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Fashion tips from Bollywood stylists

From red carpet appearances that incorporate haute couture gowns to signature looks in films that fluidly bring characters on reel in the realm of the real — Bollywood actors are setting trends like never before. Their stylists tell us the secret of the emerging style.

fashion and trends Updated: Feb 11, 2013 12:14 IST
Snigdha Ahuja

Though Bollywood stars have been a big influence on our style choices through the years, it’s only now that Bollywood fashion is coming off age. From red carpet appearances that incorporate haute couture gowns to signature looks in films that fluidly bring characters on reel in the realm of the real — these actors are setting trends like never before.

But, whether it be dressing up for a film or red carpet do, men and women called stylists play a big role. We speak to three stylists who have closely worked in the industry, and get to know what goes behind dressing up the stars.

Dilnaz Karbhary

She has a worked on multiple projects with Farah Khan, on all her TV appearances in the last four years and her last movie where she acted for the first time — Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi. Besides that she has also dressed Jacqueline for premieres of her film Housefull 2. Gul Panag is also one of her clients and she has done a few film songs including Katrina Kaif for Wallah Re Wallah in Tees Maar Khan. She has also styled actor Boman Irani for some of his off screen appearances.

Styling for a film: ‘Realistic portrayal is vital’
The process is simple — you really need to absorb the script and the directors vision for the character, and then use your expertise to create something fabulous and unique in terms of a look for the character. I believe a realistic portrayal is very important. And staying true to the script is important. Realising the strengths of my actors and working around them is important too. If I functioned in isolation with respect to any of the above, I would be foolish.

Stars and stylists
Bollywood is changing how the rest of India is — in terms of becoming more conscious of the way we look. I think the whole country is going through a metamorphosis. It’s fascinating to see so many India’s within one India in the way that we dress, becoming more conscious of fit and quality, traits that were not associated with the industry. As consciousness increases, need to work with professionals like us increases too.

The surgeon’s cut
Having a stylist is like going to a qualified doctor or surgeon — you trust their set skill. And realise the difference. May be the scene was different earlier, but now I think every one respects each other’s strengths .

Deepika Padukone: For me, effortless chic is the benchmark, and in that respect I find her off screen appearances impeccable.
Kiran Rao: Some of her choices make her dressing very savvy.
Boman irani: One of the only men I know to carry off a baby pink tie.

Rick Roy

Chitrangda Singh (Inkaar), Malaika Arora Khan (Anarkali song in Housefull 2), Sonam Kapoor (song in Players), Emraan Hashmi (Jannat 2), Forthcoming: Ghanchakkar and Himmatwala.

Styling for a film: ‘It has to fit the character graph’
Some directors have a look in mind and you work on that guideline, others just want you to create a look for the character. For instance in Inkaar, Sudhir Mishra made me sit down and explained to me what Maya the character is. I decided what looks should belong to her through different stages of the film and showed it to Sudhir. From then on we worked together on it to make the look fit right in to the character graph that he had in mind. At times the director gives a brief not only about the character, but also informs what lines to think in terms of the look.

Media pressure
The media is quite proactive now and the actors are under constant watch all the time on their appearances. They have to be conscious all the time of how they look, so they need stylists to constantly help them look fashionable

Playing a vital part
I don’t think stylists are overshadowed, especially in films. We stylists/designers get due credits for what we do. I have always got credited for the work I did for all my films and I have seen this. If you do good work people do notice it and know who you are. It’s not ignored at all. But, at times, personal stylists remain unacknowledged. But, sometimes people do tend to not know who styled a certain celebrity for a certain event.

Malaika Arora Khan: She is very stylish and really very consistent.
Vidya Balan: She isn’t your typical size zero and revolutionised the way people look at curves.
Emraan Hashmi: He has a casual approach to style, and that is very sexy. Men need to be effortless in their style.
Salman Khan: Carries off anything he wears with ease.
Arjun Rampal and Farhan Akthar: An individualistic sense of style Rahul Khanna: He is ever stylish

Ameira Punvani

David, Guru, Teen Patti, Badmaash Company, Banaras

Styling for a film: ‘Nothing left to chance’
The process of filmmaking is a collaborative effort with the director as the captain of the ship. I meet with the director to get a brief about his vision for the film and then read the script. I spend a great deal of time researching the look for each character. Then, I share ideas which may be in form of costume sketches, photos or references from books, magazines and internet. There have been times when I’ve taken costumes with me to show my director. Most decisions are taken in consonance with the cinematographer and costume designer. Nothing is left to chance.

The role of saviours
It’s an open secret now that actors are relying more and more on the services of a stylist to keep their style quotient intact, making them one of the most important people behind an actor’s image.

The complete package
There was a misconception that costumes for a film are ‘shopped’ by designers and stylists, reaching the screen unaltered, with the label intact, there by undervaluing our contribution. In fact there are still times when I’m asked the innocent question, “Where did you buy that?” The answer is, we designed it. Costumes add essential information to the moment of a scene, of a story to help achieve the visual and narrative goal of the film. When designers create accurate characters for a film, those honest characterisations help propel actors into stardom. With the indian audience becoming more discerning with the need for accuracy in films our role is becoming more prominent.

Rekha: I still can’t take my eyes off of her. I’ve seen her at a few award shows and functions and she still dazzles because of her unique personal style.
Twinkle Khanna and Anushka Sharma: Because they genuinely have a personal sense of style.
Saif Ali Khan: Among men I’d say he stands out, as does Arjun Rampal.
Sridevi: She looked stunning in an Alberta Ferreti gown at a recent award function.