Exclusive: A Masterclass in Maximalism by Rhea Kapoor

Redefining the idea of maximalism in clothing, natural diamonds, and styling with Rhea Kapoor’s favourite fashion moments

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On Rhea KapoorEarrings & Ring Notandas​ Jewellers • Necklace A.S Motiwala Fine Jewellery.

There’s nuance to maximalism, in Rhea Kapoor’s style language. Rather than a “more is more” aesthetic, it’s about celebrating a mood or an idea to the fullest extent of its emotion, communicating it in a way that is clear and profound. Which is why some of her favourite looks — a selection of those she’s styled as well as simply been inspired by — are, paradoxically, also a lesson in restraint: Pared-back natural diamonds, sharp tailoring, unadorned ensembles. As we look back at these style moments, we also reflect on what sets apart the women who wore them.

Sonam Kapoor at Cannes Film Festival, 2019

Rhea Kapoor Styling Sonam Kapoor at Cannes with Natural Diamond Earrings
On Model • Necklace Khanna Jewellers • Earrings Anmol • Ring Moksh • Sari Shehlaa Khan • Sonam’s Image Courtesy Rhea Kapoor

How much drama can one create with modern minimalism? That’s the approach that guided Rhea Kapoor in styling her sister, Sonam Kapoor, at Cannes. That it was her first outing at Cannes representing a jeweller, Chopard, made it all the more challenging.

“I researched a lot of male Indian royals, like the Maharaja of Patiala, and was inspired by the jewellery they would commission. It was always beautiful natural diamonds with gemstones and incredible craftsmanship,” she says. The lasting relevance of these pieces informed a contemporary custom take on the tuxedo, adapted to incorporate the drama of a flowing gown. The finishing touch came with a layered Columbian emerald and natural diamond necklace, a piece that was love at first sight.

“I wanted the jewellery to enhance her best features — her beautiful long neck and strong bone structure. Sonam loves jewellery and looks at it as art, which it is, and I knew she would enjoy wearing these pieces and carry them with grace, even though there was androgyny in the look.”

For Rhea, there is a sense of sisterhood in styling, which is amplified more so when it’s her real sister. This look was styled to to show how strength and femininity can coexist — an update to it, then, carries the original essence. “My take on the look today would be to modernise my favourite garment, which is a sari. To give it a bit of an edge, but soften it with beautiful real diamonds.”

Kareena Kapoor Khan at her Film Promotion, 2019

Kareena Kapoor Khan with Natural Diamond Earrings
On Model • Earrings KAJ Fine Jewellery • Rings A.S Motiwala Fine Jewellery • Bracelets Thakorlal Hiralal • Dress Antithesis • Kareena’s Image Courtesy Rhea

Kareena Kapoor Khan’s story is written in her face. In her structured jawline, blushed complexion, and bright piercing eyes. To Rhea Kapoor, it says — if not screams — movie star. Everything else, whether clothes or jewellery, is simply an accessory. An Elie Saab jumpsuit with a drape that evokes old-school regality became the perfect canvas for this look.

“I’m not naturally a minimalist, so I added punch with dangly mesh statement earrings in natural diamonds. She loves diamonds, and on her it was just perfection — classic and glamorous. What I love most about Kareena is her sense of confidence, and this look exemplifies that. It’s about wearing a simple black jumpsuit with a pair of classic diamond earrings and saying, I’m current and I’m timeless.”

There’s a reason styling is so intensely personal, matching not only an occasion or a body type, but also the soul of what defines the wearer. Which is why the same outfit doesn’t always translate — there’s nothing objective about a good look. “If I were to wear this, I would choose a fabric that lends itself to the evening, like satin or something sequinned, and perhaps stack more jewellery, play around with diamond bracelets, create more edge.”

Rhea Kapoor at her Wedding After Party, 2021

Rhea Kapoor's Styling Natural Diamond Solitaire Necklace at her Wedding After Party
On Model • Solitaire Earrings Om Jewellers • Bracelet & Necklace De Beers by Om • Corset & Skirt That Antiquepiece • Cape Reik Studio • Rhea’s Image Courtesy Rhea Kapoor (House Of Pixels)

A flute of champagne in one hand, chaat in the other, barefoot with a string of solitaire diamonds around her neck. As a bride, Rhea Kapoor was unequivocally herself. In a wedding afterparty of 20 people amid a pandemic, she created space to celebrate a moment close to her heart — every piece of jewellery or clothing selected intentionally.

“The diamonds my husband gave me for our wedding is what I wore for the afterparty. And they are some of my most prized possessions because I know how hard he worked to get them for me. Also, he’s not really a gift giver and I know he did it just to make me happy.” Her natural diamonds, then, are an extension of this commitment.

Simple, to the point, and always in style, diamond solitaires are a mainstay of her personal style — whether worn with track pants and a T-shirt or, in the case of the afterparty, a corseted white dress with a shawl by designers Abu Jani and Sandip Khosla. “I wouldn’t want to change anything about my wedding outfit. The new adaptation of this look is the idea of structure, with a white corset. For me, structure works really well; the outfit has to be nipped and tucked and draped at the right places.”

Zendaya at the Vanity Fair Oscars After-Party, 2022

Zendaya's at Vanity Fair Oscars After-Party styling Natural Diamond Brooch
On Model • Brooches & Rings Moksh • Suit & Shirt Suket Dhir • Zendaya’s Image Courtesy Getty Images.

“I love the youth and irreverence of this look, as well as the natural diamond brooch. Especially in this look, it says — I’m a woman and I’m glamorous, and just because I’m wearing a tie doesn’t mean I don’t love beautiful things. I love that contrast. I started collecting brooches when I was 18 years old. People would make fun of me, saying it’s so old-fashioned, but it’s just another way to adorn yourself, mix and match, and give your clothes personality. With Zendaya, you can see that she dresses for herself, and that’s what really inspires me. I love the way she wears her clothes; you can tell she knows the intention of the look and is aware of her attitude or how she’s going to strike a pose.”

“For my version of this look, I’d do a pantsuit by Suket Dhir — I have not seen a designer who plays so effortlessly with prints and proportions. No matter how feminine a print may be, it looks strong, it has a point of view.”

Rihanna at the Met Gala, 2014

Rihanna's Iconic Met Gala Outfit with Diamond Choker and Geometric Style
On ModelChoker, Necklace, Rings, Earring A.S Motiwala Fine Jewellery • Skirt & Bandhgala. Raghavendra Rathore • Rihanna’s Image Courtesy Getty Images

“Everything about this outfit enhances the natural lines of Rihanna’s body, but at the same time it seems graphic, minimal, geometric. I love how the diamond choker breaks the high neck of this outfit so well. There are no rules when it comes to styling — there are so many times when I’ve placed a cuff on a long sleeve or a belt on a high-waisted jean. It’s about enhancing the proportion of the outfit. Rihanna is such an icon and rule-breaker, and the accessorising of this outfit is fresh yet classic. She expresses who she is, she makes her own path, and she inspires me so much every day. Somehow, I imagine she layers and wears her rings herself, even if a stylist dresses her.”

“For my recreation of this particular look, I’d choose a cropped ivory bandh gala by Raghavendra Rathore, and layer it with a lot of beautiful diamond necklaces — echoing the sartorial style of maharajas of the past. Jewellery sits so beautifully on Indian menswear.”

Photographer: Sheldon Santos 
Stylist: Rhea Kapoor with Abhilasha Devnani 
Model:  Sharda Sharma, Blunt Creatives
HMU (Model): Riddhima Sharma 
HMU (Rhea Kapoor): Savleen Manchanda Production:  By The Gram