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Styling the stars

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Bollywood’s Style-meisters Are Combining Sophistication And Flair To Get A Glam Look That’s Just Right For The Top Stars, Says Sushmita Biswas   |   Published 02.09.12, 12:00 AM

Tanya Ghavri recently styled Kareena Kapoor in a show-stopping flaming red Emanuel Ungaro jumpsuit for a promotional event of Heroine

Fashion stylist Pernia Qureshi is in a perpetual race against time these days. Qureshi who shot to fame by styling the look of Sonam Kapoor in Aisha is changing gears to explore the fashion world beyond Tinsel Town. She has just made a splash with her debut collection (consisting of a line of sleek dresses) at the recent Lakme Fashion Week in Mumbai. And, earlier in April, she moved into hi-tech retailing by launching a fashion e-commerce site which stocks top Indian designer wear labels and her own lines. “Minimalism combined with understated glamour is my style mantra,” says the ace designer who is looking visibly exhausted after the hectic schedules of fashion week.

In another corner of Tinseltown, stylist Anirban Roy (his nickname in Bollywood is Rick) is busy working on Emraan Hashmi’s look in his upcoming film Ghanchakkar directed by Rajkumar Gupta. Roy also had the challenging task, not so long ago, of putting together the looks of Akshay Kumar and Sonakshi Sinha in the recent film, Joker. “The brief was to work on a look that combined kitsch without going overboard,” says this 29-year-old Calcutta-boy whose diary is brimming with back-to-back projects.

Roy’s currently dashing about with his measuring tape styling actress Tamanna Bhatia in Sajid Khan’s remake of Himmatwala and also making actress Chitrangada Singh look her very best in Sudhir Mishra’s next, Inkaar. Among the top male leads, he’s making sure that Emraan Hashmi looks just right in Raaz3. 'A good film stylist not only glamorises an actor but also takes into account the director's vision of a particular character in the script,” he says with conviction.

Lakmé Fashion Week saw Pernia Qureshi launch her debut collection, An Evening In Paris (below)

Qureshi and Roy are part of an era when Bollywood actors have become intensely fashion-conscious and acutely aware that their fans are watching every outfit they step out in. But unlike in the past when celebrities had a favourite designer and would patronise nobody else, today it’s about a stylist creating a unified look. “The stylist needs to understand the story, character and setting and make his or her clothes fit seamlessly into the big picture,” says director Kunal Deshmukh of Jannat 2 fame.

But today’s fashion stylists are turning into major celebrities themselves with all types of opportunities opening up before them. So, you’ll find them living life in the fast lane, styling stars and also doing everything from magazine covers to fashion shoots and ramp shows and award functions. And styling’s becoming seriously remunerative. A celebrity stylist can fetch a lakh and above per shoot and Rs10 lakh to Rs 15 lakh per film.

Take a look at 25-year-old Tanya Ghavri who’s styling Kareena Kapoor for the promotions of her upcoming film, Heroine, directed by Madhur Bhandarkar. Kareena’s off-screen outing recently in a flame red Emanuel Ungaro jumpsuit, a slash of red lipstick and a head-turning hairstyle all came courtesy Ghavri. Says Ghavri: “I am working on 20 dramatic looks for the film’s various promotions all over India for Kareena.”

Or, watch the smart fashion moves of celebrity stylist Niharika Khan, whose moment of fame came when director Sudhir Mishra roped her in to style Soha Ali Khan’s look in his period film, Khoya Khoya Chand. From then on there’s been no looking back for this busy stylist who went on to set trends with films that have made waves like Rock On, Karthik Calling Karthik, Delhi Belly and Band Baaja Baaraat.

Khan’s forte lies in creating glam looks with her quirky fashion sense. She used her skills to transform actress Prachi Desai from her traditional bahu avatar on TV into the epitome of South Mumbai cool in Rock On. She also gave Vidya Balan an oomphy look in The Dirty Picture and Sonakshi Sinha a desi girl image in Rowdy Rathore.

Niharika Khan has films like Karthik Calling Karthik (inset), Rock On, Delhi Belly, The Dirty Picture and Rowdy Rathore to her credit.

Currently, Khan has her hands full with films like director Abhishek Kapoor’s next Kaipo che (based on Chetan Bhagat’s ‘Three Mistakes of My Life’) and Anurag Kashyap’s Dabba with Irrfan Khan. “Since Kaipo Che is a more Gujarat based film, the look is subtle and more to do with clothes worn in day-to-day life,” says Khan.

It isn’t only when they are onscreen that the stars need their favourite stylists. In today’s world stars and even other celebrities are under 24/7 public scrutiny. There are film promotions and of course, red carpet events – and the cameras are clicking away all the time.

