In her book “How to be a Hepburn in a Hilton World,” author Jordan Christy laments the modern day loss of polite, well-spoken, gracious, charming and thoughtful women, like the yesteryear icons, Kate and Audery Hepburn. In a celebrity obsessed world, where Paris and Lindsay are emulated everywhere, she talks about the grace and charm that women from a bygone era exuded. As she goes on to talk about "real women with brains, beauty and self-respect", I start thinking about India’s own style queens of yesterday – Leela Naidu, and Gayatri Devi. Vogue chose them as being among the most beautiful women in the world. Ironically, and tragically, Gayatri Devi passed away just a day after actress Leela Naidu died in Mumbai.
Gayatri Devi was celebrated for her classical beauty and was a prominent fashion icon in her adulthood, Born a Rajput princess, she regaled the world with her intellect, beauty and regal charm. As Maharani Gayatri Devi she was an icon for her generation. A head-turner with her bobbed brown hair, chiffon saree, and understated, elegant jewellery, she was the quintessential fairy tale princess. Despite her life’s ups and downs, the doe eyed Maharani’s fabled beauty and grace stayed with her, till the very end. It comes as no surprise that she was often compared to former US first lady and style icon Jacqueline Kennedy.
Leela Naidu, on the other hand, was an Indian actress. Her ethereal, mesmerizing looks and subtle, effortless style, tinged with the glamour of her profession made her a timeless beauty. As the world moves on to size zero, chic glamour, one can’t help but hang on to the fleeting memory of the women who truly embodied style and elegance.