Style debate: Film costume vs Red Carpet styl – Costume maven Rick Roy dwells on the power of the costume canvas while stylist Aastha Sharma argues in favour of red carpet glamour
Costume design and red carpet styling for a red carpet event are two very different jobs. Unfortunately, they are becoming one because of the comfort levels actors share with their stylists. The requisites of the two jobs are vastly different. To a film costume designer, the character is the highest priority and the actor's personal style and persona are completely immaterial. For instance, Akshay Kumar playing a teacher from Pune in Gabbar or Vidya Balan essaying a brothel madam. It's not about Akshay the superstar or Vidya, the actress, but the characters they are exploring and bringing to life on screen. While on red carpet, you're merely servicing the client and ensuring they look great for that day and for that event. When it comes to costume styling, it doesn't matter, who's in front of you but the film and the story. As long as they are looking like the character in the script, it's a win for me.
If the film's character can't afford a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes, I'll give her a pair from ZARA. Also, for appearances, one has to ensure the right brands are in place because the press wants to know which brands the actor is wearing. If I can make people believe that, I'd consider myself successful.
In a period film, you can't pick from the rack. You're depicting a bygone era and everything has to be custom-made. As a stylist, it's the easiest thing as one is paid to source and one's simply putting it all together. One still remembers Shabana Azmi's hair from Shyam Benegal's Mandi.
In films it all has to be customied according to the period it's reflecting and entails a lot of research. For Begum Jaan, I had to source handwoven cotton fabrics from different parts of the country and everything had to be organically dyed. I had to ensure that colours were muted or dull and brought back the feel of that era. I wasn't following a 'trend'. When you're designing for a film, you need to have your research in place, however you may take a few cinematic liberties here or there.
Today there are only a handful of costume designers, who've stuck to this dying craft and slowly more and more personal stylists are becoming costume designers. Hope film costume and styling streams don't merge and filmmakers understand it. I'd like to see more people dedicating themselves to film costumes because we're recreating history.
Red Carpet styling
Costume styling is character based and revolves around a script in hand. On the contrary, on red carpet, an actor is an actor, they represent themselves and their individual personalities comes across through selection of clothes. Red carpet is more about showcasing the latest trends, however, costume styling is about a time period. Here you can experiment with hair and make-up and there's no limit to your creativity. It's about an actor's personality and the kind of films they are doing. Their personal style matters a lot and also their body type. For instance, whether an actress can fit into a straight or a voluminous gown. You don't have to follow a character here. Having said that at events like the Grammys, you can portray your character through clothing but it's not important otherwise. Here it's about looking glamorous and not about a filmmaker's vision.
Also, this platform opens you to a lot of design options and you have the freedom to experiment a lot. It is challenging as you have to keep in mind that you don't clash with other actor and also you can't repeat. You need to know what's happening in the fashion world and be up to date with styles and trends.
As actors they come with their own individual style and one has to ensure they carry it off with elegance, grace and confidence. I admit, it's challenging but also a lot of fun.
If it's an international red carpet, the point of view is different as the global industry is watching you. The preparation is very different and you need to do a thorough study. For example, styling Aishwarya Rai Bachchan for Cannes was an elaborate process.
At the airport, stars are being constantly clicked and one has to ensure that they look smart and presentable. However, they can not be out of their comfort zones when they're travelling. Usually clothes come in the UK sizes ranging from six to eight and not all actors fit into that as their bodies are different. The fitting process starts with multiple options and there are many alterations done and designers are open to doing it, which is great. The best part is that you get to interact with so many designers and you can introduce new design names to the world. Internationally at Cannes and Oscars, designs are inspired from the runway and later customised for the red carpet.
Thanks to so many red carpet dos and awards shows, glamour has comes out in the open and in just a matter of two months, you get to see the interpretation of some of the coolest design pieces on the red carpet. Plus, it's a huge boost for the designers.
As told to Manish Mishra