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From Shweta Nanda and Jaya Bachchan to Riddhima Kapoor Sahni and Neetu Kapoor: A toast to stylish mums and daughters

On Mother’s Day, here’s looking at some of the chicest mamas and their mini-mes...

fashion and trends Updated: May 11, 2019 12:44 IST
Manish Mishra
Manish Mishra
Hindustan Times
Jaya Bachchan,Shweta Bachchan,Riddhima Kapoor Sahni
Shweta Nanda and Jaya Bachchan complement each other in Abu Jani Sandeep Khosla’s creations. (Indiafantastiquebyabujanisandeepkhosla, Photo: Ram Shergill)

Mothers and daughters often share much more than their artfully-cultivated closets. There are many more threads, which piece together this beautiful bond - from their creative canvas to style ideologies to aesthetic influences to their singular take on the dynamism of design. The iconic Jaya Bachchan and her multi-faceted daughter Shweta Bachchan Nanda’s names come to mind instantly. If the former has always penned a textile-rich sartorial narrative over decades, the latter has carved her own niche in design space. Drawing from the rich wealth of her mother’s deep knowledge of fabrics and embroideries, Shweta’s design process takes that to a new level as she recontextualises it with an of-the-moment flourish. It’s incredible how the style chromosome stays alive and upbeat as it gets passed from mothers to their daughters. For instance, textile purveyor Bharti Sethi and her designer daughter Tanira share their love for Indian artisanal techniques and global savoir-faire. On the other hand, if luxurista Kalyani Saha radiates an unmatched confidence to pull off off-kilter silhouettes, daughter Tahira’s global education and an incredible exposure to international style makes her one of the most promising names to watch out for. Tahira looks up to Kalyani as her role model in the same way Riddhima Kapoor Sahni worships her mom Neetu Kapoor for her fine and unmatched attention to detail. Here’s toasting these inspiring duos...

Timeless elegance

Jaya Bachchan and Shweta Nanda look exquisite in ivory coloured Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla outfits. ( Ashok Salian and Suresin Cordo )

If Jaya Bachchan has been the metaphor for timeless elegance in India, her daughter Shweta Bachchan Nanda has epitomised a contemporary-yet-season-neutral chic. For any style observer, it won’t be hard to decipher how Jaya’s undying love for the handwoven weaves has been beautifully inculcated in Shweta. Thanks to a polished and a well-rounded upbringing and her mom’s knowledge of India’s textiles have shaped up Shweta’s core aesthetic and style vocabulary. And not just that, Jaya’s inimitable stylistic journey even inspired Shweta’s design mood-board for her high street line. The columnist and designers shares, “My mother has been moulding my taste and aesthetic since I was a little girl. It’s such a coincidence you ask this. Last night, I went out to dinner wearing a cream silk skirt that was my mother’s when she was in her 20s. It is still elegant relevant and classic.”

It’s a well-documented fact that Jaya’s command over handwoven fabrics is impeccable and she’s time and again patronised homegrown labels like Abu Jani Sandeep Khosla and Nachiket Barve. And now that Shweta is designing her premium luxe pret line, Jaya talks to her and buys her books on traditional weaves and textiles of India. “She sends me to exhibitions that will expand my mind when it come to fashion and textiles. She is an integral part of my growth in this zone. That said. I don’t know if she’s really good with my T-shirts and track pants. And as far as designing is concerned, she is constantly giving me ideas,” adds Shweta with a smile.

Couture connoisseurs

Tanira Sethi Dang strikes a pose in Comme des Garcon shirt and a crop jacket by Rajesh Pratap Singh with mother Bharti Sethi seen in an Abraham & Thakore jacket. ( Photo: Raajessh Kashyap/HT )

A dedication to craftsmanship, an unmitigated love for haute couture and a pan-global aesthetic have been the core attributes, which have defined aesthete Bharti Sethi’s geography-transcending personal style. The shy, reclusive and low-key Mrs Sethi oscillates between a masterfully handcrafted Rajesh Pratap evening jacket to an artisanal cashmere sari designed by her talented daughter Tanira Sethi. It’s incredible how this dynamic mom daughter duo complement each other’s individual styles with their own take on fashion. If Bharti’s style picks include Abraham & Thakore’s muted-yet-statement-making creations, daughter Tanira likes to accent her contemporary pieces with edgy accessories and edgy footwear.

For our photo-shoot, Bharti shows up in a gold and off-white sari accessorised with a statement necklace, while the tall and athletic Tanira cuts a fine figure in a brocade twin-set worn with a pair of open-toe block-sole shoes. I meet the duo at their swish abode overlooking a giant leafy patch and it’s hard not to get transfixed with the Raza and Souza artworks infusing gravitas to the moodily-lit living room, besides numerous coffee table books on fashion and the arts. .

“Mom’s style has always been simple, classic and elegant so I admire her simplicity and the way she dresses, for example, her sartorial concept is often ‘less is more’, which looks elegant most of the time as opposed to something ostentatious. I like the fact her pieces are structured, well-cut and fit well, yet simple. Even if she adds a bold accessory to her ensemble, it doesn’t look like an out-there outfit. It looks very well put together. For a wedding, she’d opt for an elegant pick, like a classic sari and a bandhgala,” shares Tanira, who is a textile graduate from National Institute Of Fashion Technology, New Delhi, and also has a master’s degree in textiles from Chelsea College Of Arts, UK. Her alchemical cashmere saris made from fine Leavers Lace fabric under her label, Taani have become a rage in the style corridors. In 2015, she won MA Textiles TED (Textiles Environment Design) prize for a project on “refashioning the unstitched garment”.

