Abraxas Lifestyle recently sat down with designer-turned-stylist Aki Narula who talked about his venture into styling, films and trends for the season.
Excerpts from the interview:
How did you venture into styling?
I ventured into styling after I’d completed about 7-8 years in design. After working on my first film (Bunty Aur Babli in 2004), I started styling for films. Later I started styling for celebrities and then for advertisements. So it’s been a very long journey…
How was your experience as a stylist?
It was fantastic. That’s why I’m still doing the same thing. I really enjoyed it and it was a very nice experience. See it’s very different when you style a celebrity, it’s very different when you style a client and it’s very different when you style for a film. So it all depends on different things; I’ve been doing various things over a long period of time.
What do you enjoy the most – styling for a celebrity or for a film?
Styling for films.
How challenging is it?
It’s very challenging. It takes up about a year of your time. It’s challenging but the results are very fruitful when you see your work on the screen and it’s magic.
So when you are given a concept, how do you perceive it and give it a concrete shape?
We’re not really given a concept – we’re given a script that comes and we work on it for about 3 months before the shooting of the film starts. And then that goes on for roughly about 8 months to a year.
Which has been your most satisfying project till now?
It’s very difficult to say that. I’ve worked on 25 films.
How easy or difficult is it to handle big stars?
I think it’s how you actually acknowledge the project. How you perceive them and then I think everything works very well. It has just been fantastic otherwise I would not have had a beautiful ride of 10 years in the industry.
Who has been your favorite stylist?
It’s very difficult to say that. I think I do a pretty good job. (laughs)
What is your signature style?
Well my signature style is quirky and out of the box. I’m not a fashion victim and one must add one’s own personality and charm to it. So I think all of that really helps.
What would be the ruling trends for both men and women this season?
I think in terms of trends, I have my own trends compared to what the generally forecasted trends are. I think it’s a lot of vintage and a lot of heirloom pieces. There’s a lot of tradition that’s coming back in a very contemporary way. A lot of jewel tones mixed with sorbet shades. Nothing too loud, even in terms of the embroidery; I’m more for a mix of silver and gold mixed together, especially a lot of beaten silver and gold, so it looks a little more antique. I’m not a big fan of crystals. A lot of traditional vintage jewellery – I suggest you either let the jewellery do the talking or let the outfit do the talking; don’t end up looking like a Christmas tree wearing too much of too much. So I think that’s what I believe in.
Where do you shop from?
It all depends on the project I have. It depends on the different concepts. A lot of the times I design my own clothes since I’ve always been a designer.
Why are you keeping yourself away from the mainstream?
That’s because the movies take up too much of my time. I travel with them, so that takes up between 8 to 10 months of a year. So it’s very difficult to do everything at the same time.
What would you say about your journey, growth and evolution as a stylist?
I think it’s been very satisfying. As a result, even today I look forward to every single day in my life. I look forward to the next day because the best part is every day is a new day and different projects, there’s a different way of thinking. Fashion is an industry where you have to constantly re-invent yourself so you’re always on the ball. So I think it’s been a very fruitful journey and it’s also been a very emotional journey. My parents are very proud of me and it’s nice to have that kind of acknowledgement coming my way.
Did you always want to be a stylist or did you have you parents thinking that my son should be a doctor or engineer?
Well my father wanted me to be a doctor and I turned out to be a designer. He’s very proud of that fact. So there were no real problems as such but obviously state professions are preferred more than unconventional professions and we’re not talking about it now because fashion has evolved, we’re talking about it 10-12 years ago. But I think it’s worth taking the risk and listening to your heart.
Do you have any advice to the upcoming young stylists?
The advice that I would like to give to the upcoming stylists is put your personality into it and create this whole aura that it’s your stamp, as opposed to just being a fashion victim and saying “Oh this is in trend now, this is in trend now”. Everyone has access to those trends. So create your own signature, be good at talking and be a very good listener. And only if you’re a good listener can you convince the other person of your craft. And I think that’s when your art sells.
Can you give us a few styling tips for both men and women?
I think the most important thing is to be comfortable in what you wear. You do not have to wear something just because it’s the coolest thing even if it doesn’t work on you or your body type. Only when you wear something that you’re comfortable in will your personality show. It’s more about the person walking into the room as opposed to the outfit walking into the room. So that’s the difference between the two.
Who is the real you?
I think what you see is the real me. I’m very honest, very 100%, full of life and just happy.
What can you tell us about your other interests?
My other interests include painting, reading, getting into a lot of interiors, props and set-dressings. I have to say cooking is my most favourite thing after styling.
Who has been your inspiration over the past few years?
I think it is life; life has been my biggest inspiration. Obviously there are things you pick up from your parents; I think I got my aesthetics from my mother and my sense of humour from my father. But I think it’s the journey called life where every day you get inspired to do something and you learn different things. So I think it’s all thanks to life; it’s been fantastic.
Tell us something about your forthcoming projects
I’m working on Rock On 2 which is a sequel to Rock On.