INTERVIEW: 15 minutes with Aishwarya Rai Bachchan – “Elegance is an attitude” INTERVIEW: 15 minutes with Aishwarya Rai Bachchan – “Elegance is an attitude”

INTERVIEW: 15 minutes with Aishwarya Rai Bachchan – “Elegance is an attitude”

Melissa Pearce

Time is a funny thing. The PR schedule was fast and furious when Longines Ambassador of Elegance Aishwarya Rai Bachchan held court at her Four Seasons suite during the afternoon prior to the Sydney opening of Longines’ flagship boutique. But sitting in front of the world’s most famous grey-green eyes, as they surveyed the harbour far below, time slowed. Mixing regal bearing with warmth, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan speaks in a considered, melodious flow.

Most of the Australian pack wanted, of course, to ask for her thoughts on the #MeToo movement, a topic she politely addressed, but we felt we had to find out how she balances her international schedule.

Evidently, hers is a demanding life. Bollywood icon, a mother to a young daughter, committed to various charity roles, and maintaining some very special brand relationships, like her 18-year Longines role.

She laughed when the balancing act was raised, sitting perfectly poised in a sea foam-hued ball gown

Someone was asking me earlier if I had to choose a Commonwealth Games sport, what would I choose. I said I think [I’d be] a gymnast. It’s very graceful and a beautiful sport, but every working woman would see herself as that.”

Her secret is “the ability to multi-task, figure it out, prioritise and take it all in your stride, and pack in as much as you can in every given day … So it’s not about giving advice, it’s recognising that we working women need to really take on as much as we can deliver every single day – and each day is different. So you really cannot afford to hold onto a perception that this is the way your day must turn out. You need to prepare, brace yourself, be flexible. Go with the flow but give your best to every moment and curveball that the day wings your way.”

When she does find herself with a precious spare 15 minutes she is most likely to be enjoying time with her daughter. “I love every minute that I get with her, so time with her would top the list.”

Eloquent and elegant in equal measure, it is easy to grasp why Longines sought Rai Bachchan as their ambassador. But the brand motto, “Elegance is an attitude”, is much more than just about beauty.

“When I came on board with Longines, the motto was one of the most alluring aspects of giving voice to this brand, apart from the obvious history and tradition in watchmaking – this year we’re talking 185 years of watchmaking  – [that meant] I knew I was working with a brand that walked the talk. I was very privileged to be in such fine company like Audrey Hepburn. But more than anything else it was the motto that says we respect every man or woman for who he or she is. Elegance is an attitude, it’s innate, it’s not just about external presentation. It’s not just fashion or make-up or hair. It’s about elegance in your manner, your graces; it’s about your values, your interactions, the dignity you accord everybody around you – not just the dignity you hold yourself. The respect that needs to be mutual in every encounter.”