EXCLUSIVE: Vidya Balan hiring us was our breakthrough: Celeb stylists Pranay Jaitly & Shounak Amonkar

EXCLUSIVE: Vidya Balan hiring us was our breakthrough: Celeb stylists Pranay Jaitly & Shounak Amonkar

The fashion pundits of Who Wore What When, the favourite go-to fashion stylists of most Bollywood celebrities, share their views on what’s trending, styling celebs and gender-neutral fashion and more, in a tete-a-tete.

The stylist duo say their journey is a mixture of unexpected events that beautifully come together in making them who they are today. It all started out in Milan when two like-minded design students embarked on a journey of documenting street style photography in the form of a blog called Diary of a Camera. Enamoured by the streets of Milan they soon realised that their street style blog was all about fashion and the innate sense of styling has always been in them. When they decided to move back to India, little did they know what the fashion life had in store for them! We got all the scoop from Pranay and Shounak of Who Wore What When. 

 

How did you kickstart your fashion consultancy, Who Wore What When?

In 2015, when we came back to India after our studies we decided to do a shoot, realising we didn’t have anything Indian in our portfolio. We reached out to Gaurang Shah (of label Gaurang) and requested him for 9 sarees to shoot in Delhi. Our source of reference was everything our mother and grandmother had worn. Fortunately, the shoot clicked. It got us more projects in India and we eventually started working here, giving birth to our company, Who Wore What When. It turned out so well that we pushed away our thoughts of going back to Milan.

What was your first breakthrough in the industry?

 

We were doing campaigns and editorial styling initially. Realising that in India, there are no two ways about it,  fashion and Bollywood are very much together, we figured that to work seriously over here, we need to work in Bollywood too. 

And our breakthrough was when we started working with Vidya Balan. She often wears Gaurang and he being a client of ours asked us to style her for a showcase of his new collection in Mumbai and we didn’t even know how celebrity styling works back then! We met her at her home. It was such an overwhelming experience and Vidya is such a warm and lovely person that we could connect with her easily. She instantly loved our styling. 

We remember when the show got over Vidya said thank you and removed the glass bangles and jewellery to give back to us. We said she can keep the bangles but she said, No, it”s something you bought with your investment and I can’t keep it. That’s when we realised what an amazing person she is and how important it was for us to work with the right kind of people in the Industry. She hired us and that was our breakthrough. Now, we have worked with about seventy celebrities which we think is phenomenal!

 

How different is your approach towards celebrity styling from campaigns or editorial styling?

When it’s a campaign shoot, it’s all about what a brand wants to portray. Of course, there are clothing and models, but it’s majorly about the brand and what the brand stands for and the idea behind the collection. While it comes to styling a celebrity the most important factor is to bring out the person’s true personality and put them in comfort. What one wears should always be an extension of his/her personality and never be forced up on to them. If the styling is for a movie promotion, then it’s a reflection of the character they are playing blended with the artist’s individuality.

How do you find a middle ground between your vision and the celebs preferences in styling?

All of the celebrities we have worked with are so individual with their own sense of style which gravitates us in working with them again. Be it Radhika Apte, Kalki Koechlin, Chitrangda Singh, Diana Penty, Konkona Sen Sharma or Vidya for that matter, are all women who have a very strong voice, women that stand up for the right cause and women whose work we really like and admire.

 

And yes, of course, there comes a difference of opinions when more than one brain is involved in crafting up a look. But as we mentioned before, we prioritise their comfort first. There is a battle of back and forth in the first fit-in test which goes on for about four hours until we narrow it down to the outfit that looks good, feels good and the celebrity is most comfortable in. It’s about letting them be themselves. 

Funny story, every time we style Radhika she says, “ Listen, I will do what you want for your photos. You can circulate that with the designer.” And while sitting in front of the camera, “Can I please not wear the jewellery and open my hair or maybe wear my own shirt?”

 

We see a huge rise in genderless fashion these days. What’s your take on it?

It’s great that the line between what’s for men and women is blurring giving everyone the right to express themselves. Be it Harry styles wearing skirts or Rahul Khanna showing off his black manicured nails, cause if a man wants to wear nail paints why not! There are a lot of women who love to be in powerful manly silhouettes and men who love to wear florals, colours and prints and we think that’s amazing.

What is your favourite style on trend? And the one you hate?

 

Pranay Jaitley: To be honest, I don’t have a favourite on the current trend list. I am pretty much bored of the co-ord sets. I have been wearing them for the past eight years and it’s like everyone is wearing what I am wearing. Also, I don’t like this whole athleisure styling, never been a fan of that. I am more into couture or a well put together classics.

 

Something you would like to see back in trend would be?

That would be plastics. I guess everyone is on cotton for so long it’s high time to bring back the plastics. Since modern silhouettes are taking new forms, I would love to see them in plastics or be it a volume skirt, pants without slits, Anarkali or a plastic saree, I guess it would be more interesting to see plastic back on-trend. Also, it would be a sustainable approach to reuse and recycle plastic wastes in creating pretty outfits.

 

A celebrity you totally would love to style and your go-to brand for styling?

Pranay: It would be Rekha, I absolutely love her style and I don’t think I have a favourite brand but for sourcing, our go-to brand would be Raw Mango and Ritu Kumar.

Shounak:  I would love to style Beyonce and my favourite brand would be Yamamoto.

 

What part do stylists play being vocal for local and in sustainable fashion?

We think everyone can not be 100 percent sustainable but their one percent does make a huge difference. Tillotama Shome opting to wear her own clothes for the recent Filmfare awards, Vidya Balan repeating and preferring to wear her own blouses and uplifting homegrown brands by wearing them for her movie promotion looks, we and our team are all in for sustainability. We should all move towards using newer brands and not be very brand conscious. Using brands from the same city reduces the carbon footprint and packaging wastes and it’s one way a stylist can put his sustainable thought in action. Reusing and repeating and restyling them is a fun way to make sure you are sustainably fashionable.

What do you think the future of fashion would be?

 

We think the future of fashion is going to be a remix of what we are seeing today and the pandemic has fueled the love for cosy style. So we guess it’s going to be a lot more realistic, relatable and comfortable clothing.


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