A job where going to work means hanging out with top actors of the film world. Where you get to dress up your favourite celebrities and know them personally. A job that revolves around shopping for the perfect couture pieces, gets you direct entry to red carpet events, glamorous Bollywood parties, award functions and movie shoots. A job that makes you the one behind the most droolworthy posters and magazine covers…. You got it right, celebrity stylists have the most enviable job in the world. However, a job like that keeps you thinking and visualising 24×7. One wrong cut here, one badly coordinated colour there and it costs your client a whole lot of embarrassment and trolling. And you? Well, it could spell the end of your career.
So, what goes behind being a celebrity stylist? Experts say the first step in styling is intensive research — from knowing the latest global trends to having absolute knowledge about the newest designers on the block and all else that is in vogue. Mohit Rai, a celebrity stylist who has worked with people like Sonakshi Sinha and Kareena Kapoor, says, “Styling is not just about picking up a dress. Fashion is a science and one needs to study hard to get it right. You need to go to a school that teaches you all the basics about fabrics, body types, designs, colours, aesthetics, etc. There is a difference between people with degrees and people lacking any formal education, which is visible in their work as well.” He agrees there are a lot of hits and misses when it comes to styling. “There have been times when I have walked in for a fitting with 10 garments and all of them failed. But there have also been times when the first thing that the clients wear works,” he says.
It is upon the stylist to curate a look that is memorable. “The process begins with zeroing in on the look, ensuring it is unique and unseen. It is very important to be uncommon and different from the rest of the crowd while keeping the trends in mind,” says Maneka Harsinghani, a Mumbai-based celebrity stylist who works with Malaika Arora Khan and Lisa Ray.
Working with people who are under scrutiny all the time is a high-pressure job. Preparations for a particular event start months in advance. Ever more so because in this viral age, nothing is ever forgotten. And when it does go wrong, there are controversies.
Under the scanner could be your bad fashion choice, a wardrobe malfunction or simply a bad picture in the press. The actors maybe facing the backlash directly, but their stylists are not spared. Recently, Easha Gupta’s pictures of a lingerie shoot received a lot of criticism and were deemed untraditional by many. Mohit Rai, who was part of the shoot, says, “It is part of the business. I got both positive and negative comments for the shoot. At times, all you can do is give your best and accept the public reaction. Having said that, both Easha and I stand by it. I feel she embraced her beauty and there is nothing un-Indian about it.”
And now for that million dollar question: How do our celebs look so perfect all the time? Says Akanksha Kapoor, who has styled TV celebrities like Rashmi Desai, Pooja Gor, etc., “The key lies in knowing the body type of your clients, their vibe and the event for which they need to be styled. The celebs are well aware of their bodies and use their assets well. I have clients who turn to me with no preconceptions about their look, and others who have an entire look drawn out in their head. Both have their own charm.”
All celebs have their own charm. There’s a classic Rekha, there is a stylish Kangana and there is a sporty Alia. If they wow at times, they fail too. But the stylists, our silent superheroes, take it in their stride and go home to work on the next look for the next public outing.