What’s refreshing about the duo is the fact they remain unaffected by the rough-and-tumble of fashion trends and instead bond over their mutual love for Indian designs and craft-based international pieces picked up during their travels. Bharti’s beautifully curated closet is a cornucopia of classics, which have a season-less appeal and not driven by the recurring cycle of trends. “In evenings, I like my ensembles structured and classic, for instance, maybe a coat, a bandhgala, a nice shirt or a blouse,” says Bharti. Picture an Abraham & Thakore creation having a dialogue with a Marni shirt and you’ve pretty much summed up their multi-layered and nuanced styles. All in all a highly evolved sensibility underscored by sustainability and craftsmanship.

“It comes very naturally - the way I put my clothes together. I get to know if I’m looking good and it gives me confidence. I never tried too hard and I don’t try and follow the latest trends - because they maybe nice, but if they don’t suit my body, it doesn’t make sense,” says Bharti.

Bharti knows what suits her body, however Tanira’s style is an edgier take on that. “My dad (Sunil Sethi, President, FDCI) is more experimental, however, my style is edgy yet simple. I’d team a pair of brocade structured pants and a top with edgy shoes as opposed to fine jewellery or finery,” shares Tanira.

When I ask Bharti if there are any heirloom pieces in her closet, she’d like to pass on to her daughter and she quips, “I’d love to give all my jamewar shawls to her since she’s so passionate about cashmere. Whenever I travel and I’m buying experimental pieces, Tanira asks me to buy it in a smaller size so that she could wear it or if she’d be able to pull it off. Earlier she was never fond of shopping or jewellery, but when she finished school, she wanted me to pick some fun, experimental jewellery for her on my travels.”

The duo love to shop together and their usual haunts are as varied as Club 21, Alexander Wang, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Comm de Garcons and Issey Miyake. All in all, it’s the undiluted love for Indian designs mingled with a global touch which finds resonance in their style.

The haute fliers

Kalyani Saha Chawla with her daughter Tahira Tara Chawla in Anamika Khanna. ( Abhishek Khandelwal )

Stylista Kalyani Saha has been the beacon of luxury and high fashion in India. From Christian Dior’s couture pieces to Amit Aggarwal’s theatrical creations - there’s nothing which she couldn’t pull it off with her characteristic elan. And no wonder her personal style has had a profound impact on her gorgeous daughter Tahira. One look at Tahira’s Instagram account and one could see her penchant for easy breezy athleisure separates and laid-back luxe ensembles. “Tahira has grown up surrounded by art, music, theatre, museums on travels and lucky enough to be exposed to the world of couture at shows like Dior and Fendi. With a mother like me, who she rarely sees casually dressed, she has her own sense of distinct style which I admire. She has a knack of putting things together beautifully. Ever since she was a child, she used to take things out of my wardrobe and wear them and pirouette around, many a time I have taken the cue. But she loves her high street clothes and thankfully has little interest in designer wear. Her aesthetics are very much her own which is her personality, strong and independent and she hardly follows typical trends. She has my entire wardrobe to dip into whenever she desires which sadly she rarely does. It’s her only inheritance as I keep telling her so she better start liking it,” shares Kalyani.

One’s wont to ask Tahira if there is a memory of her mom’s look which remains etched in her mind. “There are a countless number of looks/outfits that I’ve loved of mum it would be so hard to choose. She is so glamorous all the time, every night in everything she wears, she dresses herself with so much beauty and elegance. I reckon my favourite look of mums is probably in her pyjamas with no makeup on, I’ve told her ever since I was a kid that she looks the best without any make up on. For her age, her skin and the way she looks is a compliment to herself and should take complete advantage of looking like that without anything,” says she.

No wonder Kalyani’s epoch-defining stylistic experimentation have deeply influenced Tahira’s style. “Even though I think mum would disagree, I think mum has inevitably had a major impact on my style. She’s always dressed me up well no matter where in the word we were. And growing up watching her dress up so beautifully all the time was always so much fun and taught me how fashion worked really. I remember just prancing around in her heels (which were 10 sizes too big for me) and carrying like five bags at once thinking I’m a princess until I would fall flat on my face. But no, she definitely taught that it’s always better to be overdressed rather than under-dressed and I think that’s a rule I still go by,” says she.

Mom: The ultimate style inspo

Riddhima Kapoor Sahni with her mom Neetu Kapoor in colour coordinating in black. ( Dabboo Ratnani )

“Mom has always been my style icon. While growing up, I’d see her going out with dad - all dressed up. Often she’d pick something classic from Abu Jani Sandeep Khosla. She’s inspired me so much - be it the way she takes care of her family or organises a dinner party or sets up the table. My eye for detail comes from her because she puts in so much effort in what she does,” says Riddhima.

While Neetu’s style is classic and chic, Riddhima wears just about anything which looks good on her. “I’m comfy in my track pants. and I hate dressing up. I joke with my friends, ‘Either you see me dressed up for the red carpet or in rags.”

Riddhima is a minimalist and likes to accessorise her looks with a statement piece. “Mom looks good in everything and her style advice to me has been - ‘be yourself and be comfortable in what you wear’. She always loves the way I dress though at times she does mention, ‘you’ve worn too much makeup, dab it out’. Having said that, she’s not critical about my dressing.”

When Riddhima was studying in London, she and Neetu would go shopping together. In fact, Neetu did all Riddhima’s wedding shopping. “I left it to her. Even when she’s far away from me, she thinks of me constantly. I’d get a text from her, ‘Maybe this will look nice on you’ and I keep getting couriers from her,” says Riddhima.

When Riddhima turned 21, she gifted Riddhima a Bvlgari watch on her graduation. “It’s antique and vintage, I am going to pass it to my daughter,” recalls Riddhima.

Follow author Manish Mishra on Twitter @dandydujour

First Published: May 11, 2019 12:13 IST