Aki Narula is now styling Kareena Kapoor in Kambakkht Ishq, and promises she’ll be, “India’s answer to Sarah Jessica Parker”. Then there’s Anamika Khanna, who’s been getting rave reviews for Sonam Kapoor’s Dilli girl look in Delhi 6.
Aki, who’s also working on Karan Johar’s next film, feels Indian on-screen style was looked down on. “I changed that perception and created some of the most talked about screen-to-street trends. While Manish Malhotra gave Bollywood the glam look, we’re now trying to create the look that goes well with the director’s vision, the script and the character,” explains Aki.
Anamika Khanna says the brief given to her for Sonam’s Delhi 6 look was very clear. “It’s a realistic Chandni Chowk kind of look,” she says, adding, “Directors now understand and respect our work. They see how important our work is in bringing the characters to life.”
What pull does Bollywood hold for fashion designers? Narendra Kumar, who created Big B’s and Sanjay Dutt’s look in Aladdin, says, “There’s a lot of marketing involved and designers are creating something that will reach millions of people. Instead of a 15-minute fashion show, their work will be on-screen for more than two hours,” he says.
But what happens when design creativity clashes with stereotypes? “While I was doing Luck By Chance, sometimes the cast didn’t approve of a few creations. But the matter was taken up with the director, who usually went with my sense of design,” says fashion designer Aparna Chandra.
Designer duo Shantanu Nikhil, however, still hasn’t ventured into doing all the designs for Bollywood movies. “We’ve only designed for a few scenes in a particular movie. In Billu, we designed outfits for Shah Rukh Khan in a few scenes,” says Nikhil. However, he cautions, “Though designing for Bollywood may get you instant recognition and good money, if your work is not accepted by the audience, the industry might think twice about giving you a second chance,” he says.