii flip-flops at a formal dinner, never unsure of himself, confident in his ways, delightful in a conversation, it’s style for sure.
If he looks around on the other hand, imagining the world’s gaze on his bum, feeling insecure, naked, surrounded by stuffy suits, it’s easy to tell, the fellow, like his clothes, is an absolute disaster.The supposed fashion industry around 1,000 people in India, lauded for its cyclical, cloned fashion weeks, may well be over-rated, given the size of its coverage in the press. Style, as a strong political, social tool, remains vaguely under-recognised still.
The father of this nation took on the might of the British, wearing a loincloth around his waist. The sharp, nauseating contrast between the coloniser and the oppressed could never have been conveyed as well, without the Mahatma, a half-naked fakir, at the Round Table.
Now that’s a style statement. He could’ve worn a suit, or jacket. Those statements were Jinnah’s, and Nehru’s.
Mary Quant’s mini-skirt, similarly (or not so similarly!) probably left as much impact on the history of the common man as the birth-pill did: both being inventions of the swinging ’60s. It has to come from a guy, at this point, that women have it all when it comes to style.
If Levi Strauss hadn’t drilled in a few metal rivets to help out gold diggers in California about 160 years ago, I’m not sure what I would’ve done, waking up every morning, lost in thought, scratching my head, conjuring up my personal statement for the day. Most of us survive on a pair of jeans. Okay, I do.
Some wear nothing over those jeans. They follow Salman Khan. He was at a shoot in Madh island in the late ’90s. A shirt and jacket he’d tried on months before wasn’t fitting him that day. He’d put on some bulk, having worked out heavily in the interim months.
The crew would have to go back to Bandra to pick up a new shirt, jacket for his dance sequence. This would’ve delayed the shoot. Salman just shot the song with a bare chest. It became style, thereafter.
For a scene in Deewar, Amitabh Bachchan remembers his blue dockyard-shirt being too long. The fellow in charge of it (I don’t think there were stylists then) just tied a knot in it. This became a fad in the ’70s. Clark Gable appeared without a vest in It Happened One Night in 1934. Under-shirt business in America, it is said, went down.
That’s what style icons bring to the rack. Mumbai, you’d agree, a rather ugly city, with the most beautiful people in the sub-continent, is full of stylish people. Mumbai’s Most Stylish is our attempt to bring them to your notice, so we can have some fun, and you could even join us at the party.
Each celebrity’s profile, starting tomorrow, will come with a bar-code that you could message us, if you’d like to pick one of them as your city’s most stylish. This gives you a chance to hang out with them at the Most Stylish event on December 21.
Mumbai's 20 Most Stylish have been chosen by our editorial team, in consultation with a fabulous jury that comprises professionals who follow style for a living.
Look out for their picks, over the next three days, do vote against the barcode with each name. As Govinda might put it, that would be your ishtyle number, on mobile number!
Introducing the judges...Atul Kasbekar, photographer
Style is relative. What's stylish to one could well be abominable to someone else. For me, it’s a statement, that can tell you a lot about the person. How you carry yourself in speech, dress, manners, coupled with your choices in food and material acquisitions, creates a blueprint of who you are and what you stand for.
What I like best about the truly stylish is that they don’t have to spend a lot of money to make heads turn and send ripples of jealousy around the room. In fact, a lot of people get it all wrong by spending large sums of money, and still landing up being handcuffed by the fashion police.
Since the very word spells individuality, don’t bother trying to please everyone. It’s never going to happen. You’d rather be true to your sensibilities than find yourself being awkward in someone else’s interpretation of what’s stylish.
You’d rather be an eclectic individual than a cola bottle —there’s millions of them and you can’t tell the difference.
Mickey Contractor, Make-up artiste
Agreeing to be part of the jury was really just as easy as finding the subject interesting and making sure my schedule was free. And to be honest, picking the winners was also a cakewalk, as there are just those many people who are actually stylish.
The people I think fit the bill are able to marry their individuality with a keen sense of fashion. And since style has so much to do with personality, I picked the people who flaunt theirs.
To be considered a part of the fashionable elite, you need to be able to wear a western tuxedo with as much aplomb as an Indian sherwani, or pull of a sari with the same ease and sex appeal you’d lend a miniskirt. Of course, your style should evolve with the number of candles on your birthday cake.
A tip that’ll keep you away off the fashion police’s hitlist — make sure your ensemble is age and body appropriate or you’ll land up looking like an over-grown teenager. As for confidence, that comes from dressing and looking good... and knowing it.
Pradeep Hirani, Fashion buyer
It is often said that fashions fade but style is eternal. Be it carrying an outfit with finesse and poise, or accessorising it with an out-of-the-box element, style is that one defining characteristic that sets you apart from the rest.
Without it, one would be lost in the rut, reduced to a fashion victim. A style icon isn’t just a person who chooses to wear the latest collections from the biggest or the most expensive brands, instead the choice of clothes should complement his personality and his disposition.
The obvious choices were not necessarily going to be winners here. I was looking for people who were gutsy and confident enough to experiment with their look and dressing.
And it is not essential that each time you try something new, it is always appreciated. Classicism and Comfort are the two factors that define Mumbai’s style quotient. It’s almost as if the city screams out — why care about clothes, when you can wear your attitude!Queenie Singh, Socialite
Style doesn’t mean copying an outfit from a magazine ad. Nor does it come from covering yourself from head-to-toe with designer brands and obvious monograms.
If money can’t buy you happiness, you can be assured it won’t suddenly inject you with a dose of style.
Turning heads when you walk into a room, even if you don’t look like a Victoria’s Secret model, now that’s style.
If you ask me, it’s 70 per cent confidence, 20 per cent intelligence and just 10 per cent rests on the actual clothes. Being comfortable with who you are and flaunting that with ease — that’s the true definition of a style icon. The truly stylish people are fearless.
They’re not worried about making you happy, and in many cases, they may even revel in your discomfort. Expressing themselves through their sartorial choices is really all that they seek to do. Some are born with it, some acquire it… and of course, some learn the hard way and just hire a stylist.
Rocky S, Designer
Style is wearing your personality. Any designer will tell you that clothes can’t be separated from the person.
The most stunning creation on the ramp, could turn out to be a damp squid, if the person wearing it doesn’t have the pizzazz to pull it off.
When I decided to be part of the jury of Mumbai’s Most Stylish, I was looking for someone who could be considered the next style icon for the city, some who maintained themselves throughout the year and manages to let their personality speak through the clothes they wore, rather than just picking something of a runway and letting a stylist make all the choices for them.
Despite being diverse in their tastes and aesthetics, our winners represent the city — strong, sexy, blending traditions effortlessly while being completely modern and edgy. Mumbai doesn’t follow seasons like all other fashion capitals do, but fashion here remains
Rochelle Pinto, Columnist
It was a hard task, but somebody had to do it. After ploughing through hundreds of names, each glossier and more glamourous than the next, we finally picked our Mumbai’s 20 most stylish. But if you have a favourite, let us know. You might just get a chance to wine and dine with them on December 21.
Let the voting begin...