Mumbai, June 28 -- Sonam Kapoor may be the poster girl of Indian fashion. But the actor has a mini army of fashion experts who keep her ahead of the pack. Apart from sister Rhea Kapoor, Sonam also enlists the help of stylists Tania Ghavri and Pernia Qureshi.
"I first started working with Sonam after assisting Pernia on Aisha (2009)," recalls Ghavri, who also manages to keep Kareena Kapoor looking elegant on the red carpet. Her celebrity portfolio increased as her work was showcased, and now includes Karisma Kapoor, Malaika Arora Khan, Nargis Fakhri and Jacqueline Fernandez.
Like Ghavri, who admits that building trust with the notoriously fickle Bollywood troupe is the only way to break into the business, stylist Nitasha Gaurav only managed to strike out on her own after establishing a rapport with the stars in her former job as stylist with a fashion magazine. "The celebrity's image is very important, because styling is a form of branding. What they are seen wearing influences the audience's perception of them," explains Nitasha, who has styled Bipasha Basu and Kiran Rao.
Shopping and playing dress up for a living sounds like fun, but it comes with its own share of pitfalls. One of the big styling no-nos is making sure that a celebrity client isn't seen in the same haute couture gown that was spotted on a rival star.
"Actors tend to feel the need to be exclusive," explains Ghavri. "So we check with the brand if the dress has been worn before booking an outfit. I also check popular fashion websites."
The ever-expanding fashion police is another downside. But as Gaurav puts it, "You don't always get to do what you want, because the celebrity has his or her own opinion too. But a lot of the blunders happen when they're interested in doing their own thing."
These are some of today's hottest designers that stars turn to in their hour of need:
French label Paule Ka creates simple, elegant evening gowns that are shipped to India all the way from Paris.
Stella McCartney is a new favourite who was completely unknown in Bollywood even until two years ago.
Christian Dior, the first name in expensive gowns, has always been on the A-lister's speed dial.
Masaba Gupta's funky prints and Gaurav Gupta's structured saris are gaining popularity in celebrityville.
Dress like a man
Bollywood's leading ladies don't have all the fun. As stylist and designer Kunal Rawal reveals, John Abraham, Akshay Kumar and Abhay Deol also pay good money to look good. He says, "Guys are more relaxed. And they all have good bodies, so they can carry off most international trends. Gucci and Salvatore Ferragamo are very popular. Often, I will make them custom suits, which they like because they know it's one of a kind."
Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.