Magazine Wars: September
On the cover: In 2011, Sonam Kapoor has had a longer streak of magazine covers than tennis player Novak Djokovic has had of championship titles. Despite the cover fatigue, we have to give it to Ms. Kapoor—the girl does take an exceedingly pretty picture. Here, dressed in a sparkly Falguni & Shane Peacock dress, her hair flying back courtesy a wind blower, Kapoor looks ethereal. Inside, she says she doesnt “give a shit” about what people think about how she dresses, weighs somewhere between 58 and 60 kilos, and has the grace to admit that despite the media fawning, she isn’t a style icon yet.
Read it: “Great Finds”, particularly for the affordable McQueen-ish maxi dress by a label called Butter. An incredibly creepy spread of accessories modeled by Smurfette—yes, that would be the cute blue lady Smurf from the Smurfs cartoon series—which is worth a look only to reinforce the point that the quickest way to kill the kiddie fun out of something is to dress it up in high fashion (parents with blood pressure problems, please note: you may want to avoid looking at Smurfette dressed in thigh-high platform boots). “Runway Report”, because it’s a fashion smorgasboard of designer clothes!
Don’t bother: We’ve commented before that jeans brand Diesel may have a deal with magazines to be featured in at least one issue or another every month. Here, founder Renzo Rosso talks about, what else, jeans. Read at peril of your own sanity. Right up with Rosso, is Gucci designer Frida Giannini, who like her Italian menswear counterpart, is what you’d politely term, media savvy or less so, a media whore. Avoid also the monster package on India International Jewellery Week, which helpfully is easy to skip because it’s labelled “A Harper’s Bazaar Promotion”. Note to magazine editors: no one really cares about perfumes and how they were created and whether they have tulip extract or cat’s eye, okay? Especially if it’s a three-page piece on a Burberry scent that is described in the two most cliched words in the scent industry, “light and feminine”. In the Amy Winehouse fashion tribute, actress Jacqueline Fernandez dons some ferocious tattoos, wing-tipped eyeliner and faux attitude, which is a glossed-over, sanitised version of the tragedy of the late singer’s life.
On the cover: Ranbir Kapoor’s heroine in the upcoming Hindi film Rockstar and rumoured real-life arm candy, Nargis Fakhri mugs for the cover in a python and wool Versace number, looking as pretty as any mixed blood muggle can (she’s half Czech and half Pakistani). While we don’t like the blow-dry, which is too wedding attendee-ish for our taste, Fakhri looks suitably ingenue-like or as Vogue would have us believe, like “Bollywood’s Best-Kept Secret”. Fakhri, who grew up in Queens, New York, denies she’s dating Kapoor (he was a “caring and supportive co-actor”), and says she fell into acting only after director Imtiaz Ali bombarded her with emails, and that she is a shy, self-described tomboy, who like Sonam Kapoor (see Harper’s), doesn’t really care what people think.
Read it: “Girl Gone Wilde”, about it-actress Olivia Wilde, who was married at 18 to an Italian prince, divorced him eight years later, and, unlike other pretty young things, whole-heartedly embraces the fact that she’s beautiful (“A real feminist doesn’t apologise for her beauty”). A Q&A with the Pulitzer Prize finalist and playwright Rajiv Joseph, whose cute picture, and single status will have many mothers tracking him down; a profile on American-Indian installation artist Aakash Nihalani just to see his zany 3D-esque public works made of tape. Max Vadukul’s fun portraits of designers and the musicians who inspire them particularly for the shot of a bleached blonde MIA riding pillion with Donatella Versace (is it us or were the two separated at birth?).
Don’t bother: “40 Autumn Must-Haves”, which is the print equivalent of window-shopping at Barney’s: great to gawk at, but sadly out of your price range. An impassioned defence of wearing shades indoors, “The Real Slim Shady” is well-argued (you may be lacking in the looks department or have perhaps undergone the knife lately) but even then, doesn’t save indoor-wearers from one inescapable fact: it still makes you look like a tool. Christopher Bailey on his Burberry Body fragrance, for reasons we’ve enumerated above.
On the cover: Katrina Kaif in a sparkly Giorgio Armani number. We love the dress, and Kaif’s dark red lips, but wish her hair had been done in the 1950s curled wave rather than this ’40s “retro” look. Inside, Kaif, billed as the Hindi film industry’s “most hard-working star”, is shot, strangely, only in profile from her left side, and save for one full-length pic in a lovely Lanvin gown, looks immobile and waxen.
