When Narendra Modi dresses, world watches: His top 10 fashion moments

Hindustan Times | By, New Delhi
May 22, 2015 01:40 PM IST

Even as Modi completes one year in office, we take a look at PM Modi as the new face of Indian fashion (that's what the media in the west calls him). Don’t worry, we’re not going to push a political agenda, just a fashionable one.

It's difficult to ignore Narendra Modi’s signature half-sleeve kurtas (and churidaars), even if you are not remotely interested in politics. His crisp formals and that pop of colour -- from lime green to canary yellow and even bright blue -- is his calling card as a style icon, and reflects his can-do attitude and readiness to try out new things.

Clearly, when it comes to making a style statement on one his much-talked about foreign visits, our PM's penchant for wearing 'proper' clothes -- mostly linen and khadi kurtas in muted colours paired with sharply-tailored jackets -- has always been spot on.

In many ways, the world has never seen an Indian Prime Minister like him: One, who flaunts (and makes all of India gush over) his stylish Bvlagri spectacles frames, expensive Movado watch and swanky Mont Blanc pens collection.

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Even as he completes one year in office, and participates in diplomatic activities everywhere from New York to Tokyo, we take a look at PM Modi as the new face of Indian fashion (at least that's what the media in the west calls him). But, don’t worry, we’re not going to push a political agenda, just a fashionable one.

1 When Modi's desi avatar impressed in Bhutan
While most were talking about his choice of Bhutan for his first official foreign visit, others were more interested in Narendra Modi's slick appearance as he rubbed shoulders with the Bhutanese royals. PM Modi's Bhutan visit in June, 2014 the time we learnt that our PM is more than that business guy who needs to look sharp for the competition and that creative type who dresses up because he likes to; He is also someone who wears his Indian-ness with pride, especially when visiting a neighbouring country. On his first foreign visit, Modi chose to wear his signature khadi kurta and had everyone talking about his desi look, when he met Bhutan's King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and Queen Jetsun Pema.

When Modi kept it classy and classic in Brazil

High-fashion looks? Modi's at home here too, like the time he visited Brazil for the BRICS Summit in July, 2014. Each time he made an appearance, his outfit selection was well thought out, deliberate and calculated. Whether it’s something he wore while meeting Brazil President Dilma Rousseff or just letting his hair down with world leaders, there was always a fashionable agenda. So, our verdict: Fashion plays a pertinent role in image building and PM Modi has shown us time and again that he knows this all too well.

3 When Modi put his saffrom foot forward in Nepal
So, Modi has a hashtag for his fashionable kurtas #ModiKurta -- not bad for a politician who not only walks but can also talk the youth's lingo. And he knows foreign visits are the most appropriate opportunity to strut his stylish self. But what has helped him connect with the Indian diaspora is Modi's vast collection of kurtas and shawls, like the one he wore when he visited Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu, Nepal in August, 2014. That was where Modi made it abundantly clear that when it comes to fashion, he is extremely bold -- perhaps more so than any other PM before him -- especially, as he chose to complete his saffron and wear rudraksh mala.

4 When Modi went quirky cool with a burgundy bandhgala in US
In case, you've still not figured why businessmen and industrialists can't get enough of Modi, here it is: His vast collection of bandhgalas in all the right hues. And just when men's fashion was getting obsessed with colour and pattern, PM Modi arrived at JFK Airport in New York, US in September, 2014, and made sure all eyes were on his wine-coloured suit. Presenting, the burgundy suit that quickly became the suit of the season in menswear. Our verdict: Effortlessly timeless and cutting edge.

When Modi played mix-and-match while hosting the Obamas

So, Modi has confessed that his ability to mix-and-match colours is "" and that he has a penchant to dress well. We believe him. During the January, 2015 tour of US president Barack Obama, Modi sported bright-coloured Nehru jackets, something rarely expected from a politician. He also incorporates his ambitious "Make in India" campaign in his style quotient by injecting Indian art and weaves in his ensembles: Like that orange pashmina shawl he wore when he received the US president and the first lady.

6 When Modi dressed in a well-tailored black suit in Germany
Too many men are spoiling perfectly reasonable and decent black suits by wearing them wrong. But trust PM Modi to prove that the most important fashion piece never goes out of style. So while he was visiting Germany and was attending to his important PM duties, he chose to don that wardrobe cornerstone, a black suit, and pulled it off with aplomb. True to his motto of 'Learn to suit up properly and everything else follows,' his look when he opened the world's biggest industrial trade fair in Hanover, Germany, along with Chancellor Angela Merkel, in April, 2015,was timeless and ever adaptable.

7 When Modi became man in white in Japan
There comes a time in every man's life when he wants to conquer an all-white ensemble. However, knowing how to nail the look isn’t as cut and dry as throwing on an all-black ensemble and going about your day. But when you're Narendra Modi, you know just how it's done. Because our PM knows one can't be slipping into such an outfit for a business meeting, he chose an appropriate time and place to wear his all-white look. Modi channeled his inner Zen master in this kimono-inspired powder white kurta-churidar-jacket number, when he visited two prominent ancient Buddhist temples in Japan – Toji and Kinkakuji – offering prayers and mingling with the common people and tourists in May, 2015. Here's a look that kept it extremely simple and smart.

When dark shades and #modiswag owned China's Terracotta Warriors Museum

We've said it before and we'll say it again: PM Modi is one stylish man. What he wore during his most recent China visit in May, 2015, is a case in point. Now, scientists estimate Museum of Qin Terracotta Warriors and Horses in Xi'an houses about 8,000 warriors besides terracotta chariots and horses, but the Prime Minister stood out even among them, with those swag-y sunglasses. Never mind that Twitter didn't take to this look kindly, and he was the subject of many jokes and memes. (These Twitter peeps, we tell you!)

When Modi wore traditional Mongolian robe

His choice of clothes has been called chic, smart, elegant, sophisticated, stylish, modish, and much more. And all of these fit the bill. But what do you say about Modi dressed in this traditional Mongol costume? Pretty, interesting, right? While attending the Mini Naadam Festival in Mongolia's Ulan Bator during his three-nation tour in May, 2015, Modi was seen playing the traditional Mongolian music instrument Yochin, picking up a bow and arrow and interacting with the locals. Talk about creating a lasting impression! FYI: The traditional festival, locally called 'Eriin Gurvan Naadam', celebrates the 'three games of men' — wrestling, horse racing and archery.

When Modi suited up and put his swag on in South Korea

One of the most stylish fashion statements a politician can make is a suit. When it's done right, that is. So, in May, 2015, Seoul, South Korea, he showed that even a classic patterned gray suit could be classed-up to exude power, prestige and classic refinement. The supremely versatile suit allowed the Prime Minister to show a bit more personality without going overboard. The patterned suit, unlike a solid charcoal gray one (which isn’t as slimming as charcoal, black or navy), actually helped him look super suave.

Style icon Narendra Modi is here to stay: Love it or hate it, you can’t ignore it.


    Sanya Panwar is an online journalist with Hindustan Times. She writes on health, wellness, travel, fashion, relationships, films and pop culture.

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