Waris Ahluwalia — best known for his roles in Wes Anderson movies and his House of Waris jewelry line — looked at us quizzically at Saturday’s Elise Overland presentation, as though trying to remember if he’d met us before. “I actively chose a while ago to go, I’m not going to remember anything,” he explained. “Sort of a meditative thing: I thought I would keep my head clear, and thoughts would flow in and out. And then I became an actor.” There are occupational hazards to this M.O., such as memorizing lines or awkward social encounters. “We were up in Hudson, on the street. This guy comes up: ‘Hey.’ I’m like, ‘Hey, nice to meet you.’ And, like, beginning of the summer we had spent a weekend at his house,” said Waris. But he has adopted a credo passed onto him by Simon Doonan: “Be unoffendable.” We decided to hold him to it.
Waris, a Sikh, keeps his hair tightly coiled under a turban. How long, we asked, were his locks? “I cannot believe you asked me that!” he said. “It’s down to the hips.” Nearby, a girl with her back to us had her hair up in a bun. “It’s sort of like that,” he said, cupping his hand around it. She spun around, looking slightly bewildered. Waris didn’t flinch: “Unoffendable!” He’s removed the turban in movies like The Life Aquatic and Inside Man, but never for a photo shoot. So which fashion magazines would he take it off for? “Purple. And I’d do it for L’Uomo Vogue. I believe in art, and I believe in ideas and concepts,” he said. So, no Men’s Vogue? “No.” What about Harper’s Bazaar? Waris pointed to his turban. “They get this.” Waris is currently playing a hypochondriac in a film he hopes is Sundance-bound. Does he draw on his own neuroses for the role? No, he said, sounding a bit disappointed. “I wish I had some kind of weird tendencies. I try to.”