Here’s a special treat for the week: a Jolie Asie exclusive interview with the super spunky, super savvy Tanya Ghavri, fashion stylist to the stars! I recently got a chance to talk with Tanya about her career, what it’s like working with beauty queens and heroines, and her top fashion advice for our readers.
Meg: Tell us about your most exciting or memorable accomplishments in styling Bollywood celebrities and/or films.
Tanya: I don’t generally think of things in terms of big or small, because I’m excited about all of the work that I do… whether it’s a fun shoot with some friends to a shoot for a high profile magazine or a film… it’s all great! But, since you’ve asked this question in particular, I would say styling Aishwarya Rai because she was my idol as a child and I looked up to her I wanted to be Miss India because she was Miss India. I was like an awe-struck girl, so styling her was like a dream come true!
It is a dream for girls who love fashion to be styling the likes of Sonam Kapoor and Aishwarya Rai. How did you get to where you are now, and what is your advice for aspiring stylists?
Tanya: Life has been very kind! Literally, I studied fashion in New York and Bombay… got all my ground at SNDT; studied fashion there and was just extremely passionate about it. I started working while I was in college, and used to bunk college sometimes to be at shoots! I don’t advise bunking but sometimes being out of the box helps (winks). Working in the fashion and film world really helped… and then I landed up working on [the Bollywood film] “Aisha” and then there was no looking back. Everything else just followed.
I would advise girls to have fun with fashion- take risks and just work really, really hard, because if you do, no one can stop you!
Tanya recently styled Sonam Kapoor in an Anita Dongre dress, Christian Dior sling bag, and Jimmy Choo peep toe heels for a rainy day at Film City. The look was featured in the Bombay Times. Click on the image for a larger view.
What was your most difficult stylist assignment to date, and how did you manage it?
Tanya: I don’t see anything as difficult… actually, if you don’t lose your fear, you’ll never enjoy your work. That’s what my parents taught me. There are times you feel doubt but eventually realize, “What’s the worst that can happen? I’ll make a mistake, and then I’ll learn.” So I can’t think of anything that’s been difficult.
What does a typical day for you look like- who do you meet, where do you go?
Tanya: A typical day for me depends on if I’m working or not. If I’m working, it’s absolutely insane. I’m always on call with designers, etc. to source, and in between meetings, and fittings with actors. If I’m not working that much then I’m researching and reading fashion blogs and books and films (Indian and international). I would really recommend to watch all kinds of films- Indian, international, foreign… it really helps opening your mind up.
Who are your favorite designers and places to buy clothes- high-end and street-buys?
Tanya: Wow! Favorite place would lots… in India, to start with, I would say: for high street Zara is a one-stop shop. Among the newer designers there is Masaba Gupta, who’s extremely talented and very well priced. Among the high-end Indian brands there is Anamika Khanna, Rajesh Pratap Singh, and Cue. They make beautiful clothes that are also wearable. [For] high-street in Bombay there is Zara, French Connection, Calvin Klein; you can find your really nice basics that are long lasting.
I would advise young girls to stop buying these Bangkok export cheap clothes and rather invest in a top from Zara because, trust me, you may spend 500 bucks more, but you’re so much more chic and it works much, much longer and doesn’t fade away! Quality over quantity: it’s the first fashion rule.
Outside India, New York is the place to shop hands down!
What is your advice for girls who are shopping on a limited budget but still want to look fashionable like a movie star?
Tanya: First of all, you don’t have to shop expensive and designer to look chic and fashionable. You could put on a simple white mul shirt with jeans or shorts. Wear your mum’s vintage necklace (old ethnic neckpiece) with a cute lil’ tan sling bag and ballet flats and you’re ready to go!
Colaba Causeway in Bombay has some of the cutest and most fun accessories and bags… girls who are interested in fashion, make your clothes have fun with fabrics; it’s your first step and so much more economical!
What are your favorite, must-have fashion accessories?
Tanya: Must-haves are my favorite part- a pair of nude heels. It’s a no brainer when you don’t understand what shoes to wear… wear nude!
A well-fitted pair of jeans, a boyfriend jacket (jacket the size of a guy’s). It’s so fun and just adds so much character.
A little black dress… all girls need that. Trust me, all girls, even girls who think they are a lil’ overweight, need it to sit in their wardrobe to encourage them to lose weight and wear it one day!
A nice tan sling bag is a must!
Which do you enjoy styling best- photoshoots, films, or celebrity appearances?
Tanya: I love working on films. I would say it’s just so much fun working a particular character and dressing that character. Film is so electrifying; it’s hundreds of people coming together to bring a story together for the whole world to watch. What could be more exciting than that?
What is your go-to outfit for a busy workday?
Tanya: I’m a moody dresser and my friends seem to think that I wear the tiniest clothes made in India! I live in Bombay, it’s hot all year round. I’m always in shorts that I pair up with a mul shirt or sometimes a cute summer retro dress- love polka dots- maybe a beautiful fun maxi dress!
What is the biggest fashion mistake most Indian women make, and what can they do to fix it?
Tanya: Wearing the wrong silhouettes. Every woman has her own charm and she can look good if she dresses right! Some simple rules:
- If you are on the heavier side, wear vertical stripes. Horizontal stripes give way more width; vertical will make you look taller and slimmer.
- When you are not sure, close your eyes and wear black. It never goes wrong.
- Color blocking doesn’t mean red dress, green shoes, and blue bag. That just makes you look stupid! There has to be some harmony. You could mix warm colors and block your outfit, or use all cool colors.
- Gladiator shoes are over, please stop wearing them! You can wear strappy thong sandals instead. They look much nicer and understated.
- Pease get rid of those matching track pants and jackets– that is just all kinds of tacky! Just because celebrities wear them doesn’t make them cool.
- Wear your clothes generously and wear things you’re comfortable in, not because it’s in fashion. You make a statement in what you wear. Be innovative, you don’t have to always wear what is in fashion. I love vintage, it never goes out of style…
- Boys are the best when they keep it casual and effortless. Those tight-fit body hugging t-shirts need to be thrown out; a man is a man when he looks like a man!
Tanya: Fashion is so much fun! You have to love it and live it and just be happy and play with colors and have themes and dress up. Don’t feel scared to be judged. Who cares if people think you’re absolutely bonkers? They don’t know you’re actually an artist! It takes the world some time to appreciate art. I’ve given a lot of gyaan [knowledge] in this interview, so I’m not gonna say more, just follow all my pointers and you’ll be good to go!