Meet Priyanka Chopra. Or should I say, Alex Parrish from Quantico?

The first time I met Priyanka Chopra, she was tucked away in one corner of an extremely chaotic dressing room, devouring an entire pizza. All by herself. Refusing to share. It was a shoot for Cosmopolitan (India) and the young actress was just then stepping into the limelight, riding a combined wave of authentic acting talent and stunning good looks. She was rapidly climbing up the starry pyramid – though still wasn’t anywhere near the point where one could call the shots in a male-dominated industry.

Not that this little bit about maledom and hierarchies and all that other stuff stopped her. Ms Chopra was cool as a cucumber as she chowed down her pizza, waved away the makeup artist while she took time out to help her younger brother with his maths homework and debated the storyboard for the photo shoot till she was completely satisfied. This within an industry where most stars don’t study the storyboard of an entire movie… Priyanka, it was pretty clear even then, was different. Very, very different.

At that point, more than a decade back, I really didn’t like this girl who was so different. There is a safety to interviewing cookie cutter celebs and Priyanka would simply not let you enjoy that comfort zone. She was louder than anyone else I knew in the industry, more vociferous, more challenging, more intelligent, more energetic… just, simply, more of everything.

And she was just simply so contradictory: tough as nails on the surface, yet fragile as glass when she let down her guard (look out for the “daddy’s li’l girl” tattoo on her wrist – it will break your heart); wearing relationships on her sleeve yet refusing to hang out her linen, dirty or otherwise, for magazine inches; chowing down junk food by the carton and yet remaining svelte as a beanpole; scared of heights and yet skydiving from 17,000 feet for fun… you are getting the idea?

And while it was annoying for me as an interviewer to deal with someone who refused to be pigeonholed into mere words, it is this contrariness that has taken Priyanka literally across the world and into the stratosphere. Today, she sings with Pitbull and runs around trees in fantasy-glam Bollywood fashion yet she also shares many of life’s toughest nuances with five-time world boxing champion Mary Kom, who was born to struggle as the daughter of a landless Indian farmer. Her animated Planes was considered for the Best Feature Film category at the 2014 Oscars, while she was busy promoting the cause of Girl Up, a campaign by the United Nations Foundation. Her single In My City, featuring will.i.am, debuted as the theme song for the NFL Network’s Thursday Night Football, even as Matthew Bishop, the United Nations Foundation New York Bureau Chief, referred to her as the smartest Miss World.

And now there is Quantico: the mega-budget television blockbuster which propels Priyanka into the uppermost echelons of American television (winning her the People’s Choice award!), as Alex Parrish. Faces like Nimrat Kaur and Archie Punjabi notwithstanding, this is the first time an Indian actress has grabbed the totem pole in a mainstream television series as a central anchor point and not in a character role or a token Asian presence. Quantico literally revolves around Priyanka’s character, putting her front and centre in the living rooms of possibly those very same “mean girls” who bullied her as a “brownie” when she attended high school in Boston.

Priyanka, as usual, defies stereotyping and pigeonholing. And this time round, I can’t help but cheer for her from the rooftops for this leap of faith.

So, meet Priyanka Chopra: Indian actress, American television star, model, singer, United Nations Foundation ambassador, former Miss World. The new villain of the much awaited Baywatch movie. The second most searched for name during this year’s Oscars and part of the Top 10 Best Dressed lists in literally every publication that tracks fashion on the red carpet.

Combine this with the fact that she’s the first Indian woman to become and international Guess girl – shot for the campaign by none other than Bryan Adams – and you know that this 33-year-old has definitely arrived. With trumpets blaring.

Time then, to have a proper chat with this multifaceted enigma and figure out what goes on behind those doe eyes and how in the world does she look so gorgeous, all the time!

priyanka chopra quantico2

Priyanka Chopra in Quantico

When do you feel most feminine?

When I slip into my Snoopy pyjamas and do my nighttime beauty rituals – applying different kinds of lotions all over my body, brushing my hair and so on.

The secret behind that show-stopping figure?

Pizza! No, seriously. I love junk food and the pizza in Mumbai is so good. And French fries… sigh! That’s soul food. [I can vouch for this after having seen “Piggy Chops”, as she is known in Bollywood, scarf down a whole pizza pie on at least THREE different occasions!]

So that’s it, all the time? Really?

[Big sigh] I do mix up the junk eating with sprouts, raw veggies (especially fresh red carrots), steamed or stewed stuff and high fibre snacks. I am also obsessed with coconut water and can have any amount of it at any time in the day.

