"One of the most beautiful women in the world."
Known for her impeccable style, beauty and elegance, Sita Devi was one of the most iconic figures in Indian fashion history.
Born in 1914 into a wealthy Punjabi family, Sita Devi’s life was filled with luxury, adventure and glamour.
She was a true fashion icon, inspiring countless women across the globe with her bold and daring fashion choices.
From the 1930s to the 1940s, Sita Devi was the epitome of style and sophistication, and her life was a reflection of the glamorous world she lived in.
Let’s learn more about the stylish maharani.
Early Life and Family
Sita Devi was born into a wealthy Punjabi family in 1914, in Lahore, Punjab.
Her father, Rai Bahadur Mohan Singh, was a wealthy businessman and her mother, Rajmata Mohinder Kaur, was a leading socialite in Lahore.
Sita Devi was educated in Europe and was exposed to the latest fashion and beauty trends from a young age.
She grew up surrounded by luxury, attending high-end social events and rubbing shoulders with the most influential people of her time.
At age 13, she married Karamjit Singh, a younger son of the Sikh Maharaja Jagatjit Singh of the princely state of Kapurthala in Punjab, British India.
Her sister-in-law was Brinda Devi, making Indira Devi her niece.
Life as a Punjabi Princess
Sita Devi was married in the house of Kapurthala; one of the five royal houses of Punjab renowned for its extravagant taste and glamour.
Her father-in-law, the Maharaja, being a world traveller and Francophile, modelled his palace after the one in Versailles.
Living a life filled with luxury, adventure, and glamour, Sita Devi was a true Punjabi princess.
Her family’s wealth and social standing allowed her to travel the world, attend high-end events, and meet some of the most influential people of her time.
She lived a life of privilege and was known for her love of fine dining, luxury cars, and high-end fashion. Despite her wealth and status,
Sita Devi remained humble and kind, making her beloved by many.
Connection with Paris
Sita Devi had a deep love for all things Parisian, from French fashion to culture.
She was a regular visitor to the city, where she shopped for the latest couture designs and attended the most prestigious social events.
In 1938 her portrait was featured in Oliver Messel’s exhibition.
She was a muse for several photographers, including Cecil Beaton and Man Ray.
Vogue named her “one of the most beautiful women in the world”.
Her love for Paris was reflected in her fashion choices, as she often wore the latest designs by Chanel, Schiaparelli, and Vionnet.
Elsa Schiaparelli was so dazzled by Sita Devi that the gowns of the designer’s 1935 collection were constructed like Indian saris.
Josephine Baker, a French dancer, singer, and actress, was even seen in one of these sari dresses that draped over the head and didn’t separate the bodice from the skirt as in a traditional sari.
In early 1939, at Lady Mendl’s tea in honour of the Hollywood dietitian, Gayelord Hauser, Sita Devi was listed among the twelve most glamorous women in the world.
At the end of the summer of 1939, Devi was a guest of honour at a party hosted by Elsie de Wolfe. The entertainment included an entourage of trained elephants.
As in the Indian tradition, she was dripping in jewels for the occasion.
Sita Devi was known for her impeccable style and her love of high-end fashion.
She was often seen in the latest couture designs and was admired by many for her bold and daring fashion choices.
From sleek and sophisticated evening gowns to bold and vibrant accessories, Sita Devi was always one step ahead of the fashion world.
At the turn of the 20th century, Indian princesses were increasingly wearing western garments, whether openly or under purdah.
Sita Devi’s preferred couturier was Mainbocher, who designed chiffon saris and fur coats for her and designed the wedding dress for Wallis Simpson’s nuptials with the Duke of Windsor.
She was a true trendsetter, inspiring countless women with her fearless approach to fashion.
Sita Devi’s Legacy
Sita Devi’s legacy continues to inspire people today, especially in the fashion world.
She was a true icon of her time, known for her impeccable style, beauty and elegance.
Her love for Parisian fashion and her fearless approach to the fashion realm set her apart from her contemporaries.
With the onset of World War II, Sita Devi returned to India where she had two children.
The beloved princess lived a long, quiet life until she passed away in 2002.
She remains firmly cemented as a legendary fashion icon of India who was as much at ease in Paris as in Kapurthala and this is reflected in her elegant East-meets-West sense of style.