Aastha Sharma is a supremely talented and vivacious celebrity fashion stylist. But there is so much more that she brings to the table than just glorious fashion.We got to know more about her venture Wardrobist and Quarancharity and much more in this sit-down with her.
Q. So how did it all start for you? What was your first job in fashion? How did your career in fashion begin?
A. Fashion and styling were never a part of my career plan actually. In Fact, I wanted to be a lawyer and I was studying to apply for national law school after high school. My dad suggested I complete my graduation and then decide which path to take. Plans changed post-graduation and I applied to Pearl Academy for my masters. During my time at pearl, I got introduced to styling which was at that time very new to India. I started with some internships and fell in love with the whole process. After Pearl, I joined Harper’s Bazaar and that’s when my fashion journey started.
Q. How different is it working for a magazine/editorial?
A. The process of working with a magazine is quite different from working as a freelance stylist. Magazines come with a certain structure, the issues are well planned and it focuses more on the latest in the fashion world and the message it wants to put across. It’s more issue theme-based and all the stories and photoshoots revolve around that theme. It is way more structured which makes it more corporate.
Q. When did you decide that this is the job for you?
A. Right when I did my internship at Channel V in Mumbai back in college. I just knew this was for me. After several internships and my first job as a stylist, made me confident about my journey forward.
Q. What is it that you love about your job? What is that you hate about your job?
A. I love the high energy and constant movement. And my job brings that in for me, it keeps me on my toes, I love meeting and working with new people & my job gives me that opportunity. Exploring fashion around the world and travel keeps me going.
Sometimes, long work schedules can be taxing but that’s something I have come to terms with.
Q. What’s your first fashion memory?
A. I was 11 and I remember getting my hand on my mom’s college pictures. Her 70’s style left a huge impact on me. Baggy denim, printed-boho tops, bouffant hairstyles, bold lip colors, retro sunglasses, fishtail sarees made me fall in love with the 70’s fashion.
Q. Tell us more about your venture, Wardrobist
A. Wardrobist is a Fashion & Styling company I started in 2012 which caters to services like a celebrity, weddings, films, web-shows, editorial & commercial styling. We have done some amazing projects & worked with some super talented professionals over the last 8 years.
Q. Everybody went head over heels on Aishwariya Rai Bacchan’s Cannes Red Carpet look. Tell us more about that iconic look.
A. I have had an opportunity to work with Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and dress her for the Cannes Film Festival for the last 5 years. The process is always super exciting and a lot goes into planning her red carpet looks. A lot of research and detailed planning goes into finalizing the right outfit- from selecting the best designs to fittings, to putting the looks together and making sure everything falls in place on the main day- it’s an exhilarating process, something I look forward to each year.
Q. You recently styled the amazing star cast for Four More Shots Please -Season Tell us more about that.
A. Four More Shots Please is our team’s baby project. We have been working on putting together looks for the entire show since day one. Creating characters & bringing them to life was super thrilling & exciting. We had a blast creating outfits for the entire cast for season 1 & 2.
Season 1 was all about bringing the characters to life, giving them an identity, and ensuring it’s all wearable high fashion- something that’s aspirational and the viewers would relate to as well as aspire to dress like their favorite character.
Season 2 was all about pushing that envelope, giving finesse to each character. The storyline gave us an opportunity to display some amazing fashion- from travel to a party to a wedding- it was so much fun putting it all together. Can’t wait to start working on season 3
Q. Also, we loved what you did for Quarancharity, how was your experience?
A. Quarancharity is such a powerful project started by these lovely ladies Pri Shewakramani & Sherry Shroff. All the work done by them during this pandemic is commendable. It was an honor to be a part of the session and share my story & experiences & interact with so many attendees and contribute to the cause in the smallest way possible.
Q. What are the challenges in building a career linked to becoming a fashion stylist? And what advice would you give to budding stylists?
A. Like any other career path, becoming a stylist involves a lot of dedication, passion, and hard work. Education in fashion is the first but the most important step. Once you have that right, I always suggest all the budding stylists to go for as many internships as possible. The best way to understand this job is to learn on the job. Work hard, there is no shortcut, be a multi Tasker, and be ready to learn & adapt to the fast-changing times.
Q. How do you maintain a balance between Indian brands and International brands?
A. That usually depends on the project I am working on. I ensure it is always a good balance of both if I am mixing the two, but it varies from project to project.
Q. How has the styling industry evolved since the time you started to now?
A. Styling as a profession has evolved so much since the time I started, especially in India. When I started, costume designing was evolving into styling, getting its own identity. From costume designing for films, it has evolved into celebrity dressing, editorials, campaigns, and almost each and every aspect of digital space. Today a stylist’s job is more holistic with creating the complete look from the outfit, to accessories to getting involved with hair & make photography and creating the theme around the project you are working on. Styling has moved into the forefront as this is one of the most important aspects for an actor/client/ project you are working on, giving them an identity through the characters you create. Styling today is one of the most exciting as well as challenging professions to be in.
Q. Are there any particular philosophies that have guided your career decisions?
A. I always believe in working on projects that excite and challenge me. I need to be completely involved in the project I work on and I feel that gives me the push to do better and enjoy the whole process. Working hard and being passionate about whatever you’re doing is what keeps me going.
Q. Tell us about some career-defining moments and what you learned from them?
A. My first job at Harper’s Bazaar made me fall in love with the process of styling and got me to Mumbai to start my company. My first time at Cannes and styling Aishwarya Rai back in 2015 was a big milestone in my career and from there on styling her every year has been super exciting. My association with Pritish Nandy, Amazon & Four more Shots
Q. You have styled Bollywood’s biggest icons from Rakul Preet Singh to Kajol. How different is the process from actor to actor?
A. I love working with both Kajol & Rakul. Both are such fun people to work with. Kajol is extremely talented and her high positive energy is infectious. She comes with so many years of experience & such empowering personality, so I always ensure that her outfits don’t overshadow that. I love mixing classics with modern clothing on her. She loves experimenting with 7. We are always creating something new each time we work together.
Rakul is gorgeous & a complete firecracker. She’s young, full of energy, confident, and loves experimenting with her looks – which is amazing for a stylist & makes my job much easier. We love trying on different looks and she is always ready to push the bar.
With each client, one must understand what they need and what you can contribute to their image as a stylist. I ensure I understand that and the requirement of the object in hand – balancing both is the key.
Q. The best piece of advice given to you when you were starting off and you follow it even today?
A. To never follow Fashion blindly. Have the knowledge of it and then make your own rules.
Describe your style in 3 words?
Comfortable, chic, boho
Sunglasses & hand accessories
If you could only wear one designer for the rest of your life who would it be?
That is such a difficult question, I hope I never have to do that, there are so many fabulous designers & brands, I can’t choose.
What would you never wear?
Kitten heels, I just don’t get them
Are you a closet editor or a builder?
A mix of both, one needs to build it up with clever editing.
Who are some of your go-to designers for styling now?
It depends on the projects we are working on, there are so many talented couturiers and so many young designers, it usually always depends on the project in hand.
What should girls steer clear of?
Following fashion blindly.
Favorite look that you’ve styled to date?
Aishwarya Rai for Cannes 2017