Fashion designer Shehla Khan has designed for almost all Bollywood celebrities including Deepika Padukone, Karan Johar, Katrina Kaif, Kiara Advani, Sonam Kapoor and many more. She recently launched her collection -The Beautiful Fall with Alaya F as the face of her collection. In an exclusive conversation with Bollywood Hungama, Shehla Khan spoke about her latest collection, the effect of the pandemic on the fashion industry, celebrity styles and the future of fashion.
What can you tell us about your latest The Beautiful Fall collection?
This is the first collection I designed in the middle of the pandemic. In July I conceptualized it and in August I started to design it. When I conceptualized the collection, I thought a lot about time and the market and how weddings have gotten so much smaller. People are really not in the mood to celebrate or spend too much money on occasion. I really thought about going back to the classic Shehla aesthetic. Just make it easier to wear while looking stylish that you can not only wear for 20-30 party weddings but also recycle it and wear it in different ways. Use it as a spare or wear it to a gathering, dinner or party at a friend’s house. They are bullion coins as well as elegant coins. Indian tailoring tends to get noticed and you wear it once you can’t wear it anymore.
Why Alaya as the face of the collection?
When I had to campaign for this collection, I didn’t want to work with someone I had worked with before. So, I happened to approach Alaya because I really like the way she behaves. She really wanted to do it. It went really well as she added her funky personality to clothes that weren’t simple per se, but understated and stylish. She’s got so much funk and personality that she rocked it and we’ve also styled her in a very edgy way that’s also a far cry from the more feminine and pretty vibe the brand is known for.
How has the fashion industry been affected by the pandemic?
The market has not been normal, but at the same time we have also adapted to work towards the new normal. We don’t know when things will return to the old normal or if there will be an old normal. So what we did was we used the time which is me and the people I’m exposed to both internationally and in India; we have created our own new normal. Everyone must survive, our brands must survive. People are still getting married. People will go out in small groups. There are still people who like to dress up, even if it’s at home. So it’s not like there isn’t a buyer’s market, it’s about adapting.
Even internationally, there are trade fairs of brands that have decided to make the season less seasonal. I think it was already something imminent in the respect of environmental and eco-responsible fashion. As less waste means less collection, resulting in less production and therefore less use of chemicals. We try to do things like dye materials in an environmentally friendly way.
For the creators who have decided to make less season, it is also because the market is such that it is useless to have eight collections per year against three collections of 20 pieces instead of 40-60 pieces. It works best for branch consumers. The consumer won’t be spoiled for choice and the brand also has a clearer picture of what they want and less waste and expense on our part. Purchasing power is not 100% either. So come out with some new ideas on what people would like to wear with The Beautiful Fall. A little more sober, a little more portable, recyclable, with all these things in mind, we will continue.
Is the minimalist approach the way to go?
I think 2020 has been a cleanup for everyone. The new normal could be the permanent normal, because it is better. Even fashion is becoming eco-responsible. Fewer seasons means fewer catwalks, fewer catwalks means more digital approach, bigger digital approach means bigger audience. It is just something like working for the welfare of the next generation.
Where do you get inspiration from when you start working on a new collection?
Honestly, it depends. I like to be surrounded by beautiful things, be it furniture, art or just photography, clothes of course. I like watching movies. When I travel, I like to go to museums. I once went to the MET and saw a Turkish exhibition there and came back and used a lot of their designs in my embroidery. I once watched a movie. It was Pride and Prejudice. One of my collections was really inspired by it. Then there are style icons like Lady Diana who is very elegant and I really admire her. All the designers of that time would die to dress it up. My latest Lakme collection was inspired by her. My first collection was inspired by the French queen Marie-Antoinettet. She is a connoisseur of clothing, fashion and clothing in her day. After watching movies about her, I really admired her a lot. My main mission in the last year of college was a shoot inspired by Queen Marie-Antoinette. It was therefore understood that my first collection after becoming a designer would only be inspired by her.
How do you determine the personal style of an actor?
I always rely on the figure and frame of the person and the colors that would suit him. I always go by theory less is more. This does not mean that everything has to be simple. I just think you don’t have to be sparkling or accessorized from head to toe. I think you should own your outfit rather than your outfit that owns you. So I defer to this theory every time I do somebody’s hair. I pay great attention to details. And it depends on who is more open to what. Someone like Deepika is experimental. Someone like Alia, she’s young, we have to make sure she doesn’t look younger than her age. We keep his style a bit mature but not like mature older people but more chic. Ananya and Tara, they’re young and they own it, and that’s their vibe and really have fun with them with silhouettes and accessories. With Sonam herself takes a lot of passion to dress. For her, everything is a look, even going to the gym is a look. Every time I create a look for her, we put it together and we always decide it with her help. She also shares the passion for vintage, western and Indian fashion. So we did things like pull out pictures from old Hindi movies, black and white Hindi movies and just take out Madhubala’s photo and try to recreate the sarees she was wearing. I worked a lot with her sister on creative looks for her too, which was also a lot of fun.
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