January 19, 2017 06:42 PM
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If you haven’t heard of Deepika Padukone, you are about to get your formal introduction. She’s one of the highest-paid actresses in India and has over 14 million followers on Instagram. And this month she’s starring opposite Vin Diesel in the action-packed xXx: Return of Xander Cage. (She might even be dating the actor, judging by this candid interview with Ellen DeGeneres.)

This is the first time Padukone is breaking into the American film market, so of course she enlisted the help of one of Hollywood’s most seasoned stylists, Elizabeth Saltzman, who also works with Gwyneth Paltrow and Uma Thurman. And her red carpet tour has been packed with one head-turning look after the next. Says Padukone of their relationship, “When you have someone like Elizabeth styling you, [she] comes with a lot of experience, so I trust her a lot. She has a vision for me which sometimes might be different from what I’m used to wearing for so many years. I think fashion is about feeling your best self but also having fun. It’s important to have fun on the red carpet and to push the boundaries every time you step out. But I also believe, and I think Elizabeth believes, at the end of the day it’s your personality that needs to shine through.”

How did you meet Deepika?
“When her team called me six months ago, and I didn’t realize that she had never been on a carpet in America. When I saw she had more than 14 million followers I was blown away. I flew to LA and I met her. She walked into the room and I went, ‘Oh, she is so beautiful.’ It’s just sort of breathtaking and she’s smiling and fun and  real beauty. Not just an on-paper beauty or photographic beauty. The elegance within outshines her natural beauty.”

What’s your favorite look you’ve done with her? 
“I have two so far. One is the Joanna Ortiz black suit she wore in Mexico. That was the first time we saw her pared down. There was no jewelry. Her hair was just luscious and simple. It was all about saying, ‘I am a confident, beautiful woman and I am here representing other women.’ It just looked elegant to me but still fresh. And then of course the InStyle Golden Globes party. I brought eight or ten dresses with me all of which I truly loved and she walked into the room and she immediately migrated towards the yellow Ralph Lauren. It was very funny because she walked over and she goes, ‘I don’t like the color yellow, I’ve never worn the color yellow, but I love this dress.’ She was excited about it because she’d never wore a yellow dress. She put it on, we didn’t do a thing. It felt attainable yet seriously elegant, and it’s a dress you can sit in for four hours before having your picture taken. That’s what’s so scary about that event. You’re going to a viewing party, and they don’t snap you until after that.”

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What’s her secret for pulling off color so well?
“Her skin tone is beautiful, and I also think that she’s comfortable with color. A lot of people go to black or stay with neutrals because they don’t live in a place where color is as easy to wear. Color is so accepted in so many parts of the world, and she’s just comfortable with it.”

What does she ask for in fittings?
“We’re just getting to know each other so the fashion romance is just starting, but she’s interested in all designers. She’s really excited to wear clothes and to be current and to start her career outside of India. She wants to start new fashion relationships, because she doesn’t really have that yet with American, Italian and French designers. She hasn’t had the crossover yet so I think she’s just genuinely excited about people that she doesn’t know.”

How does she describe her look to you?
“She uses the word sporty. She has an athletic body. She is very in-shape without being hard-bodied. She likes things that are semi athletic, that’s a word that she used for our first phone meeting, on our first date. I said tell me what you love about yourself, tell me what your most favorite part is. I interviewed her for that and she said I really like things that are athletic.”

That Prabal Gurung tank dress had an athletic vibe – Did she gravitate towards that?
“Yes. It’s not a new dress, it’s been seen, it’s been worn. But it looks so good on her body and she wore it to the right place. I am excited to see where I take her to.”

How about that red Stella McCartney moment?
“That dress has an understated elegance. It takes a sophisticated girl to be able to wear it and it takes someone comfortable in themselves not to want to be sexy. And if there’s any message in fashion right now it’s about sleeves. The dress had a great sleeve moment. I loved it because reminded me a little bit of Halston in the ’80s or Calvin Klein in the ’80s. It’s Stella’s take on the chic woman of today.”

Pramod Thakur/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

What about the more street style look? The pants with the black jacket.
“Her plane look with the Philipp Plein leggings when she landed in Mumbai, that’s her sporty self. That’s not what she was supposed to wear. And I appreciate the fact that that’s the real her. I really embrace letting people be confident and be comfortable and also be themselves.”

Says Padukone of the wide range of looks, “As far as this tour is concerned, I think we’ve done a little bit of everything. We’ve done the old school Hollywood, the slightly sporty numbers, the classic sexy ones, we’ve done some fun looks. I think we’ve sort of covered everything, but you know, fashion is unpredictable and there’s always something new to try!” We can’t wait to see what she wears tonight

What do you think of Deepika’s breakout style? Share below!

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