Luxury consultant, socialite and style aficionado Sheetal Mafatlal lets us in on her choicest trend notes and takeaways in hair and beauty.
Text Rachna Virdi
Style comes naturally to Sheetal Mafatlal. The amazing fashionista knows how to slay different trends, prints and combinations with elegance and confidence. Her style is high fashion and maximalism. For Sheetal, fashion is not just about the runway, it’s about translating the runway into what a real woman needs. It’s a combination of personal style and current fashion trends, which create an aura of feminine sensuality, glamour, elegance, and the edgy-chic appeal. It’s something that just can’t be ‘purchased’. She believes, people can buy the same designer pieces, but what sets them apart is the way they wear it. In an interaction with HAIR, the charming socialite talks about how she manages to keep her hair and beauty game always at its peak.
A style icon known to steer towards high fashion and maximalism, what are the things that have shaped your interests in life?
Maximalism is an apt word to describe my style. I believe in the term ‘More is more’. You can never have too much of a good thing. There is no limit to luxury and I am always drawn towards perfection and high quality. Style is a reflection of one’s personality and therefore I always gravitate towards opulence. It’s just being myself that has shaped the way I am. Sometimes the style may be over the top or statement-making, like Gucci’s Mickey Mouse or Chanel ‘shopping cart’ handbag. I like to infuse fun in my style. I never deliberately force myself to like styles because they are trending and so if I do want to adopt a fashion trend I will always personalise it to suit my aesthetics. Like the new trend of tracksuits and trainers; I have started wearing them but in my own unique way. Another example is minimalistic interiors; while I may appreciate it for its own beauty it’s not something that I would want in my own home. I love my object d’art, flowers and candles too much.
Coming across as elegant and graceful, can you share the secret behind your personal style?
For me, style is something that is inherent. As I said, it’s a reflection of your personality. You’re either born with it or not, but one can always try to cultivate it too. My style is a complete reflection of me. It may be over the top maximalist because that’s the way I was brought up – surrounded by beauty and opulence. The secret of my style is that it’s ‘just the way I am’. Whether I’m at home or at a social event, I will always be groomed and dressed for the occasion; I will always eat on the dinner table and never in my bedroom; whether I have guests at home or not, everything will be served in the same way; and irrespective of whether I am going out or not, my hair will always be done.
Being a fashionista, is it important to stay on top of your hair and beauty game too?
Yes, it’s absolutely vital and your regime has to become a part of your daily routine, like how we brush our teeth everyday. Your hair is your crowning glory and it’s an absolute must to have a fantastic hairdresser on speed dial in every city or to even make sure you travel with one! Hair is what completes a look so it should be given very high priority. Also remember, there is nothing effortless about the new trending ‘effortless look’. A lot of effort goes on behind the screens to create that look too.
You’re partial to designer Allessandro Michele’s bold headdresses and team them with ensembles or wear them as a turban. Are you generally fond of headgears?
I find hair accessories supremely stylish. Your hair is your crowning glory and hair accessories can dress up any outfit when worn appropriately. There’s also something nostalgic about decorating your hair with sparkly clips and beautiful bands that I’m sure most girls have done as a child and through different phases of growing up. It channels our inner princess and a dressing up game that evolves from being cute as a child to glamorous as an adult.
For me Alessandro Michele’s take on the turban, head band and other hair accessories resonates with that Hollywood glamour from the 30’s or 40’s era which is beautiful, exotic and iconic. I say, have fun with fashion and that always includes your hair too.
What are your earliest memories of decking up?
I was a version of Blaire Waldorf growing up, running around with either a hair band or something similar that felt like my imagined tiara. There was a daily struggle with my governess to get ready each morning, fussing over my ‘bad hair day’ or ‘out-of-fashion plait’ or negotiating to add just one more clip, bow or something to dress up my non-existent style quotient in my drab school uniform. I guess, that taught me how to improve a boring outfit.
Is there a special regime / grandmas secret recipes you you follow to maintain and spruce up your hair?
I’m a pill-popper and can’t do without my daily dose of vitamins. Healthy hair is fundamentally down to good genetics but nourishment with the right supplements such as iron, zinc, magnesium and vitamin d3 can do wonders to your hair. External treatments also give you a feeling of pampered indulgence and can be very relaxing but those are temporary fixes. It really is what you consume that actually helps you, as you are giving the body the nutrients it needs to regenerate and nourish your hair, nails and organs. So put down those diet drinks (note to self) and opt for mineral water instead.
What’s your personal hair and beauty mechanism like?
Though I try but realistically I am not as practical as I believe I am with a hair or beauty regimen. One should aim at getting the best results in the shortest time but, with me, that seems to never happen. Some things just can’t be rushed! So I give in and make the time as I’ve realised that for the best results you can’t cut corners. You should also focus on the quality of the products you use in terms of the ingredients they contain and their suitability. I always research a product before I buy it to check what it contains. You have to make smart choices about what products you use on yourself because often the price tag doesn’t relate to the quality of the contents. Use what suits you, and not a product surrounded by marketing hype or price tag.
