With parties and gatherings on in full swing for the wedding and festive season, we are all collectively on the lookout for the latest styles to emulate. Where do we turn for inspiration? Fashion magazines and Instagram, of course. Today, the latter is led by young, super-stylish millennials and zoomers who have carved a successful path for themselves as content creators of note, many a time juggling this role with other entrepreneurial ventures.
For its special style issue, HELLO! caught up with four Insta-famous style mavens from Delhi, each one a fabulous fashionista in her own right. Karma Dhingra had early exposure to fashion and style. Her friends — Upasana Ghai, content creator and founder of loungewear label Laquna; Anna Malhotra, content creator, business head of Clove Hospitality, and founder of gifting label Ikigai; and Aarohi Shah, content creator and founder of clothing label Ārohi — each boast a style that’s cool and edgy yet classic in its appeal.
HELLO! chats with them about their go-to style mantras, fashion trends of choice and staying true to oneself.
HELLO!: How did you enter your chosen field?
Karma Dhingra: “I have a degree in English literature, so I began by writing fashion columns before creating content for Instagram. In fact, I wrote features and managed social media for HELLO!, before moving on to creating fashion content full time. So it feels great to have been called for a shoot for the magazine! Though I’ve had exposure to fashion from a young age through my mother, who studied fashion design with the likes of JJ Valaya. I was enamoured with this world. I don’t like to call myself an ‘influencer’ because my page is a digital scrapbook of my life. I endeavour to create content that intersects the worlds of fashion and art. So I narrate a story with every garment and add an artistic element to everything I look at. It’s all about the aesthetics for me.”
Anna Malhotra: “I studied fashion design in London at the Istituto Marangoni. But while pursuing the course, I realised my passion for cooking. So I switched gears and ran my own home kitchen and food blog, and eventually started working at Clove Hospitality. Being an influencer wasn’t a planned path, but it fell into my lap when some brands approached me. I quickly started gaining followers, and my friends pushed me to pursue it. I also launched my own gifting brand, Ikigai. It was becoming difficult to handle everything, but fortunately, Clove bought 50 percent of Ikigai from me, so it’s much easier now.”
Upasana Ghai: “Though I have a degree in economics and psychology, I’ve always had a love for fashion. Soon after college, I started my own sleepwear and loungewear brand, Laquna. It took a backseat during Covid, but through it, I was introduced to stylists, photographers and other fashion industry experts. Honestly, I never planned to get into content creation because I’m an introvert, but opportunities kept presenting themselves. I did a shoot for a friend as a favour and then another one for my sister-in-law. Now, I definitely enjoy it a lot.”
Aarohi Shah: “Ārohi was a Covid baby. Having lived in New York, I wanted to blend the cosmopolitan outlook of the place with Indian craftsmanship. Hence, my offerings are a confluence of a global design language and the rich Indian heritage I inherited. Being a female entrepreneur in an industry that’s predominantly led by females is very rewarding. However, legacy creates expectations. As I’m from the Ekaya family, there are a lot of expectations of me, which sometimes make it harder to perform and deliver. With sincere dedication and persistence, though, I strive to overcome these challenges.”
H!: What are your style staples?
KD: “Oh, I’m obsessed with white! I can wear anything in that colour. I also recently got into power dressing. Earlier, I thought one needed to show skin to look sexy, but now, I realise that a pantsuit and sarees are powerful, statement- making outfits, too. Anything that makes you feel strong is great. It could even be through makeup. For example: my super strong kajal eye look makes me feel powerful. Also, I dress according to my mood. If I’m not feeling dressy on a particular day, I show up in comfortable linen co-ords even to a formal party.”
AM: “For me, less is more. I like to wear things that make me feel confident. So I picked this outfit because I like jackets, and I paired it with a crop top to add a touch of glamour. I just like being comfortable. My style is subtle and classy, but I don’t mind making a statement with additional elements like big hair. I love casual, loose, flowy dresses. They are so versatile as they can be worn as they are during the day and belted for a more formal look at night. I also have lots of black pants in different cuts because they transition well from work staples to party staples when worn with a crop top. I don’t like too much jewellery, besides classy diamond studs.”
UG: “My style is ever-changing, but the one thing that’s always stayed close to my heart is my love for black. When I’m not feeling my best self, my go-to combination is black and gold. Currently, I’m into prints, bright colours and slip dresses. For casual days, I live in a pair of mom jeans or wide- leg boot cuts. I also love blazers because they can elevate any look, and I’m a sucker for a good pair of sneakers. I used to be a heels girl, but now, I’m more into sneakers.”
AS: “My style staple of late has been tonal outfits. I’ve been all about the white-on-white look, keeping it clean and chic. Though a classic white shirt and a good pair of jeans is a go-to, as it transitions brilliantly for a day-to-night outfit when accessorised correctly. A little black dress and a structured blazer is a must-have in my wardrobe, as well.”
H!: What’s the best part about being a fashion influencer?
KD: “I love the fact that it allows me to work with interesting and creative people — brands, designers, makeup artists, stylists, etc. Being in close quarters with them allows me to learn about their journeys, which helps me in my own.”
AM: “It’s just nice to see people look up to you. It feels good to know that people like your style and get influenced by you because they like what you’re doing and wearing. Of course, I love the exposure to fashion trends it gives me, too.”
UG: “I never thought I’d be so comfortable in front of the camera. But once I started seeing myself in photographs, I realised it wasn’t so bad and I could do it. Now I’m so happy with what I’m doing. I love that every day is a new day, and there’s something interesting to look forward to all the time.”
AS: “I don’t feel I’m much of an influencer, but if I do happen to influence someone while staying true to my style, I find it quite exciting. I definitely want to make a statement with my brand and personal style and would always love to contribute to this industry that way.”
H!: What does being stylish mean to you?
KD: “Being stylish to me means being attractive yet powerful. To be fashionable, yet not chase every trend. As someone who dresses by her mood, feeling strong and comfortable in my own skin and not following the norm is what does it for me.”
AM: “Being stylish is a way of expressing myself. It’s how I feel confident. I also feel that as long as you’re comfortable and confident, you can slay any outfit.”
UG: “My style is a way to tell people something about myself and my personality without words. It’s also a way for me to discover myself, as it allows me to experiment and step out of my comfort zone. When people look good, they feel good; it boosts their self-esteem. My style is ever-evolving, and for me, being stylish is not about following trends to a tee, but about keeping it new, interesting and evolving on my own timelines and terms.”
AS: “It’s about being comfortable with yourself and your body, but at the same time, experimenting a little to stand out. Less is always more, so it’s important to have that one statement element in your look that makes it a head-turner. Be it a chunky piece of jewellery or a bag, always weave that element into your classic outfits.”
Photos: Abhishek Kahndelwal; Creative Direction & Styling: Amber Tikari; Hair & Makeup: Chandani Mallik & Pankaj Sharma for Karma Dhingra; Kapil Chauhan for Arohi Shah; Blush Lounge By Sneha & Simran Kaur for Upasana Ghai; Devika Arora & Gaurav Chawla for Anna Malhotra; Location Courtesy: Nivasa, Delhi
This story has been adapted for the website from a story that was originally published in Hello! India’s November 2022 issue. Get your hands on the latest issue right here!
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