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With stars stepping up their game, South India’s top celebrity stylists talk trends and what they recommend. 

WHEN it comes to fashion after hours, Bollywood rarely falters. Be it Sonam Kapoor at last year’s Chopard party—in an
over-the-top Abu Jani-Sandeep Khosla gown with sculpted sleeves—or Priyanka Chopra’s Bafta tea party appearance earlier this year, in a Versace dress with straps and cutouts. But down South, we’ve not really been known for our runway hits, with many dressing for comfort rather than style. But that is changing. “Now a new crop of young actors are emerging, each with millions of discerning, social media-savvy fans. So they’re hiring top stylists, experimenting with colour, focussing on accessorising, and working towards lean frames—all for the right look,” states Mumbai-based fashion blogger, Riaan J George, reminding us of Amy Jackson’s recent appearance, in a grey Gaurav Gupta gown with bugle bead embroidery. However, in a culture where fans identify with the stars, rather than as people completely out of their league, we will not see a Suriya or Rana Daggubati stepping out in a skirt, a la Ranveer Singh (who attended a Bajirao Mastani promotion in a marsala jacket paired with a flared skirt), any time soon. Nitasha Gaurav, the stylist behind Singh’s out-of-the-box look, says, “I have worked with several stars in the South, including Allu Arjun and Akkineni Nagarjuna. They are all well-travelled and invest in global fashion trends. But (keeping in mind) the fandom and respect the Southern film industry has for its stars, they opt to dress appropriately, rather than create trends.” Balancing
the traditional with the contemporary is also something that we are known for. Chopra’s stylist, Ami Patel, says she is impressed by how
the stylists here “are staying in tune with tradition but still looking ahead”. Samantha Ruth Prabhu’s wardrobe possesses a unique grasp
on style that’s minimal, chic and sensible all at once, she shares. We speak to the top stylists for pan-South celebrities who are rewriting the
rules of a once insulated industry.

GYPSY SOUL
Star: Amala Paul | Stylist: Sonya Sandiavo
Kochi-based Sonya Sandiavo’s impeccable styling skills were brought into focus by actor Amala Paul after the movie Run Baby Run. A former stylist at Dubai’s Gold’s Gym International, Sandiavo is a staunch believer of luxe athleisure. “As more people are choosing healthier activities like yoga, tennis, spinning and running, the need to look fashionable on and off the ground is shaping up the celebrity wardrobe, too. When it comes to Amala’s workout sessions, she thrives on looking great,” adds the stylist, who is currently working on Shankar’s Robot 2. Sandiavo’s looks for Paul include a shimmery golden yellow kurta and palazzos designed by Kochibased Sreejith Jeevan, for a recent event at the Kerala High Court, to a crimson anarkali enhanced with Patan Patola ikats by Gaurang Shah, seen at Dubai’s Asiavision Awards. “Amala’s favourite brands for casual clothing include Zara, H&M and Topshop, whereas her Indian wardrobe is full of
Gauri and Nainika , Shantanu and Nikhil, and Anamika Khanna. But active fashion is what you should look for when following her style. I’d suggest fitted shorts and a tee,” she concludes. Details: facebook.com/Mudraa- Designer-Wears-Drapes-270531816456240

Statement accessory: Tees from Topshop, London (Rs 6,000 onwards)
Trending: Anamika Khanna’s athleisure (available at ogaan.com, Rs 13,000 onwards)
Signature style: Boho chic

Geethika ChadhaDECCAN’S OWN
Stylist: Geetika Chadha Star: Rana Daggubati
Standing tall at six feet three, Rana Daggubati is currently rated one of the trendiest actors among his contemporaries. All thanks to Geetika Chadha, who helps him look effortlessly stylish, rocking labels like Tarun Tahiliani (like the black Jodhpuri kurta and bandhgala suit at SIIMA 2015). “While styling Rana, I look for components that can soften his rugged looks. So I have been experimenting with lapel scarves and floral pocket squares that bring a playful edge to his personality,” begins Chadha, a computer science graduate from Delhi’s Miranda House, who
turned to fashion after a second degree in fashion from NIFT Hyderabad. Before she met the Telugu superstar (in 2014), she worked as a stylist for Puma and John Players. “He absolutely loves Indo-Western styles (shirts featuring ikats and kalamkari prints). Personally, I would recommend it to those who love Rana’s style,” shares the Hyderabad-based stylist, adding that it’s always a laugh riot going shoe shopping with the actor. After all, his shoe size is 13 and almost impossible to source in India. Details: facebook.com/ GeetikaChadhaOfficial