What are your 5 best and most favourite vanity products?
The hair and skin products from ‘Sesderma’ created by Dr Serrano. For instance, CVit intensive care ampoules; Hidraderm Hyal facial cream; Salises face wash; Retises eye cream; and Seskavel anti-hair loss shampoo, conditioner and serum.
How do you handle a haircare or beauty mistake?
Keep calm and carry on! Unfortunately, mistakes sometimes do happen but the best solution is a positive attitude and quick thinking in your favour by changing the style or adapting it to work for achieving your look.
What’s the best compliment you’ve received for your hair and looks?
Being called a muse by the renowned artist Francesco Clemente. He recognised me immediately and recalled meeting me years before in London and said that he had engrained my profile in his mind ever since that first meeting almost 10 years prior and used it to inspire a series of paintings. I shall never forget that moment. He later presented me with a portrait of myself which I shall always cherish and be grateful for.
Do you believe in visiting salons and spas for beauty treatments to feel pampered?
I am a salon junkie, obsessed and addicted! I go to the hairdresser almost everyday, irrespective of any special occasion and where ever in the world I maybe. Spas are enjoyable from time to time but it’s not on my daily ‘must do’ list.
Describe your guilty indulgence for hair and beauty?
Retreating to Dr Serrano’s Centro Wellness Centre in Valencia for 10 days (twice a year) is my guilty indulgence for hair, beauty and relaxation. I emerge feeling refreshed and revitalised.
Do you follow an exercise regime to stay healthy?
I do follow an exercise regime but more than to stay healthy. I do it to stay an Italian size 38 & French 36. I like to stay in shape so I can fit into what I call my ‘reality check’ blue jeans. If those start getting tight, it’s a reality check to hit the gym harder. After all, what is life without fashion?
Do you also plan a diet checklist?
I never go on a drastic or fad diet. That’s a guaranteed way to gain it all back the moment you get off it. The trick is to follow a diet that can fit into your lifestyle permanently and allow you to easily eat when out of your home too. No one wants to be branded as the difficult guest when invited out. I believe, one should eat correctly, cheat occasionally and keep a balance between the food groups i.e. carbs, proteins, vegetables and dairy products. Cardio is always the remedy for that occasional over indulgence.
With the festive season round the corner, what festive look do you suggest?
Go for gold! This year, fashion is all about shades of gold; so for me the theme should be ‘Golden Girl’. During the festive season, one can be more extravagant and make an exaggerated, dramatic statement for hair, make-up and clothes. That’s when you can bring on the bling!
What’s your favourite hair trend for the season?
This year for hairstyles it was all about the braid and is bound to follow through into the festive season. That should be the base around which your hair styling should revolve: braids with open hair, braids with a ponytail, braids with a top knot or braids with braids.
Fashion is not just about runway, it’s about translating the runway into what a real woman needs. Comment.
I believe that fashion on the runway, especially couture, is a form of art. High fashion is not meant to be practical; it’s all about pushing the boundaries aesthetically and making a statement of beauty. That’s why there is a difference between haute couture and high street trends. A real woman can want either; it is whatever empowers her and is an extension of her style that will dictate her direction. While trends can be picked up and translated into practical day-to-day wear, the runway cannot become practical high-street wear. That will translate into the death of high fashion and we would never want that.
Family heirlooms hold a special place in your heart.
Yes, heirloom pieces are very dear to me. Firstly, they are special because they usually exude a certain craftsmanship that you just don’t see anymore. The way things used to be made traditionally in the past and carried a special quality are lacking in today’s factory-produced items. What makes heirlooms truly special is the sentimental value attached to the piece. It could be a personal object that reminds you of that special person i.e. my father’s reading glasses, or something more wearable like my grandmother’s saris and pearls. I look at Sabyasachi’s latest campaign that spells old-world charm and it transports me to the times I spent with my grandmother. Heirlooms hold a timeless emotional connection to loved ones; I wear these pieces with pride in honour of the memory of that person.
Your closing note for readers…
Don’t forget it can be ‘hair today and gone tomorrow’, so take good care of your hair and have fun with it. Enjoy experimenting with new styles and making heads turn wherever you go.
Rapid fire with Sheetal
I believe: Style is not just about what you wear but how you wear it; it’s not about just fashion. It’s the way you move, the way you speak, the way you live, the things that you surround yourself with, even the way you do the most mundane things.
My style game is: Always at its peak and I love haute couture garments from Balmain, Gucci, Chanel, St Laurent and more.
Notable pieces in my wardrobe: My Versace lehenga and red feather-trimmed la Perla dressing gown.
I love wearing: Accessories and ensembles by Gucci designer Alessandro Michele. I am partial to his bold headdresses, teaming them with minimal and maximalist ensembles, and often wear them as an alternative to a turban.
The biggest challenge: It is to predict the next big trend and also the consumer mindset.
I was seen at: The Paris Haute Couture Week, with Roberta Armani, Jean Paul Gaultier and Alber Elbaz.
My favourite holiday destinations: Paris, along with The French Riviera and the Swiss Alps.