A self-professed lover of all things maximalism, Mohit Rai is the modern-day fairy godfather to A-list celebrities like Kareena Kapoor Khan, Sonakshi Sinha, Disha Patani and Vaani Kapoor, who all swear by his fashion expertise. When he’s not creating stellar looks for the red-carpet he is busy styling high-fashion editorials and cover stories for leading magazines like Harper’s Bazaar, Brides Today and Filmfare. Rai doesn’t like to underplay when it comes to fashion, he’s all about making the statement. Whether it’s with fiery red pantsuits, deconstructed saris or head-to-toe sequined gowns with sweeping trails – it’s all about making the head turns. Although his loyalty towards all things extravagant remains untainted, he definitely lays emphasis on achieving the right balance when it comes to maximalism. In a detailed conversation with The Peacock Magazine, Mohit Rai talks about his best styling moments, a contemporary’s work he admires and a myth about being a stylist that is completely untrue.
1) CELEBRITIES LIKE KAREENA KAPOOR KHAN AND SONAKSHI SINHA HAVE HAD AN ESTABLISHED SENSE OF STYLE. YOUR RECENT WORK WITH THEM HAVE PORTRAYED THEM IN A WHOLE NEW LIGHT. HOW DID YOU MANAGE TO DO THAT?
“‘That is not fair! They are actually very cool people with their own very individual sense of style. Someone like Kareena she has always been and will always be a true diva. She is a glamazon. All I have been able to do in the past year is to assist her in achieving that “glamazon-ness” and for her to be ready for the runway whenever she is approaching any event. She is inherently who she is. Same with Sonakshi. She has always been an effortless and comfortable person in her own skin. The body image perfection that she has achieved is all due to her and nothing to do with me. All I have done is help her achieve the best look that she can, while keeping her personality in mind. It is always all about them.”
2) YOU HAVE BEEN AN OPEN ADVOCATE OF MAXIMALISM WHICH CAN OFTEN BE DONE WRONG. HOW DO YOU STRIKE A BALANCE?
“Maximalism can be done wrong by maximal about every aspect of the look. Balance is the most important keyword while being maximal. Maximalism is my favourite thing in the world. I am very OTT and Indian at heart. So I think we grow with maximalism around us. We’ve seen so many colours, textures and heavy jewellery as kids. That has had an inherent impact on my style. I think to strike a balance you have to make sure that you don’t do too much of anything. So that it is maximal in its own minimal way.”
3) WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BEST STYLING MOMENT WITH KAREENA AND SONAKSHI?
“With Kareena, it was this nice beautiful halter neck, backless emerald green gown that we did for Deepika and Ranveer’s reception. It was simple and elegant with effortless hair and makeup. For Sonakshi, it would have to be the extra glam outfit that we did for GQ style awards with a severe top knot, sharp earrings and green makeup. It was very experimental and she fully owned it.”
4) WHICH INTERNATIONAL STYLIST AND INDIAN CONTEMPORARY’S WORK DO YOU FIND INSPIRING?
“I love Mimi Cuttrell. I am obsessed with her. Zerina Akers and Mimi are people I genuinely look up to. In India, because I am from an editorial background, I worship Anaita. I think she has done something path breaking. She has done so many shoots that have become reference points for so many stylists. When it comes to celebrity styling, I think Rhea Kapoor has set standards that no body else has touched.”
5) A CELEBRITY STYLIST MYTH YOU WANT TO BREAK?
“That it is a very glamorous job and we get cool clothes to dress up in all the time. We are the worst looking people in the industry.”
6) WHAT ARE SOME FACTORS THAT YOU CONSIDER BEFORE STYLING A CLIENT?
“The most important and the only factor to keep in mind is their personality and what they are about. It is a bit of a psycho analysis. Most important is to always channel who they are as people. It can’t be something that they are not about or something that they will not look comfortable in. It won’t look like they own it, rather something which has been rented and put on them. It shouldn’t look like somebody has forced their opinion on you. You need to look like you.”