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7 Celebrity Stylists Tell Us How They Got Started

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Shraddha Chowdhury

If you’ve wondered how our celebs always have their looks on point, the style mavens behind them are your answer. From Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s iconic ensembles at Cannes to every red-carpet look you’ve ever coveted, these celebrity stylists — the best in the country — are the geniuses behind the gowns and getups, right down to the footwear.

Anaita Shroff Adajania

It wouldn’t be far off the mark to call Anaita Shroff Adajania fashion royalty in India. From entirely transforming Deepika Padukone’s fashion game in Cocktail to Natasha Poonawalla’s trailblazing looks overseas, from Alia Bhatt’s glowing pregnancy style and Katrina Kaif’s enviable bridal outfits, to all the times she’s put Kareena Kapoor Khan in a red hot ensemble, Anaita is on speed dial for every A-lister.

What makes her special? Besides her impeccable taste and sense of personal style (her Instagram page is no less than a lookbook in itself), Anaita has a deep understanding of stars’ sartorial sensibilities and an innate talent that helps her bring out their individuality through clothing — a talent she puts into practice while costume designing for films, as well.

“I never follow trends blindly for a film but do what works for the character. Having said that, it’s been over a decade since I have been forecasting trends, so I trust my instinct,” she says.

Anaita started out as a junior editor at a fashion and lifestyle magazine back in 1996 and soon carved out a milestone-dotted path for herself, to become the most sought-after stylist India’s fashion industry has ever seen.

Over the years, she’s styled for innumerable magazine covers and glamorous photo shoots — even with international stars such as Kim Kardashian and Katy Perry — worked with the most coveted luxury labels there is and even trained a number of popular emerging stylists who started their careers with her.

Today, Anaita is the last word in fashion in India. And she has sacrosanct advice to share: Stay comfortable, but keep a pair of heels handy for an instant pick- me-up. Break the rules! Fuse high street and high fashion, or mix different prints. And lastly, follow trends that suit you; mix them with who you are as a person.

Mohit Rai

From Neetu Kapoor and Shilpa Shetty Kundra to the newer generation of Sidharth Malhotra, Varun Dhawan, Aryan and Suhana Khan, Vaani Kapoor and Sonakshi Sinha, Mohit Rai has covered every spectrum of style there is in the industry.

How I got started: At the bottom of the pyramid as an intern and then an assistant with an international luxury editorial publication.

Style to me: Is a visual narrative of one’s personality. The best look I styled: I love a lot of the work I’ve done (at the risk of sounding too conceited). My team and I achieved some great styling moments with Kareena Kapoor Khan, Sonakshi Sinha, Vaani Kapoor, Janhvi Kapoor and Shanaya Kapoor, besides some amazing looks with Sidharth Malhotra and Varun Dhawan.

The best aspect of my job: The amount of interaction we get to have with different personalities every day. It’s a constant exchange of ideas and energies. We get to understand people and help them achieve the best version of their personal styles.

The most bizarre request: It’s usually the timelines we get that are bizarre. At this point, no brief is surprising anymore!

The most fun project: Red carpets are the most exciting! But my most challenging project was styling for the entire cast of Masaba Masaba for Season 2.

The most stylish celebrity: Sonam Kapoor Ahuja will always be a classic for me. She will always be at the top of the style pyramid.

Tips to ace a look: The fabric quality, fit and the right shoes are most important to make or break a look.

Eka Lakhani

Karan Johar and Ranveer Singh have been serving some truly OTT looks of late. If you’ve been lapping them up like the rest of us, it’s stylist Eka Lakhani you should be thanking.

How I got started: My dad was a textile designer. After he suggested I study design, I gave fashion design a try. I studied fashion for five years and got an internship with Sabyasachi for Raavan. I worked as a costume designer for a decade, after which I tried my hand at styling for the first time with Kiara Advani for Shershaah. Next, I began to style Karan Johar and Ranveer Singh.

Style to me: Is one’s personality and soul on display.

The best look I styled: Out of the recent ones, I love the Valentino Pink look I styled for Ranveer Singh. He worked it like magic!

The best aspect of my job: Being able to communicate emotion through the medium of style. Of course, I also enjoy the fact that I get to see and work with pieces hot off the runway!

The most bizarre request: I loved that I was once asked to select the car my client would travel in based on the outfit we had just styled! It was bizarre, but so cool!

The most fun project: My most recent one, Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani. I styled Ranveer Singh for it and enjoyed it thoroughly!

The most stylish celebrities: Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone and Natasha Poonawalla.

Tips to ace a look: Wear your size, be comfortable, and walk tall!

Lakshmi Lehr

Name a leading lad or lady of Bollywood, and Lakshmi Lehr would have styled them at one point or another. From Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor to Alia Bhatt, Katrina Kaif and Hrithik Roshan, she’s woven her magic on the whole lot.

How I got started: I was always inclined towards global fashion and started my journey assisting Anaita, also working with her for Style Cell. She’s an institute in styling in herself!

Style to me: Is a canvas of one’s expression. It doesn’t merely have to be following trends or hopping onto a bandwagon. You have to add your vibe to your style.

The best look I styled: There are a couple, but most recently, it was Kiara Advani’s look for Karan Johar’s 50th birthday bash. It was an amalgamation of chic with the party’s theme, bling.

The best aspect of my job: The creative collaboration with an actor to put a look together will always remain my favourite aspect of being a celebrity stylist.

The most bizarre request: I’m never spilling the tea outside a vanity!

The most fun project: Bang Bang as an assistant stylist to Anaita. It was a great team that created fabulous looks. It was also when my styling journey with Hrithik Roshan began. So it will always be a special project to me!

