Not many know that Neeta Lulla,designer to the stars,initially set out to become a fashion choreographer. The-then Hyderabad girl trained under veterans Jeannie Naoroji and Hemant Trivedi. But the fashion gods had other plans for Lulla,who was simultaneously offered a film project (someone in the family was making a film and asked me to help out) and a bridal trousseau assignment. Costume designing for films and my foray into bridalwear happened at the same time, says Lulla,49,who is now all set to add a fashion school to her list of credits. Having won four National Awards for costume design (the latest being for Marathi film Balgandharva in 2012) and having dressed celebrities on and off the red carpet for 28 years,Lulla has tied up with filmmaker Subhash Ghais Mumbai-based film school to launch Whistling Woods Neeta Lulla School of Fashion (WWNL). Excerpts from an interview:
Youve dabbled in costume and fashion designing and now youre setting up a fashion school.
Ive been an academician for almost 26 years now. As soon as I graduated from SNDT,Mumbai,they asked me to start taking lectures and Ive taught there for nearly 19 years. For the past nine years,Ive been teaching at Hamstech in Hyderabad. As for WWNL,its been nearly three years in the making. Ive seen the kind of work Subhashjis been doing at Whistling Woods and I thought the synergy was perfect.
Over the years,how have you seen film styling change?
In my time,we had stalwarts such as Mani Rabadi,Xerxes Bhathena and Hemant Trivedi. I was among the new breed of designers who brought technical knowledge to costuming. Every costume we made was tailored and every photo shoot we did,we had to create the entire look. There was no Vogue magazine or FTV to inspire us,no internet either.
Today,you can walk into a Jimmy Choo or Dolce&Gabbana store and source clothes. Also,artistes today have fantastic bodies. We had to stitch the garment to fit the artistes and make them look slim and beautiful. At that point,if you did films it was considered derogatory. We were called filmis. Today,it is the filmis that inspire audiences and styling for films are a great medium for gaining credibility,popularity and branding. Back then,our job became our branding; today brands want to do the job to become bigger brands.