About five years ago, 20-somethings Priyanka Prasad and Payal Parija (Indian girls settled in Dallas, Texas) going about their usual day — discussing sales, bags and red carpet moments over drinks. And JLT (just like that, silly!) they decided to start a blog. And High Heel Confidential was born. “It really came from our mutual interests, martinis (and moaning from everyone else at the table to go start a blog and leave them out of it)!”
The timing couldn’t be better. India was in the middle of a paparazzi boom. Bollywood was always religion but curiosity about fashion was fast-growing. The question everyone was asking was, “Who is wearing who?”
Over the years, the blog has become an addiction. Fans include Sonam Kapoor and Rani Mukerji and the fashion team at t2. Over to Priyanka for more dope-shope!
Did you have any inkling that HHC would be such a hit?
No, never! We started it for us. I still remember we would check our blog stats every week and the first time we hit 100, we were overjoyed. Today, we get over a million page-views but I doubt either of us will ever forget that thrill of waiting for 99 to turn 100!
Initially, the blog was just a medium for us to share whatever caught our eye. Commentating on celebrity styles is what we eventually honed, but that’s something that didn’t happen right away.
One of our celebrity posts was about Kareena Kapoor and we noticed our hits had a remarkable spike. It didn’t take us long to figure that, like us, there were many who were interested in desi fashion and style but there just weren’t blogs or websites which delivered news beyond Bollywood trade and gossip. We knew we had found our niche and as trite as it sounds, there’s been no looking back. Also, it is clear we owe Ms Kapoor a drink!
And as far as style goes, Bollywood has undergone a sea change...
Yes, in so many ways and it stays the same in so many other ways too. Some stars are still fiercely loyal to the designers they have a more personal relationship with even when their ‘designs’ don’t work for/on them. That doesn’t seem to have changed. The arrival of stylists though means many stars now are opening up to brands, labels, designers, which wasn’t even on their radar before. The influx of luxury brands, fashion and lifestyle magazines and blogs like ours means the celebrities now have both access and awareness that their sartorial choices are certainly being noted. Stylists and costume designers have new-found importance in Bollywood!
When was the first time you realised the gravity of the blog?
Every time a mention in a magazine or a newspaper trickled in, we’d be giddy with excitement. That’s something I don’t think we’ll ever get jaded about! We knew we had something special with all the comments and hits our blog would attract but even then the press we got always took us by surprise. Vogue India was the first magazine to put us on their power list in 2011…. It sort of made it all legitimate suddenly. And now, Elle has included us in their 2012 list. It’s all so gratifying. However, to be honest, we don’t much think of the ‘gravity’ of the blog. We just don’t take ourselves that seriously. We are committed to the blog, not its trappings!
How does the blog work?
Viral Bhayani, our more-than-able photographer in Mumbai, sends us pictures from events. As soon as we get them, depending on who is online between Payal and me, we start blogging. We discuss, figure out what they are wearing, see if we agree (on our critique) and post.
And do you both always agree?
No! Sometimes Payal and I talk each other in for the other perspective, and sometimes, well, that doesn’t quite work!
How do you guys combat the time difference?
It works out well for us. By the time the Indian readers are up and logging on, we have the previous night’s event(s) on the blog.
Do you know that leading Bollywood actresses — from Sonam Kapoor to Vidya Balan — are addicted to your blog?
That’s lovely! Statements like that always take us by surprise. We still think of ourselves as two bloggers who just started out five years ago and when we hear things like this or get a press mention, we can’t help but go, “Who? Us?!” Over the years stars and designers have written in. We love the support and are blown away by how sporty some of them can be.
Your own take on the look sets the mood for the rest of the comments. What do you keep in mind before you set the ball rolling?
We say it like it is. We aren’t looking to conform to anyone’s idea of “cool”. What we think is what you read.
With so many younger readers, do you keep in mind the impact before posting a comment, say with body issues, among other things?
Oh, absolutely. We are very particular about our comment policy. You’ll never hear us talk about someone’s body-shape. Ever! We may comment on how a particular dress doesn’t work but never how someone’s arms, legs, hips aren’t the ideal size. There’s never any talk of surgeries, jobs, lifts.... We just stick to fashion and make sure the comments the post attracts does too for the most part. As the blog gets more popular, so have the number of comments that hint at affairs, careers and personal lives. Those never make it past our moderation. We also often get candid pictures mailed to us of celebrities at private parties, caught in not the most flattering light. Those as well, you’ll never see on the blog. We know just exactly what the blog is and we intend to keep it that way; while folks may complain over our take on a sartorial choice, we can’t be faulted for the way we keep our corner!
What is your favourite section on HHC?
We love the ‘P&P Project’, ‘Wish List Wednesdays’ and covering the red carpet arrivals for a big premiere or an award.
And the most challenging?
The ‘Ditto’s. Some jump at you right away but it’s the ones that you know for a fact you’ve seen on someone else but can’t seem to place on whom that get frustrating.
How do you identify the brands so effortlessly? Any secrets?
No secrets. It comes from poring over images/collections/presentations/catalogues. Obsessively!
How many times in a day do you log in to HHC?
Constantly. Can hardly keep track!
(So do we, at t2!)
Twitter must have made life easier...
We love the access and the interaction. And when celebrities or their stylists tweet the sartorial details (identifying the labels), our life gets easier. Even if a little less challenging!
Finally, what are your personal styles like?
A good mix depending on the day and the time. Payal likes to keep things simple, focussing instead on accessories. And I’m non-fussy. I tend to veer more towards the classic with a twist.
What do you like /dislike about High Heel Confidential? Tell firstname.lastname@example.org