The most stylish celebrities: Kareena Kapoor Khan and Hrithik Roshan, without a doubt. Not because I work with them, but because their personal style is always effortless and classy.

Tips to ace a look: Accessorise to enhance a look. Accentuate parts of the silhouette that are unique to you. You can’t complete an outfit without a perfect fit. And something I personally believe in: Always add your own element to the celebrity’s style vibe.

Tanya Ghavri

If you’ve been taking notes from Malaika Arora, Janhvi Kapoor, Kiara Advani or Ananya Panday’s incredible style game of late, it’s Tanya Ghavri you must thank.

How I got started: While pursuing a fundamentals and design course at Parsons School of Design, I fell in love with fashion in New York. On returning to India, I worked with Rhea and Sonam Kapoor on Aisha. It was my first break as an assistant stylist — and there was no looking back! I then assisted Anaita, also worked with Pernia Qureshi on two films, and got a lot of independent work with Sonam. That’s how my journey began.

Style to me: Is something innate to an individual. It’s about being effortless, unique and true to oneself.

The best look I styled: There are many, but the top two would be Freida Pinto in a blue couture Versace gown for a Vanity Fair party and Kareena Kapoor Khan for, I think, India Conclave. She wore a beautiful Dev R Nil saree, which I paired with a Christian Lacroix jacket (instead of a blouse) and an Amrapali necklace.

The best aspect of my job: The best thing about being a stylist is that I get to travel a lot. Travelling is now a huge part of my life.

The most bizarre request: There was a time when I styled someone for a Maldives trip, and they asked me to style their entire family! I had refused.

The most fun project: My most fun and exciting experience was Aisha. Though I was an assistant stylist at the time.

The most stylish celebrities: We all agree that Sonam Kapoor Ahuja No. 1. Saif Ali Khan is also amazing. Of late, Kiara has been upping her style game, while Ananya Panday is really cute, fun and trendy. Rahul Khanna always looks so good. Outside Bollywood, Padmanabh Singh oozes swag and is always so well put together. Virat Kohli, too, dresses really well.

Tips to ace a look: Always have a pair of heels on you. A little black dress will never go out of style. And less is more!

Shaleena Nathani

While best known for curating the looks of reigning queen Deepika Padukone — including her Cannes red-carpet ensembles as well as campaigns for Levis, Louis Vuitton and Adidas — Shaleena Nathani is on call for a number of other Bollywood bigwigs, too, including Shah Rukh Khan, Tamannaah Bhatia and even Ranveer Singh.

How I got started: I’ve been perennially inclined towards fashion and styling, but it started with me interning at a magazine and working with Anaita. While I was always passionate about fashion, I realised that my idea of styling was different before I joined Anaita and entered the industry, when I figured how much goes into every aspect of it.

Style to me: Is mixing and matching and putting together various looks. I love experimenting! I like to do elevated casual — you could call it street wear. I love styling looks that reflect one’s personality with ease.

The best look I styled: Deepika Padukone at Davos. It was a mix of different designers. I also enjoy styling her for Cannes, but I love the off-duty style we put together for her because they’re relaxed. We don’t have to worry about everything looking perfect all the time.

The best aspect of my job: I get to meet people with different personalities, which I get to incorporate into whatever they wear. The clothes you don are more important than you realise. They can immediately change how confident you feel. That’s the best part about my job: watching someone feel good about themselves because of what I made them wear.

The most bizarre request: Someone once asked me whether I could style them on the basis of what they want. Well, that’s what I’m known for!

The most fun project: The ones that were the most stressful were my favourites because in the end, there was a sense of accomplishment and we came out feeling satisfied. I liked styling Deepika when she was a jury member at Cannes. And I also loved styling her and Shah Rukh, my favourites, for Pathaan.

The most stylish celebrities: I like Sobhita Dhulipala’s individual sense of style; it matches her personality. She has really turned her styling game around. I also like Diljit Dosanjh; he nails the oversized vibe. Shah Rukh’s off-duty style is too cool. He’s got incredible taste and knows exactly what he likes.

Tips to ace a look: Elevate a basic look, like a jeans and a white tee, with a pair of heels and accessories. Classic is underrated, and you can never go wrong with it. Throw on a statement piece whenever you can, for it will always enhance a look.

Aastha Sharma

From turning Aishwarya Rai Bachchan into a princess at Cannes and Kajol’s makeover, to having Nora Fatehi and Disha Patani sizzle in unique silhouettes, Aastha Sharma is a creative genius.

How I got started: My styling journey started with my first job at a magazine right after college in 2009. After two years there, I realised how much I enjoyed styling, which led me to explore celebrity styling. I made an impulsive move to Mumbai from Delhi to start something of my own. And I’m glad I took that leap!

Style to me: Is comfort, to be able to carry off almost anything with ease and confidence.

The best look I styled: I have yet to achieve that!

The best aspect of my job: I get to meet and work with so many different creative minds, not just from India but from across the globe. That’s what keeps me going. Interacting, working and collaborating with so many artists and creative heads pushes me to put in the long hours.

The most bizarre request: From sourcing for a full-fledged shoot within two hours to having the final outfit cancelled at the last minute and having the brief changed... There are way too many on a near daily basis!

The most fun project: There have been many, but we had a great time styling and creating character looks for Four More Shots Please! for Amazon Prime.

The most stylish celebrities: Natasha Poonawalla has taken style and fashion to a whole other level!

Tips to ace a look: Have your basics in place, accessorise well, and wear anything you’re comfortable in with confidence.

This is an excerpt from an interview that was originally published in Hello! India’s November 2022 issue. To read the full interview, get your hands on the latest issue right here!