She’s young, savvy and has been rubbing shoulders with the who’s who of India’s A-list for some years now, making her one of the most influential young Indians on the planet. Whilst we love stylist and co-founder of stylecracker.com Archana Walavalkar for her motto that great style advice is not just for the rich and famous, we wanted to hear more about the glamour-pusses that she does style, including Alia Bhatt in her just launched film Shaandaar, where she co-stars with Shahid Kapoor.
Celeb Stylist Archana Walavalkar with muse Alia Bhatt
Alia Bhatt wearing Gauri & Nainika gown at the Shaandaar promos
Archana, tell us a bit about yourself.
I started my career with L’Officiel and after a year and a half moved on to work at Vogue India as Fashion Editor for four years. After Vogue, I styled for Bollywood and celebrities, since then I’ve had the opportunity of working with some of the top stars in the industry, including Aishwarya Rai, Alia Bhatt, Deepika Padukone, Sonam Kappor, Ranbir Kapoor, Varun Dhawan, Arjun Kapoor, Aditya Roy Kapoor and Shahid Kapoor to name a few.
How did you become involved in fashion and styling?
It all started with my love for accessories and that's what initially attracted me to the fashion business. I studied apparel manufacture and design from SNDT (Women’s University in Mumbai). Art and costumes run in my blood. My grandfather owned The Great Royal Circus and even at the young age of twelve I was put in charge of designing costumes for the parade. After graduating from fashion school, I started pursuing my career in styling. Anaita Shroff Adajania [Fashion Director for Vogue India magazine] has been instrumental in my styling career. Her attitude towards her work and how she balances all aspects of her life has always inspired me.
Cast of Bollywood hit 'Student of the Year' with Director Karan Johar (c)
Vogue was an amazing jumpstart to my future, but I wanted more. Post Vogue, I knew I wanted to style under my own banner. That’s when I got a call from Karan Johar. He’s been a pioneering mentor in my Bolly-life and has always supported and encouraged me and even though Bollywood was not what I originally had in mind, I couldn’t be happier with the path I have chosen. I have been the costume designer on films like Student of The Year and Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhaniya and I just wrapped up Shaandaar [with Alia Bhatt and Shahid Kapoor]. I’m working on 2 more films for this year which is very exciting!
Alia Bhatt and Shahid Kapoor's free spirited performance in Shaandaar
You’ve worked with Alia since a young age, what look were you going for in the film?
Alia is quite the free spirit in Shaandaar. She is quirky, unusual, someone who seems to dance to her own tunes, which is therein reflected in the styling. In the movie, Alia plays an insomniac and hence, is seen dressed in laid back and comfortable clothes for most part. She's a chill, urban girl and her character has a string of odd habits that are weird but still endearing.
Which designers did you dress Alia in for her ethnic wear?
Her Indian wear is not typically traditional and you barely see Alia sporting any ethnic wear in the movie. We have used Arpita Mehta & Sonaakshi Raaj for her two ethnic looks.
Some of Arpita Mehta's signature mirror work looks
Alia Bhatt in one of her more casual looks in Shandaar
Alia is very petite, what styling tips do you have for girls who are petite and again curvier women to make them look their best?
For petite girls, opt for deeper/wider necklines, they elongate your torso and give you a tall and slender look. Nude shoes are a quick trick to make your legs look instantly longer. Avoid dividing your body with colors, stick to monotone to appear more linear. It's all about how you balance your proportion. When it comes to women with curves, just simply embrace them! Accentuating your waist will bring out your curvy figure. Wrap dresses work best for day. Opt for booty-hugging bodycon ones for night.
Who are your current style icons or fashion inspirations?
Rumi Neely. [A bohemian cool fashion blogging queen from Los Angeles who’s been documenting her daily looks for years now on Fashion Toast].
LA Blogger Rumi Neely
Tell us a little bit about stylecracker.com?
Launching Stylecracker.com was a decision I made with my Co-Founder Dhimaan Shah over countless conversations, based on his firm interest in knowing about fashion and styling and my want to reach out to a wider audience. We were in search of a challenge. We wanted to reach out to the people and make an impact! That is when StyleCracker.com came in.
StyleCracker.com is India’s only personalized styling platform. We provide our users with a highly personalised styling experience, and in doing so, have created a massive and trusted platform on which users can discover, share and enhance their personal style. StyleCracker.com does this by perfectly blending high quality personal styling and intelligent technology. In addition to the online business, StyleCracker.com works in the real world with various celebrities, movies, weddings and corporates to provide high end personalised styling. Our newest launch The StyleCracker Flash Card, a discount card across various fashion and lifestyle brands.
What advice do you have for anyone aspiring into a career in fashion?
I advise aspiring stylists to take risks, they are worth it! And follow your heart. Every stylist needs that raw hunger and drive to face challenges head on. There is no substitute to hard work and perseverance!
Image credits: Twitter; stylecracker.com; Lakme Fashion Week; Shaandaar Movie