One of the most talented fashion stylists of B-town is here revealing all the insiders on what goes behind the screen in fashion and styling. It is mind-bogglingly interesting how the industry has evolved and how fashion stylists are continuing to evolve with the styling trends in the process. Let’s see what Maneka has in store for us.
Q. What was your first job in fashion? How did your career in fashion begin?
A. I worked as a fashion and lifestyle journalist and then a content producer for a while before venturing into styling. I believe, work leads to work, my job as a content creator for fashion had given me a base to comprehend the business. Initially, I took up a few styling assignments primarily as a stop-gap arrangement while I was in between jobs, I considered styling as a serious career option only once I was in the thick of things.
Q. What drew you, and held you, to a career in fashion?
A. I’ve always known that I have evolved aesthetics and do have a very strong opinion on what works and what does not. Having said that, I enjoy the process of creation and the art of putting things together, it keeps me challenged and motivated.
Q. What encouraged you to stay working in the industry?
A. I was deeply drawn to the world of dreamers and creators, as I have grown, I have also learned to appreciate the business of art. The balance keeps me going.
Q. What are the challenges in building a career linked to becoming a fashion stylist?
A. The job of a stylist requires you to be a ‘one-man army’. One needs to be patient and master the art of multitasking. There will be days when you’ll be required to do it all, at the very last minute and you still have to show up. So, it’s unpredictable and chaotic at times.
Q. How did you approach the creative process?
A. I mostly go by my gut, there is a lot of technical learning of what works, on and off camera and one subconsciously has to let that learning guide you. It is also important to keep your client’s needs as a focal point in the decision-making process.
Q. What career advice would you give individuals starting out in the creative industries?
-When starting out always keep an eye on what’s going around and observe. Educate yourself and keep learning. Never miss out the details, The beauty – or devil as they say – is always in the details.
-Always stay true to your aesthetics. Work with people who let you be and respect your aesthetics. You don’t want to lose your uniqueness in the process.
-Try to gain experience by working with people whom you aspire to work with. This will help you set your foundation right.
-And lastly, Network. It’s the key element if you want to sustain yourself in this industry.
Q. How do you maintain a balance between Indian brands and International brands?
A. I take pride in procuring the best quality merchandise for my clients, I hunt the world for uniqueness to maintain standards, there is no pre-decided bias towards a designer or brand local or otherwise.
Q. How has the styling industry evolved since the time you started to now?
A. When I started back then most people didn’t even seem to know that styling was even a career option. Today this has taken a 360-degree turn, every fashion enthusiast seems to be a stylist now. The industry has exploded with fashion stylists and with this coming of age of social media, it has given stylists an opportunity to be on the forefront and is being applauded upfront for their work, back then it was only about the stars and designers they wore.
Q. What’s an essential ingredient to your work as a stylist today?
A. To Listen! This has been a huge learning curve for me, but listening, understanding, and delivering as per a client’s requirement, is most essential.
Q. Are there any particular philosophies that have guided your career decisions?
A. I do not believe in compromises and to deliver quality, I have chosen to keep my work limited.
Q. Tell me about some career-defining moments and what you learned from them.
A. I do not recollect any career-defining moments as such. I cherish the journey I have had.
But my biggest learnings have been
* Learn and never stop learning
* Do not ever sell yourself short and underestimate your talent.
Q. You’ve worked with some of the biggest celebrities in Bollywood. Tell us about how different each client is?
A. Every client is different as is every day with the same client.
Its a non-personal – personal relationship and a lot of our work is done if you can decode what the artist is trying to communicate through their style.
Q. What’s the craziest request you’ve ever had?
A. We were to shoot for an ad for Mahira Khan in Thailand last year, the director insisted that he wanted a fluid piece of art that should just float but should not look like an outfit or rather should not be an outfit.
Of course, there were no references, limited budgets so multiple outfits was not even a discussion, a crazy timeline, an agency needing to know exactly what they are getting into and the artist who was based in another country aghast that she would not have a chance to see a reference let alone get a trial. But this was an artistic challenge and I did enjoy the process.
Q. Who is your ultimate style icon and why?
A. I adore Victoria Beckham‘s style. She is chic and does glamour right each time.
Top 5 beauty products:
Top 5 fashion brands of your choice:
Facial cleanser of choice:
Caudalie Micellar Cleansing Water
Hair product of choice:
Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray, Sebastian Shaper Fierce, Osmo extreme volume, OUAI Wave Spray, OUAI Dry Texture Mousse
Do you shop for beauty products whenever you travel (abroad)?
Mostly, but then again I order a lot online now.
We love your haircut, who cuts your hair?
Nandini from MUAH
What beauty look on a woman do you love?
I love a woman who is really well-groomed. Think of Parisian – cool!!
Who was your beauty icon growing up?
Karisma Kapoor, she has always been so put together.
Who are the beauty icons of the future?
What phrase or words are you known for saying?
Describe your most starstruck moment?