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Style divide

B'wood fashion has always created ripples. Sujata Reddy pitts Bollywood designers against couture gurus to know who rules.

fashion and trends Updated: Oct 23, 2008 13:13 IST
Sujata Reddy
Sujata Reddy
Hindustan Times

There are designers who jumped onto the filmi bandwagon at the first opportunity. And there are those who chose to stay away. Whatever the case, Bollywood fashion has always created ripples. Sujata Reddy pitted Bollywood designers against couture gurus to know who rules.

No Bollywood please, we are couture...

Tarun Tahiliani: I can’t even sit through a Hindi film, forget designing for one.

Why haven’t you ever designed for a Hindi film?
(Smiles) Well, I’ve never been asked to.

That’s because people think you’re not interested..
They’re right.. I’m not. There is a big difference between a stylist and a designer. Anahita Shroff Adajania stylised the lead actors for the Dhoom series. But most people think she designed the clothes.

What’s wrong with Bollywood fashion?
Fashion in the movies is either very ethnic or overtly western. Jab We Met was the exception.. simple but relevant designs. The fashion quotient in Rock On!! also excited me.

Seriously, why are you so opposed to designing for a Hindi film?
I’m a couturier. You can’t compare couture to movie fashion. Couture belongs to high society.. those who understand luxury. Anyway, I have a store to run and I plan to build an empire. As an educated, highly placed individual, I find it difficult to watch 900 million Indians chase after one trend. Hindi films are so long.. I can’t even sit through an entire one, so forget designing for one.

Which according to you, is the worst Bollywood fashion trend?
Short kurtis paired with bell-bottoms...most awful! It makes me want to puke.

Designers entering Bollywood.. is that a good trend?
If you wants to reach the masses you can take the B-town route.. but not if you want to remain exclusive. I’m not keen on tailors copying my designs.

Who is the most well-dressed in showbiz and who needs a makeover?
Shah Rukh Khan, Arjun Rampal, Katrina Kaif and Priyanka Chopra are the best dressed. Makeover? I’m too politically correct.. maybe I need one.

Pallavi Jaikishan: Designing for a movie is not a challenge.. designing a palace is.

Bollywood versus couture..
Couture is luxury but bollywood ke haath bahut lambe hain. The NRIs are most influenced by filmi fashion. Once an NRI asked me to make her a wedding dress.. a lungi and a top. She thought it was ‘in’ because she had seen a star wear such an ensemble in a movie.

Planning to jump into the movie bandwagon?
Not really. Till date I’ve only designed wedding lehangas for a Salman Khan film. Can’t remember the name. Now I’m working on Hema Malini’s look for Sadiyan.. because she requested me to. Designing for a movie is not a challenge.. designing a palace is. Bollywood doesn’t even need a designer.. a stylist should suffice. I don’t want to be reduced to a stylist.. I’m a creator.

Krishna Mehta:Couture designers are like scientists sitting behind a desk.

Bollywood fashion.. comment.
I saw Kidnap recently.. the actress (Minisha Lamba) was kidnapped and was in boots throughout the movie! It upsets me to see an opportunity for decent styling wasted. I’ve only just started watching Hindi films now.. to know what faux pas to avoid when I’m offered a script. Every time I see a movie with bad styling, I wish I had been roped in.. like Kidnap. Mamma Mia was perfect! Bollywood and fashion are the only two things Indians follow religiously.. besides the stock market, of course.

Many insist that haute couture is not wearable either..
Couture designers are like scientists sitting behind a desk. We’re trying to create a new look all the time. We are trendsetters. One has to look beyond a look created for the ramp. I may put three- four garments on a model at one go but that doesn’t mean you wear it like that. Get it?

The worst Bollywood fashion trend you’ve seen?
The black and red dresses that Madhuri Dixit and Sridevi flaunted in ’80s. And the beehive buns of heroines in the ’60s. Atrocious.

Any star you would want to give a makeover to?
(Laughs) Govinda.. Govinda.. he tops my list to date.

Bollywood is where the lolly, candy and candy floss is..

Ana Singh:

Why the double standards? Ever been snubbed by a ‘couture-only’ designer?
It’s much more difficult to make an impact with a film than with your own line. When I started my career, Tarun Tahiliani and Abu Jani wondered why the hell I wanted to get into films. I told them it was the only way to immortalise my work.
Ultimately dahling, Bollywood fashion is the only medium that influences Indians the world over. It’s so hypocritical that these ‘couture-only’ designers use movie stars to promote their lines at fashion weeks and then snub movie fashion in the same breath. And you know what, a successful couture designer need not be a good film designer.. and vice-versa.

But how many Bollywood trends are really worth aping?
Clothes make a bigger impact than the actors themselves. Most are remembered for the ensembles they wore in certain movies. I started my career designing Salman Khan’s clothes in Maine Pyaar Kiya. The look I gave Aamir Khan for the boy-on-the-run in Dil Hai Ke Maante Nahi caught on in a big way. Madhuri Dixit’s wardrobe in Hum Aapke Hain Kaun made waves too. A few styles in the forthcoming Yuvvraaj will surely catch on.

The worst Bollywood trend...
Rajesh Khanna shirts with a belt at the waist. Yuck!

How has Bollywood fashion changed in the last five years?
The change began in the early ’90s. Earlier I would get a ‘requirement list’ asking for ‘five sexy dresses for
the heroine.’ Imagine! That is why one ended up seeing sequined dresses on the beach. Then directors like Mukul Anand, Vidhu Vinod Chopra, JP Dutta, Raj Kumar Santoshi and Mahesh Bhatt brought in some much-needed changes. And I accomplished about 45 per cent of the task. Then along came Manish Malhotra who did the rest.

Why are so many designers queuing up to make a Bollywood debut today?
Because even the ‘big’ designers have realised that this is where the lolly, candy and candy floss is.

Who do you think is the most well dressed actor and actress?
Ranbir Kapoor and Preity Zinta.

And who deserves a desperate makeover in showbiz?
My lips are sealed.. but whoever feels the need for one can come to me.

Narendra Kumar Ahmed: Shilpa Shetty can look much younger than she is.

Why do most couture designers run down Bollywood fashion?
Maybe because the term Bollywood still conjures up images of skin-tight churidars, bright colours and bling.

Isn’t couture also unwearable at times?
Let’s not even go there. Most designers don’t even understand what couture is. Sometimes an outfit can’t be worn.. because it’s created to attract attention.

The worst Bollywood fashion trend..
Men walking around bare-chested or flaunting low-cut sleeveless Tees.. and aping Salman Khan.

Many designers are entering Bollywood today. Is that a healthy trend?
Of course, the audience expects more than just a good story today. They want to see unexploited locations, trendy clothes, cool gadgets and beautiful people. A designer gives a project that extra edge.

Who do you think is the most well dressed actor and actress?
Saif Ali Khan carries himself well. Akshay Kumar is looking great. His understated style is catching on fast. Among the ladies I’d vote for Bipasha Basu and Priyanka Chopra who is slickly turned out for every event.

Who needs a makeover in showbiz?
Shilpa Shetty can look much much younger than she is. She has a great body.

First Published: Oct 23, 2008 12:48 IST