Rhea Kapoor has never played by the rules, whether it is the distinctive sartorial choices she’s made for sister Sonam Kapoor Ahuja on the red carpet, or the women-led, chancy movies she’s put her weight (and money) behind as one of the youngest producers in Bollywood.
Among the various hats she’s busy wearing at the moment, the newest is playing muse to designer Anamika Khanna for the 15th edition of the Blenders Pride Fashion Tour. We caught up with the ultimate #BossBabe to ask about the fashion hacks she swears by, rookie mistakes she’s guilty of, and why she loves a certain Lady Dorris’ old jackets.
Photograph: Kunaal Bose
Cosmo: Tell us about your association with the latest Blenders Pride Fashion Tour?
Rhea Kapoor: “It’s such a great platform for the industry, and it’s always interesting to see how innovatively they put fashion out there. This time, they have some incredible designers on board, like Anamika Khanna, Abu Jani Sandeep Khosla, and Manish Malhotra—all so different from each other. I work with Anamika a lot, but I’m her muse here, which is something new for both of us...I’m usually behind the scene, so it’s an honour, really.”
C: And who is your style muse?
RK: “Sonam [Kapoor Ahuja], always! Not because she’s my sister, but because she’s genuinely happy to experiment. And that comes across in the way that she carries her clothes. I admire stylists, too. Samantha McMillen, for instance, is fantastic. She’s done such great work with the Fanning sisters [actors, Dakota and Elle]. So is Law Roach. But my ultimate style icon is Rihanna. She’s the only person who can make me starstruck.”
C: Got a favourite trend?
RK: “Exaggerated shapes—big shoulders, small waist, big hips, cinched ankles. They work well for most female bodies. The trend encourages you to layer, a lot. So go for bigger jackets over tighter shirts, with tight jeans or pants, and, maybe, even big skirts over pants.”
C: And a fashion hack?
RK: “Yes: be aware of the smallest part of your waist, and use outfits and accessories to enhance it.”
C: Any purchases that you regret?
RK: “Not really. I only buy things that I really love. But I do have one regret: not storing my old stuff better. Some of my most prized purchases are from when I was in college, around 2008. I had just started collecting vintage clothes. Today, they must be worth a bomb, but I had bought them from thrift stores, or second hand, for almost no money. I’d just throw them in my closet, not realising their value. Now I wish I had archived them better.”
C: You do advocate buying pre-loved stuff...
RK: “I’m obsessed with it. Because of my mom, I’ve had an affinity for fashion from a very young age. And gradually, I found that the best thing about shopping vintage or second-hand is that you buy what you genuinely like; it’s not trend-driven. You walk into a store and pick up what you get pulled towards. I love that idea! Also, there’s something very sentimental about pre-loved goods, that makes owning them special. Like, I have all these old coats and jackets from the ’50s that have women’s names initialled on them. Three of them belong to someone called Lady Dorris. I don’t know who she was, except that she lived somewhere in America. But she had great taste in clothes and now I’m enjoying them.”
C: What are a few must-haves in a woman’s wardrobe?
RK: “The first is always the right underclothes. Many women don’t realise it, but lingerie can truly make or break your outfit. Then, everybody needs a pair of good black trousers; a black blazer; a white shirt; some well-fitting, basic tees; a pair of jeans that you can wear anytime: when you feel fat, thin, bloated, unbloated, whenever; and a pair of flat shoes, depending on your vibe—I like flat boots, you can like sneakers, ballet flats, etc. Finally comes a must-do: never skip your skin and haircare routine...”
C: ...can you tell us about your routine?
RK: “I cleanse and moisturise my skin every day, and use a hydrating mask twice a week. I used to get a lot of milia and whiteheads earlier because I barely exfoliated, but now I do it about three times a week. My only flaw is that sometimes I forget to remove my make-up, but I’m improving there, too. For hair, I’m very particular about the products I use, and don’t really mess around much. I’ve never coloured it, and rarely blow-dry it.”
C: What’s your go-to outfit for a date night?
RK: “High-waist jeans, a crop top or tee under a shirt, and boots.”
C: And for a day out with friends?
RK: “I love midi-skirts, with a lot of volume...I’m a romantic like that, and enjoy the drama of the ’40s and ’50s. So it’ll have to be a giant, poofy skirt.”
C: Any rookie mistakes?
RK: “I taught myself make-up, so I’d often over-powder. Also, I never filled my eyebrows, and used a foundation that was too light for my face—like most Indian women do—and would end up looking super-white.”
C: Finally, your advice to Cosmo readers...
RK: “Stay inspired, be confident, have fun, and don’t take life too seriously.”