Celebrity stylist Mohit Rai on fashion trends, working with B-Town and dealing with trolls

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Written by Shweta Sharma
| New Delhi |

Published: April 3, 2020 5:30:32 pm


Mohit Rai has styled celebrities like Kareena Kapoor Khan, Disha Patani, Janhvi Kapoor and Kiara Advani, among many others. (Designed by Gargi Singh)

We couldn’t take our eyes off Janhvi Kapoor when she stepped out in an asymmetrical blue dress recently. Or Disha Patani and her green sequinned dress. Meet Mohit Rai, the man behind these head-turning looks. Rai, who describes himself as a ‘stylist by day and Batman by night’ on Instagram, carefully curates stunning looks for his clients. In an interview with indianexpress.com, the stylist talks about his varied client list, his favourite celeb look and one person he really wishes to style. Read on to know more!

Excerpts:

You have an impressive client list — Kareena Kapoor Khan, Sonakshi Sinha, Janhvi Kapoor, Kiara Advani, Disha Patani and many others. What is the best thing about being a celebrity stylist?

The best thing about working with a number of leading actors is the opportunity to engage, interact and learn from artistes who are very talented, coming from varied backgrounds with unique dispositions. I get to experiment with a range of aesthetics to suit their persona and preferences while, of course, staying true to my own style, trying to impress upon a very devout fan base of each actor. Every day is a new challenge, but is extremely rewarding.

And the worst?

There is no worst, honestly. We do go through trying and hectic days, there are some bad days as well, but no more than any other profession. On the flip side, the good days, the cheers and celebration of success, more than make up for the few not so good ones.

So many celebs, all having their own preferences. How do you strike a balance between their likes/dislikes and your styling ideas?

I’ve always firmly believed and openly professed that our jobs as stylists is not to impose our opinion on anyone. Naturally we all come with a certain inherent aesthetic and you are bound to see a signature style across someone’s work, but that cannot hold you from allowing room for other opinions. The job of a celebrity or a personal stylist is to understand and read a client and find their individual pulse and then elevate that story through what they wear. If someone is naturally feminine and elegant, it needs to come across even if they’re wearing denims and a tee shirt.

What is your working mantra like — do you prefer to work with celebs who come with their own ideas or someone who is open to experimenting to no extent. How much does it make it easy/difficult for a stylist?

I always prefer clients to be sure of what they don’t want. It helps create a vision board that makes it easier for both, while I have some boundaries to work with and help them cross those if necessary.

ALSO READ | Katrina is very particular, Kareena is quite excitable: Celebrity stylist Tanya Ghavri

But are Indian celebrities open to experimenting with their looks/styles? Or do they prefer to stick to things that are tried and tested? Can you name a few?

I’ve probably been quite lucky, as every celebrity I’ve ever worked with has approached me with an open mind and were very cooperative in trying new things. This is the reason I’ve been able to push them out of their comfort zones and execute some very experimental looks. To give you an example, I recently created a lime green and white Wesley Harriot look with Jahnavi, a Yousef Al Jasmin pink gown with Bulgari high jewellery on Kareena, and a black and white Studio NK look with Sonakshi.

Many times, actors are trolled/criticised for their looks. How do you deal with this, especially when what they are seen in is basically curated by their stylist?

Honestly speaking, this is very much a part of our profession or role. I believe, trolling is a form of feedback and accept the audience’s indignation. You cannot take it personally, though it is extremely difficult not to, as some trolls can really get personal. It is important to reflect upon aspects that went wrong and learn from those to do better next time. Negative feedback is perhaps more important since it reinforces your learning curve. If you think you’re amazing and can do no wrong, it’s time to start doing something else.

But how does a collaboration with a celeb really work? Are their recommendations considered or its completely a stylist’s idea?

It is never a one person’s idea! I speak from my personal experience and can vouch for it. There are times when my work has been inspired by ideas given to me by an assistant. We have to be open to ideas and opinions, but also remember that it is your work and so trust your instincts and intuition as much as possible. When you walk into a shoot, you have to at some level assume creative control since that is clearly expected of you and what you have been hired for.

ALSO READ | Sari is the most modern garment, one which can be perceived in so many different ways: Designer Sanjay Garg

Which is your personal favourite celebrity look, and one look you feel you should not tried, and why?

My favourites change often, just like my mood. On a given day I probably appreciate a look and despise it the very next day. Then there are some that seem inappropriate at a certain time or period, but grow on you much later; they were perhaps ahead of their time. Timing is as important as the actual aesthetic. Fashion is cyclical and something that seems dated today could be high-fashion tomorrow.

Myntra Insider Masterclass gives you an opportunity to share styling tips: So what are the trends you would advice one to embrace and stay away from this year?

Myntra Insider Masterclass is a great platform to reach out to the masses/ audiences that follow and love fashion. For every masterclass, we choose a topic which we discuss in detail and share styling tips with Myntra Insiders on the app. For this year, I’d like to recommend monochrome dressing — denim on denim and body-conscious dressing (love yourself). Stay away from spandex or any polyester lycra, neons, oversized baggy and low waists.

Five must-haves in a woman’s wardrobe?

*A well-tailored suit
*High-waisted bell-bottom denims
*A textured broad belt
*The correct body-shapers
*A kaftan dress

ALSO READ | Designer Anamika Khanna: Sonam Kapoor is the most stylish Bollywood celebrity

One fashion trend you have never understood, and one trend you wish had never faded, and/or is well-known on the international fashion scene and you await its arrival here?

Embroidered patchwork denims make me cringe, and I’ve never really understood why anybody ever wore them, be it jackets, shorts or jeans. I’ve seen some actors wear it and never really appreciated the fashion. It’s very fashion illiterate.

I love shoulder pads, the extremely heavy ‘80s style, and wish they’d never go and become a classic. Latex is something we would start seeing more of in India, and while I understand the weather doesn’t permit it, it’s just so so sexy.

If there is one celebrity you really wish to style, who would that be? And why?

Tilda Swinton! I just really want to be in a room with her and talk about her vision for herself, because to me she’s the most ethereal thing, while also being curious to understand how she sees herself.

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