Welcoming the Mumbai raised, London dwelling award winning actress Sonam Kapoor talking about the magic and wonder of India, her adoration of Dior and why there is no ultimate role
By Harriet Quick
Sonam in Dior
@sonamkapoor by Rowben Lantion // Instagram
“I’ve always had a love affair with Christian Dior starting with the Lady Dior handbag made for Princess Diana. I wore it for my role in Aisha (2010) which was my breakthrough film. It is such a beautiful brand with a history of iconic designers,” says Mumbai-raised actress Sonam Kapoor from her London home.
Kapoor was guest of honour at Dior’s Gateway of India fashion show which took place at Mumbai’s iconic landmark at the end of March and was the first time a European powerhouse brand had staged a standalone show in the country. Creative director, Maria Grazia Chiuri, paid tribute to the skilled artisans who collaborate with the Parisian maison on the signature exquisite embroideries and embellishments that adorn designs from everyday shirting to grand gowns.
“What’s really interesting is that Maria Grazia is giving credit where credit is due. A lot of the embroidery and the manufacturing of fashion happens in India and telling people where clothes are made should be spoken about. Throughout the history of fashion, so many designers have created odes to India from Hermes to Jean Paul Gaultier and John Galliano, so it is laudable that Maria Grazia is putting that at the forefront and thanking the female artisans at ateliers like Chanakaya rather than keep it a secret,” she explains.
Kapoor, who made her big screen debut in her early 20s, understands the power and magic of fantasy whether that’s through fiction or film or through the fantasies of fashion. She has a superstar status in India (34.8m on IG), while in London she enjoys a more private life in Notting Hill with her business leader husband, Anand Ahuja (an entrepreneur in fashion and sportswear) and their young baby boy.
“Maria Grazia is giving credit where credit is due... telling people where clothes are made should be spoken about."
With her long glossy hair, big eyes and melodic voice, Kapoor has a warm presence and focus born out of years (she is 37) in front of and behind the camera. “I don’t have stage fright or a resistance to being in the public eye. My parents gave me a stable upbringing. My dad is an actor, my mother a model and the bigger family is in the film industry. My father always said, ‘it is not real,’ and would come back home and be a normal dad. I was also witness to the ups and downs and knew that as an actress that was a part of the experience but having that sense of detachment helps me enjoy it more,” says Kapoor who studied drama and arts while at boarding school in Singapore. During her gap year she interned for Sanjay Leela Bhansali, who thought she had come for an audition and wanted to cast her in his next film. Kapoor insisted on behind the scenes work on Black (2005) and later moved into an assistant director role while she went to acting school. Things came full circle when the same director cast her in Saawariya, aged 21. “I realised I just loved being in the fantasy world,” says Kapoor who has now starred in a slew of award-winning box-office hits. The latest is Blind, a thriller in which she plays Gia, a blind policewoman, who is witness to a murder. It is the feature debut from director, Shome Makhija and was shot largely at night in a freezing wintertime, Glasgow. “I trained for a year to be able to act blind and learnt to appreciate the difference between acting when born blind or when that happens later in life,” she adds of the complex skill. She is hesitant to name a dream role. “As a creative, you never want to find that apex. I never want to have that ‘achieved it all feeling’ as I just want to get better and better,” says Kapoor.
Sonam's Notting Hill Townhouse for AD India
@degournay shot by @simonuptonphotos // Instagram
“As a creative, you never want to find that apex. I never want to have that ‘achieved it all feeling’ as I just want to get better and better.”
Sonam in Bhaane
@sonamkapoor by @carlaguler // Instagram
Let’s talk about your love of fashion.
My mother used to be a fashion designer and a model so I have always been surrounded by beauty and art. As I did not have the resources, I started buying vintage clothes in Singapore aged 15 and later in New York where my sister was studying. Geoffrey Beene, Bill Blass, Valentino, Chanel – I found so many treasures and for so little. I have old Alaia, Gaultier cage jackets, Dolce and Gabbana and so much more. Being 5 foot 10, I was always attracted to a certain Amazonian glamour whereas my mother, being petite, adored Japanese designers.
Being pregnant I discovered the ease of wearing airy, free flowing dresses from Simone Rocha and Cecilie Bahnsen with sneakers. And being in London, I’ve also discovered Emilia Wickstead and Roksanda who are both so wonderful and talented.
By contrast, in India because of the humidity, I wear cotton pieces from local designers like Pero, Injiri, Eka and also from my husband’s label, Bhaane which means rising sun and started out ten years ago as a brand of cool accessible clothes for creative types.
I have a collection of watches that range from big, outsize styles from Vacheron and Patek Philippe to the Cartier Crash and delicate jewellery watches. I am on the lookout for a Mademoiselle Chanel watch.
Sonam in Re-Ceremonial
@sonamkapoor by Sheldon Santos // Instagram
Sonam in Emilia Wicksted Set
@sonamkapoor by Suleika Mueller // Instagram
If you have a positive way of looking at things, positive things will happen.
Who is in your expert circle?
For bodywork, I go to Dr. Amberin Fur at The Vital Practice and saw Dr Gowri Motha for her Gentle Birth Method. I see Vaishaly for facials and Dr. Maryam Zamani for aesthetics. For make-up, I adore Maria Asadi, Mary Greenwell and Namrata Soni who did my make up for the Dior event.
Your taste in art and design?
I like to reflect the magic and wonder of India in my home with colours like saffron, ochre, and dark green, de Gournay wallpapers, marble, velvet sofas and decorative bronze objects. I also take so much pleasure from my collection of Southeast Asian art mostly from the Jhaveri Contemporary Gallery, Chemould Prescott and Vadehra Gallery amongst a few others.