|(From above) Mallika Sherawat; Ashley Rebello; a still from Pyaar Ke Side Effects
He dressed her flashy in films. He dressed her couture in Cannes. He does her personal wardrobe that’s so full of pizzazz. And this time, Bollywood designer Ashley Rebello attempts the near impossible: make Mallika ‘sexy’ Sherawat look the “simple girl next door” for her next film Pyaar Ke Side Effects.
Beginning his filmi career with Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander, Ashley then went on to be a part of Josh, Biwi No 1 and many more “real flicks” like Chandni Bar, Page 3, Company and more recently Yun Hota To Kya Hota. Two international projects are in the pipeline — The Angels, a Dutch-American film, and another “big English” film that he “can’t talk about now”.
Mainstream fashion is calling too. Ashley has signed up with Blenders Pride and is touring five cities with his spring-summer line.
But first things first, the man is clearly excited about Mallika’s makeover. Here Ashley Rebello tells GoodLife, about the star’s style secrets and much more.
Mallika Sherawat’s style sense can be summed up in one word: OTT (over the top). Her far-from-bashful hemlines or her further-from-bashful necklines, everything about her is just so non-bashful.
Ashley’s first fashion assignment with Mallika was a shoot for a film that eventually didn’t happen. “True, whatever she has worn so far reflects nothing but her comfort level with her own body, it’s her individual attitude. She dresses like that because that’s what she wants to portray,” says her “favourite designer”.
Sexiness, he feels, can never really be taken away from Mallika. “But she is not just a sex symbol — not a Parveen Babi or a Zeenat Aman — she is more a Rekha — substance and acting skills.”
Coming back to her style statement, her daily look is “always a ganjee with jeans or long skirts” and the evenings see her dressing “classic”, pencil skirts, nice tops and knee-length dresses.
“I don’t think the sati-savitri look is her, one bit. More importantly, people won’t accept it,” he adds.
So why the sudden simple-girl turn' “Rangita Nandy, producer of Pyaar Ke Side Effects, was very clear that she wanted Mallika’s character (who works in an ad agency) to look like “what she has never looked before.”
The mission (quite impossible!): To give her an image makeover. “Something that would make her look simple and sexy. Clean, cute and approachable.”
Here’s how he made Mallika go from simply sexy to simple and sexy:
Lots of dresses in linen — “smart and sophisticated”.
Regular flared long skirts.
Pretty detailing on the edges — mostly lace and crochet.
The colour palette is very subdued. Beige, brown, white and a host of pastels, with dashes of pink and a red lehnga.
A simple chain and pendant.
Small solitaires and a few dangling earrings.
“Fifty per cent”, is how much of a difference Ashley believes that hair, make-up and accessories can make to an outfit — to take it from sexy-in-a-nice-way to sexy-in-not-a-nice-way. “For example, a corset-and-skirt combo can look trashy or trendy, purely depending on the choice of the other add-ons,” he explains.
Corset, skirt and here’s the rest of the recipe — but for a tacky turnout:
Red lips and red nails.
Garish eye make-up.
“Now turn the same corset and skirt around with these add-ons. It’s classy all the way,” says Ashley. Here’s how:
A sun-kissed look on the face — fresh cheeks, light shadow, eye-liner and soft mouth.
Straight hair with a slight bounce for the romantic look.
Small solitaire earrings.
OTT vs sensual
It’s turning out to be one of the hottest fashion debates of the year. To be or not to be' Sexy that is. Ashley would rather call it the “OTT sexy vs soft sensual” war.
“Taking the Pyaar Ke Side Effects point further, I think the in-your-face sexiness is passe. The look is pretty and sensual. Show skin sure, but not too much,” he prescribes.
Some more pointers from the man, to help define the fine line clearer.
Wear deep necklines but to a certain point. “Stick to eight-and-a-half inches. Not 11 or 12.”
Show off one thing at a time. “Wear an off-shoulder if your shoulders are nice but skip flaunting the cleavage all at the same time.”
Spaghetti straps are okay. “But wear a square-neck spaghetti, not one that dips near the neck.”
Try a boat neck with a scooping back. “Nothing looks sexier than a bare back.”