A stylist is one of the most important members in an actor’s team today. In a day and age when every Bollywood actor’s look is dissected, and fashion trends change every week, stylists make sure their celebrity clients are always bundled up in style. These are some of the popular names, who have made a mark in the field.
I love Anushka’s effortless style: Allia Al Rufai
In her first assignment itself, Rufai styled fashionistas like Kangana Ranaut and Priyanka Chopra in Fashion (2008). “I used to assist Rita Dhody at that time,” says Rufai, who has also styled celebrities like Anushka Sharma, Alia Bhatt and Varun Dhawan, among others. The 31-year-old says that celebrities today don’t have enough time to work on their looks, and that’s where the stylists come in. Talking about her favourite clients, she says, “Anushka is really the definition of a ‘cool girl’. I love her effortless style. Deepika has a unique elegance about her that I have never seen before, and Varun is so much fun to work with.”
Alia is a fashion enthusiast: Archana Walavalkar
She is all of 30, but Archana Walavalkar has already been doing this for 10 years. She has styled some of the top stars in the country, including Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Alia, Deepika and Kareena Kapoor Khan, among others. Not just that, she has also been a stylist on films like Student Of The Year (2012), Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania (2014) and Shaandaar (2015). “During my stints at two fashion magazines (for five years), I was fortunate to have styled almost every celebrity in the industry. But Deepika was the first celebrity I styled under my own company when I quit the editorial business,” says Walavalkar.
The stylist, who is very fond of Varun and Alia, says that they are “not only cool and easy-going, but also super fun to work with, and major fashion enthusiasts themselves”.
On the other hand, Walavalkar adds that most celebrities she has worked with know what works for them and what doesn’t, and that makes her job a lot easier. “They trust and respect our talent. At the same time, they have some great inputs that help us achieve the best outcome within a short period of time,” she says.
Styling is the right balance of instinct and inherent style: Anaita Shroff Adajania
She started styling celebrities at a time when the concept of styling barely existed in India. She started by styling editorials and covers for a fashion magazine. Then, one day, photographer Farrokh Chothia asked her to style a shoot for an advertiser. “He understood the need for a stylist to envision the whole look — from the hair and make-up, clothes and accessories to the overall attitude of the images. I’m so grateful to him for believing that I had the ability to do this. After that, there was no turning back,” says Adajania, who has styled almost all the celebrities in the industry. She has also worked on films like Dhoom (2004), Love Aaj Kal (2009) and Cocktail (2012), among others.
After doing this for so many years, the 43-year-old still loves her job, especially “the process of ideating, predicting and sourcing”. Ask her what has given impetus to this profession over the years, and she says, “It seems deceptively easy from the outside, and so, many people dive in. But, I believe that it’s the right balance of instinct and inherent style, with a lot of hard work that makes a good stylist. It’s a very specific skill set. It’s not about just making someone look good.”
As far as the toughest part of being a stylist is concerned, Adajania says that things start becoming difficult when clients start acting like the stylists. “I want my clients to be as comfortable as possible. But, I’m the one using my experience and research, and it makes no sense for me to take on a job if they just want to be styled in their choices, and aren’t willing to trust me,” she adds.
I’m proud of my work with Ranveer: Nitasha Gaurav
From florals to bold prints, Ranveer Singh’s experimental dressing often becomes a talking point. And the person responsible for his whacky looks is Nitasha Gaurav. “I’m especially delighted with and proud of my work with Ranveer,” she says.
Gaurav’s first assignment, as an independent stylist, was with Neha Dhupia. “There has been a general surge in the interest in fashion. People have more access to brands and designers, and there is an overwhelming interest in Bollywood, Hollywood, music etc. In all this, there is a greater appreciation for stylists, and what they bring to the table,” she says. However, Gaurav finds the job very challenging. “You have to be someone who can stay calm in a hectic situation, and think on your feet while being creative at the same time,” she adds.
Do celebrities have a say in how they wish to be styled? Gaurav says, “As a stylist, you have to factor in the celebs’ preferences, and they rely on you to highlight the best aspects of their personalities. That’s when you create looks that are unique to the personality or style of the client.”
Shilpa is a dream for any stylist: Sanjana Batra
In a short span of time, Sanjana Batra has established a firm footing for herself in the industry. She started in 2013 by styling Nargis Fakhri for a photo shoot. The 27-year-old soon started styling actors like Yami Gautam, Huma Qureshi, Shilpa Shetty Kundra, Bipasha Basu and Parineeti Chopra.
Batra says that styling, as a profession, has gathered a lot of steam in the past couple of years, because of a generous interest in fashion. “People are curious about what celebs are wearing, and social media gives them an insight into that world,” she says. However, even though the profession looks glamorous, Batra reveals that it is not a cakewalk. “It’s a high pressure job. You don’t always have too much time to plan things, so you have to be on your toes,” she says. As far as her favourite clients are concerned, Batra refuses to choose one. “Parineeti is fun to work with. She looks great, and is open to experimentation. Also, Shilpa is a dream for any stylist. I have been styling Huma for the longest time, so I share a great rapport with her too. She trusts me completely,” she says.