Walking the walk of style

Celebrity stylists talk about how the trend of hiring a professional is slowly but surely gaining popularity

Mehek Saeed July 12, 2015
Stylists lament the lack of awareness people have towards them and what their work entails. PHOTOS: PUBLICITY


Playing dress-up may be a favourite among tweens and teens but in the world of fashion, it’s no child’s play. While stylists have been around to revamp the public image of, and create signature looks for celebrities across the world, it’s a new phenomenon in the nascent entertainment industry of Pakistan. While the late fashion icon Audrey Hepburn sought stylistic advice from Hubert de Ginvenchy and contemporary actor Kangana Ranaut has been making a style statement with the aid of Rajat Tangri, stylists in Pakistan usually have to approach designers and celebrities themselves. But with a growing film industry and subsequent rise in red carpet appearances, the trend of hiring a stylist is slowly but surely gaining popularity.

Ehtehsham Ansari has been styling celebrities in the Pakistani fashion circuit since 2006 and styled Sabeeka Imam for the film Jalaibee’s premiere and Hum TV Awards in Dubai earlier this year. He laments the lack of awareness people have towards stylists, saying, “When celebrities walk the red carpet, no one asks who styled them. The questions are about who did their hair and who they’re wearing.”

Sister duo Anber and Marya Javed of the blog A Wardrobe Affair has a vibrant client roster, having worked with stars, such as Humaima Malick, Sarwat Gilani and Mawra Hocane. They also feel most people don’t understand the concept of styling, often mistaking the term for hair and make-up. “For the longest time, designers and make-up artists have styled celebrities and the idea of hiring an expert or consultant is still new,” said Anber, who along with Marya was behind styling Mahira Khan for the first look of Ho Mann Jahaan.

Tabesh Khoja of N-Pro, who has done styling for Urwa Hocane, Aamina Sheikh and Ayesha Khan, is also of the same opinion. He has recently been getting Sohai Ali Abro’s styling right for the promotional events of her upcoming film Wrong No. “I believe in image-making than just putting together an outfit, and hair and make-up. It’s about how the celebrity wants to be perceived by people and how they’re carrying what they’re wearing,” he stated.

Building a relationship of trust between the client and stylist is critical to devising a winner look. “I build that relationship with each client of mine,” shared Ehtehsham. Anber holds understanding the body type, personality and style sensibility of the client is key. “If it doesn’t fit well or doesn’t gel with the client’s overall image, it loses all impact,” she noted. Anber is positive about the future of celebrity stylists and feels “it’s the next big thing because developing markets, such as India, have had to face similar challenges to get to a point where styling is now a widely accepted and respected profession.”

Styled by Tabesh Khoja, Styled by Ehtehsham Ansari

Haiya Bokhari recently forayed into styling and has helmed shoots as well as done personal styling for events. “With editorial styling, you can afford to be more avant-garde or abstract but in terms of personal styling, you can’t push clothing that the celebrity doesn’t identify with,” she said about the dyad of styling. “Editorial styling can afford more creativity and depending on the brand image, you can play around with how dramatic you want the shoot to turn out. Personal styling is more focused on occasion-wear, but it’s imperative for both kinds of styling that the client brief isn’t ignored,” she added.

Amid the growing presence of social media, it’s often more impactful to spot a celebrity sporting a certain outfit on social-networking websites than in a print magazine. This is why PR mavens approach celebrities and their stylists, months before fashion weeks so that they can don their designer clientele’s apparel. A good stylist knows where to source the right clothes from, which are often borrowed and then returned. “What’s irritating is when 80 per cent of the people wear the same design in a country where everyone claims to be a designer,” stated Ehtehsham. A case in point is the red carpet of this year’s Telenor Fashion Pakistan Week, which sorely lacked variety and the lustre receded into the background with SanaSafinaz couture everywhere.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 13th,  2015.

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