I appreciate hot women who make clothes for other hot women. However, I pray to ‘Style Gods’ everyday that she’ll start a men’s collection soon. Multitasking is second nature for Sonaakshi Raaj, who launches her debut collection next month at the Lakme Fashion Week. I reach a few minutes early at my favourite coffee house, Costa, and bump into a celeb friend and start the usual chit-chat. I sense a breath of fresh air walk past me. It was like a blink and miss. I look to my right and spot no one. In less than a minute I get a call. I answer. It’s Sonaakshi. I turn, only to find her inside the coffee shop from a distance. She is ordering her favourite cold coffee and like any cultured lady would do, she orders one for me. It’s another story that we moved from one table to another, twice. Finally, we sip our prepared blend. Her hair is advert glossy, her face perfect and her simplicity extraordinarily infectious. While 99% people are sporting colours ranging from black, blue, red, beige, grey and all the others you can think of that used to come in your crayon box, Raaj is draped in a neon coloured striped jumper hugging her sleeveless top of the same colour with white pants. All this and she is easy on the eye. Surely this world will become a better place when more girls look like her. Having graduated from SNDT with a fashion degree, worked with the likes of Manish Malhotra and having credits for films such as Bittoo Boss and I Hate Luv Storys, Raaj is all set to scorch the ramp with her ‘vintage’ couture come August 4. I recall Late Edith Head, the brilliant costume designer who once said, “A dress should be tight enough to show you are a woman and loose enough to prove you are a lady”. It was because of that very thought that she went on to win eight Oscars, the most of any costume designer in history. Raaj too is aiming for just that for she believes in not creating costumes, but reality. Colour, Fabric, Authenticity and that Cut. It’s all there in this special! Introducing fashion world’s newest sibling – Sonaakshi Raaj.
While other star kids have safely embarked on acting as their career’s safest option, you’ve picked fashion.
My fascination for fashion came from an early age. I loved to shop a lot, reading fashion magazines and I grew up watching all the ladies in my family who are fashion conscious. That’s what drove me to decide my career. I was in 5th standard when I decided I wanted to enter the fashion world. When you are young, you don’t really idolise someone. My idol was my family. It was only when I properly understood it, I started to idolise Manish Malhotra and Anna Singh. To see the growth of Manish and Anna and from where they started off was quite inspiring for me.
So when did you decide you will take that big leap in fashion? What was your calling?
I was lucky enough to work with Manish Malhotra post my graduation from SNDT College. SNDT has these graduating fashion shows and are judged my all the top designers from the industry. There I won the best designer award. Post that, my university sent my collection to the National Award where designers from all over the country were nominated. I won that too and that was my big calling. I was prepared to take the big leap.
Manish Malhotra is truly an inspiration, isn’t he?
Yes he is, Manish Malhotra is a one man army. He handles films, his shops, his personal clients; fashion shows and makes hundreds of appearances at social gatherings. I look up to that and respect him so much for what he is doing.
Ok, so now introduce your debut collection to us that you will be showcasing at the Lakme Fashion Week on August 4.
My collection at the Lakme Fashion Week is inspired by old cinema glamour that is ‘vintage’ collection. Audrey Hepburn plays a vital part in my collection. I’ve always been inspired by the West more than India when it comes to fashion. My collection is very classic and couture. I am infusing all this in my debut collection. There will be 25 exclusive dresses that will make its way on the ramp.
What films you’d dream to have been a costume designer for?
I am driven by classics. Something like Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast At Tiffany‘s or in Bollywood say, something like Devdas. But at the same time I love the hip and happening Deepika Padukone‘s dressing in Cocktail by Anaita Shroff Adajania. I loved Tarun Mansukhani’s Dostana. I really enjoy doing the fun styling too. I have done I Hate Luv Storys through Manish Malhotra.
And what was your solo debut film as a costume designer?
My debut film as a costume designer was Hum Hain Rahi Car Ke starring Adah Sharma and Dev Goel that will be releasing soon. But it was Bittoo Boss that was released first that marked my debut. I have also styled Priyanka Chopra and the rest of the cast in the Nikon advert directed by Tarun Mansukhani. I’ve done all the Sunsilk adverts that are currently on air too.
Who has inspired you the most from the world’s top fashion brands?
I am a big fan of Jean Paul Gaultier. It’s glamour driven more than being pret and structure driven. Forget my current couture collection, even if I am doing a prÃªt line, I will always have an element of glamour in it. I love the way he has the intricate surface texturing, the fabric manipulation, the silhouettes fall on a woman’s body. I love that about Gaultier. To answer your second question, I love shopping in Dubai. I love London too. H&M, Bershka, Topshop and River Island are my favourite.
Name five actresses whose styling you adore.
I love the way Twinkle Khanna dresses. She conducts herself very well. Then I like Sonam Kapoor. She is the more popular one and makes an effort and does something unusual with her dressing that makes it look effortless. I like Deepika Padukone’s styling too. Her personality goes well with her outfits. I like Adah Sharma’s dressing because hers is like a casual tomboyish style, something that suits only her and I like Kangna Ranaut‘s garb. She has the sense of what looks good on her. From where she has come from and where she is, I have to list her amongst my favourite.
I’m sure men won’t be that difficult?
Yes, men are easy. From my list, it has to be Arjun Rampal. He is the best. He is hot and he knows what looks good on him. I love John Abraham‘s sense of dressing too. He carries it off well. I like Abhay Deol. He has his own slick styling to him and creates a style of his own. I like that. I like Hrithik‘s classic sense of dressing and Ranbir Kapoor has this charismatic fashion manner and yet the most simplistic too. He can even carry a white pyjama and kurta with grace.