So, stylist Shalini Mehta, for instance, gets six to eight clients in a month for events like red-carpet appearances and award functions. She says: “In personal styling, individuals need to be educated on their wardrobes, the right colour combinations and so on. I suggest changes and if required accompany my clients to shop for clothes.” Mehta started out by assisting stylist Anaita Shroff Adjania and has worked with Bollywood biggies like Shah Rukh Khan and Saif Ali Khan on a string of ads. Mehta also styled 26 participants for the reality show Khatron Ke Khiladi – Season 4.

Similarly, celebrity stylist Maneka Harsinghani, who also has her own designer label, shot into the limelight after styling Miss Asia Pacific Tanvi Singla in 2011. “I met her at a party and told her openly that I strongly disliked her look. Everyone there thought I was trying to make my mark as a stylist with my ‘anti-trend’ philosophy but she somehow recognised my vision and I was almost instantly on the job,” she says.

Harsinghani also styles actress Jiah Khan for all her promotions and commercial engagements. She recalls: “I first took her to my hairdresser Perry Patel who boldly coloured her hair the same khaki blonde as mine and she loved it.”

Styling – whether for films or for individuals – can be an incredibly tough game and it requires hours of hard work and a constant attention to detail. Khan says her days are often chaotic as she has to dash to the set and also look after half a dozen other things too. She says: “I sit with the director and art director first to discuss the colour combinations that can work well in a film. Then, I have to trawl the markets for the right clothes and the right accessories.”

Rick Roy kicked off his career as an
intern at MTV

And Roy’s currently focusing on Emraan Hashmi’s looks in Ghanchakkar and he has to rise at 5.30 am every morning when shooting is on. He says: “I am on the sets by 6.30am to oversee Emraan’s look. I am a control freak and have to be present on the sets every day to see if everything is going well.” In the afternoon, he goes for fabric shopping.

Even the corporate world is getting acutely conscious of its style quotient. Mehta, for instance, is working with home-furnishing brand Welspun for styling product shoots. Besides that she has even been called in to advise groups of employees on what type of clothes to wear and colours to avoid when at work or meeting clients. Harsinghani recently curated a show for F1s opening party held on Vijay Mallya’s yacht in Monaco.

Each of them came into the styling game in different ways. Look at Roy who, at 17, moved to Mumbai and studied in NIFT and then went to study at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology. His first job was at MTV as an intern stylist in 2004. Khan, on the other hand, was a jewellery designer before venturing into styling full-time. Mehta, who’s from Dehradun, shifted to Mumbai and did her post-graduation in apparel design from NID, Ahmedabad in 2005.

Inevitably, every stylist has his or her favourite actors. There’s Roy who looks up to Malaika Arora Khan and says she has been his muse and mentor ever since his MTV days. He says: “She completely surrenders to the stylist to make her look sexy.” Roy styled Malaika recently in the famous item song Anarkali Disco Chali in Housefull 2. Another of Roy’s hot favourites is actress Chitrangada Singh who says, “Rick has a very keen sense of what will flatter a certain person depending on her body. He is not at all pushy and respects personal comfort.”

Personal styling is Shalini Mehta’s forte

On the other hand, Qureshi’s muse is Sonam Kapoor who was given an uber-stylish look in the film Aisha. Though the film bombed, Kapoor’s super-styles turned heads. Says Qureshi: “A lot went into styling her right from shopping for her costumes to fitting sessions. She was patient enough to try each and every look I suggested.” Qureshi styled Kapoor in Dior and Bill Blass dresses and bags in Aisha.

Khan emphasises that it’s crucial to win the trust of the actors they’re working with. She has worked with leading actors like Ranbir Kapoor (Rocket Singh), Farhan Akhtar (Rock On) and Anushka Sharma (Band, Baaja Baaraat). But she reckons that styling Vidya Balan in The Dirty Picture was the most challenging assignment of all. She says: “Vidya completely trusted me to make her look sensuous without making her look cheap.”

Many of the stylists are also ambitiously expanding their horizons. Qureshi is focusing strongly on establishing her pop-up-fashion store. “I want to include more designer lines and accessories under my pop-up-store brand,” she says.

Mehta writes about fashion tips and trends on her blog. She has also tied up with wedding planners to give bridal styling tips. “I provide tips on how to go about looking good on your wedding day,” she says. Ghavri on the other hand is eager to do more advertising work. She is about to work with Sonam Kapoor for an Electrolux release.Inevitably, lots of youngsters are now looking at styling as a profession. But Roy warns that it’s not all fun and games. He says bluntly: “A lot of fashion wannabes are taking up styling because it is glamorous without knowing anything about the craft.”

Harsinghani adds: “There’s a place for everyone who has patience and does not shy away from hard work. But remember there’s no rulebook for survival in this industry.” 

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