When Deepika Padukone Wore a Rohit Bal Saree to Cannes

Deepika Padukone is a Bollywood celebrity I’ve always admired for her sense of style. She reenergises the traditional saree and breathes new life into a garment that goes back at least four millennia.

Whenever I see Padukone in a saree, there’s a little voice inside me that says, “I’d love to wear that.”

Wearability is not the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to red carpet looks. Many of them are outlandish, works of art in their own right; there to elicit a strong reaction out of people and hopefully be remembered forever.

But once in a while, you see an ensemble or two that makes you think, “I’d love to wear that.”

That sentiment has never been the point of fashion shows, but I do sincerely feel that a new trend is on the horizon.

What the nouveau consumer wants is attainability. Not 100% attainability, but at least 50%. Most of these red carpet looks are so out there that most of us wouldn’t even dream of wearing outfits such as this.

Which is why a look like this—which Padukone once spotted—was criticised as not being red carpet worthy. The point of these shows is to be outlandish. It is to raise eyebrows and be celebrated and criticised for all the ‘right’ reasons.

In subsequent years, Padukone very much conformed to the style staple of Cannes. But for her debut, she opted for traditional, yet modern glamour.

In 2010, just 3 years after making her debut as an actress, Padukone walked down the red carpet at The Cannes Film Festival. She chose to wear a white and gold saree which was–at the time–considered unusual for the red carpet.

Was it meant to be a powerful cultural statement?

For the most part, even Bollywood stars opt for Western couture when they attend events such as these. Can the saree make the transition from being the traditional attire of the Indian subcontinent to an international style symbol?

Padukone’s saree was designed by Rohit Bal: an Indian fashion designer. He has held fashion shows in London, Paris, New York, Singapore, Moscow, Jakarta, Colombo, Sao Paulo, Munich, Geneva as well as all the major cities in India.

To my eye, the saree had the right mix of minimalism and grandiosity. I loved the gold, the jewellery, the bag and so on. I thought Padukone looked elegant and classy.

Definitely something I’d like to wear the day my day comes.


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