After her marriage to Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II, Maharani Gayatri Devi became the third Maharani consort of Jaipur from 1940 to 1949. She was born as Princess Gayatri Devi in a Koch Rajbongshi Hindu family to Maharaja Jitendra Narayan and Maharani Indira Raje of Cooch Behar in West Bengal.
Known as Rajmata of Jaipur, she was considered one of the most beautiful women in the world, and was celebrated as a fashion icon of classical beauty, both in India and in Europe. She adopted style tips from her mother and grandmother, and her natural dress sense became a source of inspiration for women across the globe. Gayatri Devi’s style endured throughout her lifetime. She was well-identified for her elegantly draped chiffon sarees in soft pastel shades. In fact, renowned Indian fashion designer Sabyasachi created a limited edition of sarees inspired by her style for his Spring/Summer 2013 collection. It featured sarees in soft creams, pinks, and blues made in graceful French fabrics of organza, satin, and tulle.
Maharani Gayatri Devi wore little makeup, which usually consisted of accentuating shades of red, pink, and mauve, and used kajal minimally to define her eyes. She anchored her ensemble with a bindi. Her bobbed hair was either perfectly coiffed or in cascading waves, and she adorned her elegant, long neck with strings of pearls.
Gayatri Devi was interested in Western thought and culture. Naturally beautiful and boldly outspoken, she led her life on her own terms. Unconventional and extraordinary were terms which were often used to describe her. Her choices caused ripples in traditional society, also bringing about a refreshing change for the women of the day. She was an equestrian and enjoyed dressing up in khaki pants – a brave move in those days, since women of royal families were expected to dress in traditional attire only.
The style icon lived as an ageless beauty and died at the age of 90. Throughout her lifetime, her style remained poetic, simple, and intricate, and her natural charm seemed to captivate everyone that met her. She exuded a regal look without the presence of heavy jewels. Nonetheless, she was particular about how she presented herself. She had also perfected the art of ornamentation. - Kanchan and Pic: Rajmata Gayatri Devi by Dharmender Kanwar Published by Roli Books