Kalyani Chawla, the vice president of Dior’s marketing and communication ventures in India, speaks to us about beauty and the industry.
Her charisma is undeniably charming and what I love the best about her is the way she wears her Bengali-ness on her sleeve while sharing with you with effortless ease, the essence of chic, Parisian lifestyle. She is indeed a perfect balance of the elegant and the earthy. My conversations with her generally start with work but invariably move to our “Calcutta connection”. Here’s an excerpt of one of our recent, and perhaps the most loveable, chats where we discuss beauty, Bollywood and of course, the secret of being a beautiful (albeit lazy) Bengali.
Jhelum: Almost every other person I speak to these days is training to run some marathon or is contemplating to do so… Are you also on that track?
Kalyani: (Laughs and sighs) I am a lazy Bengali, and nothing quite seems like an incentive when it comes to exercise but if I had Milind Soman (In July 2015, the actor/model completed the Ironman Triathlon, which includes a 3.8-km swim, a 180.2-km cycle ride and 42.2-km run without a break, in 15 hours and 19 minutes) to run with or rather, to, I would!
J: It’s an old and boring question but nevertheless; let me ask you – what does “beauty” mean to you?
K: Hmmm… without sounding like a contestant from a beauty pageant; for me, when I look at someone, beauty has to have something more than just a physical angle. There has to be a character, even if I don’t know the person. If I know the person I look for integrity. In this industry I meet so many good looking people and almost always it is the integrity and character of the person that is beautiful for me.
J: What according to you is the most overrated aspect of beauty?
K: To look young! It has become a disease almost. Go to a beauty salon for a simple blow dry and you will see communications suggesting you try out anti-ageing procedures like botox, fillers and so on. The beauty business has undoubtedly become one of the biggest industries but in that process, this quest for youth has become destructive side effect. What is sad is that today even 20-year-olds feel compelled to try procedures, which they wouldn’t need for the next 30 years!
J: What for you has been the most exciting thing about the beauty industry this season?
K: The nude look, minimalistic makeup. Gone are the days of heavy makeup, it’s the fresh and natural that is now beautiful. I have always liked wearing smokey eyes but of late I have veered towards that no-makeup look – which by the way takes as long to do.
J: What’s your observation about the Indian beauty industry?
K: It is totally Bollywood centric. Bollywood is the biggest vehicle and our stars have a staggering reach in India, and globally. All beauty brands have Bollywood actresses as brand ambassadors who epitomise beauty. There’s modernity and beauty coupled with immense talent that actors like Deepika Padukone, Sonam Kapoor and Kangana Ranaut reflect. They inspire the youth and represent the young, modern Indian women.
J: For you, being well put together is a job pressure or something you do because you love to?
K: Being born and brought up in Calcutta, I almost always stuck out like a sore thumb while experimenting with a style, which is distinctly my own. On my 18th birthday I wore my mother’s Banarasi saree as a dhoti with a Nehru jacket and a turban. My style was greatly influenced by my Thakuma (paternal grandmother) who was great fashionista and travelled extensively with my grandfather. Her collection of Kashmiri shawls and South Indian silks were custom-made for her. We had a permanent tailor at home who made clothes for us from magazine tear-outs. My Dida (maternal grandmother) was an epitome of a Bengali woman with her crisp Tangail sarees and sindoor. I draw my traditional influences from her.
J: Okay now here’s what many would like to know, what’s your beauty secret and your daily beauty regime?
K: Oh the secret is maach (fish) and my genes! I have eaten fish every day of my life. Apart from that I follow a very simple routine – cleansing, moisturising and sun protection. I use a sunscreen every day without fail. It is an absolute must. Another thing which I follow strictly is cleaning up my face before going to bed. No matter how tired I am, I never go to bed without cleansing. First, I take off the makeup with M.A.C Wipes and use Dior Instant Eye Makeup Remover to clean the eye makeup. After that I wash my face with Himalaya Purifying Neem Face Wash. For skincare, I use Dior Capture Totale’s Multi-Perfection Crème, Intensive Restorative Night Crème Face and Neck and Multi-Perfection Eye Treatment.
J: A perfume that defines you?
K: J’adore by Dior