Circa 2002: Aishwarya Rai made her first appearance at Cannes Film Festival for the screening of her movie Devdas.
The former Miss World was the cynosure of all eyes as she walked the red carpet in a Neeta Lulla sari in deep yellow, off-set by traditional golden jewellery.
While she looked beautiful, the ensemble was deemed fit more for a sangeet ceremony than for an international extravaganza celebrating the best of world cinema. Cut to 2019. Metallic gold was the choice, for the now-married, mother of one, on her first appearance at the 72nd Cannes Film Festival.
The futuristic fish-cut gown with the sweetheart neckline from Jean-Louis Sabaji’s couture, hugged her in all the right places as she waved and posed in front of the international paparazzi. Back home, words like ‘stunning’ and ‘resplendent’ have been used to describe her ensemble, which saw her wearing yellow eyeshadow and nude matte lips.
HITS AND MISSES
The stunner, who Hollywood actor Will Smith once described as ‘the mould that God made the first woman from’, has the distinction of being the only Indian celebrity to have had such a long association with the international festival — 18 years, to be precise! But not all years were kind to the desi diva. She was a novice on the red carpet, and often did not make the right sartorial choices. There was that silver-spangled Neeta Lulla gown in 2004 that did nothing for the lovely lass, nor did the golden Tarun Tahiliani sari in 2013. Having said that, not all her looks were slam-worthy. In 2010, the actress made some interesting choices on the red carpet, whether it was the embellished Sabyasachi sari or the muted lavender gown by Ellie Saab. She opted for the latter again in 2012 when she embraced her post-delivery curves in an embellished gown.
THE GAME CHANGER
For stylist Isha Bhansali, as well as for many others, it was Ash’s appearance at the 67th Cannes Film Festival in 2014 that remains unforgettable. Clad in a golden Roberto Cavalli fishtail dress, with a voluminous hairdo and ruby red lips, she proved why she is counted among one of the most beautiful women in the world, prompting hubby Abhishek Bachchan to tweet, ‘Almost 52hrs without sleep! Eyes shutting... And the Mrs Shows up looking like this!! Ok..Eyes wide open now!’ (sic) “That year, I felt, ‘wow’, Aishwarya has completely changed the game!” says Isha.
Of course, even after that, there were a few hits and misses. But it won’t be wrong to say that by then, the Padma Shri recipient had learnt how to ace the look. Even the internet-breaking lilac pout did nothing to break her stride. She owned the red carpet last year in a butterfly-patterned Michael Cinco gown with a three-metre-long train. “Assuming that she wanted to do something edgy in the intial years, she went from that to classy,” feels Isha, who adds that while the glamour was always intact, that certain kind of edge didn’t work for Aishwarya’s personality. “What she has been doing in the past few years has been absolutely stunning. She has been experimenting, but she keeps it to a certain limit and is never OTT. So, her overall look is always classic,” opines the stylist.
Well, going by her red-carpet appearances at the ongoing 72nd Cannes Film Festival, the 45-year-old actress certainly seems to be giving the younger divas a run for their money!