Bollwood stars in smart travel wear.

Anushka Sharma in long black boots and a blue jacket. Ranbir Kapoor in trademark jeans, T-shirt and cap. Kareena in co-ordinated uppers and lowers carrying an expensive Hermès Birkin bag. Our celebrities were at their stylish best as they were spotted at the airport earlier this month, returning from their year-end travels. No wonder then, the runway is as much a guide to what’s in and out as the ramp. So much so that the “airport look” has become a part of contemporary vocabulary.

“In India, it all started with Priyanka Chopra. She has always been ahead of the times and would come very well dressed to airports at a time when other celebs wouldn’t bother about it,” says celebrity photographer, Viral Bhayani. Though a little vague about the time period he’s referring to, Bhayani believes this was probably about eight-nine years ago.

But fellow paparazzo, Manav Manglani, and celebrity stylists such as Eshaa Amiin and Sanjay Kumar Dauhaliya, trace India’s obsession with celeb-wear at airports to about five-six years ago. “It was the digital boom and the resulting demand for content and ease of sharing photos and information that gave rise to the trend,” Manglani explains.

The spot-a-celeb trend

Of course, Indian celebs are not the only ones to look stylish at airports. Magazines like Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue have articles on best-dressed celebs at airports in the West on their websites.

An article published on the Khaleej Times website in 2018 recalls how (though the phrase ‘airport look’ was yet to be coined) “… back in the Golden Age of Hollywood, actresses like Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor were regularly captured by shutterbugs in glamorous, seductive avatars as they descended from air planes…”. While the article links their “immaculate attire” to “the glamour of air travel itself”, with time, both flights and travel gear lost some of the sheen – till the term “airport look” started trending.

“The airport is one of the places where you can easily spot a celeb,” say Bhayani and Manglani to explain their presence there. “You can catch who’s travelling with whom, indicating personal or professional ties.” Initially these were the stories they were chasing, but then the photos they took made the “airport look” a story in itself.

Stylists insist that travel fashion should be casual and comfortable. “Even stars shouldn’t look too made up. They should not look as if they are going to an event, unless they actually are, straight from the airport,” cautions Dauhaliya. He doesn’t believe in styling airport looks for the celebs, unless they are too busy to pick something out for themselves. But some of the star travel looks now are professionally styled, says Bhayani.

Paparazzi protocol for catching travelling stars

“Was about to land! Wore a new jacket! Product in hair! Big sun glasses were put on! New bag pack positioned for capture! And then….the worse thing happened!!!!! The paps Were NOT there!!!!! Shattered! Will now repeat this look and pray!”.

That was Karan Johar on social media in his tongue-in-cheek style, sometime in 2018.

“Now the celebs know there will be photographers at the airport. They are both mentally prepared and dressed for it. They don’t try to avoid us,” says celebrity photographer, Viral Bhayani. “It’s rare for someone to feel that s/he is not looking okay and then they request us to not take their photos.”

Having raised the expectations of both the celebs and their fans, the paparazzi has to keep up. Bhayani has someone from his team posted at the airport every day between 7am and midnight.

It’s a job that requires patience. Bhayani’s fellow paparazzo, Manav Manglani, says his team does it in shifts 24×7.

“Sometimes stars’ publicists call us to let us know, they also need the coverage,” he says. But that is if there is a film promotion in the offing or (this is mostly true of smaller stars) “they feel they have arrived if their photo is shared on Instagram,” says Bhayani.

Quick tips

1. Comfort and practicality are the two things to keep in mind while travelling. Athleisure is a great way for both men and women to look fashionable without compromising on comfort. Think leggings, track pants, sweats, sneakers.

2. You can carry a backpack or duffle bag for your things.

3. Caps and sunglasses help channel your inner celeb.

4. If wearing jeans, wear comfortable loose fits.

5. If travelling from one weather condition to another, take a jacket or a trench coat.

6. Don’t wear boots. You will just have to take them off at the security area.

7. Don’t try to flash all the treasures of your wardrobe at the same time. Tone it down.

Source: Celebrity stylists Eshaa Amiin and Sanjay Kumar Dauhaliya

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