A Beautiful Man

One standout moment was when Delhi’s Ankush Bahuguna debuted as the first Indian male beauty creator.
Ankush Bahuguna
in a Rajdeep
Ranawat ensemble (R), The ‘ombre brow look’ in Karan Torani’s fit (L)
Ankush Bahuguna in a Rajdeep Ranawat ensemble (R), The ‘ombre brow look’ in Karan Torani’s fit (L)

At the 77th edition of the Cannes Film Festival, held from May 14 to 25, India shone bright. It not only showcased major figures from the Indian film industry but also featured many Indian influencers.

One standout moment was when Delhi’s Ankush Bahuguna debuted as the first Indian male beauty creator. Traditionally, beauty is associated with women, making Bahuguna’s achievement even more remarkable. “I have to say that I’m truly grateful and lucky to have a very accepting family, and open friends, and audiences. But the world outside of this circle judged me and trolled me for creating beauty content as a man,” he says.

Beauty videos

Bahuguna has always been immersed in content creation. He acted and wrote scripts for MensXp’s short films such as How Blue Is My Sapphire? (2019) and Goodbye Love (2019), and acted in the Amazon mini-TV short film Badboli Bhavna (2022). Facing the camera was second nature to him, and since he wanted to start his own brand, this helped him pick up a camera and share his journey on Instagram.

“That’s when I picked up a makeup brush for my first beauty video in May 2020, which created a stir and received 12 million views,” he says. Since then Bahuguna has been making makeup videos, collaborating with creators such as Shibani Bedi and Kusha Kapila, who also worked with him at MensXp.

Tuxedo with a 3D flower
motif by Rohitash Notani.
Tuxedo with a 3D flower motif by Rohitash Notani.

Bahugana’s journey with beauty content began in his childhood. He often felt invisible for not fitting into conventional standards of masculinity. “I was bullied a lot as a kid for being too scrawny and not playing sports. This left me with few friends and a lot of confidence issues. I felt invisible,” he says.

MensXp, a men’s lifestyle platform launched in 2009 with a vision of holistic content around masculinity, resonated with him. His first beauty video also tackled the topic of fragile masculinity, in which he drew from his childhood experiences and his time at MensXp.

“Picking up a makeup brush helped me discover a lot about myself as a man. I grew up feeling very uncomfortable with how I looked. I thought vanity wasn’t for me because of my appearance, and I deprived myself of self-care. Only recently did I gather the confidence to accept how I look, and beauty and makeup have helped me embrace my skin,” he says.

Storming Cannes

When Bahuguna received his invitation to Cannes in April, he could hardly believe it. “I did not want to be too excited and jinx it,” he shares. “The

invitation made me feel seen for what I do, and I was extremely grateful,” he says. Once the initial excitement settled, the challenge was figuring out how to present himself at Cannes in a way that reflected his work. “I wanted to work with designers and brands that have a story to tell,” he says. He kicked off Cannes in a Karan Torani outfit—a purple kurta-pyjama set, layered with a printed shrug and scarf.

“I love that Torani celebrates his Sindhi roots so wholeheartedly,” he says. The highlight of his look was his eyebrows, featuring an ‘ombre brow look’. Bahuguna also shared a note with this outfit that read: “Here’s to men embracing their truest selves, be it through makeup, fashion, or any other kind of art.”

For the red carpet, Bahuguna wore Rosani by Rohitash Notani—a fresh take on a tuxedo with a 3D flower motif. For the after-party, he chose a men’s suit in zari by Rohit Gandhi and Rahul Khanna, describing it as “a perfect combination of Western and Indian”. For the Bharat Pavilion, he donned an Abhishek Sharma creation in linen, and for the Nespresso after-party, he wore a heavily embellished Rajdeep Ranawat outfit. He ended his Cannes appearances with a Siddhartha Tytler ensemble for an “edgy, fun, and young” look.

The highlight of Cannes for him was seeing how happy people back home were for him. “Every time I checked my phone, there was a message from someone telling me how proud they were. It was so special being so far from home and yet feeling like I was carrying all their love with me,” he adds. With this, he hopes to encourage more acceptance of men wearing makeup.

Bahuguna has 1.1 million followers on his Instagram page @ankushbahuguna and 740K followers on his makeup-focussed Instagram page @wingitwithankush

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The New Indian Express