For Rekha, née Bhanurekha Ganesan, a life marred with tragedy & public ridicule was an unfortunate consequence of being in spotlight and owning it. After a tumultuous childhood, she undertook the responsibility of being a breadwinner at the mere age of 14, and then came the legion of hits like Khubsoorat, Umrao Jaan & Silsila. And cut to today, now at age 68, Rekha is thriving & independent as ever.
While navigating a journey laced with countless thorns, one thing that has remained constant is Rekha’s perpetually impeccable sense of style. It’s tied in with her perfectly-manicured sartorial image & has evolved into something we subconsciously associate her persona with. We can always trust Rekha to be flaunting a strong red lip, flirtatious curls and a Banarasi silk sari draped immaculately, no crease in sight. A symbol of resilience, one could say.
The now serial sari wearer has long been a patron of experimentation on the sartorial as well as beauty grounds. Having embodied & attached her very own spin to every fashion trend that ran parallel to the decade, be it the 70s, 80s, 90s or even the 2000s for that matter, Rekha’s style file boasts of a cent percent success rate.
The 80s saw a borrowed trend fixation, where fads took root as per the sayings of the west. Whilst this reflected in Bollywood, albeit subtly, hair & eye details saw a more obvious change. And oh, animal prints- they were major.
Also credited as the decade of chapeau revivalism, costumery & maximalist headpieces were all the rage in the 80s. Rekha has been lensed in numerous renditions of the same – those with animal prints, those inspired from the African head wrap & many more styles with their varied eccentricities.
During the period surrounding Umrao Jaan’s release, the anarkali silhouette & the under bust curve panelling saw an uprise. Often compared to the magnum opus Pakeezah, Rekha’s portrayal as Amiran aka Umrao not only won her a National Award but is also, to this day celebrated for its Nizami style costumes & delectable accessorisation.
Also the time when Silsila was declared a mainstream hit, Rekha’s coveted sari appearances catapulted the trend of solid, satin / crepe saris with minute embellishments and most importantly, the middle part to the spotlight. The millennials might be squirming at this, but the Gen Zs have their backs secured, courtesy the Generation X and the overlap in the style sensibilities between the two.
Seems like someone foresaw the regency-core revival back in the day itself & that’s the only probable reasoning we have at hand. No offense, but Geet from Jab We Met could never. What a serve. Ahead of its time.
And she aces the minimalist realm too? God has its favourites. With a ribbed cardigan falling off her shoulder, a midi length black skirt, side swept waves & dainty accessorizing, Rekha channelizes the ideal 90s beauty standard. Straight out of the Rachel Green handbook.
Silk saris are sure her self-proclaimed, patented territory, but this black sari in velvet hits the spot just right. With kohl rimmed eyes & hoops big enough for me to hula hoop through, this femme fatale ensemble ranks high on our list.
For the 13th edition of the International Dubai Film Festival, Rekha seemed like an incarnation of the time Emily Cooper paid a surprising visit to The Row atelier. But given the hypothetical nature of this sequence, we’re happy to make do with this cute monotone, beret chic moment.
And while the jury might still be out regarding her best fashion moment over the years (given there was no dearth of the same), in our humble opinion, her effortless silk saris with the red lip trumps them all.
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