Much of the world’s population acknowledge Mohammad Ali Jinnah by the domination of his public life as an unmatched leader, parliamentarian, constitutionalist and one of the most astounding nation builders of all times. There is no second thought to the fact that Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s multidimensional personality led him to play several roles with distinction. However, much less attention is paid to his personal life which is rather alluring and appealing in it’s own right. This article will focus on Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s taste and sense of style, and will highlight the aspects of his life that categorize him as a fashion icon.
Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s sense of style made him one of the most well-dressed and sophisticated men in the world. As a matter of fact, he was reckoned to be the fifth best dressed leader of all time. Expressing his thoughts on Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Lord Wavell (Viceroy of India, 1943-1947) said, “Mr. Jinnah was one of the handsomest men I have ever seen; he combined the clear cut, almost Grecian features of the West with oriental grace and movement.” Jinnah became the youngest Indian to graduate from the Lincoln’s Inn, and the first Muslim barrister in Bombay after returning to India from England in 1896. He acquired much of his fashion sense while his stay in London, and his lifestyle resembled that of an upper class English professional.
He had an admirable taste for houses and a fanciful architectural sense. He owned five houses on record, but used only four. Informally known as the ‘Jinnah House,’ his first house was named ‘South Court’ and was built in 1936 at a then enormous price of 2 lakh (200,000) rupees when Jinnah returned to Mumbai from England to take charge of the Muslim League. The house is now worth around $60 million. It is located at 2, Mount Pleasant Road in the upmarket Malabar Hill area of South Mumbai. Designed by architect Claude Batley in the European-style architecture, the sea facing palatial bungalow was constructed using exquisite Italian Marble and walnut woodwork. Specially imported Italian stonemasons were employed for its construction with Jinnah personally supervising the construction “brick by brick”. The property encompasses an area of 10,000 square meters (2.5 acres). He also owned a house in Hampstead, one of the very posh areas in London, and stayed there during his time in England. Another house owned by Jinnah is located at 10, Aurangzeb Road, Delhi. He bought it, unlike the Bombay house. The house was sold to his friend and a long time financier, Ramkrishna Dalmia for 3 lakh rupees. It is the Dutch Ambassador’s residence now and the Property would be worth around $200 Million today! In the ‘Ziarat Residency,’ Jinnah spent the last days of his life. The Residency was constructed in 1892. It was originally meant to be a sanatorium, and it was converted into the summer residence of the Agent of the Governor General. The ‘Quaid-e-Azam House’ is a museum dedicated to the personal life of Mr. Jinnah. Quaid-e-Azam House Museum, popularly known as Flag Staff House, is a National Monument. It is situated at the crossing of Shahrah-e-Faisal and Fatima Jinnah Road, Staff Lines, Karachi Cantonment, The House was purchased by Quid-e-Azam on 14th August 1943 from Mr. Sorab Kavasji Katrak, a former Mayor of Karachi. In September 1947, the personal belongings of Quaid were transferred to Flag Staff House from New Delhi. The Quaid did not get time to live in this House. After his demise, Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah moved in Flag Staff House on 13th September, 1948. She lived here until 1964.
When at his London home, he would hire an English staff to serve him including an English chauffeur, who drove his Bentley and his Rolls Royce. He always had two cooks, an Indian and an Irish. Jinnah’s favorite food was curry and rice. He always smoked his favorite ‘Craven A cigarettes,’ one of the finest and the most expensive, at the time. He smoked a special kind of ‘Havana’ cigars, and sometimes a pipe. His wealth gave him independence, which in turn, enabled him to speak his mind.
Clearly a very attractive man, he prided himself for his appearance. He was said to never wear the same silk tie again and had nearly 200 tailored suits in his wardrobe. His tall, lean physique and his liking for good clothes enabled him to wear clothes with flair, confidence and conviction. With his monocle, clipped accent and Saville Row suit, his mimicry of the upper class Englishmen in India was so accurate, that he was classified as the perfect upper class gentleman of his day. By the late 1930s, Jinnah started wearing more of what can be described as oriental wear. He preferred a loose fitting ‘Shalwar’ rather than a ‘churidar’ or tight pyjamas. He was mostly seen wearing a ‘Karakuli’ cap, also known as ‘Jinnah Cap,’ over his western clothing. One can infer this gesture to serve as an initiative to building a modern Muslim society.
It is indicated of Jinnah to possess highly delicate English speaking skills. These speaking skills can be attributed to the keen interest he took during his adolescent years in reading Shakespeare and being an actor. His sister frequently recounted his love for reading Shakespeare to the family after dinner at his residence in Karachi.
Modeling his clothes and his manners on Du Maurier, the actor, and his English on Burke’s speeches, as commented by one the wives of a British General, Jinnah can be classified as one the best-dressed individuals of his era.