Meet Sanjana Batra, who has set the fashion bars high by her top styling game! She has spent ample time with celebrities (from across the country), including Shilpa Shetty, Parineeti Chopra, Tamannah Bhatia and many more. For Sanjana, styling empowers her to choose what works for her.
How did you land your first assignment?
I landed up with my first assignment back in 2014. Humorously enough I was looking out to assist a celebrity stylist because I had worked on the production side of things for two years at Bang-Bang Films. I had identified that styling was where my interest lies, and I wanted to explore it further and get experience in the field. So, I sent my CV to a couple of celebrity stylists and celebrity management firms. I didn’t end up getting an assistant position but I got a call to style Nargis Fakhri for a shoot! It was her personal photo shoot back in 2014. I was asked if I would be able to do it and I kind of just pounced at the opportunity.
What are five must haves in a man’s wardrobe?
– I would say a nice well-fitted pair of jeans, a nice white shirt, blazer that you can take from morning to evening. That is something which looks good during the day time with your casuals, and you can carry it off well when you’re out for dinner too.
– A nice pair of shoes, it could be a pair of sneakers, or it could be a pair of loafers whatever your personal style is.
– Also, having really good basics, a white, black, grey tee is important. Having good quality t-shirts is important.
A day in the life of a Bollywood stylist…
In terms of the process of styling a look to begin with, it’s always about understanding what my client is looking out for or ideating with them on what might be a good direction to take for a particular event or a shoot (this is based on what the event or shoot is). Then I, along with my team, discuss a couple of ideas and put together everything.
5 things every woman must have in her wardrobe
– A nice pair of jeans, it could be any style- boyfriend denims, flared denims, mom jeans, and skinny jeans, anything that suits you and is close to your personal style.
– A nice leather jacket for when you travel, I know it’s not something you get to use much in India but when you travel it’s a great wardrobe staple to have.
– A white gunjee because I think it’s very multi-functional and you can wear it in many different ways.
– A nice summer dress because in India it’s very easy to wear a summer dress and it’s a great option for the day basically.
– A nice pair of any heels, any basic strappy heels, preferably nude but I think strappy heels are important.
Who are the most coveted designers on a star’s list?
I don’t think there’s any list per say for a star, in terms of the most coveted designers because it has a lot to do with your personal style, your personal taste, your aesthetic that will kind of determine the designers and brands that you like. We have a lot of designers, they all do very different and unique things and it just kind of depends on your personal taste and your personal style.
What was the turning point of your career?
I don’t think I had any turning point in my career. But I can say the turning point in my life was when I decided to pursue this career. I think there have been a lot of key moments and those continue with every new project I take and with every new people I meet. So I think that’s constantly happening.
Your favourite celebrities to work with
My favourite celebrities to work with would be Parineeti Chopra and Shilpa Shetty.
Who is the best dressed celebrity, according to you?
I find Anushka Sharma really effortlessly stylish. Everything she wears seems like an extension of her and her personality. So I think she’s well dressed. Internationally, I like the way Blake Lively and Olivia Culpo dress. I like their sense of style.
Describe your work in 3 words?
I would describe my work as fast-paced, challenging and creatively satisfying.
What is the complete process that goes behind styling a look?
We put together couple of references and then accordingly we reach out to the designers and brands that we are looking to collaborate with. After that point it’s pretty logistical in terms of coordinating, how the looks are reaching us, when they’re reaching us, in/and time for our fittings and once they come in then we do a fitting with the client. We take photos at the fittings trials, so as to decide on the looks. Photographing well ensures that the outfit looks good both on the client and in pictures. If there are any fit issues, we work on alterations because that’s another very crucial aspect. And then we get into the final detailing of hair, make-up, accessories, and jewellery. On the day finally, whether it’s shoot or an event, the look is put together and that’s what pretty much goes out there.
Where do you find inspiration as a stylist?
I think I find inspiration in the people I see around me, whether that’s on social media, whether it’s the people I run into on day-to-day basis, maybe on a TV show, or in a film, or you know just people watching while travelling. I think at all points there’s inspiration in terms of different kind of people you see and observe.
What does style mean to you?
I think style is an extension of who you are and therefore, it shouldn’t be too much of an effort and something that’s too contrived. It’s an extension of your personality and who you are and what you stand for. So yeah, I think that’s what style is.
What is your personal style?
I think my personal style differs on what my day is looking like. So, when I am at work and I’ve a hectic day at work, my style is actually very comfortable and casual. This is a huge factor in anything I wear! Otherwise I think I would describe it as feminine, chic and with a touch of classic.
What does fashion mean to you?
I think fashion for me is a very important way to express your individuality and your personality. It’s a way to celebrate that and it’s a way to express without having to say anything. That’s what fashion means to me.
Favourite trend right now
My favourite trend would be exaggerated sleeves.
Most treasured item in your closet?
I think my most treasured item would be a watch that my father gifted me. It was his watch and he then gave it to me on my 25th birthday. So, that would probably be my most treasured item!
What would you like to change about your job?
Well, I think I work better under pressure. So, I really wouldn’t want to change anything that I find particularly difficult or challenging about my job but one thing I definitely don’t enjoy and find difficult to deal with is the logistical part on a day-to-day basis which is, you know, following up on when the samples are reaching us, when the timelines of the deliveries and just following up with calls, and messages and emails and I think that’s something I find challenging and draining and just not creatively satisfying the least. So that is essentially what I would like to change if I could.
What are the challenges you faced along the way?
One of the challenges that I definitely faced was the fact that I hadn’t had any prior styling experience as an assistant, under anyone. I think there’s a lot that you learn every single day, on every single job, with every single person you meet when assisting or interning under someone. That’s kind of what I learnt on my own because I didn’t have that assisting experience. The rest were pretty much what anyone faces when they’re starting off on their own in any given field. There’s a lot of patience involved, there’s a lot of waiting involved. You have to prove yourself and make a place for yourself. A lot of people didn’t quite understand what it meant to be a celebrity stylist or to be a personal stylist to a celebrity. Even now till date people ask me, so do you design clothes? Do you buy the clothes? They don’t really understand how it works. So the fact that it was a fairly new industry in terms of the vertical, this was not a challenge but one of the factors which came into play.