11-year style journey
Fresh from a stint on Big CBS Love’s I Love Style powered by Karmik, Shantanu Mehra, the older of the two brothers that make up designer duo Shantanu & Nikhil, spoke to t2 on completing 11 years in fashion!
So Shantanu loves style because...
(Smiles) I am a fashion designer and it is our job to not only make ourselves look stylish but others as well! That is why we love style.
Was television challenging?
Not really... like doctors, we fashion designers need to give certain tips for certain fashion ailments. For us, this is different in the sense that we are giving these tips on camera in a setting that is not really very preachy but at the same time it’s fun. We are not telling you to wear it or telling you that this is the only way to look good. It is about imparting some knowledge....
In the first five episodes of I Love Style, there was a segment called Karmik Stylicious where we talked about some key looks, from evening bling to chic cocktail dresses and some looks for the new-age bride.
How has the brand evolved in the past 11 years?
Right at the outset, we went the contemporary way. We always thought that being ahead of times is like carving out a niche for ourselves. We have dabbled in a lot of products which had the underlying current of being very contemporary... but now we have just about tightened the product mix and we are doing things that we are now known for. Which means that the first things (read designers) that women think of when it comes to evening cocktail dresses and gowns is Shantanu & Nikhil. So, we have made a conscious effort to kind of use that product as the best way to contemporise our philosophy. When a bride comes to us for lehngas, she comes for contemporary lehngas that are apt for functions like cocktails or sangeet.
The market has evolved, the woman of today has evolved. In one of the episodes of I Love Style, we talk about how the new-age bride is beginning to wear gowns.
Fashion weeks have played an extremely important role. The (HDIL India) Couture Week is a very important platform where we start communicating with the bride... because couture in India is primarily about weddings. Wills and Lakme (fashion weeks) give you an opportunity to showcase your diffusion line. That’s when our dresses come to the forefront.
Do you brothers fight when planning a collection?
Oh... it is very smooth. Being brothers makes our lives easier. I come from a commerce background. When we started our brand, we knew our roles well. Over a period of time, yes, it has overlapped. I do indulge in the creative endeavours. It has been a smooth transition. Nikhil starts a collection and then I come in between to just define it and refine it. I come in as a balancing factor. If you have the desire to be a big conglomerate or a fashion house, there are a lot of day-to-day issues of running a business which Nikhil, most of the times, is not aware of. If he becomes aware, then it would take away a lot from his creative endeavour. You don’t want to spoil an artiste’s creative zone. There are only advantages of having a brother for a business partner.
Do you switch wardrobes with your brother?
In fact I do, he doesn’t! He has got a distinct style of dressing... different colour combinations... he has that quirkiness. I am more of a serious dresser. But at the same time, I do not refrain from wearing colours. Whenever I get to his wardrobe, I go for colours that go well with a jacket of mine or a pair of jeans. That’s my indulgence.
What are you working on next?
We have the Couture Week in August. Also, we are opening a flagship store in Hyderabad in October — our first flagship store in the south. And the first Shantanu & Nikhil restaurant will be unveiled in Delhi’s Hauz Khas Village in October or in the first week of November. It is a high-end cafe... it’s got a bar, a lounge and a restaurant. We’ve always wanted to open a restaurant. We have thought of calling it The Cutting Table.
Kajol is wearing a lot of Shantanu & Nikhil nowadays...
We have immensely enjoyed giving Kajol a new look! She knows fashion and style. She knows where she belongs. She is now ready to embrace a whole new wave of dresses. She is fitter than ever before. She is looking nice and when you look nice, you feel nice. She tried one of our dresses in Mumbai and she just fell in love with it and from then on, she has worn us on four-five occasions.