Sonam Kapoor’s previous looks at Cannes have all gotten big yeas. This time she got a fair share of nays as well. Social media was trending with memes of her dress, trolling her sense of fashion. We got Sonam’s sister and stylist Rhea Kapoor to get talk about styling her sibling and her reaction to the memes and all things Cannes. Read on for her complete interview.
How did you put together Sonam’s looks for the red carpet?
I feel like people put a lot of emphasis on getting things perfect, but with Sonam and I, it has never been like that. For us, it has always been about playing dress-up. We just want to have fun expressing ourselves and if one is happy and enjoying what she is wearing, it’ll show on their face. So when I put together a look for Sonam, I try to do it in a way that we don’t get bored of ourselves. I keep things fresh, just go online and figure out what we haven’t done before.
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Also, I keep in mind what will make things exciting for Sonam as well because at the end of the day it is just a dress and she should have fun with it! I never want Sonam to feel the pressure or be in a situation where she feels that she can’t be herself. Basically, I just look at a lot of stuff (the outfits for the red carpet) if something makes me smile, if it makes me happy and excited, I email or call people for it and we try it. Usually, when Sonam puts the dress on, she knows. For us, it has always been like that instead of us over-thinking about it or trying a million things. With me and Sonam, it has always been very instinctive, we always keep it spontaneous.
How do you decide which designers to zero in on? Is there a specific theme you do every year?
There are some people we have relationships with. We have a wonderful relationship with Mr Saab of Elie Saab. I went for the show in Paris and I saw the lime-green dress on the ramp (Sonam’s second red carpet look at Cannes 2015) and it just made me SO happy. It had such beautiful movement, it was so girly, it reminded me of the classic actress Judy Garland, the 40s and 50s.I actually liked two gowns from that particular collection and we got both to Cannes. When Sonam tried on the dress she was like, ‘I want to wear this!’ The minute she put it on, she knew how happy it would make her to walk the red carpet in that dress.
With the Ralph and Russo gown, I really wanted Sonam to go with colour this time because we always see whites and blacks on the red carpet. I think Sonam saw the gown somewhere online and she sent me a picture saying that she wants to wear it at Cannes. Sonam and I are blessed to get the opportunity to go to Cannes, she knows how lucky she is to walk the red carpet so why let it go waste? We just celebrate it.
Sonam in Elie Saab gown this year was trashed on Twitter and it launched a million memes.
Whenever you do anything out of the box, you get positivity and negativity for it. Initially, when Sonam started walking the red carpet, a lot of people didn’t get it. So coming to the Elie Saab gown, we got fantastic press for it internationally, and about the internet trolls, WHO CARES? If you feel beautiful, you should wear it. I think, that no girl should give a shit about what other people think. You should wear what you like, be bold and fearless, if you feel good, that is all that matters. I loved the dress, it was bold and fresh, it was so Sonam.
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When she put the dress on she looked like a princess. It was couture and luxury and I absolutely loved the dress. For me, it’s very easy to go and pick a commercial gown, which is figure-hugging and people will understand it. But we never did the Elie Saab gown for the reviews. If people are making memes and all it means that it is a point of conversation, that’s what fashion should be about, it is supposed to make you think and feel excited.
Think of how boring it is to look like how everybody wants you to look! Like people come up to me at times and are like, “Rhea maybe you should wear some lipstick and dress up more…” and I am like if I want to walk around frigging Bandra with a bag on my head, I will do that and not care about what the world expects me to be like. Every girl should be like that. So, all the hoopla about Sonam’s dress is funny, I saw some of the memes and I thought they were hilarious. I saw one about my dad and I thought that was a little weird (laughs), but dude who cares, you should be able to laugh at yourself. Sonam and I are not taking it too seriously.
While you were putting the looks together, were there any disagreements between Sonam and you?
When it comes to clothes and styling, we usually have the instinct to say yes to the same thing. When she puts something on, she and both can feel that it is the outfit for her. Being sisters we have a really strong connection, so we don’t really disagree much on clothes. We may disagree in life of deeper things, but that is sorted out through communication.
We used to have childish fights when we were kids and Sonam used to pinch me! (laughs). But we have obviously stopped doing that now! So when it comes to style, we are at the same wavelength. I have been styling her for eight years so we get each other.
Now that Sonam has cemented herself as a fashionista, how much pressure does that put on you?
A couple of years ago, when people started giving this label, it was a bit overwhelming but afterwards I was like, “You know what, this should be about having fun!” And I’ll be very honest with you, in our society if a girl likes to look pretty and wears pretty things, people like to think of her as stupid! They like to put in a box. I am an intelligent woman, I like to do other things and I like beautiful clothes which make me feel good about myself, that doesn’t make me stupid, that makes people who think so close-minded!
There was this whole phase when people were like, “Oh! Sonam is only known for her fashion ad nothing else…” they were forgetting that she is the first actress of her generation to have the guts to carry a film (Aisha) on her shoulders. Post Aisha, people tried to compartmentalize her as someone who is too much into her looks and some of it fell on me too because I style her. If we like pretty things it doesn’t make us any less intelligent, there is a lot more to us than jus fashion and we know it! So if you talk about pressure, which was the only kind, I used to feel in the past, I found that really sexist and it used to bother me. If a man loves cars he is not a lesser man, he is a stud! But if a woman wants to dress up beautifully, she is dumb or air-headed!
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This disgusting double standard just puts pressure on women, who want to be taken seriously in their profession and just dress down because they want the world to not think of them as stupid. Why can’t I be soft, feminine and strong at the same time? Why can’t I be a little OTT, take a chance with dressing up and still be a woman of substance? There was a phase when I even considered telling Sonam to just put on a jeans and a T-shirt and pretend like she is not who she is, and even Sonam thought of it as something that was affecting her career. But then we were like, “You know what, screw this!” Nobody should tell you who you are, just be happy and express yourself.
Apart from Sonam, whose style did you like at the Cannes 2015 red carpet?
I like women who really think out of the box to express themselves. Like Kate Blanchett this year, look at her Giles Deacon gown, I was obsessed with it! I even love a woman who wears trousers on the red carpet, I like women who take risks because who wants to be bored. You get this fantastic opportunity to be on the red carpet, be yourself and don’t care what anybody thinks.
Katrina looked beautiful in the red Elie Saab gown, I liked seeing her in such a strong colour. Also, I liked her day look where she wore the Milly outfit, it was so cute! I feel next year is going to be even better. I loved Aishwarya’s Ralph and Russo gown, she looked beautiful. Kat has a very minimal style so she puts herself across like that, Ash is very classic and old world, Sonam is more like funky and fun, so I think everybody played in their own space really well!
You took Indian designers out there too, unlike a lot of other actresses…
We try to do it every year. Indian designers are incredibly talented and they have a set of skills that nobody else in the world has in terms of embroidery, drapes or understanding a woman’s body. Sonam and I have tried reinventing ways of how to drape a saree. It is a privilege and honor for us to represent the Indian designers abroad.
When Sonam wears Indian outfits, she feels so proud. And people come up to her asking if she is wearing a saree and the way she lights up is amazing! We are the ones who can take Indian designers abroad because that’s where we come from. Abu-Sandeep are classic and it was lovely to do a fresh take on their stuff, last year we had done Anamika Khanna. Next year I want to take an Indian piece and take it to another level because the level of satisfaction I get from it is unbeatable.