An article on Bollywood stylists - Mumbai Mirror reports.
Stylists let us into the idiosyncratic vanity vans of Bollywood's most stylish women
When you see pictures of Priyanka Chopra, looking artistically dishabille on her way to a flight, know it is intended. That is her airport look - distressed jeans, ganji, leather jacket, scarf and boots. Before a monthlong trip to the US, Priyanka commissioned a shopper to put together her wardrobe for the trip - from what to wear to the airport (where most paparazzis camp) to what to wear for dinners.
Until about seven years ago, heroines swore loyalty to one designer who had made them look good on screen and they then upholstered them off-screen. Aishwarya Rai wore Neeta Lulla's lame confections to Cannes; Kareena Kapoor inherited Manish Malhotra from Karisma. Rani Mukherjee and Vidya Balan subscribe to Sabyasachi Mukherji.
But with the intervention of fashion blogs and paparazzi, it's important to look on trend on every occasion. Enter the fashion stylist who researches, curates and designs every look. Where a designer only provided clothes, a stylist procures them from designers out of directors' reach and puts together a look with the precision of an Ikebana artist. "Most stars now want short, tight cocktails dresses," says Jayati Bose who styles stars for magazine covers and movies. "Earlier, they would want saris."
Bipasha Basu, for instance, loves fierce short dresses with in-cut sleeves or halter necks and favours designer Rocky S. A line of stylists have tried and failed to tell her that a softer look would benefit her strong jawline and footballer's shoulders. For Malaika Arora, the focus is on the derriere. According to stylists, her choice has but one criterion - Does this make my butt look big? Yes? I'll take it! Kareena's favourite accessory is her face. "It's a pleasure to watch her try on clothes. She knows she is a beautiful girl with a million dollar face and dresses to draw attention to it," says Tanya Ghavri, who has recently weaned Kareena away from net saris. Others who have dressed her say she likes to try on clothes surrounded by mirrors, practising her poses and pouting at herself. It is this deep familiarity with her face that keeps her away from red lips. "For a recent evening event, we suggested she do oldworld glamour with the hair swept to the side and red lips," said Tanya. "But for her, red lips are only for scenes that have a tight focus on her face, or magazine covers." Sonam Kapoor gets up in the morning and decides what to wear and it could well be black lips. Tanya, who along with Sonam's sister Rhea, works on her, says, "She dresses according to her moods and likes to do different looks every day. She goes mad with accessories and most times we have to stop her and say, 'You can't go out with that jewellery overdose.'"
Her reputation for being well put-together at all times is confirmed by another stylist who went to see her when she had typhoid, and found a sniffling Sonam in bed in a Chanel tee, mid-waist trousers and a waistcoat. Another time, she wanted to wear a floorlength fur coat with a gown and had to be reminded that she'd just pledged support to PETA. And that importing exotic skins into India is illegal. The joke in the industry is that Katrina Kaif's fashion idol is Barbie. "Actresses stay away from prints because it takes the attention away from their face, but Katrina only wears pastels and girlie colours. Her hair is always ironed straight and the silhouettes are feminine and flowing," says a stylist.
Priyanka, stylist Ami Patel says, has a shoe fetish and is very involved in the ideation process. "She likes bold architectural pieces, while I balances her wardrobe with practical, versatile pairs," says Patel, who is also a fashion editor.
Patel knows that whatever be the trend on the ramp, it's actors who set trends in India. "People don't follow fashion, but when a star wears an outfit, it will sell out immediately," she says. Most international labels lend sample pieces for shoots and events, but Indian designers are willing to even custom make an outfit "because fans pay three times the tag price for a dress worn by a star, especially in the Gulf," she says. Patel styled Twinkle Khanna for a mobile ad and the Ferragamo clutch that's seen for a split second as Twinkle slips the phone in, became the bag everyone wanted.
Designers are tapping into this marketing opportunity. This also means that they refuse clothes to those stars that don't match-up the image of their brand. When a certain comeback dancing queen's stylist approached a designer for her bejewelled gowns, she politely refused. The wholesome, middle-class image of this actor clashed with the sophisticated sexuality the brand projects.
There is also a hierarchy set by brands for lending clothes. "I wouldn't put Priyanka in an outfit photographed on a [lesser] star before," says Patel, "No matter how big the label is. There is too much pressure from the media who is very quick to point out when an outfit has been worn before."
A leading star closely follows what her contemporaries are wearing and is known to throw a fit if a favoured designer lends her clothes to someone else, without giving her the right-of-refusal first.
Stars even maintain standard model sizes to be able to borrow sample pieces. Some designers such as Manish Malhotra tailor-make outfits and give them away for free, but most stars don't expect to pay for clothes. In which case, designers refuse to alter them.
The comeback actor, for instance, found it hard to cough up Rs 14,000 for a gown commissioned for her and finally sent it back. Sonam Kapoor, for one, buys her luxury labels, and has an enviable wardrobe.
Some stars also demand fierce loyalty. A green-eyed new mother would make her stylist wait for hours and make oblique references to not working with anyone else. When a stylist works with two female leads in one movie, it's a landmine. There are surreptitious inquiries as to what the other is wearing for a scene, and last minute alterations make hemlines shorter and waists tighter.
In one instance, a fashionista commissioned outfits for a rival through her stylist. The rival was officially seeing the man the fashionista was dating in secret. A story was then leaked to the media about how her "good friend" had asked her to help his girlfriend with her fashion sense.
But their deepest and our most reassuring secret: Many of them rely on control underwear to look a full size smaller.