The Telegraph
Friday , February 1 , 2013
Since 1st March, 1999
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“This girl was so unaffected and this innocence needed to be captured in that first shot. She didn’t smile easy, almost reluctant... The nicest pictures are your first pictures — they can make you or break you. If someone is too exposed or overconfident, it shows.”

— Raj mahtani

She walked into my store one morning with her parents. Bipasha Manali , a non-resident-Bengali, had, like so many others, a lost look about her. I asked if she had modelled before. “No,” she said. Given the right ingredients, I knew she could be a super-duper hit. It’s always fantastic taking someone so raw and fragile, so plain Jane and tap into her hidden capabilities to uncover her true potential...

“I don’t have a problem with fake jewellery — just as long as it looks important. It’s not about the money, it’s about how you put it together. You can’t be head-to-toe in haute couture, so kosher, for then you would be untouchable.”

— Raj mahtani

In my mind, a single brooch never works — it’s passe and can make you look like a granny. A minimum of three brooches make a great deconstructed look that glams and still leaves enough space on your ears and wrist. It’s casual and young, unlike big necklaces that can make you look older if not handled carefully (which is why Kareena Kapoor hates necklaces). This is a bejewelled look that makes you look girlie and playful. The earrings are there and yet not there. They are large Raj Mahtani polkis — if it’s mine, it can’t look frivolous! The bracelet is a wraparound and the string multitasks as a choker, a longer necklace or a bracelet. It’s structured and sits correctly on her wrist. It’s fun to play with your accessories on your body to create different personality images. It’s chic, it’s clever and it’s what Coco Chanel essentially did in the 1960s.

There was a certain thing about Bipasha’s face. Not too long and luckily not round, and of course there was her never-ending neck. Remember, when you wear a choker, there has to be a lot of room up there even after you wear one. A choker needs space and girls with short necks who wear a choker run the risk of resembling the Hunchback of Notre-Dame!

I told make-up pro Abhijit Chanda to put lots of kohl on the upper eyelid. That extended smokey effect makes the eyes look bigger and more dramatic. We needed that rare but not impossible innocent-yet-mischievous look — I like that X factor in a picture, it’s sexy. Her hair — great quality but flat — needed volume and we raised it to balance out her lanky limbs.

The clothes had to be kept simple. The colour story chosen was basic — black and antique rose pink. Remember, the clothes shouldn’t interfere with your personality. If you try to change everything all at once, you change the DNA. We sourced some quiet clothes from Anamika Khanna, sophisticated and cleverly casual. She retained her jeans. And our canvas was clean — a structured top that had the vibe of a tee.

We let her be in her own jeans and played peekaboo with a sheer layer.

Rows of beautiful pearls, we used the necklace as a bodysuit, not as a necklace. We accessorised her top, hotted up her jeans and the jewellery flowed with the flow of her body. I wanted her to have this tousled hair and kept messing till it was imperfect enough. It was then casually bundled up.

Born and brought up in Orange County, US, Bipasha Manali, 25, has recently completed her masters in Arts Management from The Peter Drucker School at Claremont Graduate University. She visits both her grandfathers in Calcutta every year to connect with her roots. She has never modelled and this was her first “real shoot”. “I learnt that modelling is like acting. You have to become somebody else,” said she. And may we add she did a damn good job of becoming someone else!


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