Four distinct fashion stylists share why despite crazy schedules and intense pressures it’s still a dream job to have.
Mitali Ambekar, Pune, 24
When Mitali was studying fashion styling caught her fancy. After an internship, which taught her the ropes of the job, she has been styling for several television commercials, fashion shoots, print campaigns, portfolio and movie shoots. A short film Shorts by Anurag Kashyap’s banner and brands such as Wella Professionals and Santoor warm her portfolio. The exciting part she says is that every project is different and requires a lot of fresh ideas, methods and inspirations. “As a stylist you are expected to be on your toes once the shoot is ideated. It involves a brief study about the client, research, look creation, model coordination, outfit measurement, sourcing, coordination with other members in the team, alterations, execution, last minute changes/ adjustments, frame suggestions and processing. A stylist has to be thorough with the current trends, colour palettes, fashion forecasts and vendors for sourcing.”
“There are no fixed timings so it’s difficult to maintain a daily routine. Also stringent deadlines are challenging when shoots are planned overnight and the stylist is expected to be equipped for the next morning.”
The best part? “I get paid to shop. It’s truly a joy to transform someone. It’s an art where I can enhance an individual’s positives and diminish the flaws with the right techniques”. She advises stylist-enthusiasts to experiment and make mistakes to learn from them. “Formal training doesn’t matter if one can understand fashion and can execute an idea.”
Nirali Mehta, Mumbai, 35
Years of retail experience gave Nirali an understanding of various personalities and what works for them. She styled a bevy of Bollywood stars like John Abraham, Katrina Kaif, Imran Khan, and Ileana D’Cruz for the fashion magazine she worked for. “Styling cover shoots and features for magazines which sometimes we just randomly flip through is tremendous work. Sourcing garments, doing fittings and photo shoots are no breeze. Styling celebrities can be hectic and stressful. Their personalities play a huge part of their style, which makes it easier to know what they would want to wear. Post that fittings and photo shoots are relaxed and fun.”
In this fast-changing fashion industry she stays abreast of current trends through fashion blogs and websites. Nirali freelances now extending her sensibilities to TV, commercials, personal styling and shopping. And the hardest part, she confesses, “being a fashion stylist is far from glamorous. Sometimes, you may be working from dusk till dawn and in extremes of weather. Sometimes, your work may be well received only by some. It is hard work but when the final images come out I love them.” But this mother of two doesn’t think of it as a job. “It’s sheer passion. It’s fun when I travel for shoots.” Her success mantra: “Start by interning and always look around for inspiration.”
Anamika Chanda, Bangalore, 31
Stylist @ Myntra
Anamika knew where her future lay when she was studying apparel designing. She loves that her work is about inspiration and innovation. . “It’s challenging to bring in something new and creative everyday. A stylist’s role essentially is that of conceptualising a theme and creating looks by combining unique elements through research. The role of a stylist changes slightly according to the nature of the shoot/show/campaign.”
Anamika, who has been working as a freelance stylist for the past eight years, is associated with the Bangalore Fashion Week having worked with prodigious designers and celebrities. She has styled numerous campaigns, fashion shows, films, plays and is currently associated with Myntra.
“A stylist should be enterprising and be able to see the bigger picture and smallest of details all at once. Being resourceful and in touch with talent houses and production agencies are a plus. It’s back-breaking work. It is also essential to keep your cool because as stylists you interact closely with established people who may have temperaments,” she laughs.
She thinks a formal training is ideal as it would teach you the technical facets. “But it’s more about your passion and creativity.”
Sakshi Mehra, Mumbai, 26
Fashion in India is largely influenced by cinema, says Sakshi, the personal stylist of Sonakshi Sinha. All of the actor’s recent endorsements, TV commercials, red carpet appearances, presence at award functions, performance outfits and photo-shoots were styled by her. After doing a course in fashion and graduating in design, Sakshi interned with Shiraz Siddique on the film Chennai Express.
Her days in London and interactions with fashion celebrities helped her develop her sense of style. But she admits to mostly learning on the job. “Styling is attention to details — from head to toe, the look has to come alive. Everything from understanding your celebrity’s personality and enhancing it to the technical aspects of what will look good on screen, print and during personal appearances make the difference.”
The pressure when you dress up a celebrity is immense as criticisms can be upsetting. “But they also help you push the envelope.”
Sakshi thrives on chaos and is always battling near-impossible deadlines. “Everything works last-minute here, you have to be clued in at all times. My job is far from glamorous. Only the result is glamorous. I do everything from sourcing to meeting designers and film and advertisement directors.” But she is happy that she is always surrounded by beautiful things. “I feel like a kid in a candy shop everyday.”