Making bad look good
From a Chanel suit teamed with an 1980s-inspired sequined belt and a futuristic metallic blouse that she wore to the UK Royal Charity premiere of Cold Mountain to the fiery red Balenciaga gown with a bow that she was seen in at the 2007 Oscars and the mermaid-style bronze dress that she donned more recently at the 2013 Oscars, Nicole Kidman's fashion choices have evolved considerably in the past decade or so. There have been some style lows as well. (Who can forget the velvet top with a sheer asymmetric dress that she wore to the 2011 CMT Music Awards?) But Kidman has now come to be known for her unique yet elegant style. On screen too, her choice of roles reflect this transformation from volatile characters such as Rae in Dead Calm (1981) to intense roles such as that of Evie in Stoker (2013).
Standing at 5'11", with a snow white complexion, Kidman has come to be identified with L'Wren Scott's designs - be it the "headmistress dress" or the square-necked sheaths. The designer, who passed away recently, herself stood at a statuesque 6'4" and understood Kidman's height and body structure perfectly.
Kidman is also known for her choice of accessories. For instance, she wore an Armani Prive jewel encrusted royal blue gown paired with Harry Winston sparklers to the Cannes Red Carpet for a premiere of her film, Grace of Monaco. In 2008, she wore a dazzling necklace, The Sautoir, produced and manufactured by Uni-Design Limited in Paris and India and it was a combination of 7,645 rough and polished diamonds. Kidman's Indian connect doesn't just stop at this dazzling neck piece. In the past, she had commissioned designer Ritu Beri to create dresses for the premieres of Eyes Wide Shut and Moulin Rouge. "Kidman likes a taste of India rather than a full-blown sari," said Beri in a 2002 interview to The Guardian.
And if rumours are to be believed, Arjun Rampal recently gifted Kidman a Tarun Tahiliani sari when he met her for an ad campaign. Who knows, that might be her next red carpet appearance!
It is believed that no one does shades of grey better than Kidman and she is back to doing just that with her new role in the soon-to-be-released Paddington. Based on the 1958 children's book by Michael Bond, the story revolves around an orphaned bear who travels from Peru to England to find a loving home with the Brown family. In the film adaption, Kidman plays a taxidermist who tries to stuff Paddington. "It is always fun to play the villain as they are so colourful. And with the costumes and the way in which Paul King [the director] gave me so many things to play around with in the character, it was a really fun thing to be able to do," says 47-year-old Kidman in an email interview. She reveals that her daughters, Faith and Sunday, too enjoyed the riveting story.
"I grew up reading Paddington and loving the bear - loving his charm and the way he sort of had to survive. I suppose being Australian, it was one of the books that you had to read and I always wanted my own Paddington Bear," she says. And she got her wish with the film. When she came on board, Kidman was curious to see how the film maker would design the bear. "I was amazed. They showed me the bear and I was like, he's adorable. Absolutely adorable!" she says.
Be it The Hours or Cold Mountain, Kidman has been seen in roles where the characters have been a firm departure from her real life persona. The actor maintains that she is open to changing for a film. "I always come into a film and go: Okay, change me. Make me what you want me to be," she says. "I learnt in acting school that your whole physicality is just a thing that's there to be changed so that you can create characters. A lot of times, I have ideas that take form as I talk to the director and the costume director because they're usually very, very strong in their visions."
"Kidman is a style chameleon. I first saw her in Bangkok Hilton [a 1989 three-part mini series] and she looked stunning even then," says designer Rina Dhaka. "Today, with grooming and more global exposure, she has transformed into a diva." Dhaka believes that for an Indian woman as fit and athletic as Kidman, a sheer, fitted gown would help accentuate the curves. "Big skirts in silk, tea length with pointy pumps would also do the needful. For a more casual look, I would suggest a leather trench coat, skinny jeans and maybe, white cutwork pants."
Malini Ramani too feels that Kidman is a designer's dream and Indian clothes would do justice to her towering height. For someone with a similar height, a Goddess sari drape with Hanut Singh's new Mughal teardrop earrings would be ideal, she says. "Gold is the colour that will bring out the best in someone like Kidman. Though, I also think that one of my more sophisticated tribal dresses with fringes, not too hippy, will do the magic," adds Ramani.
Kolkata-based designer Kiran Uttam Ghosh agrees and adds on a lighter note that even if you put Kidman in a sack, she will look fabulous. "A simple gold sari, with no embroidery or any accessories, should be enough to get a dramatic result" says Ghosh about dressing an Indian woman with Kidman's complexion.