A quintessential fashion icon, a skilled equestrian, a staunch advocate of women empowerment, a formidable politician, a fierce philanthropist and one of the most beautiful women in the world, Maharani Gayatri Devi’s legacy is written in the stars. Born into the Koch royal dynasty of present-day Assam and Bengal to Maharaja Jitendra Narayan and Maratha Princess Indira Devi, she was married to the Rajput scion, Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II of Jaipur after a whirlwind courtship that broke conventional norms. Known as ‘Ayesha’ to her friends and family, she was an epitome of unparalleled elegance and strength of character, and led a glamorous, unrestrained and an intriguing life full of purpose.
Gayatri Devi’s unique take on the Chiffon saree became a trademark style and received global recognition. Her immaculate style aesthetics is a reflection of imperial flair at its best without the unnecessary frippery. Draped in elegant Chiffon sarees in soft hues of pastels and modest blouses, which were perfectly complemented by a carefully chosen lipstick shade and exquisite pearl and emerald jewellery, her signature style remained unwavering throughout her reigning years. “I’ve had the great fortune of having met her. She single handedly brought about a style influence when it came to chiffon sarees, hairstyles and makeup. Very minimalist fashion, which spoke louder than any gown I’ve ever seen,” says fashion designer Rina Dhaka. Ace designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee paid homage to Maharani Gyatri with his limited edition collection of sarees for S/S 2013. “Her aura is unmatched. It’s not only about her beauty but the way she carried herself. She valued Indian art and craft and our brand personality is based on her aura,” adds designer Gautam Gupta.
It is believed that Gayatri Devi’s mother, Indira Devi was the first woman to bring chiffon into mainstream fashion and incorporate this trend into sarees, and Ayesha followed suit. Chiffon – originally from Paris, is a soft and delicate woven fabric that is purely made from silk and was synonymous to luxury in the olden days. Nowadays, chiffon is made from silk, cotton, nylon and polyester.
Gayatri Devi fearlessly wore chiffon sarees in soft pastel hues, even on formal occasions instead of the predictable Banarasi sarees. While most women of her era wore their hair in demure plaits and elegant buns, she confidently rocked a bob, inspiring Indian women to experiment with their hair; and she preferred soft, muted makeup with a bright lipstick shade, especially, red and crimson.
Inspired by her impeccable sartorial finesse, here’s how you can integrate the essence of ‘Her Highness’ into your wardrobe:
• Chiffon sarees: Chiffon sarees in beautiful pastel shades of ivory, powder blue, pink, turquoise etc. can be paired with a stylish blouse to give off a chic vibe this summer.
• Pearls and Emeralds: A string of emeralds or pearls is classic, and work wonders with any ensemble.
• Makeup: Minimalism is key. Little makeup with siren lips or a bright shade of lipstick is all you need.
• Hair: Your tresses don’t always need to be long and wavy! Don’t hesitate to rock a short hairstyle with an Indian attire. If you don’t want to trim your hair, go for a faux bob.
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