And that’s how you get such flawless skin?

That and the CTM method: Cleanse-tone-moisturize. Every single day. I also take multi-vitamins and drink a lot of water to keep my skin clear and healthy. Water is really important as it keeps skin moist and sweeps out toxins, which would otherwise clog your body and make everything look and feel sluggish.

Shot by Bryan Adams for Guess

Priyanka Chopra shot by Bryan Adams for Guess

Do you have a nightly beauty ritual?

I can’t go to bed without washing my face thoroughly. Skin won’t breathe or repair itself till all the pore-clogging grime and make-up comes off.

Any secrets to achieving your silky, shiny hair?

I really believe in indigenous kitchen recipes. Warm coconut oil massages are fabulous, as they keep my hair soft and supple while being relaxing as well. At various times, I also bring out the beer, eggs and yogurt for deep conditioning.

What’s the best part about being a woman?

That we get to dress up! On a more serious note, women are emotionally far stronger than men. We can deal with anything and everything without cracking up like most guys. And more than anything else, our capacity to become mothers: That’s truly the most beautiful thing god has bestowed on women.

Channelling Bollywood for Ram Leela

Priyanka Chopra channelling Bollywood for Ram Leela

What would you do if you were a guy for a day?

Nothing really. I don’t think there is anything that a guy can do that a woman cant. However, I would definitely like to live like Winston Churchill for a day. I want to know how it felt to live with such rigid ideals.

What should guys know about women?

That we love getting loads of attention, lots of sympathy and want to be with someone who understands our point of view. Guys are usually too focused on getting others to see things from their point of view, or in analyzing and solving our problems rather than just listening… and that just does not cut it for women!

What’s the biggest mistake that women make in a relationship?

Being too overbearing or possessive, and not giving any space to your guy.

Priyanka Chopra, India-style!

Priyanka Chopra, India-style!

Your kind of guy?

He will have to meet a long list of requirements. Sincerity, intelligence, good looks — so that our kids, all six of them, will be good looking. He has to be adventurous and spontaneous. A good sense of humour is a must and he should share my fetish for cleanliness. AND he should be understanding, give me my space. Asking for much… why, whatever gave you that idea?

What’s a perfect date?

To the moon and back!

Most romantic dream?

I want to have 6 weddings – all with the same guy! The first will be a typical Punjabi wedding in Ambala (India), with rituals that go on for 18-20 days and the whole extended family stays under one roof. The second will be in a small Mother Mary church in Locarno, Switzerland. The third will be underwater, while the fourth will be in Vegas with Elvis officiating. The fifth will be a nikaah, because I find the whole concept extremely romantic. And the sixth will be as my husband wants it.

Is it easy being a celeb?

I wish people would see an actress as someone who is also human. As a girl at heart who wants to do all the normal girly things, like standing in the rain and having an ice cream. It’s not always about the parties, the glitz and the glamour.

What’s the gutsiest thing you’ve ever done?

Skydiving from 17,000 feet at Locarno, Switzerland. I have always been terrified of heights and had promised myself that I would break the fear before I was 22-years-old.

Excerpted from an interview I did for Marie Claire

Gypsy makeup: How to look grungy, mystical and exotic this Halloween

Dark, dramatic and mysterious, gypsies have both fascinated and frightened people the world over since the 14th century. Traveling nomads indulging in eternal wanderlust, mystics who dance with bells on their ankles, fortune tellers who live life on the outskirts of society… these wanderers have the reputation for living a rugged life filled with mystery and adventure. As a teenager, I kept wanting to run away and join their romantic-looking caravans. As a fashion and beauty writer, I have marvelled at how their influence marks the runways almost every season. And as a grownup who needs to get into a costume for Halloween (yes, it’s that time of the year already!) without looking like a complete moron, I have often turned to their exotic look for inspiration.

Because whether or not the gypsy stereotypes are valid, one fact remains: the gypsy theme certainly fits in well with Halloween. This is particularly true for those of us who want to give free reign to our creative fantasies and also for those who want to do the whole costume bit but still look mind-blowingly gorgeous! So, cast a spell this Halloween, without resorting to the ubiquitous sexy witch costume, by channeling your inner gypsy queen.

gypsy makeup halloweenGypsy makeup #1: Acing the base

Start with a foundation that’s a couple of shades darker than your skin for a sun kissed glow. If you have a really pale complexion, put a thin layer of foundation on the backs of your hands as well.

