The Stars of Style [S -Z]

Actors Impacting Indian Fashion

Film still of Sadhana and Sunil Dutt in Mera Saaya (1966)Original Source: Premji


1958 - 1981 
1953 - 1993

After her debut film Love In Simla (1960) Sadhana’s iconic hairdo, a styled fringe which is commonly referred to as the ‘Sadhana Cut’, was imitated by countless women in the 1960s. Sadhana, working with Bhanu Athaiya, also conceptualised the idea of the currently popular tight, fitted kameez for her role in Waqt (1965) with the intention of giving her body more definition.

Film still of Sadhana Shivdasani, 1960s, From the collection of: Museum of Design Excellence
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Beginning as a radio jockey to becoming one of Bollywood’s most sought after actors, Sunil Dutt’s charismatic personality found standing in mystery and romantic films alike. From basic khaki shirts in Mother India (1957), to leather jackets, collared t-shirts, and denim jeans in Hamraaz (1967), Sunil Dutt, like many of his contemporaries, effortlessly embraced the styles that were representative of the zeitgeist.

Film still of Sunil Dutt, 1950s, From the collection of: Museum of Design Excellence
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Saif Ali Khan (2010s)Museum of Design Excellence


1993 - Present

From his casual, boyish charm exhibited through his plain white tee and denim jeans in Dil Chahta Hai (2001) to his Russian avatar dressed leather vest, fitted v-neck t-shirt, blonde hair and aviators in Go Goa Gone (2013), Saif Ali Khan established himself as a style icon. His experimental looks and sculpted physique have been an inspiration from the carefree days of the early 2000s to the fashion-forward 2020s.

Film still of Kajol and Saif Ali Khan in Yeh Dillagi, 1994, Original Source: Yash Chopra & Uday Chopra (Producers)
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Film still of Saira Banu (1960)Museum of Design Excellence


1961 - 1976


Saira Banu is one of the few actresses of the 1960s and 1970s who managed to successfully carry western styles along with Indian attire. The actress’s winged eyeliner and low, tight-fitting saris and salwar kameez got the attention of imitators and stylists across the nation. Known for often adorning a fine set of pearls with her brightly coloured outfits and immaculate hairstyles, Sair Banu’s timeless style continues to serve as inspiration for upcoming actresses. 

Salman Khan (Early 1990s)Museum of Design Excellence


1988 - Present

The New Macho

Over the years, Salman Khan has introduced numerous fads into India’s fashion world. His leather jacket in Maine Pyar Kiya (1989), middle-parted hair in Tere Naam (2003), and his ripped jeans and shirtless look in Pyaar Kiya Toh Darna Kya (1998) redefined machismo in Indian cinema. Salman Khan also made silver earrings, bandanas, and aviator sunglasses - which he hung on his back collar in Dabangg (2010) - popular styles amongst his fans.

Shabana Azmi (2000s)Museum of Design Excellence


1973 - Present

Smouldering Chic

Along with her range of sari-clad looks, Shabana Azmi was a champion of the simple and chic look in the 1970s. Her makeup would primarily consist of nude lips, flushed cheeks, bindis, and kajal that would emphasise her emotive, intense eyes.

Shahrukh Khan (2000s)Museum of Design Excellence


1988 - Present

Shahrukh Khan, continues to set and break trends through his characters and his fashion. From Raj’s leather jacket and hat in Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995), Rahul’s lycra, sporty tee accessorised with chain necklaces and wrist bands in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998), Major Ram Prasad’s layered look comprising sweaters, trench coats, and scarves in Main Hoo Na (2004), to his complete transformation as a RAW agent in Pathaan (2023). Such is his magnetism that the loudest hoots and whistles are reserved for his appearance over the most gorgeous female actors.  

Film still of Rani Mukherji and Shahrukh Khan in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, 1998, Original Source: Yash Johar (Producer)
Film still of Shahrukh Khan, 1990, From the collection of: Museum of Design Excellence
Shahrukh Khan, 2010s, From the collection of: Museum of Design Excellence
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Shashi Kapoor (1970s)Museum of Design Excellence


1941 - 1999

Right from his debut film Dharmputra (1961) where he wears a plain kurta pyjama, Nehru jacket, and a printed scarf tied around his neck, Shashi Kapoor established himself as a style icon. While his clothing was more understated compared to his contemporaries, (he was often styled by his wife Jennifer Kendall) Shashi Kapoor’s high-waisted denim pants, bright coloured shirts, chic suits, and scarves became a must-have for men wishing to emulate his charismatic personality.

