She’s an icon. She’s an enigma. And she’s that moment,” as an American media personality once said, describing a nonpareil star who transformed the internet’s lexicon to permanently redefine celebrity. And no string of words does justice to this luminary. This timeless star has held a cherished place in the heart and mind of this Bollywood-loving nation for years.
Navigating the rough terrain of the film industry, Rekha may have reinvented herself, but her style remains distinctly unique. A Kanjeevaram saree, a gajra (flower garland), and her trusty sindoor (vermilion) have become her eternal companions, embodying her personal style. On her 69th birthday today, we take a glance at the star’s fashion legacy and how her style, in all its idiosyncrasies, remains relevant even today.
Rekha – a true icon of Indian cinema. Image source: Express Archive
Star stylist Esha Bhansali tells me that what sets Rekha’s style apart is that it has remained unchanged over the years. Celebrity stylist Sheefa Gilani, who counts A-listers as clients, says, “We can always count on Rekha to sport strong red lips, attractive long tresses, and a pristine Banarasi silk saree without a wrinkle.”
A celebrity stylist and costume designer who was also a contemporary of Rekha in the 80s, Eka Lakhani, believes that her style is a testament to how classic elements of Indian fashion can be. Designer Shilpi Gupta finds inspiration in Rekha’s contemporary silhouettes mixed with traditional styles, which she believes resonate with every fashion enthusiast.
So, how did Rekha manage to create this unique fashion legacy without the help of thousands of stylists and image curators? Undoubtedly, a significant part of it is her unwavering commitment to herself. The star has never shied away from being her own person, rejecting any trend that doesn’t resonate with her – there’s no pretense in her quest for authenticity. “I have always stayed like an Indian princess, not that anyone knows about it. I feel it. It’s not just a state of mind; it’s a state of being,” she told Vogue Arabia earlier this year.
Gupta says, “Rekha Ji inspires every woman to feel like herself in what she wears.” She simply is the star who always remains.
Rekha has previously mentioned in interviews that her Kanjeevaram sarees are a tribute to her mother’s memory. At the beginning of this year, at an award show, she said, “When I wear Kanjeevaram sarees, I feel like I am immersed in her love.” Her unique appeal is not just her own but also because of her authenticity towards her audience. So, how can you make a fashion statement like Rekha and make it your own signature? First and foremost, it’s about staying true to yourself and embracing whatever you choose to wear.