Exclusive : Helping actors wear emotions on their body

Y.Sunita Chowdhary
See Shilpa’s personal style below, get some info on her work, most importantly, take notes—this woman is influencing your closet and you don’t even know it yet. For those who don’t know her, she joined as an intern at Vyjayanthi as a stylist and is now independently dressing up characters in the movies and also stars for their promotional tours and interviews. Shilpa had recently styled Fara Abdullah for Jathi Ratnalu. Ask if it was a challenge styling a tallest  heroine in Telugu cinema, she gives a right answer, “We come across many tall women in our life, and it is just that we don’t see them in the cinema.”Are you a vibrant person when it comes to dressing?
I am neutral, I like actually more pastels. Our culture, our festivals, pooja’s and the decoration of flowers is all so colourful. As we grew up with so much color, I reached a point where I began to lean towards soft and unique colours. As you grow you build a personality of your own. I do like bright colours but they are pastels. My personal choice does not reflect on the characters, if the characters require vibrance we do choose such stuff. Personal choices are different from what works for the camera.About your academics?

I graduated from NIFT in Chennai in 2015. It isn’t just a costume we studied there. I see costumes as a part of art. We had good exposure and in the film industry, you learn everything on the run. In any field of work, they don’t teach you, you learn on the way. My first project was Mahanati. I studied fashion and it is different from costume. You have to learn and act as per the industry works. It had been a new experience.

Is styling easy?
Anyone can say what they want. If it is easy, anyone can become a stylist. There is a difference between a good shopper and a good stylist. To make a 100 Rs stuff look rich on screen, you need to have the skill. It isn’t just about buying clothes, it is crisis management and lots of coordination, last minute requirements and changes. People just see the shopping side. People want to see that one percent but there is more to it. When I started off with Mahanati, I was 24 and it was all new to me. I had a vague knowledge of how it falls in place but definitely it helped me. Before movies and after movies if I look at it, I can now say confidently that I dont panic. It helped me and gave a boost to my confidence.

What gives you a kick in styling?
Creating something very unique to the character, which becomes an image. It could be simple or complicated, when at the last minute you figure out something and put it together. Probably it is something that wasn’t on your mind, the fraction of the second it strikes you and your creative juices just flow and do crisis management. Everyone has to be happy, all are working for the same project. It is for the project to come out as the best. Sometimes we might not understand what the person is looking at, but at the end of the day we discuss and look at the middle ground. After seeing the end product, nothing matters. It is a director’s vision through different hands.

Tell us something that is trending
What people are wearing now post Covid? Everyone is being themselves now and not aping others. Last year gave us a realisation and we got stuck in the rat race and once it slowed down, we were happy being ourselves. We are trying to be overtly glam. I have never been a major shopper but I have seen both the sides. Some come back with more and more stuff, expensive and quality things and some have been low profile on that front.

On Jati Ratnalu
Like all the three guys and the girls, we had unique characterisation, we didn’t want to do anything off the rack. Everyone had individual personalities of their own and we tried to reflect that. All of them dress differently and since it is based out of Jogipet we tried to bring something which is not a metro. There won’t be huge malls. Before we became too much of a metro people, we too shopped from small shops. We had to make the audience believe that they were wearing from Jogipet and not Hyderabad which is a reflection of their area. We were able to buy and source and sometimes we custom made, basically it depended on the scene and character. We wanted Faria to be the girl next door. she is from the city and she could be anyone. We kept it simple and real life; nothing too fancy, what we wear always, we tried giving her that.

Your personal statement
We have done ten to twelve projects so far. We would definitely want to try new genres, each project gives a new experience. Delivering eleven projects so far is a good feeling and there is a long way to go. It is still a learning process for us. How do stylists upgrade their work? Every project is different. If a story is period and location, the story will have a time period and there would be research and observation. You notice these things and incorporate tiny details and make it look unique. Period stories are research oriented and observation is for current trends. We try to understand the people belonged to the era and what was predominant in the times. I like anyone who is just themselves. I can’t pick anyone when you ask me who is the best dressed in the industry. It isn’t a question that anyone can answer, we can’t say who is the best dressed person.I already have my own fashion label called Sinch and we do tiny things for lakme fashion week. This season, I will see where I am headed this time.

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