Read it: A brief chat with comedian Aziz Ansari, who says he’s tired of people congratulating him on the success of Slumdog Millionaire; a Q&A with Modern Family’s Ty Burrell who is as funny and oblivious as his character on the show, Phil Dunphy (Burrell, who once lived in a van to save money, says he was completely unaware that as a struggling actor, he had no prospects). Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake smolder in a photoshoot that will have you wishing your BFF was as sexy. The two banter in this joint Q&A with the kind of chemistry that has made most critics love their new movie Friends With Benefits. Twenty years on, designers, filmmakers, advertising executives and others talk about how the liberalisation of the Indian economy in 1991 vastly changed their fields and lives for the better, making us eternally grateful, even in these beleagured times, for Manmohan Singh. If you’re going to read but one article of dozens on Pakistani writer Mohammed Hanif and his new book Our Lady of Alice Bhatti, then we recommend this quick, pithy one where Hanif shoots off on amusing cliches about Pakistan (“Our family values are the best in the world”), potatoes, and literary festivals.
Don’t bother: Two gushing testimonies (with liberal use of terms like “genie in a bottle” and “worth its weight in gold”) about the wonders of Shiseido’s Wrinkle Resist range, and Kerastase’s Elixir Ultime for your hair.
On the cover: It’s the battle of Bollywood young ’uns with this month’s fashion mags. Anushka Sharma in sheer Fendi, however, looks the least becoming. Made to sit rather awkwardly, hand on hip, Sharma looks a tad uncomfortable, probably because the pose stunts the usually leggy star. Inside, Sharma, who wears the same black-and-white star patterned Dolce & Gabbana dress as Fakhri, could be switched out for Kaif, Fakhri or Kapoor and you’d never notice: like her Bollywood brethen, she’s described as a hardworking, down-to-earth young talent who belies all expectations of being a spoilt brat.
Read it: “How the World Really Dresses”, a visual map of the buying habits of shoppers on e-retail site net-a-porter.com. In India, we love us some Jimmy Choos; in England, it’s skinny jeans that are highly coveted; Canandians like evening gowns and embellished accessories; while the Japanese are the biggest buyers of Burberry’s trench coat. “Label Alert”, which breaks down the best emerging designers who came out of the recently concluded Lakme Fashion Week.
On the cover: Kingfisher scion Sidhartha Mallya, who like that other famous heir to an empire, Paris Hilton, may not be known for doing much but still has lots to say. Which is why his interview runs for three (!) pages as opposed to the standard single-page celebrity Q&As GQ typically runs. Over the course of his 90-minute chat with the men’s mag, Mallya delivers plenty of quotable quotes, including “You wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between half our national newspapers and [trashy gossip rag] Heat magazine.” And: “The biggest cultural difference [between India and the UK] is that men in this country are very possessive of their women, which I am not one bit…” He also refuses to confirm or deny his relationship with actress Deepika Padukone; shares an anecdote about how Richard Branson is a sore loser; reveals that he lost his virginity at 17 (the “when” question is GQ’s equivalent of Simi Garewal’s “symbol of desirability”; it has to be asked) and that he moonlighted as a bookie at boarding school; and claims that he doesn’t need alcohol to party all night provided he has good company and good music (that would be U2, Usher, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Lady Gaga, FYI).
Read it: “The Last Bad Boy”, a profile of Transformers star Shia LaBeouf and his rags-to-riches story, in which he shares why he pulls no punches (quite literally) when it comes to dealing with the paparazzi, or even his opinion on his own blockbuster films. “None of us had any clue what we were doing,” he says about making Revenge of the Fallen, the second instalment in the Transformers franchise. “The Viral Me”, in which writer Devin Friedman travels to Silicon Valley to meet with techie entrepreneurs hoping to invent the next Facebook, and asks them the question we’ve all asked ourselves—what’s the point of it all?
Don’t bother: The Autumn/Winter 2011 Fashion Trend Report. You can flip over these pages for a couple of reasons. For one, we don’t really have autumn or winter in Mumbai. For another, most of the trends—they include animal prints, velvet and the return of that 1980s relic, the double-breasted jacket—aren’t quite worth following. Instead, browse through “Making the Cut”, a fashion photo feature that has eight (!) Indian male models (that’s possibility the entire lot) looking sharp in a variety of very wearable suits.