Rhea Kapoor, the woman behind some of the best looks of her sister, Sonam, also happens to be a jewellery connoisseur that we're in awe of. Through her delicate detailing, her stunning collections take little or no time to boost one's confidence, celebrate their achievements, and above all see them glow every single day. Her very latest, a collaboration with Pipabella by Nykaa Fashion is inspired by her love for all things bold, unique, and powerful. It's chunky, chic and exudes opulence with a hint of glitz and glam. And yes, the best is still to come.
The filmmaker and celebrity stylist, in an exclusive conversation with Bazaar India Editor Nandini Bhalla talks about the kind of jewellery she enjoys wearing, her earliest memory of fashion, the evolution of her personal style, what does sisterhood mean to her, and much more.
Nandini Bhalla: Tell us more about your new collaboration with Pipabella...
Rhea Kapoor: “So, the founder of Pipabella, Shuchi (Pandya) and I have been in touch since we launched our last collection together. Both of us were really happy with the results, and how the pieces were received by everyone. Honestly, we were a little overwhelmed by the reaction, but then Covid hit, and we ran into issues with supply chains and other logistics. And while the collection launched with a bang, the whole world started slowing down... I felt our collection was a baby that never had a chance to go to college (laughs).
Regardless, the collection did so well, and the team and I had an amazing time launching it. One of the most memorable and validating aspects was that even months later, I would run into people wearing pieces from the collection. And then one day, Shuchi just said to me, ‘Let’s do it again’. And I took the opportunity, because I believe it’s imperative to keep challenging myself and doing new things. I can’t really sit still; I need to learn something new all the time.
For this collection, I really wanted to explore the idea of easy-glamour, which a lot of people have turned to, post the pandemic. As a stylist and producer, I’ve always enjoyed witnessing things coming together. This collection brings together a bunch of many little details... The pieces can be worn together for a maximalist result, or separately, if you’re a minimalist. Like, these days, I find myself in the era of sweatpants...and I style my look with a pair of earrings, a slick bun, and a hint of cream blush. Also, the quality of this collection is 10 times better than the previous one...you can always count on these pieces, because they will last you a lifetime.”
NB: Tell me about the kind of jewellery you enjoy wearing yourself...
RK: “It depends on my mood. But I tend to gravitate towards jewellery that has some sort of sentiment attached to it. For instance, I have a jade heart necklace bought from a vintage store, which I later repurposed and set with diamonds...it’s a lovely piece and gets many compliments. But it is really about the story behind a piece of jewellery. For instance, Karan (Boolani) gifted me a necklace when we were dating. It was a one-carat solitaire on a string, and I wore it every day. Later, Sonam gifted me a Tiffany and Co. key necklace and asked me to wear it every day, as well! My husband and sister were competing with each other for my neck (laughs). And that’s the thing—most pieces I love have an emotion associated with them, and I get attached to those pieces and wear them over and over again. When I am working in Mumbai, I prefer a minimal style, but if I am on a vacation in the Maldives, I am all about statement earrings. I love a good accessory.”
NB: Tell me about your favourite pieces from the Pipabella collection...
RK: “I love the earrings from the Goddess collection. The pair has been inspired by hips, hearts, and legs—all of my favourite things (laughs). They are statement pieces and I’ve also worn them in the campaign, and Sonam, too, wore the pair with a green Valentino dress. Then, there is a pair of ‘huggies’, which are minimal, and a spiral bangle that you can wear on any part of your arm. They are so cool and have so much personality...they go well with everything.”
NB: Does the jewellery from your collection celebrate women and the female form?
RK: “I believe more than celebrating form, it’s about celebrating a woman’s sexuality. You know, when I was in my 20s, I was much smaller, thinner, and I didn’t feel half as sexy as I do now. In my 30s, I just became more confident, more worldly, and more aware about myself and those around me. And instead of being shy about myself and my body, I became curious about it—and I began embracing myself. I believe that sexuality is beautiful and bold, and everybody can embrace that. This, to me, is poetic, and I feel that the nature of sexuality is so fluid—be it a woman’s or a man’s form...”
NB: What is your earliest memory of fashion?
