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Stylists on speed dial

Samantha in a Pankaj and Nidhi outfit for 'A...Aa' promotions, styled by Neeraja Kona  

Neeraja Kona was on a short trip to the US, recently, to conduct a workshop. During breaks, she was on long-distance calls to ensure that her celebrity clientele had their designer outfits and accessories in place. Among them, actor Dulquer Salmaan took to Twitter to thank Neeraja for coordinating his wife Amal Nizaam’s ensemble despite being away. Elsewhere, Geetika Chadha is in a rush, checking things for her star client who has to attend an event later in the day.

Dressing up actors extends beyond the silver screen. Stylists are on the speed dial of actors to plan for each of their public appearance, be it an audio release function or a press conference.

Rakul Preet Singh remembers how, two years ago, she could step out wearing any good outfit. Today, each time she makes a public appearance to promote a film, her photographs get shared widely on social media, with details of the designer outfit, jewellery and shoes. “There’s some pressure on us to always be stylish but I find it exciting. In a film, we dress to befit a character and the budget. Here, we can experiment and certain looks can be replicated on screen. We plan everything, down to the nail paint,” she says.

Stylists keep themselves abreast with the work of designers and map fashion trends. Creations of the young crop of Hyderabad designers like Shriya Bhupal (label Shriya Som), Anushree Reddy, Archana Rao (Frou Frou), Sonali Pamnani (The Merarki Project) and Jayanti Reddy to the more established Shashikant Naidu, Shilpa Reddy, Anand Kabra, Gaurang and Asmita Marwa, are flaunted. “Designers here have become our good friends and it’s easier to coordinate. In addition, we also source garments from designers and brands in Mumbai and Delhi,” says Neeraja.

Actors give their stylists a heads up on events and stylists work out a look, with back-up options to avoid a last-minute glitch. Many designers give their garments on rent and are happy with the credit and publicity when actors wear their creations, while others insist on a purchase. The bill, say stylists, is picked up by the actors. For larger events, the tab is picked up by organisers or the sponsors.

“My first consideration is to choose what’s appropriate for the occasion. We go ultra glam if it’s an awards function with a red carpet, we keep it simple if it’s a charity event. I look at new trends and think what would suit an actor. For instance, ‘the cold shoulder’ silhouette is in internationally. Anushree Reddy gave us an Indian interpretation of this and Rakul carried it off so well for the audio launch of Sarrainodu. Actors are considered fashion icons, so we have to project them well,” says Geetika.

What began as an imitation of actors like Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra, has come a long way. Among the men, Rana Daggubati, Ram Charan, Sai Dharam Tej and Allu Arjun among others work with stylists.

Neeraja, who has styled for a gamut of actors including Samantha, Rakul, Kajal Aggarwal, Hansika Motwani, Pranita Subhash, Adah Sharma, Trisha Krishnan and Nayantara, says her moment of reckoning was when Payal Parija and Priyanka Prasad, founders of fashion blog High Heel Confidential, told her that actors from the south are on a par with their Bollywood counterparts. “That’s a big deal. Three years ago, Samantha and I were discussing why actors here don’t get talked about for their style,” she says. Neeraja also ensures that her celeb clients get photographed by professionals (Rang De Photography) before they step out for events.

Actors in Mumbai have taken this fetish for style a step further with a focus on what they wear during travel. One could be rushing to catch a flight, but can’t escape being photographed and asked about their designer denim or jacket. Hyderabad isn’t far away, feels Neeraja. “People ask me to tip them off when actors go to the airport,” she says. Recently, she styled Rakul Preet in Zara and Versace for travel.

Can’t an actor not be judged at least during travel? “Comfort is priority. I’d love to travel in pajamas but then, fans come and request photographs and we oblige. Before we know it, the pictures are on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. If I’m on a flight to Hyderabad, where more people are bound to recognise me, I need to dress smart,” sums up Rakul.

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Printable version | Apr 21, 2021 5:24:02 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/Stylists-on-speed-dial/article14412485.ece

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