Both Mallika Sherawat and Deepika Padukone walked the red carpet at the Cannes International Film Festival this year dressed in white, accessorized with traditional Indian kundan jewellery. While Padukone paired her kundan earrings with a white and gold sari, Sherawat was dressed in a white gown. The plunging neckline of the gown left her neck bare and she bejewelled it with a pearl and kundan necklace. In an unexpected combination, and in stark contrast to her gown, the necklace sat pretty on her neck, adding an Indian touch that style commentators internationally seem to love.
“Anyone can wear a pair of solitaire earrings, but a pair of traditional chandelier earrings with a gown makes the look so interesting,” says Raakesh Agarvwal. The designer, whose gowns have been worn to red carpet events by many Indian actors, thinks it’s a fabulous idea to pair traditional Indian jewellery with evening gowns.
In vogue: Sherawat at the Cannes 2010 opening night. Tony Barson / WireImage
Ethnic designs by Jaipur’s Amrapali Jewels have become more and more popular on the red carpet with celebrities such as Angelina Jolie, Halle Berry and Freida Pinto sporting gold and silver necklaces, earrings, bangles and rings with short dresses and gowns designed by international designers.
Indian red carpet couturists Gauri and Nainika Karan believe Indian jewellery can add that regal touch to one’s red carpet look. Wear uncut diamonds, kundan, coloured gemstones and minakari with gowns in solid colours, they say. “You don’t want to look like a bride, so both the gown and the jewellery has to be understated,” says Nainika. According to her, a heavily embroidered Elie Saab gown, such as the one worn by Aishwarya Rai Bachchan this year, would not lend itself well to Indian accessories.
Dressing for the red carpet is different from wearing a gown to a party. The paparazzi’s zoom lenses follow every move of the celebrities. Rajiv Arora, founder of Amrapali Jewels, says the trick is to wear pieces that’ll make for dramatic photographs. Agarvwal loves bursts of colour and suggests wearing turquoise earrings with a fuchsia gown or even a traditional Indian jewelled belt that would go best with a black or scarlet gown. “But then, go neutral with make-up and subtle with other accessories,” he adds. Agarvwal’s quirky pick is the maang-teeka. “Imagine, a slim maang-teeka between poker straight hair and a gold Gucci gown. It will make a great style statement,” he says.
But finding the right balance is the key to carrying off the look, say the designers. Stylist Anaita Shroff Adajania says one statement piece is all it takes to create a strong impression. “When the gown is dramatic, just a cuff or an uncut diamond ring works well too,” she says. For Swapnil Shinde, who has designed red carpet gowns for Priyanka Chopra, Amrita Rao and Mugdha Godse and styled them with Indian jewellery, it’s a good way of mixing cultures. While jadau has taken centre stage at the red carpet, Shinde predicts oxidized silver as the red carpet trend of the upcoming season. “A black gown with a neckpiece of green stones set in oxidized silver, and dark kohl-lined eyes, will make for a fabulous red carpet look.”