For the latest in our Real Women series, we delve into conversation with Malini Banerji, Former Fashion Director, ELLE. Apart from her intriguing personality, what made the conversation truly capturing was her take on the women who have inspired her and her personal anecdotes from her experiences with them while working at ELLE. Read to know what we mean exactly.
Malini is seen here in Audacious jewelry by Zariin.
Malini Banerji in Spotlight Loving Choker Necklace
Is being audacious a positive or a negative emotion for you?
To me if someone is being described as audacious, it’ll definitely beat my interest.
Can you give a personality or a public figure that has inspired you in shaping your outlook and world view?
When it comes to these really interesting women I’m going to start with my mother. I think she has had a huge impression on my life while growing up. When it comes a sense of design, dressing up or even if it’s as simple as looking at a thing and making it better. I still don’t have it in me as much as she does but I definitely get it from her. And I really appreciate that. The other women who I have met on my journey with Elle at work would be some really noteworthy women who have just been incredible in every sense. I’ll start with Oprah Winfrey. She comes with an all women crew and that says so much about supporting other women. Being on the set is such a pleasure. Forever interacting with people, just so mindful, taking in everything and just being nice to everyone. And it’s not out of effort. That’s who she is. And to engage with everyone at some level. That I thought was just incredible.
For me every minute spent on that set felt like there are some sort of life lessons that you are taking back home. Followed by Zadie Smith. I read Zadie’s work and I enjoy it. It was quite a chase to get her but I like the fact that she was crisp. She could only spend 4 hours. She was pretty straight forward. She showed up on time. Came with her own set of clothes. Didn’t think we’d have clothes. Was pleasantly surprised we had clothes….nice clothes and ended up wearing Bodice for the cover. But spending those 4 hours, it was just so good to see someone who was so clear about what she wants and how she wants things. And also being so nonchalant. She was at ease with herself which was very very important. Another woman who comes to my mind and there are so many women but the one I’m going to mention is Christy Turlington. You would imagine someone who is a super model who would be really constantly caught up with ageing, with their journey and who they are. But it was refreshing to see someone who is so simple and grounded. She was someone who has so much to talk about and engage with and constantly think about different things to bond over with people. It was nice to see someone not caught up with the superficial…..I am looking good enough, is there photoshop, can I look at the images again, how would this print, how would this come out….nothing. I am here to do my bit and as an expert you tell me what to do. She would also chat with everyone and see what their lives are all about. Mindy Kaling is like an energy bunny. I love her energy on set. She’s too too charming with everyone and such a sport to try everything on the set. I don’t remember her checking her watch even once to say she had to go back, she had a little baby. But the fact that she was there for this and she made it happen was brilliant. Arundhati Roy - I love how fearless she is without being loud. She stands for what she believes in and she does it in her own way. That takes a lot of courage and I wish we all could imbibe that in some way. I’ll wrap up with Iris Apfel. I think she is such a stylish lady. I’m sure everyone knows that but the fact that even a small trinket, she can make it her own in her own personal style. That’s what is interesting. It doesn’t have to be expensive, it doesn’t have to be designer, it doesn’t have to be luxury. It’s just what takes her fancy. That gives me an insight about confidence. So much confidence to pull off anything that you think would be appealing, aesthetically pleasing for you and how is it an extension of yourself.
Malini finishes her look with Off Beat Glam Ear Cuffs
How would you define your personal style?
What are some key fashion staples a women needs in her wardrobe to stand out and make a statement?
I think most important is what you are comfortable with. You have to be able to wear something with ease, with confidence and at the same time not have the things wear you but the other way round - you wear them! So you have to find what works for you - we can’t be somebody else…we shouldn’t be so why bother dress like somebody else. For me personally, I’m a white shirt girl. I love white shirts and I have so many of them. I like the idea of clean, minimal, crisp dressing. And then if you’re someone who really enjoys wearing dresses or nice jackets- build upon a wardrobe I would say. I don’t think they are staples but build a wardrobe of it. Key 10 pieces that are your go to and then you can mix it or pair it up with different things. Let’s say a beautiful camel coord - will last you forever and you could think of various ways to wear it. The same goes for someone who wears trousers and you have a great pair of trousers. Then it’s easier to combine things with as opposed to having too many outfits which most of us do. Even I’m thinking how to edit it and how to edit constantly. But you do know in the end, what do you reach out for. When in doubt, you just keep going for certain outfits. It’s because they make you feel good. They fit beautifully and are beautiful quality. Then that is your key wardrobe and that’s how you build it. And then you add, edit….add, edit as and when required. If you are a colour person, then add a one pop of colour that’s always there as opposed to 5 pieces which would be again tough to pair with. I’m someone who really likes separates so I have a lot of separates in my wardrobe. I really enjoy jewellery. I’m someone who enjoys silver tribal jewellery to really concept jewellery. A lot of times my dressing is all about the jewellery and the shoes as opposed to the outfit per say.
Malini seen here in Gold Power Statement Earrings
Malini in Bold n Sassy Gold Crush Necklace
How would you wear and style Zariin’s recent Audacious collection?
Since these are really bold pieces, I would wear maybe one at a time. For example the stackable ear cuffs - I would wear it differently like maybe wear 4 pieces in one ear or maybe 2 on each. I like to play with things. Maybe a bold neckpiece once in a while with maybe a white shirt or something plainer so that stands out and makes a statement. One thing at a time…that’s how I would style it.
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