Gypsy makeup #2: The cheeky bits

Dab a rose-hued blush on your cheeks, starting from the cheekbones and sweeping upwards towards your ears. Blend, blend, blend!

Gypsy makeup #3: Lip love

Go red or go dark… your choice! As a thumb rule, lighter skin tones would do well with a purple or red lipstick that has blue undertones. If you lean more towards a tan or olive complexion, opt for a red or purple shade with yellow undertones. These colours evoke a deep and fiery look that’s a perfect complement to gypsy style. Finish with a touch of clear gloss in the centre of your pout.

gypsy-makeup-21Gypsy makeup #4: The eye have it… literally!

Gypsies are often shown as having exotic eyes that denote a sense of mystery, so keep the focus on this part of your face. Start by smudging a black kohl pencil into your top and bottom lash line. Rim the entire eye and just when you think the look is dramatic enough, add a couple more swipes on the lower lashes. Then flick the liner outwards, like a cat’s eye, and go over it with a powder eyeshadow to enhance the smokey effect.

Add dark or jewel-toned eyeshadows, taking them right up to the brow bone. Fill in your eyebrows and finish with several coats of jet black mascara. Want still more drama? Add false lashes and green contact lenses.

Gypsy makeup #5: Finishing touches

Get the smallest costume jewel stones you can find (I get mine from a craft shop!) and make a “V” design in the middle of your forehead. You can use the liquid bandage that’s put over scrapes or cuts or a tiny dab of tooth paste to hold them in place.

For a dramatic flair, use an eye pencil to draw in a beauty mark near the eye or lips.

Gypsy makeup #6: Tress talk

Gypsies are usually portrayed as having heavy, dark and curly hair. If your strands are fine or straight, try texturising them with small hair rollers. If they are naturally curly, tie everything back and wrap it up in a boldly-hued scarf, with scattered tendril peeking through. Other gypsy hairstyling options? Wear it down and make small braids at the front of your face; or create a wavy, unruly effect by sleeping in wet braids. If you want to be even more adventurous, check your local costume or party store for a gypsy wig.

Gypsy makeup #7: Wow wardrobe

Long, flowing skirts are a staple item in every self respecting gypsy’s wardrobe. If you want to play safe, opt for a solid black skirt but it’s far more fun to experiment with bright jewel-toned colours and patterned fabrics. Be creative and don’t shy away from bold colours!

Pair the flowing lines of the skirt with a fitted top. Practically, you can well make do with a plain white tee but a sweetheart neckline and some detailing will really perk up the gypsy genome. If you want a more feminine look, go for an off-shoulder top.

Finish off with sparkly accessories: flat boots or sandals with a hint of glitter will look perfect, as will a clutch purse or cross-body bag.

Gypsy makeup halloween 3Gypsy makeup #8: The jewel effect

What’s a gypsy without the piles of gorgeous, clanky, oversized jewellery? If you have to pick one thing, go for large hoop earrings in either gold or silver – these are a staple in the jewellery arsenal of any gypsy. Add beaded necklaces and gold or silver bangles to complete the look. You can also wear a large statement ring for more drama.

Gypsy makeup #9: Savour the scarf

No gypsy costume is complete without a scarf, especially one that is made from a shiny fabric or has a paisley print. You can wear it in many different ways but for the most authentic look, fold it in half and place the middle on top of your head, then tie it in the back. Another option is to drape the scarf over the back, top and sides of your head (so that only your face shows) and tie it underneath your chin.

Gypsy makeup #10: The pot o’ perfume

Lush floral-orientals, patchouli, amber, musk, sandalwood, incense… celebrate the sensual and the dramatic with a perfume like Tom Ford’s Black Orchid, Byredo’s Gypsy Water or Diptyque’s L’Eau.

gypsy makeup halloween 2

So, there you have it: gypsy makeup. What do you think? Corny or glam?

What’s in Kate Middleton’s post-baby beauty kit? And why we all need to stock up on these, kiddo or not

Enough has been written about Kate Middleton’s extensive beauty routine. From her favorite Bobbi Brown makeup to her cult classic blowouts (even straight out of the delivery room!), the $35,000+ annual maintenance costs add up to a lot of primping – and now she has to change just about all of it post-baby. Again. Because duchess or not, having a baby is a total game changer. Skin throws out new problems everyday, hair is deprived of volume and shine building chemicals and the body goes totally out of whack.

