The Compelling Story Behind Those Stunning Celebrity Wardrobes!
Find out celebrity wardrobe secrets and the less talked about sourcing process.
Whether clothes maketh a man or not can be an endless debate. But in today’s times, clothes definitely do maketh a celeb, be it Indian or international. And while an average millennial spends at least half their salaries on a well-constructed wardrobe, ever wondered what goes behind a celebrity’s wardrobe? You probably have! So, what if we tell you, that all those beautiful dresses tailored to fit every inch of a celebrity’s body like a glove, are nothing but loaned garments perfected with glittering smiles and well-coiffed hair?
Be it the infamous airport look or the elaborate wedding red carpet look (which are indeed quite big these days) or simply the #I’mChillingWithMyBFF-Look: Here’s the story behind all that goes into getting a celebrity looking perfect for any goddamn appearance and the awaiting flashbulbs.
As the auto rickshaw kickstarts, one can hear the rushed breeze blowing into the mic as the voice on the other side of the telephone narrates, “It’s like the Cinderella story! You wear it to the ball and at midnight it has to go back,” says Sanjay Dauhaliya, Head Stylist at Ami Patel’s agency (who styles everyone from Alia Bhatt to Priyanka Chopra) while he is on his way to dress Madhuri Dixit for a film screening.
Cut to a hesitant voice on the other line, “I’m not sure if I can reveal everything, because when it comes to celebrities, we need to be extremely careful!” says a rather reticent Aastha Sharma, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s personal stylist. After insisting much, she articulates.
“The question, what is she wearing or rather who is she wearing, is a loaded one in this industry. And because of the paparazzi culture celebs are clicked almost everywhere.” And so, “Celebs are under constant pressure to look good always and just not on-screen,” exclaims Richa Mehta, a London School of Fashion graduate.
For instance, “What Alia Bhatt was wearing for Sonam Kapoor’s wedding was all over the internet,” shares Sanjay popularly known as Shnoy who styled the talented actor in a lime green Sabyasachi outfit for the occasion. But for a matter of fact, celebrities may not even form 1% of any high-end brands clientele. However, with fashion blogs on the prowl, celebrities wearing the outfit get them the much-needed attention and eventually the clients they need. “People go crazy. They say, ‘Oh... Alia Bhatt ka woh green ghaghra that she wore for Sonam ki shaadi, I want the same one,” he narrates in an animated voice.
Or remember when Mrs. Rai Bachchan conquered the red carpet at Cannes 2017 with the sheer grandiosity of her Cindrella gown, “That was a Micheal Cinco creation and it became a favourite amongst brides-to-be across the world. He sold so many after that,” justifies Aastha, who after working at several fashion magazines, started her own styling agency called The Wardrobist. “It’s basically a give and take,” she further adds.
Essentially celebrities simply pay a styling fee to a professional stylist to source ensembles from a range of designers and create a distinct look depending on the occasion they need to attend.
But mind you sourcing is not just pick up and drop, there is a logic and technique behind every look, my stylist friends argue.
“For Sonam’s (Kapoor) wedding everybody wanted to dress up, but at the same time wanted to enjoy and dance. It wasn’t like a 15-minute event that you go there and leave. It was a full-on celebration, so it had to be comfortable,” shares Aastha. In fact, sourcing isn’t restricted to just clothes – it now includes everything from shoes to bags and other accessories. “If it’s an airport or holiday sourcing we take the weather of the destination into consideration, juxtaposing the look with latest trends and the celebs personal style,” adds Aastha.
As far as the return policy is concerned the outfits are to be returned within a day or two post the event, “Outfits are sourced on credit (read: free) basis and once they are worn by the celeb, they give credit to the designer on social media and then the outfit is returned,” specifies Dipankar Zalpuri, a PR Entrepreneur who handles the mandate for several high-end design houses
And while one can’t even fathom the price attached to these garments, what happens if a celeb breaks into a catfight and the femme on the other side spills the red on the formers dress or even a slight wear and tear for that matter? “My girls are very careful, so I don’t need to worry,” gushes Shnoy. Well, at the end of the day celebs are also people (debatable in Shnoys world), but yes there have been times “when an outfit is damaged sometimes due to make-up or general wear and tear,” claims Dipankar. Also turns out there have been instances when “sometimes accessories like belts are misplaced. It might not look much but all the pieces together make an outfit,” rues ace designer Karn Malhotra, who designs outfits for actors like Jacqueline Fernandes, Amy Jackson, Shilpa Shetty and others.
“Usually, we just dry clean the garments if there are minor issues. But if not, the stylist pays a discounted price for the garment,” specifies Aastha. But the fact of the matter is, “though efforts are made to resolve such issues, these things take months to process,” contends Karn who lends garments to a plethora of B-town stars and an array of socialites as well.
Ironically, our shimmer darling Manish Malhotra and royal dresser, Anita Dongre seem to have scored brownie points amongst stylists, as Shnoy exuberates, “We have a mutual understanding. Manish is so sweet, he lets us do anything. Anita is also very helpful. Most times they just let it go by saying, ‘Oh, but we love her (referring to the star).’ Of course, because we have the A-listers, so that is the biggest plus point.”
Cut to a fashionista’s refuge, tucked away on the discreetly wealthy, Altamount Road in South Mumbai is iconic boutique ‘Melange,’ set up with bared interiors, shorn brickwork, quiet lights and even quieter corners of a hundred-year-old building. Taking us back to yesteryear actors style sensibilities and wardrobe diaries, pioneer of Indian textiles, Sangita Sinh Kathiwada nostalgically recollects, “I remember the time when Shabana Azmi, Jaya Bachchan, Dimple Kapadia, Rekha Ganeshan, they were all frequent visitors at Melange, who never ever expected to be even given a discount besides thinking free.”
As we sit for a chat in the artistic space, evoking old world charm just like the lady herself, the fashion doyenne Sangita articulates, “Even the younger lot like Sanjna Kapoor and Juhi Chawla, never expected anything for free. They still come and quietly buy! I’m speaking of the time when one had to earn a designer outfit, or be honoured to be someone’s muse. And they all conducted themselves with elegance. Today, we are creating people who will not have refined values!”
But as times have changed the rules of the game too have. Today, “Fashion is a dynamic market where the competition levels are very high. A brand hasn’t arrived if it is not trending or spoken about. And what better way to create a buzz than Bollywood celebrities,” says Karn M whose ultimate high, it seems, is to see his creations adorned by popular celebs.
“If one does it, the second does it and then the third does it. It’s such a terrible insecurity! It’s just a vicious circle and everyone gets trapped in it. I doubt the designers are personally even happy about it. Because it’s a huge stress. It’s like if I got Kareena, she should get Karishma. She got Karishma, I should get Aishwarya. Much like FOMO – fear of missing out!” remarks Sangita Sinh Kathiwada, who launched celebrated designers like Ananvila Mishra, Sabyasachi Mukherjee and Sanjay Garg amongst many others back in the day.
While Sangita seems to have adapted to the internet lingo, she likes to conclude by asking, “Is this publicity even organic? Are you liked because you are really making a difference or because you are an impresario? Think about it!”
Coming back to our dear celebs, apparently, it was also reported that Mira Rajput’s wedding reception jewellery was sourced from Nirav Modi. Mira, however, is said to have liked the stuff so much that she ended up buying it, said people in the know. At a time when star fees are sky high, one wonders, if celebs even shop at all? “No, no they all do. Who doesn’t like shopping!” interrupts Shnoy, the stylist. Well, even if they do may be we’d like to see them in their own outfits more often!
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