The words “style icon” are not words that are readily applied to Asian men, be they British Asian or international. The GQ Best Dressed List has not featured a British Asian gent on their annual best dressed list for years. Whether this is to do with a lack of style icons, or a lack of recognition from GQ is an article best left for another day. Whatever the reason, I have found a man that Brit Asians can look up to and revere as a real icon in style. He is also the one man to buck the above trend.
Mr Waris Ahluwalia is that man. Born in 1974 in Amritsar, Punjab, he is known as an Indian American designer, based in New York, where he moved to at the age of 5. His company, The House of Waris was established after his first designs were placed in Maxfields in LA and sold out. The label is known for its fine jewelry which is influenced by the designer’s travel and the history of ancient kingdoms.
A Vogue Fashion Fund/ CFDA finalist in 2009 and a year later an inductee into the CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America) he was also on the Vanity Fair Best Dressed List and Vogue’s 10 Most Impactful People. Add to that, his column for Style.com “Love and Waris”. Someone please give this man a medal.
The movie "I Am Love" (image courtesy of Mikado Film)
Undoubtedly his designs are incredible, but there is also the fact that his style has got him noticed and this has been instrumental in his ascent to fame. The way that he dresses is incredibly distinctive. Favoring dark suits, crisp white shirts and a plain turban with his trademark beard, it is a look that gets noticed and also, looks pretty darn rakish.
It is this completely individual approach to dressing that has led to small roles in films like "I Am Love", "The Darjeeling Limited" and "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou". Last year, he was featured in the “Make Love” campaign with GAP.
"Make Love" GAP campaign (image courtesy of GAP)
You do not have to be a millionaire designer of fine jewelry to look like him. Suits should be impeccably fitted though. If you are lucky enough to be blessed with good genes and are long and lean, a great fitted suit is an investment piece. Shop labels like The Kooples and Lanvin at Mr Porter which are known for this look. Suits should be plain, in dark colours and without fuss (that means no satin lapels and pins). If on a budget, look to slim fitting suits at Asos.
Team this with a plain white shirt (several buttons undone if you really want to get the look) and a great pair of smart shoes. A printed scarf or pocket square can add some interest. It is the beard and turban which really make Mr Ahluwalia stand out. Online turban companies are hard to find but I have researched and found a couple that deserve special mention – Turban Online and Turbans Direct both offer a huge selection of fabrics and styles at low prices as well as great advice on which will suit you.
Lanvin suit (image courtesy of Mr Porter)Plain black turban fabric (image courtesy of Turbans Online)