peacock diaries Fashion

No navy suits, please

Why we need to talk about former tennis star Anand Amritraj’s flamboyant style

“At Wimbledon, People-Watching Nearly as Good as the Tennis” read a headline from an editorial in Vogue last month. Scrolling through the sea of tennis whites, grassy courts and golden glasses of Pimms, a man in “an electric-teal tuxedo jacket and wraparound shades” stood out, and the word ‘flamboyant’ came to mind.

In LA, where he lives, or Chennai, where he grew up, Anand Amritraj has been turning heads both on and off the court with his wardrobe choices. So what inspires this striking sense of style? “I always try to think of myself as being quite fashionable. Savile Row’s Whitcomb & Shaftesbury (W&S), run by Mahesh and Suresh Ramakrishnan, make clothes for me, and since I love bright colours, they’re quite happy to experiment with my outfits,” says the former Davis Cupper.

At Savile Row, says Mahesh Ramakrishnan, you’re considered well-dressed when someone walks up to you and says “You look good!” rather than “That’s a nice suit!” And this is what happens all the time with someone like Amritraj, whose larger-than-life personality works in his favour during styling sessions with Mahesh.

Would Amritraj agree that his fashion sense has evolved over the years? “I have always been colourful and flamboyant, even more so in the last 10-20 years. Because at this point in my life, I don’t care what anybody thinks. My brothers are always shocked when they see me. Sometimes, I think my mother prefers that I was like Vijay and Ashok,” he laughs.

Mahesh puts it aptly when he says, “Anand is theatre — from his hair to choice of jewellery to the way he carries himself.” Subtle doesn’t work for him; put him in something sober, and you’re taking away from his personality, he adds. The thing about good design is that it always polarises opinions. “You’ll either love it or hate it. And it’s the same with Amritraj’s style,” says Mahesh. “Enough people think ‘ridiculous’, but the fact is that heads will always turn when he walks into a room.”

Both men cite the example of when Amritraj asked Mahesh to make a replica of the Irish Guards uniform — red military style with embroidered collars and cuffs — which is what Prince William wore for his wedding in 2011. After getting clearance from the Palace (the outfit can be worn anywhere but not in England), Amritraj sported it at a charity event in New York. It made such an impression, that Hollywood producer Andy Hayward offered to buy the jacket off him right there, for $20,000!

The key to pulling off crazy colours like dull gold Nehru-jackets and three-piece pink suits is that it’s him being ‘authentic’. It’s never a random melange of style, but a well thought-out decision to stand out, to be in-your-face, an honest straight-shooter, continues Mahesh.

So does Amritraj ever have any fashion regrets? “When I go to an event, I’d rather be overdressed rather than underdressed. I haven’t made too many mistakes with that so far,” he retorts. Straight shooter, indeed!

— with inputs from Elizabeth Mathew

PHOTO: Photo credit: Nina Manandhar/ Vogue

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Printable version | Feb 17, 2020 2:41:45 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/fashion/no-navy-suits-please/article19516811.ece

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