Article By Manish Mishra
Shaleena Nathani on styling Deepika Padukone and fashion police….
Shaleena Nathani’s name in the B-Town galaxy spells glamazon oomph, red carpet va va voom and an unapologetic idea of femme fatale. The talented stylist has been instrumental in creating some of Deepika Padukone’s game-changing looks. The ace style maven has magically transformed the style-scape with her unique eye to mix high street with high fashion. Her bold taste astonishingly oscillates between easy chic and sultry sassiness. With the who’s who on her speed-dial, Miss Nathani has dexterously scaled her way up, tag-teaming with one of one of Hollywood’s most-desirable actresses. From customising dream fantasy to impeccably sourcing iconic looks from the lesser-known brands, she does it all with a certain ease and nonchalance. It’s never been about just the right outfit, but she beautifully orchestrates the entire look, which radiates glamour with a capital G. Over to the talented girl…
CREATING SO MANY LOOKS DAY IN AND DAY OUT MUST BE EXHAUSTING. WHAT KEEPS YOU INSPIRED AND MOTIVATED?
“I like to set myself as a benchmark. I enjoy what I do and people, who work with me are so inspiring. You can never get tired of dressing someone like DP. She trusts me. Besides, I am competitive and also a perfectionist. Everything has to be perfect and I feel it’s important to make the best of it”
HOW’S BEEN THE EXPERIENCE OF SHARING YOUR CREATIVE CANVAS WITH DEEPIKA PADUKONE?
“She’s amazing to work with and gives one complete creative liberty. She gives you the time to do fittings and likes to be involved. She’s open to ideas which brings out the best in you.”
YOUR FAVOURITE RED CARPET LOOK?
“I think DP in the black dress at the IIFA was pretty spectacular. Daniel Bauer did hair and make-up, which was amazing. We all work as a team and that’s important. She’s very patient and I am extremely fond her.”
DO CRITICS MATTER?
“For me, I have to be happy and I know, I have given my 100 per cent and nothing else matters. Of course, everyone is entitled to their opinion and it’s absolutely fine.”
DEEPIKA HAS RESPONDED TO HER RED CARPET CRITICISM BY SAYING THAT SHE DRESSES FOR HERSELF. IS THAT THE CASE?
“She dresses for herself. I think she had said that in the context of the Met gala appearance. I feel that you have to try to know if something works or not. If we listen to what everyone says, we won’t be able to do anything.”
HOW DO YOU SEE THE EVOLUTION OF RED CARPET STYLING IN INDIA?
“I remember when we started, even ZARA hadn’t opened shops in India and sourcing was quite hard. Today also thanks to the social media, styling has gone to another level. Back then, you would wait for the photographers to send pictures and wait for the event to happen. Now you can take care of how you want a look. Our role has become important for sure as everyone’s been styled everywhere. Social media has given every idiot a mike. People give it too much importance, to be honest. Now everything’s out there (commenting) and there’s more pressure (on the stylist). I think it’s great, I still enjoy it like I did 10 years ago.”
WHEN YOU LOOK BACK AT YOUR WORK, ARE THERE ANY APPEARANCES YOU FELT YOU HAD TWEAKED A BIT?
“As you evolve, your taste also evolves. Things you liked 10 years ago, you don’t necessarily like them today. Also, you’re more sure about yourself. Of course, there are things which I did that I feel would have worked out better differently.”
ARE THERE STYLISTS YOU ADMIRE?
“I really like Mimi Cuttrell, who styles Hadid sisters and Beyonce. I also like Monica Rose, who used to style the Kardashians. I like stylists who make women sexy. In India, I worked with Anaita Shroff Adajania for many years and learnt a lot from her.”
HOW DO YOU KEEP A WORK LIFE BALANCE?
“I don’t have a balance (laughs). I haven’t felt the need to do that yet. I love what I do. Today I have the privilege of working with people, who take some load off me. Also, I am a control freak and like to take care of everything.”
BESIDES DEEPIKA, WHO ARE THE ACTORS YOU ENJOY WORKING WITH?
“I love styling Shah Rukh Khan and he really understands casual and simple fashion. The way he works a basic white T-shirt and a pair of denims is amazing. He’s proved time and again that less is more. Besides, I also enjoyed working with Shraddha Kapoor for her promotions. Alia Bhatt is also amazing to work with and Jacqueline Fernandez has a great energy, an amazing body and an individual style.”
HOW MUCH DO YOU CUSTOMISE PIECES FOR RED CARPET?
“We tweak things around and accessorising is important. I have to put something of me in every outfit, especially when it’s red carpet, something has to be there.”
HOW DO YOU SEE THE FUTURE OF STYLING?
“Stylists as influencers will be major. I feel that they don’t get the kind of credit they deserve. It’s about doing your job and being appreciated. I do feel the role of a stylist is getting bigger and bigger. Times are changing. From the art department to the photographer – the entire process stems from a stylist and that’s when it all comes together. The role of a stylist is certainly growing.”
HOW WOULD YOU COMPARE EDITORIAL STYLING VS RED CARPET STYLING?
“I love doing editorials as one has complete creative liberty. It’s more fashion and not catering to a brand. Having said that they have both challenges.”
WHAT GOES INTO CREATING AN ICONIC RED CARPET LOOK?
“There are many factors – from the award ceremony she’s attending, to the feel we want to go with, whether it’s going to be strong or sexy or Indian, how we are feeling and how she’s feeling at that point in time. Then we talk to designers whose aesthetic complements ours and who accentuate DP’s body. It’s about picking the right colours, process of fittings, choosing specific accessories and getting that one stunning pieces of jewellery. The whole process is quite exciting and usually there’s not much time.”
WHO ARE YOUR GO-TO DESIGNERS WHEN YOU ARE SOURCING?
“Definitely Falguni and Shane Peacock – they were the first to get into embellishments and created bodysuits and they got it right. I am obsessed with Sabyasachi. Monisha Jaising understands a women’s body very well. Also, I admire Abu Jani-Sandeep Khosla. These are the people who you message when you do a red carpet look.”
HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH THE MADNESS OF WORKING WITH BOLLYWOOD A-LISTERS?
“I have a great team and it’s all about organising and planning. The stress is unavoidable of course but I love the people I work with.”
ANY FAUX PAS THAT INDIAN ACTORS MAKE ON THE RED CARPET?
“I hate gowns where shoes are visible and when it’s not long enough, it bothers me a lot. People on the red carpet should pose in a casual manner as some of them stiffen up a bit too much. You have to be like you are wearing jeans and a T-shirt. Some people try too hard and there’s too much make-up and jewellery but we’ve come a long way.”
TIPS YOU’D LIKE TO SHARE WITH UPCOMING STYLISTS?
“It’s a lot of hard work and one should be willing to put in a lot of time. You’re are likely to feel often that you want to give up but you have to go charging ahead. However, you have to learn as much as you can. After working for 10 years, I am still learning.”