Dev Anand was one of India’s biggest stars, but his style icon status extended well beyond the borders of the sub-continent.
A film studio exec gave the Indian actor his big break in the Forties because of his ‘smile and beautiful eyes and tremendous confidence’. It was that confidence that propelled him to sartorial pin-up. ‘He took that extra mile to start up trends that were considered bold and experimental in the Sixties,’ Nida Mahmood, the designer, says.
Anand’s signature piece was the necktie. He frequently accessorised with one, sometimes in an epic paisley print, other times favouring a simple monochrome number, but it always added a playboy touch to his outfit.
This dramatic flourish was fitting: Anand lived a life worthy of its own film. He was honoured by the Indian Government on several occasions for a career that spanned heroes, crime thrillers and epic romances, before settling down to married life. But Anand then became romantically involved with his superstar leading lady Suraiya and they embarked on a clandestine love affair.
He was frequently dubbed ‘the Indian Gregory Peck’, his childhood hero, and managed to pull off the ‘East meets West’ look with aplomb. His attire fused the tasteful tailoring of Europe – beautifully cut jackets, neat collared shirts and perfectly fitted trousers – with the rich colour palette of India. He was one of the pioneers of the sweater-draped-over-shoulder look.
Anand died in 2011, aged 88, but his style still looks current today. How many times have we seen a Justin Timberlake or a Tinie Tempah sporting the preppy-cool baseball jacket and shirt combo that Anand was rocking half a century ago?
The star of films such as Baazi, Taxi Driver (no, not that one), Manzil and Paying Guest sparked a style frenzy of the kind that few stars today ignite. On one occasion, fans sent him letters written in their blood after he appeared in a black suit – that’s just how well he wore it.
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