Film still of Shashi Kapoor and Sharmila Tagore shooting for Waqt, 1965, Original Source: B.R Chopra (Producer)
Shashi Kapoor and Jennifer Kendal, 1960s, Original Source: Kunal Kapoor
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Shilpa Shetty (1990s)Museum of Design Excellence


1993 - Present

Sultry Style

Whether it was her animal printed cropped-top, mini skirt, and knee-high leather boots in Main Khiladi Tu Anari (1994), her gossamer, white, ankle-length flowy dress in Karz: The Burden of Truth (2002), or her sensual, vibrant street-wear, fearless fashion diva, Shilpa Shetty, has amazed not just the film industry but also set sartorial trends.

Simi Garewal (1960s)Museum of Design Excellence


1962 - Present

The Lady in White

Simi Garewal showcased her penchant for the colour with finery that ranged from fur jackets to white lace ensembles. After garnering limelight through Mera Naam Joker (1970), Simi Garewal went on to memorable roles in a number of films, all the while maintaining her chic, elegant style. Some elements of her wardrobe, such as her white chiffon sari, pearl necklace, and maroon bindi, parallel the style of another fashion icon, Maharani Gayatri Devi

Smita Patil (1990s)Museum of Design Excellence


1974 - 1986

Through her disruptive roles, Smita Patil was often seen as a “real” woman, and her relatable acting and simple style appealed to the masses. Her ensembles may have been relatively plain, yet her fervour and passion carried her characters with incomparable beauty and poise, such as her red, sari-clad Sonbai in Mirch Masala (1987) who brazenly defied prevailing repressions.  

Sridevi in Mr India (1987)Original Source: Boney Kapoor & Surinder Kapoor (Producers)


1967 - 2018

From her iconic diaphanous, french blue sari in Mr India (1987) to her perfectly draped Sabyasachi cotton saris in English Vinglish (2021), Sridevi’s ensembles emanate creativity and originality. Her dynamic yet elegant looks have remained a significant source of inspiration to designers, actors, and fashionistas.

Urmila Matondkar (c.1998)Museum of Design Excellence


1977 - Present

Aayi Re

Urmila Matondkar's attire and attitude in Rangeela (1995) brought about a significant change to India’s sartorial game and represented a fusion of the 1980’s disco glam and the 1990s nonchalance. Her plain, vibrant skater dresses, berets, mini, plaid skirts, and pigtails won the film one of the first Filmfare awards for Costume Design.



Swimming trunks in Maha Badmaash (1977), monochrome safari suits in Aan Milo Sajna (1970), or oversized square-framed glasses in Mere Apne (1971), Vinod Khanna could pull off an assortment of styles with incomparable flair. His daring colour choices and intrepid play with accessories such as bow ties and scarves gave Vinod Khanna legendary status amongst fashion enthusiasts.

Vinod Khanna, 2000s, From the collection of: Museum of Design Excellence
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Waheeda Rehman (Late 1950s)Museum of Design Excellence


1955 - Present

As one of the defining faces of the Golden Era of Bollywood cinema, Waheeda Rehman’s timeless elegance, memorable on-screen presence, and phenomenal dancing skills continue to be a source of inspiration to many. She was one of the pioneers of the churidar kurta-collar look, and made unconventional choices in not only fashion - such as her georgette saris, minimal make-up look, and winged eyeliner - but also with her on-screen roles. Waheeda Rehman set numerous beauty and style standards for women in the late 1960s and also played a significant role in breaking stereotypes and empowering women.

Waheeda Rehman, 1960, From the collection of: Museum of Design Excellence
Waheeda Rehman, c.1960, From the collection of: Museum of Design Excellence
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Zeenat Aman (1970s)Museum of Design Excellence


1970 - Present

Through bold moves such as wearing a two-piece swimsuit and sensuous dresses in Qurbani (1980), Zeenat Aman redefined the identity of a strong female character and introduced new forms of sexuality to Bollywood. Her most popular ensemble was from her role as Janice in Hare Rama Hare Krishna (1971) where her attire comprised winged eyeliner, orange kurtas, tinted sunglasses, large red bindi, and rudraksh beads; this look became a popular fad during the hippie era of the 1970s.

Zeenat Aman, 1970s, From the collection of: Museum of Design Excellence
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