RK: “I remember crying because my mother was trying to get me into a flowy dress for a birthday party and I didn’t want to wear it because it was prickly, and I knew it wasn’t for me. From the age of one or two, I had an opinion on fashion; I just knew what worked for me and what didn’t. My mother, too, is really knowledgeable about these things. By the time we were 12-years-old, Sonam and I understood the difference between zardozi, real zari, badla, mukaish, chikankari, etc.
My mother would buy old borders from Rajasthan, and and she has a lot of respect and appreciation for our local artisans, who are no less than magicians. She would get on a call with Anuradha (Vakil) and they’d go through sacks filled with shawls and dupattas, sent over by local vendors. I remember dressing up my Barbie dolls to perfection... You know how some children left their Barbies naked? Mine were always ready for the red carpet! I never cared about Ken, but I really cared about how Barbie looked and turned out.”
NB: How has your personal style evolved over the years?
RK: “When I was in my 20s, I was more adventurous and, perhaps, had more fun experimenting with my style. But as you grow older and your body changes, you don’t really understand what to do with it. And currently, my personal style is all about comfort. I just prefer the simple things in life now...I have stopped wearing prints altogether, and you will often spot me in a plain, black shirt. But I care deeply about quality, because I’d rather buy one thing and repeat it every day than buy things repeatedly. Quality fashion will always look rich because it has been tailored well. A lot of my clothes are from this brand called Saphed; I love their sets. I also really like SKIMS, especially their cotton-fleece sweatshirts with matching pants. I also own a bunch of Victoria Beckham separates. So anything simple is my vibe currently. I am just looking to simplify my style, and have fun with everyone else’s style [laughs].”
NB: What does the power of collaboration, and sisterhood, mean to you?
RK: “It means everything to me. I have a career because of sisterhood... My sister and I collaborated with each other, which is why I am a producer today. If it wasn’t for Sonam (Kapoor) wanting to collaborate with me, I wouldn’t be here. Likewise, if Kareena hadn’t collaborated with me, my career wouldn’t have moved further. I am so thankful that Tanvi (Chowdhari), who is the Founder of Papacream, and we, collaborated to create ice-creams, which remains one of my most successful collaborations.
I recently collaborated with Astha (Khetan), who runs The House of Things. We have been working on the collection for over a year, and I think it is one of my most challenging projects. For the first time, I am creating furniture and homeware, among other things. And I have learned so much! Even Ekta Kapoor, for that matter... The movies that I make...I don’t think they would have worked if I was working with just men. And I am still hungry, and I want to get better because my stories are about and for girls, coming from the heart of a girl. When it comes to narrating stories of men, I sometimes go blank. We, as women, have to do it for each other. I do it for every girl around me, because I know that I’m going to be the only one who understands...
For me, sisterhood is my survival. If it wasn’t for sisterhood, I would have no work or peace of mind.”
NB: How would you style the pieces from the Pipabella collection?
RK: “The jewellery campaign features Ayesha (Kanga) from Class (2023) and Pooja (Dhingra), too. It also has a talented 20-year-old stylist named Bidipto Das. It was so interesting to see how Bidipto put things together and styled the pieces. I am really inspired by this generation—with the way they perceive things without being bound by the rigid notions that our generation holds. The collection is extremely versatile; you can’t go wrong with styling them, because they have been designed in that manner. And there are no rules...
People often say ‘don’t mix gold with silver’, but when done right, the result is amazing. Like Rick Owens’ wife Michèle Lamy wears all the pieces in varying proportions of silver, and it just works. I want people to treat this collection as a friend—it is not supposed to be intimidating, and there’s no formula to it. Just wear it the way you feel like wearing it.”
NB: Lastly, what are you looking forward to next?
RK: “My movies! Firstly, The Crew, and another one which I will announce shortly. This movie has my heart and soul and is so special to me that I have kept it close to my heart. It is everything I would want as a filmmaker. Coming back to The Crew, which is my chickflick bonanza featuring the dream cast of Tabu, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Kriti Sanon, Diljit Dosanjh, and others.
There’s also a show in the works—which has been three years in the making... And lastly, I am also working with Sonam (Kapoor) on something truly exciting. It is everything that girls want from Sonam and me, and I can’t wait to go back to my Aisha (2010) days again.”