Stylist extraordinaire, Rhea Kapoor on the intersection of fashion and art


Stylist extraordinaire, Rhea Kapoor on the intersection of fashion and art

"It’s not just about looking trendy, it’s also about telling a story"

By Manali Shah  March 15th, 2019

Rhea Kapoor has, in many ways, led a fashion revolution in India—together with sister, Sonam K. Ahuja. Instagram is shook every time Rhea posts a Sonam look, while the rest of the world tries to keep up. So, when we caught up with her at the launch of United Colors of Benetton’s new line, #UnitedbyArt, at the Lotus Make-Up India Fashion Week in Delhi, we took the opportunity to speak to her about the ways in which art and fashion collide; in her own words, the movement of art and fashion’s intersection has gone beyond tokenism in recent times and is at an exciting point right now. 

For Rhea, an interest in art developed over time. “I still clearly remember when I started seeing works in my mum’s house and my aunt’s house and, for me, they were just paintings on the wall. As I got older, I started to understand what it meant. When I was about 14 years old, I saw my mother wear a locket and it was a framed painting of Anjolie Ela Menon, and I thought ‘How beautiful, I want that’.”

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A post shared by Rhea Kapoor (@rheakapoor) on Jan 9, 2019 at 4:33am PST

Her mother promptly told her she can have it when she’s old enough to afford it—something which did not make sense to Rhea at the time. She elaborates, “For me, it was like diamonds and emeralds, and I couldn’t understand why such a high value was placed on something like this.” She continues, “Slowly, I began to understand and now I see my favourite designers like Anamika Khanna (she is always embedded in the work of art, in the world of art), my mother who is a jeweller and brands like United colours of Benetton integrating art in their creations. When you take a work of art and put it on a piece of clothing, immediately that piece of clothing starts to communicate and it starts to communicate in a way that nothing else can.”

Recently, Rhea collaborated with Instagram sensation Canadian-Indian artist Babbu The Painter (Babneet Lakhesar). She says, “She is a very funny and delightfully badly behaved girl, and she spray paints. So I was, like, ‘Dude, why don’t you just take a lehenga and paint on it? I cannot explain to you the reaction it received. Because whether you like it it not, and whether you understand it or not, art speaks to everyone.”
 
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A post shared by Rhea Kapoor (@rheakapoor) on Jan 6, 2019 at 8:45am PST

Thanks to social media, art is now democratic, accessible, and no longer a medium of the elite. And Rhea is glad for it. “I can create something and put it up, and I am an artist. I think that people are starting to understand the value of it when it comes to fashion and understanding that it’s not just about looking trendy, it’s also about telling a story. And I think that’s fantastic because I  have always tried to tell stories with my styling, through my career, and I’m glad people are getting it,” she says.

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Photograph: Getty Images
Another stand-out fashion moment from Rhea’s career is the Anamika Khanna cape sari donned by sister Sonam Kapoor at the Cannes Film Festival 2014. Surprisingly, the sari came about through pure accident. “We made an outfit and it did not work. It came down to a normal outfit like a lehenga. And then we were like, ‘Can we put a cape on it? And we were like, ‘Why can’t we?’. And at that point, we did not have an option,” she laughs. The rest is fashion history.