Style means a lot of things to a lot of people, and for us at HT Café too, it’s a tricky quality to define. For some, it lies in fashion sense and for others in comfort.
Yet others claim it’s to do with confidence, while some people believe that style is something you’re simply born with — either you have it, or you don’t.
We believe it’s a healthy mix of all these traits. So last year, we set out to find people we believed would fit the bill of ‘stylish people’. From fields as varied as politics, cinema, business and sports, these 20 were crowned Mumbai’s Most Stylish.
Now we’re back on the quest again. There’s a new jury, a fresh set of nominees and a chance for you to partake in the excitement as well. Along with HT Café’s own team, a panel comprising a choreographer, a designer, a stylist, a fashion photographer and an all-time favourite trendsetter on board, has picked worthy winners for the main awards event on February 7.
Follow our coverage of Mumbai’s Most Stylish over the next few days, enter a contest designed for you, and you may be on the red carpet on the big day too, matching steps with 21 of Mumbai’s Most Stylish.
As Niharika Khan walked into the JW Marriott hotel, she saw she was the first to arrive, and burst into giggles. “This is just so funny,” she exclaimed, pausing to catch her breath. “I thought I was so late.” Five minutes later, the squealing began again, when co-judge Manish Malhotra walked in, wearing a similar shade of blue. A bear hug later, they settled in their seats. Sips of tea guided them through the long list of contenders prepared by the HT Café team.
Then the third cog of the wheel walked in. Zeenat Aman arrived in yet another shade of blue, and proceedings began. Enquiries were made about our other two judges — Dabboo Ratnani and Marc Robinson — who couldn’t make it to the discussion, but were very prompt in sharing their inputs with us. “Style is the only change that is constant; the change being the constant evolving and influence of trends around one’s core of individuality, which is sacrosanct. Style maketh the man. Style is the man,” Marc had told us by email from New York.
Dabboo had said, “It means understanding your body type and being comfortable in what you wear. It’s important to follow current trends, but you can’t be doing it blindly.”
Along with HT Café’s entertainment editor, Afsana Ahmed, and myself, these five personalities were the panel for this year’s honours. Niharika looked at our long list. “Is it okay to add some names? I can think of several people I’d like to give this award to,” she said. Manish, seated next to her, laughed. “You’re so judgmental. Adding names on your own, ruling out others,” he ribbed her.
The defence came immediately: “I think style involves the ability to put together a look that’s different from the mannequin in a shop window. I know some people like that.” All this while, Zeenat was cracking furiously at her list and was the first to finish. “Style is inherent. To me, it goes way beyond the packaging. You have to be born with a sense of it,” she said, explaining her criterion. Each nominee was discussed — independently and comparatively.
A couple of hours later, we dispersed, final shortlist in hand.
A leading name in fashion photography, owing to a much-anticipated annual calendar that features all of Bollywood’s A-list. He’s also shot countless ads, film stills and magazine covers. Who can judge style better than a man who shoots it for a living?
He kick started the fashion revolution in Bollywood and decades later remains at the forefront. From films to TV and high society to business, everyone’s worn a Manish at some point. Now he’s going to be the judge of them all.
In her heyday, she set new trends with every movie she did. Some of those styles are still followed — sometimes as homage to her, sometimes with new-age twists to them. Always an epitome of style, she can spot a fellow stylista from a mile away.
To begin with, she has an eclectic sense of style herself. And from dressing Vidya Balan as a south siren in The Dirty Picture to decking out three young guys in the upcoming Kai Po Che, she’s covered style from all sides.
A choreographer who can tell a swagger from a shuffle and trendy from terrible. He has a hawk’s eye that keenly analyses all aspects of style — dressing, confidence, body language, charisma and several others that may skip your sight, but not his. meet last year’s winners of mumbai’s most stylish
Kangana Ranaut, actor
Never one to shy away from taking chances, she was picked for carrying off everything from a ghaghra to a gown with panache.
Leander Paes, tennis player
Stylish on the court with fast-paced moves, and off the court with eclectic choices. His flair for picking something a cut above the ordinary made him a winner.
Narendra Kumar Ahmed, fashion designer
There may never be another who colour-blocks with so much panache. And for that person to be a man is even better, hence the award.
Sonali Bendre, actor
Keeping it classy, always, has put her a notch above her contemporaries. Never one to overdo a look, that’s the quality that won the jury over.
Milind Deora, politician
Dapper and politician are two words hard to place together in a sentence. For making that both possible and completely sensible, he was a winner.
Monica Dogra, singer
Singing is an art that she’s worked on. An innate sense of style is something she’s always had. She was a favourite with the jury last year.
Arjun Rampal, actor
Suave, sophisticated and always well turned out. It’s hard to find a bad picture of one of India’s first male supermodels.
Shobha De, writer
Her books and columns may be her claim to fame, but you can count on her to always be well turned out, no matter what the occasion. She favours the ethnic, most often stunning saris, which works well for her.
Imran khan, actor
It’s mostly suits that Imran Khan sticks to at formal events, but his skinny-fit pants, quirky socks and bright ties are what we loved most.
Karan Johar, filmmaker
You can count on him to be well turned out — always. Of late, we’ve seen it’s possible for some men to ruin even a formal suit. For never doing such a thing, he is a firm favourite.
Kalki Koechlin, actor
A sense of dressing as interesting as her roots makes her one of a kind. Not on to shy away from experimenting, she refuses to conform to trends.
Sidhartha Mallya, businessman
Always nattily dressed, whether it’s a business meeting or an evening out. He takes his style seriously. So do we. It’s a great match.
Nandita Mahtani, fashion designer
Never one to flaunt only her own label, she has the ability to mix and match, and look clean and classy wherever she goes. Hard to miss.
Simone Singh, Tv host - actor
Always perfectly groomed and not a hair out of place. Her sartorial choices are eclectic and varied. The jury last year admired her immaculate taste.
Prerna Goel, former model
She has a knack for making pretty much anything work on her; a quality that the judges loved. Never over the top, never disappointing either. Just the way we like it.
Sabina Chopra, entrepreneur
She’s known to pick some favourites and loyally wear their designs, but she still manages to give us variety. For her eclectic style, she won an award.
Rahul Khanna, actor
Arguably the poster boy for dapper male dressing, we couldn’t think of anyone more deserving of the honour.
Anushka Manchanda, singer
A powerhouse performer whose carefree attitude reflects in her sartorial style. You can’t predict what she’ll wear next, but it’s safe to assume she’ll pull it off with aplomb.
Timmy Narang, businessman
There’s something incredibly attractive about a man who can pull off just about anything with ease. His polished charm ensures he’s one of those rare few.
Dia Mirza, actor
A pretty girl, who sticks to what she loves best — simple, feminine outfits. For delivering without being boring, she received her award.