So, from combatting dark circles to keeping that luscious hair in place, even the Duchess of Cambridge will require a few tricks to look (and feel!) beautiful while re-adjusting to having a brand new baby in the house. Keeping this in mind, we have a whole care-package-of-sorts ready should she have been too busy with the little princess to think about her beauty routine.

Custom illustrated by Kristina for The Beauty Gypsy

Custom illustrated by Kristina Hultktantz for The Beauty Gypsy

Baby + bump

While we adore that cute little belly Kate sported in her very first post-baby appearance, judging by her quick bounce-back after Prince George’s birth, we know this perma-polished new mum will want to get back in shape soon enough. Cue: Mama Mio’s Skin Tight Toning Serum ($39) to tackle post-pregnancy crepey skin. This is perfectly complimented by Angelique’s Massage Balm (£9.79), which is so gentle it can be used on both mother and baby. Little wonder both are cult amongst A-Listers.

The breast situation

You already know this Kate: Post-delivery your boobs become like rocks. And they leak. And if you choose to breastfeed, it is not the easy, painless, earth mother thing seen in movies. The fix: Lansinoh Lanolin for Breastfeeding Mothers ($7.99).

Breakouts

Time to kiss that glowy pregnancy complexion goodbye. Fluctuating hormones, sleep deprivation and stress mean skin is thrown totally out of whack. Result? A bad case of the zits. Try Indie Lee’s Blemish Lotion ($26), which is an amazing all-natural spot treatment.

The skincare cheat sheet

Kate will have to swap her famous Karin Herzog skincare goodies (which contain retinol – a baby no-go) for a gentler, natural product like Tata Harper Reparative Moisturizer ($100). It’s pricey, but I think the royal family can afford a few bottles.

Then there are the eyes. And lips. Being woken up throughout the night with a new baby means both these look droopy, tired and non-sparkly. One solution would be to buy Dr. Hauschka’s Daily Revitalizing Eye Cream ($54) and Suvana Beauty’s Paw Paw & Honey Organic Lip Balm ($14) by the truckload.

New moms are on their feet all day, so Kate should give hers a little TLC at night with a cooling cream like Burt’s Bees Mama Bee Relaxing Leg & Foot Cream ($9). Oh! And since she will be washing her hands approximately 100 times a day, a good hand cream is priority. Caswell-Massey Dr. Hunter’s Hand Comfort Cream ($14) is a classic and works on the most irritated and dehydrated skin.

Danny Martindale / Getty Images

Danny Martindale / Getty Images

Makeup woes

Kate’s favourite Bobbi Brown Foundation Stick ($42) and YSL Touche Eclat ($40) will surely be on hand to cover any post-baby tiredness. However, she will have to amp it up with a stronger cover-up, like Laura Mercier’s Secret Camouflage Concealer. Josie Maran’s all-natural argan oil infused Coconut Watercolor Cheek Gelee in Poppy Paradise ($22) will add a lit-from-within glow.

Kate’s signature is a strong eye. She is rarely seen in public without dark liner and mascara. But the worst thing you can possibly do immediately post-baby is to draw attention to your eyes. Two words: sleep deprivation. So, there will need to be some changes here.

The first to go should be her current eyeliner. Kate should switch to a softer color and keep it just to the top lash line, since lower lash liner can make tired eyes look even more droopy. Urban Decay’s 24/7 Glide-On Eyeliner Pencil in Smoke ($19) would do the job perfectly. The mascara needs to be waterproof because of the post-partum crying (thanks, hormones!). Clinique’s High Impact Waterproof Mascara ($16) won’t budge.

Finally, a swipe of her favorite nude lip colour – Bobbi Brown Creamy Matte Lip Colour in Warm Beige ($24) – and a few sprays of Illuminum ($100), her go-to perfume, will complete the look!

The hair quandary

For about 3 months after having a baby, you have the thickest hair of your life. But then it starts falling out at a rapid pace… before finally growing back to normal. Not a happy interim situation to the woman who’s made a signature out of her thick, luscious locks. Time to stock up on the 100% natural, alcohol-free Rahua’s Voluminous Hair Spray ($28).

Bag-of-plenty

A regular diaper bag doesn’t feel posh enough for Kate. Instead, since she is a huge Mulberry fan, we can see the duchess carrying this Bayswater tote ($2,3999) stuffed with the little one’s necessities.