Style statement
accessory: Rana’s ear piercing and his love for tinted glasses from Dita (Rs 90,000 onwards)
Trending: Bomber jackets and white chinos
Signature style: Catchy pocket squares and lapels

SIMPLE CHARM Neeraja Kona
Stylist: Neeraja Kona Star: Samantha Ruth Prabhu
Samantha Ruth Prabhu’s floor-length anarkalis and elegant saris have left many a fashionista envious. Her stylist, Neeraja Kona, a former employee of Michael Kors, is all smiles as she talks about the actress. “With Samantha, I would say it is minimalism. You will never find her overdressed. Even if it’s a blingy outfit, I try and tone it down,” says Kona, who has a degree in fashion merchandise from the Fashion institute of Design and Merchandise, Los Angeles. The Hyderabad-based stylist is behind all of Prabhu’s looks— from the stunning pale pink Sabyasachi lehenga she wore at the Atharintiki Daaredi’s promotions to her white Payal Singhal sari at the music launch of Bramhostavam in May. “Her personal style is oriented towards casual wear, especially cool T-shirts,” explains th stylist, adding that if you want a wardrobe like hers, be sure to check out Prabhu’s “glittery- green Reebok jersey and jeans” look during the celebrity cricket match (aka Nadigar Sangam) in the city last April. Details: facebook. com/NeerajaKona

Statement accessory: Jewellery from Amrapali
Trending: Anita Dongre’s maxi dresses
Signature style: Anarkalis, dresses from Shriya Som and The Meraki Project

KING OF COOL kalyani desai 2
Stylist: Kalyani Desai | Star: Dulquer Salmaan
Malayalam film industry’s trendsetter, Dulquer Salmaan, on a normal day, is nothing less than a GQ-worthy model. So believes his stylist,
Kalyani Desai, formerly with GQ India. Desai, who debuted in Bollywood (in 2010) by working with actors like Priyanka Chopra, made her mark in the South with superstars like Akkineni Nagarjuna and Mammootty.When asked about the challenges in styling Salmaan,
Mumbai-based Desai explains, “He has a great sense of personal style. So I only have to understand what he likes and dislikes in order to match his personality.” Her top looks for the OK Kanmani actor include a Sahil Aneja blue sports jacket with jeans and trainers for the audio launch of the film and a Raghavendra Rathore kurta and bandi for a private wedding function. “Throw on a smart jacket and a classy pair of brogues to give your wardrobe a Dulquer Salmaan update, like his SS Homme zippered jacket look at a recent musical event in Sharjah,” she concludes. Details: facebook.com/Not- Just-Black-by-Kalyani-Desai-1395855510736764

Statement accessory: Christian Louboutin shoes (Rs 60,000 onwards)
Trending: Classic cuts like a fitted two-button, single-breasted suit with a notched lapel
Signature style: Textured shirts from Paul Smith and Rare Rabbit

FUN & FEMININE
Stylist: Mansi Patel | Star: Amy Jackson Mansi Patel 2
A girly edge is what brings perfection to Jackson’s looks, according to her stylist, Mumbai-based Mansi Patel. A fashion designing graduate from SNDT, Mumbai, Patel moved to styling after perfecting her skills at London’s Central Saint Martins University of Arts. “While styling, one needs to keep in mind that it is an amalgamation of fashion and the personality of the celebrity. Amy’s sense of style is a little bit of everything—from girly and classic to boho and rock chic,” shares Patel, citing the time when Jackson donned the floor-length grey
gown designed by Gaurav Gupta to the Femina Miss India 2016. She feels Jackson’s lissome figure is best showcased in her favourite brands like Givenchy, Tom Ford and Sabyasachi. “For those inspired by Amy, all I can say is, have fun with fashion, because that’s what she does,” concludes Patel. Details: facebook.com/letapisnam

Signature scent: Si by Giorgio Armani (from Rs 9,200)
Trending: X necklines, mesh and paperback waists
Signature style: Pastel colours, exposed shoulders and body-fitting cuts

By Anoop Menon & Arya P Dinesh

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