Article by Manish Mishra
ANAITA SHROFF ADAJANIA, Fashion Director, VOGUE India on styling B-Town’s biggest stars and what goes into creating the ICONIC RED CARPET look…
She’s easily one of the tallest figures on the Indian fashion firmament, who always INSPIRES STYLE WATCHERS with her individual and inimitable take on things – be it her stunningly shot and realized editorials in Vogue India or her seminal work on the red carpet scene and BOLLYWOOD films.
Pushing the creative envelope relentlessly, creating a new lexicon of style and nurturing the up-and-coming stylists with her vision and wealth of experience – she’s a role model to many. Her repertoire of accomplishments is limitless – as the fashion director for Vogue India, she creates breathtaking and memorable imagery issue after issue, and as a stylist and creative consultant (she runs her personal styling consultancy Style Cell), she makes movie stars look effortlessly striking.
Anaita’s exemplary work in Bollywood films like Cocktail, Dhoom 2, Everybody Says I’m Fine and Love Aaj Kal have further cemented her position on the cinematic pedestal. Wife to filmmaker Homi Adajania and mother to two boys – Zane and Zreh – she beautifully strikes that elusive work life balance and makes it all seem so easy.
Here she talks about REFLECTING STAR’S TRUE PERSONA through clothing, sharing her world canvas with a talented panoply of people and soaking in inspiration all the time…
WHAT GOES INTO CREATING AN ICONIC RED CARPET LOOK?
“It always starts with the personality of the person and that’s something, which is non negotiable. What they wear should reflect who they are, as people change from time to time. As a stylist, it’s crucial to give them a silhouette, which flatters their body. Then of course, there are the biggest trends of the season – it could be shimmer or red making a comeback and you try and work around that.
I also try to better their last appearance. You can’t just give them any gown as it has to end up being memorable. One should understand that celebs create life-long memories of images of themselves and their legacy.
It’s also important to pay attention to details like the accessories. I love adding a bit of grunge or an element of unexpectedness, say a pair of strong shoes, or dark nails or an oxblood mouth. However, all of this has to be done without losing sight of what suits the person. At the end of the day, it’s about striking a balance. It’s like when you’re cooking a dish, too much of any ingredient may ruin it. My influences vary from time – it could be a clean look or messy, a nod to 80s or 70s. Also, when you work with the same people regularly, you need to vary it. I very rarely customize the look as we have such talented designers. Also, brands from all over the world are happy to dress the beautiful Indians!
“It’s also important to pay attention to details like the accessories. I love adding a bit of grunge or an element of unexpectedness, say a pair of strong shoes, or dark nails or an oxblood mouth.”
HOW DO YOU SEE THE EVOLUTION OF THE RED CARPET SCENE IN INDIA?
“There’s a change – from the saris being worn at film functions to actresses wanting to create big gown moments. However, I love going back to the sari, the most graceful garment as it breaks the clutter. With the younger actresses paying patronage to the sari – it could be handloom or brocade, it’s totally moving in the right direction. Having said that, I’d like to add that opt for a beautiful sari over an ill-fitted gown. Not everyone can make gowns and some people should stop.”
HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH THE MADNESS BEHIND STYLING THE BOLLYWOOD A-LISTERS?
“There’s something about the fact that I also work in fashion and that combination works for me. My opinion is an informed opinion and my track record has been good so no one questions it. Also, I like to be honest with people. It’s a collaborative effort. It’s your job to convince them and when they don’t listen to you, they repent it later. I have had my share of both. I work with my instinct and there’s no on fixed formula. lt comes to me without thinking.”
YOUR FAVOURITE STYLING EXPERIENCE IN BOLLYWOOD?
“Deepika Padukone in a black transparent gown at IIFA. It was a tough gown. Deepika is very easy to style. I love working with her. We’ve created some memorable fashion moments. When she started, she was more conservative and who she was as a person came through the way I dressed her, how she felt at the moment. Styling to me is absorbing what the person is feeling, also creating a fashion graph.”
“Deepika Padukone in a black transparent gown at IIFA. It was a tough gown. Deepika is very easy to style. I love working with her.”
WHAT WAS STYLING SHAH RUKH KHAN LIKE?
“I had the biggest crush on him and he’s been my dream man. His personality is so charismatic that the less you put on him always look better. The rugged, unkempt feel – he pulls it off very well. If you get the right fit, he’s dynamite. I like him with unbuttoned collar as his chest is hot.”
HOW DO YOU MAINTAIN A WORK LIFE BALANCE?
“I actually work from a physical diary. If I have film commitments for three days then the next week I do nothing or if there’s an ad shoot, I take the next day off. I rarely miss my kids’ bed time. I don’t go out at night and I feel ideally work day should end at 6. Weekends should not have any work commitment. I am clear about my comfort zone and I also like to balance my work with travel. I feel that for a person to evolve, it’s crucial to travel. May is sacred as it’s holiday time with my kids and we are all water babies and always head to some sea side. Unless someone screws up your date then that’s a stressful situation. Most actors are so accommodating and agree do fittings in mornings or afternoons. I have a dream job and balancing is least of my problems.”
“I am clear about my comfort zone and I also like to balance my work with travel. I feel that for a person to evolve, it’s crucial to travel.”
DO CRITICS REALLY MATTER?
“I am very curious. Sometimes I agree, mostly I disagree. It’s part of the game, I never take it seriously and people I work with don’t take it either. What I love about social media is that it has made social critiquing so democratic. Everyone’s entitled to their opinion. Having said that, being a stylist, last opinion has to rest with me.”
ANY FAUX PASS WHICH MOST BOLLYWOOD STARS MAKE ON THE RED CARPET?
“When people dress because it’s a brand and not for themselves. It’s a fundamental error. It’s tragic. People should dress for themselves and don’t wear it just because it’s a brand.”
VOGUE STYLING VS. RED CARPET STYLING – WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MORE AND WHY?
“I enjoy my editorial job the most as I am the only captain. It’s a natural flow for me. I think of the story, the casting happens and you get to work with the most talented people. Rest of the work pays the bill. Glad to have the best of both.”
ANY TIPS YOU’D LIKE TO SHARE WITH THE UP AND COMING STYLISTS?
“Put in your time and don’t think you can spread your wings in one year of learning. Travel, absorb and learn from people. When they pressure is on, you’ll fall. Experience matters. It’s not just fashion, it’s also about soaking in the arts, travel and food – having a well-rounded experience. Also, let people influence you and don’t be close-minded.”
WHAT KEEPS YOU MOTIVATED?
“I am always brimming with ideas. I am easily inspired. I love people-watching and the biggest inspiration is travel. Once you leave your cozy nest and move out, you absorb so much. I am a full observer by nature – whether it’s in the office or outside. From a construction worker to people exercising on the lawn – I observe everything. Once my husband and I had to spend a day at the Miami airport and we people-watched the entire time. The disadvantage with this generation is they are only looking at their phone screens all the time. You never know what might inspire you and keep your minds and heart open.”
“The disadvantage with this generation is they are only looking at their phone screens all the time. You never know what might inspire you and keep your minds and heart open.”
STYLISTS YOU ADMIRE?
“I don’t follow so many people. I like Katie Grand, Edward Enninful and Lucinda Chambers. I also admire Grace Coddington as I identify with her a lot.”