Baby chic

Organic and dermatologically tested products are musts for baby’s delicate skin. And nobody does that better than Bonpoint, the chic Parisian label. We love the milk bath with organic active ingredients, including cherry and orange blossom flowers and organic cotton. And every new mom needs at least one change of clothes stashed away for the baby and this super-cute onesie from Etsy ($18) fits the bill perfectly.

The treasure trove

Jennifer Lopez received a canary diamond ring and earrings set worth $2.8 million and Victoria Beckham scored a 24-karat-gold iPhone, which cost a cool $34,000. Now, our Kate would never be so vulgarly splashy, so if Prince William is looking for a push-present may I suggest these gorgeous ruby-and-diamond earrings from royal warrant holder Asprey? Hey, having a kid is a lot of work!

Are you all ga-ga about the new royal kiddo? And what’s the one beauty routine or product you simply can’t give up – before or after baby? C’mon, we won’t judge!

How to look like a Victoria’s Secret Angel (from the neck up, at least)

Through many a gut-wrenching confrontations with reality, I have realised that trying to look like a Victoria’s Secret Angel from the neck down is simply not going to happen. This kind of superhuman feat requires some sassy genetics, a starvation diet (remember Adriana Lima confessing that she ate no solid food for 9 days before the Victoria’s Secret show and then had no liquids at all for the final 12 hours?) and daily dates with a bootcamp-style personal trainer.

And the kicker is that after all this military-style approach, even the Victoria’s Secret Angels don’t look like Victoria’s Secret Angels without piles of body make up. As Selita Ebanks once put it: “People don’t realise that there are about 20 layers of make up on my butt alone.”

Thankfully, though, above the neck is a different matter altogether. Think for a moment: when was the last time you saw heavy, theatrical, OTT makeup on the Victoria’s Secret runway. Never, in my memory. Because nobody would want the makeup to steal the show (that’s what the boobs and the butt are for!). And because wearing a deep red lip when you are dressed in just lingerie and shiny sequins would be just skanky. Right?

Which bodes well for us mere mortals since even if we can’t emulate those lithe (strangely cellulite free) limbs and sensuous curves, at least we can pull of an Adriana Lima or Candice Swanepoel with the trademark sultry brown eyes, rosy-bronze cheeks and a balmy nude pout.

Let’s do this! @alessandraambrosio, @angelcandices & rest of the Angels are ready to fly. Watch the #VSFashionShow Dec 9 on #CBS! 💋✌️

Una foto pubblicata da Victoria’s Secret (@victoriassecret) in data:

Prepping the base

Makeup artists always take a couple extra minutes to massage the face and get the blood flowing. This also works to bust puffiness, especially when you need to step out early in the morning. You can easily do it at home, with moisturiser. (Hilary Rhoda)

Glow… naturally

For the prettiest and most believable flush, makeup artists dabbed on a touch of red cream face paint by Kryolan (popular in children’s theatre) BEFORE blending foundation on top. Finally, he added just a tiny bit of bronzer. The result? Healthy, alive, youthful-looking skin. (Makeup maestro Dick Page)

Soft focus eyes

Makeup artists illuminated eyelids with highlighter on the inner corner of the eye – this catches the light and makes eyes pop with a soft focus effect. (Dick Page)

ALWAYS use eyelash curlers

Eyelash curlers really open up the eyes. Sometimes, you can even skip the mascara afterwards! (Jessica Hart and Doutzen Kroes)

Faking fake lashes

Skip the falsies. Instead, place a credit card or a playing card behind your lashes when you apply mascara and push against the card – this will give you thicker and longer lashes, naturally. (Jourdan Dunn)

Photo: Getty Images / Samir Hussein

Photo: Getty Images / Samir Hussein

Colour it right

Bronzer works in every season – yes, including winter. And it’s not just for contouring. Models apply a soft bronzer to eye sockets and cheekbones to look “more fresh, awake and refined”. (Hilary Rhoda)

Light it up

Another Victoria’s Secret Angel makeup must-have: highlighter. Put it high up on the cheeks, under the eyebrows and on the nose. (Toni Garrn)

Lip love

As for that signature pout – that’s kissable without being tacky – Page layered a lip gloss over a pink Victoria’s Secret lip stain. To replicate, use a balmy lipstick that’s just a shade or two lighter or darker than your natural lip color. Nix anything that’s too shiny or shimmering. (Dick Page)

Hydration is important

You will always see the Victoria’s Secret Angels chugging away at bottles-full of water because keeping skin hydrated is an important part of any beauty regime. (Lindsay Ellingson)