More power to you! Bipasha Basu on The Label Life's Power Dressing Edit, inspired by the TV drama, Madam Secretary
The actress talks about the latest line of clothes for working women. Also, a sneak peek into her style diaries and scoops from her film with her husband, Karan Singh Grover
A little over 20 years ago, then supermodel Mehr Jessia spotted a face at a hotel in Kolkata that she instantly knew would click in the world of glitz and glamour. That face was of Bipasha Basu, who heeded Jesia’s advice to become a model. Today, she is a Bollywood actress, supermodel and fashion icon. Whether she’s wearing a nearly-there sheer bikini, a peplum skirt or an embellished Kanjivaram sari, the 40-year-old actress can still make heads turn.
In the Bollywood industry, Bipasha has always been selective about her films, not to say that she hasn’t done it all. She’s played a seductress (Jism), a woman possessed by an evil spirit (Raaz), a regular happy-go-lucky girl-next-door (Dum Maaro Dum) and even has danced her share of item numbers (think Beedi, Namak, Billo Rani) — all in the span of her two-decade-long career in the film industry, before she took a break to marry actor Karan Singh Grover in 2016.
It was, however, in 2012, when the films were few and far between, that her fans got to see a new side of the actress — that of a style editor. Teaming up with her friends from the industry — Malaika Arora and Sussanne Khan, Bipasha went on to become one of the three faces of The Label Life, an e-commerce site that puts together closely edited signature collections of inspired pieces — both for the modern woman’s home, as well as her wardrobe.
The three women have expertise in different areas. While Sussanne curates and designs the décor section (she’s also known for her work in the décor space with The Charcoal project), Malaika (who loves to dress up) handles fashion. Bipasha, meanwhile, is into accessories, so it was but natural that she was the accessories editor. “Not many people know that I have big feet, so I am hugely passionate about designing footwear for women who don’t have easy access to larger sizes of footwear,” says the
model-turned-actress, who is often seen stepping out in brogues that retail on their website.
More recently, The Label Life collaborated with AXN, and also used one of their most popular shows, Madam Secretary, as their muse, to put together a special Power Dressing Edit, a line of clothes and accessories that “brings together White House-perfect double duty styles to take you from 9-to-9 effortlessly,” shares Bipasha, in an email interaction, while being in the thick
of things at her younger sister’s wedding celebrations in Mumbai. Excerpts from a chat with the multi-faceted actor:
The Power Dressing Edit, we hear, was inspired by the show Madam Secretary. We are intrigued. Tell us more….
The Label Life and AXN cater to and portray respectfully the modern woman — so, the two brands coming together to bring forth something like this made perfect sense. In this edit, expect to find impeccably styled separates like tailored tops, smart bottoms, and comfy long-day-friendly jumpsuits that take you from desk-to-dinner effortlessly.
What are your thoughts on current power dressing trends?
I feel it’s great. So many women work in different fields, especially corporates, that Power Dressing as a trend is much required. We all need stylish, yet very comfortable styles that see us through back-to-back meetings, long brainstorms, board meets and even take us to that team dinner after work!
Does office wear need to necessarily be Westernised, especially in an Indian context, where women mostly wear kurtas and saris to their offices...
Not at all! Formal wear can be classic bottoms and shirts and dresses. Or they can be comfortable flared pants with a long kurta for manic Mondays. A sari is timeless and would ace every workspace with utmost grace and elegance.
How would you recommend that working women elevate their everyday style to make more of an impact at work? What is your personal style statement like?
Everyday style always needs to marry form with function. By that, I mean, instead of going with any below-the-knee dress, opt for one in a shift silhouette that not only falls well but can be cinched for definition with a belt you already own. Similarly, ditch the quintessential office trousers for peg pants, culottes, flared pants, and so on. And of course, nothing elevates your everyday style like statement jewellery. For me, it’s the classic white-shirt-and-denims look I love the most. Add statement earrings to the mix with a sleek high ponytail, and you have yourself an effortlessly stylish, yet comfortable look.
Growing up, did you have any role models with respect to fashion and style? Whose style did you look up to and try to emulate?
Absolutely! Kate Moss, Cindy Crawford and Sheetal Mallar were my fashion role models while growing up in the ’90s.
When it comes to fashion, what is your guilty pleasure wear? Something you’d wear at home, and not be caught outside in?
I don’t believe I have anything like that. I love my outfits to always be versatile, so I can style them in many ways. For example, I love satin sleep shirts, but I also wear them outside the house with a cinching belt and gilded sliders.
What is it like working with two equally stylish women, Malaika and Sussanne?
It’s a blast! Having all been a part of the same industry, we were always friends, but working so close together now, has changed for the better our rapport and bond with one another.
Do you guys pick up tips from each other? Are there any clashes when it comes to the creative process?
Quite the contrary! Each one of us brings to the table our own expertise, and so we’re always bouncing ideas off each other and looking towards one another for constant inspiration.
What are the three of you working on next?
We have already begun work on the monsoon and Diwali collections that will see styles in of-the-season trends. You’ll have to wait and see what we launch soon!
How is married life treating you? Has your style statement changed post-marriage?
Nope. I found my personal style in my 20s and, yes, of course, it’s evolved, but no, marriage hasn’t changed my style statement.
You’re working on Aadat, a film with your husband. Tell us a bit about the dynamics there. How is it like working with him?
Oh, it’s great. When we signed the film, both Karan and I decided that on set we were nothing more than two professional actors working. We didn’t want our personal dynamic getting in the way at all.
For more fashion inspiration, watch Madam Secretary every Tuesday at 10 pm on AXN.