“I hate dungarees, can’t bear them,” remarks stylist Tanya Ghavri who has an impressive list of Bollywood celebrities as her clients, which includes Katrina Kaif, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Ananya Panday, Shraddha Kapoor among others. So when we caught up with her, the conversation was bound to be high on fashion — from the latest trends to the dos and don’ts of celebrity styling.
You have a long client list. Who do you have the most fun collaborating with?
I enjoy working with all and it is a different experience with each one of them. However, Kareena holds a special place in my heart as she is one of the first celebrities I worked with, and the longest so far. I even enjoy a very good friendship with her and that enhances our working relationship. Besides I understand her style completely which makes the whole creative process more interesting.
Who among your clients is fuss-free and easy-going, and who can be tricky to style; and why?
Shraddha is super easy-going and very versatile with her style. She tries a lot of new things and is extremely approachable as a person. She can either go very simple or experimental and is receptive to ideas.
Tricky? Everyone is tricky at some level or the other. Someone who is very particular about what she likes and doesn’t, and knows her style well is Katrina. She prefers being in her comfort zone, rather than going out to try and be a fashionista.
What are the key things you consider when styling a celebrity?
Each time I create a look or style for a celebrity, I make sure that it is event appropriate. Styling also needs to be body appropriate and accentuate the person’s physique. The wearer should feel comfortable because they will have to be in it for a few hours and the last thing one should encounter is uneasiness or a wardrobe malfunction. Although many people swear by ‘comfort over fashion’, I think it is very important to balance both these elements when styling a celebrity.
Katrina usually plays it safe and sticks to basic colours and silhouettes. What are the dos and don’ts when styling her?
The dos are that she likes very structured pieces and things that fit her well. She also likes sticking to one element and that which is not too fussy. The don’ts are: not to have too many prints or elements in the same outfit. She will not go for a statement accessory, statement dress, and statement shoes at the same time because she believes that if she’s making a statement, it has to be only that one thing. So we play around in this space for her accordingly.
On the other hand, Kareena often experiments with her looks. What is her personal style like?
Kareena is quite excitable when it comes to her dressing and it depends on the occasion. She can go super glamorous or make a statement like – “listen, it is a red carpet. I want to look super classic!”. She always refers to her favourite actors around the world and is very dramatic in her references. I try to understand where she is coming from and then create that look based on her references. She loves the way Jennifer Lawrence, Gwyneth Paltrow, and the likes dress. That is usually her style. Kareena is particular about certain things, she relishes her food and an occasional glass of wine, so when on a holiday and enjoying herself, she tells me, “After my holiday, you need to keep these things in mind.” We then make sure that her outfits are not too fitted or too body-hugging. However, there are times when she is in Mumbai and fully into fitness, and she is like, “Let’s have fun, let’s wear something that super accentuates my curves or my flat stomach.” She is choosy about her dressing and I often tell her that all her events revolve around her holiday season. She loves it and is very open to experimenting. But she doesn’t get styled for lunches and airports, she wears her clothes. She loves shopping and does a mix of high-street and luxury designers.
A lot of times, actors are criticised for her looks/outfits. How do you deal with such situations as they are usually sporting a look curated by their stylist?
According to me, criticism is subjective and that’s why they say, “beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder”. Some people criticise our work while others appreciate it. We just have to take it with a pinch of salt. This is what most of the actors now, after being in the industry for so many years, do. Most of the times they do not take it too seriously. It doesn’t spoil their day if something doesn’t work. They just move on to do better next time.
How does a collaboration with a celeb really work?
It is a collaborative effort between the actor, stylist and the styling team. Actors always give us a reference, telling us, “this is what the vibe of the event is. This is what I’m feeling.” For instance, Kareena gives me a reference to a person that she loves and believes in, along with a reference point. I then go back and look at the brands that I feel are good for her, and then create her look.
How open are Indian celebrities when it comes to experimenting with their style?
Indian celebrities are becoming more and more experimental now; it wasn’t like this earlier. There is a new wave of fashion, with celebrities trying new things, and it’s literally like a cult. Fashion is being given a lot of importance in India and people are following what celebrities and influential people are wearing. Bloggers have become important and influential. It is a great time for fashion as it is getting the importance it deserves. Additionally, designers today are working very hard to put out their collections.
If you had to point out one look that you did for a celebrity that you consider your personal best, which would that be and why?
It would have to be the one for Kareena in 2012, for the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit. She had worn a striped sari with a Christian Lacroix vintage jacket and a huge Amrapali necklace. It is one of my favourite looks. It pops up in my head when someone asks me about my career, like an iconic look that I feel I have done.
And one look which you feel could have been totally avoided, and why?
I did a look with Parineeti Chopra a while ago. I had just started working with her then. It was a black lace Marchesa knee-length dress that she wore. It just didn’t work for her. It was one of those styling failures of my life. I remember apologising to her the next day and saying, “it was a bad judgement on my part. It is not your fault; you do not look like that. You could’ve looked way better and it was a misjudgment at my end.”
The masterclass gives you an opportunity to share styling tips. So what are the trends you would advise one to take away from?
Pantsuits are a big trend right now, and I think they are cool. For many, many years, for women especially, it has always been about accentuating some part of the body. It is not too comfortable, especially in India but that is changing. So, like oversized shirts or paper-bag waist pants, pantsuits are comfortable and look super cool and edgy.
Indian contemporary is a trend that keeps evolving and keeps getting better with time. I love the idea of crop tops with palazzo pants or one can even do it with a blazer, or a cool denim jacket. I find that interesting as blazer dresses are becoming a big thing now. There are some that are oversized, some that are stitched away and some that are asymmetrical.
What topics will you be talking about on Myntra Insider Masterclass?
Myntra Insider Masterclass is such an interesting and good way to share tips on styling. For every Masterclass, all the stylists, including myself, are given a topic which we discuss in detail and share styling tips with Myntra Insiders on the Myntra app. Even though it is mostly me speaking, the entire session comes across as very interactive. It allows the viewer the opportunity to get an overview of a certain topic. I am excited to do many more Masterclasses and hope that it helps people in the way I intend it to.
If you were to list five wardrobe must-haves in a woman’s wardrobe, what would you say?
A woman’s wardrobe must have a pair of moose shoes, a black blazer, a pair of skinny jeans, like a nice dark denim, and, I always say this, a pair of good Spanx because they are so important. Lastly, a pair of good hoops, because they go well with both Indian and western.
If there is one celebrity you really wish to style, who would that be?
It is undoubtedly Deepika Padukone because I’ve never styled her and she is such a classic Indian beauty with elegance. Of course, she is so well-styled, but I would like to style her too!
Trends you would advise one to stay away from?
It all depends on different body types. You should dress for your body type is what I always say. If you are someone on the bigger side, or if you have larger arms, I would tell you to stay away from off-shoulders, even though it is in trend. It will never work for someone who is slightly broader. If you are super skinny, I would tell you not to wear vertical stripes, whether it is a dress or a pantsuit, as it ends up making you look too skinny. You can take the five big trends and not everybody can wear those trends. Think of the trends, then think of your body type and then figure out which trend will work for you.