Celebrity stylist duo Pranay Jaitly and Shounak Amonkar, the brains behind fashion consultancy Who Wore What When, have worked with celebrities such as Vidya Balan, Kalki Koechlin, Radhika Apte, Rasika Dugal, and Siddhant Chaturvedi. A look at their Instagram page is proof, replete with aesthetically shot images of celebs putting their best fashion foot forward. But there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes before the final look is sealed.
Talking to indianexpress.com, they share more about their work, why working with Kalki is different, the celeb they wish to style and their take on sustainable fashion.
What is the most challenging thing about being a celebrity stylist?
The most challenging thing about being a celebrity stylist is making sure the actor has an individual style, which is not something that everyone else is wearing or seen regularly.
How do you strike a balance between your vision and their preferences?
It is very important to have a discussion before every event, to know what the celebrity wants and how you envision them for a particular event. This is followed by a fitting session which has a good number of options for both of us. It is essential, especially, when you are working with them for the first couple of times, to understand their taste.
You work with numerous celeb clients. Who is the most fun to style and why?
We have fun with all of our clients, but with Kalki (Koechlin), the whole vibe is very different and energetic. Every time we have worked together, 99 per cent of the time we haven’t needed any trials. She will always say, ‘You have a vision in your head and I trust it and let me know what works best.’ It’s exciting to see how she pulls it off and is super fun to work with.
You experiment with various silhouettes, for instance, you have styled Vidya Balan in a sari as well as a dress. What is the thought process behind it?
When it’s something formal, Vidya (Balan) likes to wear a saree; when it’s somewhere she wants to be chill and comfortable, she will opt for a dress. Whatever we have to offer to our clients, it’s very important for us to keep their personalities in mind, so their clothes need to be an extension of their personality. So whatever silhouette, colour or pattern we choose, it all goes back to whether it connects with that particular celebrity.
The pandemic ignited conversations around sustainable fashion. What is your take on this and what role can stylists play?
Even before the pandemic, Who Wore What When believed in sustainable fashion, homegrown brands, sustainability, recycling, re-wearing, and re-using. We are very happy that this conversation is spreading and everyone is becoming more aware of sustainable fashion. Right after the lockdown, we did our promotions with Vidya Balan for Shakuntala Devi, and Vidya being someone who is aware, told us to talk about Atma-Nirbhar Bharat and sustainable fashion wherein we used all homegrown and sustainable brands sourced from weavers directly to help them recover their business. Vidya wore and repeated a lot of her own blouses and outfits and did an entire promotion revolving around that. All of our actors, along with us, are very open to re-using, re-wearing and re-styling outfits. As stylists, it’s very important for everyone to talk about this cause. The word needs to spread.
What are the dos and don’ts that you follow as stylists? Does this remain uniform across clients?
What we don’t want to do is give something to our clients that they are uncomfortable with. What we do is ensure they are comfortable in what they are wearing. We do enough research on what has been used in the past and what hasn’t, to make sure it’s not repeated on a celebrity. A lot of my clients are open to wearing something which has been worn before but, at times, the press makes a lot of comparisons.
Who, according to you, is the most stylish celebrity and someone you aspire to work with?
Rekha is the most gorgeous, I think the way she carries her outfits and sarees is fantastic.
A lot of times, celebrities are trolled for their looks — how do you deal with such situations?
We work with a bunch of celebrities who are very secure in who they are and reviews don’t usually matter to them. I sometimes overthink it because I analyse the look way too much in my head; Shounak, on the other hand, really doesn’t care what reviews come in as long as the celebrity is happy and looks lovely.
How open is Bollywood when it comes to going beyond one’s comfort zone and experimenting?
It’s just not Bollywood, it is any individual, I think. Because everyone thinks that they have their own style and they look good in a particular silhouette. There are times when they aren’t comfortable giving that to someone else. It takes a while for the ice to break. However, everyone we have worked with has been extremely open to trying new silhouettes and if it doesn’t work, we always have a safer option.
What has been your biggest professional learning during the lockdown?
We have learnt to take out time for ourselves and do something we’ve been wanting to and couldn’t due to our schedule. It’s been nice to take that breather. Regular intervals from our busy schedule are important, and that’s what we have learnt.