FASHION From cringeworthy to overboard, Bollywood seems to have got red-carpet glamour all wrong at Cannes

Just when will Bollywood get it right? As the world celebrates 100 years of Indian cinema, Indian stars, it seems, went a little overboard in projecting the ethnic look at the Cannes red carpet that saw Sonam Kapoor, Vidya Balan and Sherlyn Chopra either going big on bling or heavy on jewellery and embroidery.

Aishwarya Rai, who has been a regular at Cannes for 11 years, didn’t go for the Indian look but was panned for her choice of clothes and hair-do.

The display seemed surprising, considering that well-known designers such as Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Anamika Khanna and Abu Jani-Sandeep Khosla were helping the stars put their best foot forward at the Cannes International Film Festival, which ends May 26.

Vidya was part of the jury at the Cannes, where India was the guest country this year. Rubbing shoulders with the likes of Ang Lee, Christopher Waltz and Nicole Kidman at the gala, Vidya looked sophisticated in a maroon and black lehenga-choli, but thereafter, her fashion choices only earned her brickbats. If one day she wore an elaborate nose ring, on another she chose an ivory ensemble complete with a white dupatta on her head, prompting women back home to ask just what image of India she wanted to project. Sabyasachi said the idea was to dress her in “little embellishments” and to give her “a purist ethnic” look. Even though traditional suits Vidya, most of her looks at Cannes, barring one — a simple brown sari with a maroon blouse — failed to impress, say stylists.

“Vidya played it safe by going traditional as it has always worked for her. What she had picked up was really good, but badly styled. The choice of nose ring and the use of dupatta on the head were not required,” says fashion stylist Shane Lonen, who has worked with the likes of Sonakshi Sinha, Karisma Kapoor and Prachi Desai.

Another actor Sonam Kapoor, considered a fashion diva back home, seemed to have gone overboard too — be it with her stylised sari teamed with a full-sleeved jacket, over-sized nose ring or bold eye make-up. She made it up later with a voluminous floral Dolce and Gabbana off-shoulder gown.

“Sonam has mostly been a delight to watch in all appearances, but not in Cannes. She went overboard with her efforts to keep her style-quotient unique and high. Had she worn the sari as a standalone, minus her eye makeup and over-indigenous nose ring, she would have been endearing enough,” says fashion stylist Saachi Vijaywargia.

Aishwarya, said Cannes watchers, has improved in her choice of red carpet ensembles over the years. This year, she played it safe with either black or a heavily embellished full-sleeved multi-pastel coloured ensemble by Abu Jani-Sandeep Khosla, but she could have done with some more colour.

“I definitely think a dash of colour would’ve been nice for Aishwarya’s look,” says fashion stylist Nikita Rijhsinghani. The actor slipped into a metallic blue gown one day.

Some of India’s past representatives at Cannes have been subtle and simple in their fashion picks. Nandita Das, and Sharmila Tagore before her, have managed to turn heads with their simple, elegant saris and classic pieces of jewellery, representing the country’s ethnic tradition very well.

Designer Amit GT feels black and white are “outdated” colours, but they were a hit with the Indian actors this year. Kamasutra 3D -actor Sherlyn Chopra went for a daring transparent black ensemble, and Mallika Sherawat opted for a black gown on one day of the event.

Rijhsinghani gave a thumbs down to Sherlyn. “There are a million-and-one looks to look sensuous! Kill the transparency, for starters.”

Sensuous can mean more than just showing skin, says Lonen. “Sensuous don’t mean revealing skin,” he says. Mallika also went all wrong with her blingy gold dress, says Amit GT, who felt the look was “most cringeworthy”.