When you utter the word Hawa Hawai and it conjures up a picture of Sridevi in fruit cornucopia headgear and not that of a tropical paradise, you know the iconic Bollywood actor’s style influence extended beyond the gambit of a popular Bollywood ditty. From the sheer blue sari from Mr India, and the outlandish headgear in Roop ki Rani Choron ka Raja, where she wore a head-piece with almost 800 metal pieces and tons of feathers, to the white salwar kameez and chiffon saris of Chandni, the flouncy skirts of Lamhe and the Sabyasachi-styled cotton saris of English Vinglish — the list of her iconic film costumes runs long. And while a certain vintage might remember her best for her Michael Jackson makeover from ChaalBaaz and her katori cup blouses from umpteen Jeetendra starrers, a younger generation remembers her for her refined red carpet avatar in the later years.
The transformation from gauche to gorgeous was gradual and understated. From opulent Banarasis and net saris by Sabyasachi Mukherjee, to gowns and anarkalis from Manish Malhotra, the southern superstar had, over the years, acquired a poise and sophistication that had made her a commanding figure on the red carpet. Make-up on point, the choicest classic accessories and a stable of labels that would rival the best in the world, Sridevi brought her immense star power game to the style stakes as well. She was one star, who couturiers and competitors — Mukherjee and Malhotra — were both privileged to dress repeatedly.
And while her red carpet look bordered on the opulent, her western wear comprised clean cut pant-suits, jumpsuits, column dresses and tailored separates. From Alberta Ferretti, Dolce & Gabbana, Balmain and Stella McCartney, to Prabal Gurung, Paule Ka, Zimmermann, Gauri & Nainika and Pero — her picks were varied, ranging from the stylish casual to studiedly youthful. Perhaps her penchant for all things luxuriant percolated down to her daughters Jhanvi and Khushi, who also shared her flair for fashion.
The post-retirement movies were few and far between, but it was her presence on the red carpet that kept her in the news and made her appeal everlasting, turning her from a yesteryear superstar into a present-day style icon and adding her name to most of the country’s ‘Best Dressed’ lists.