Friday, June 19, 2015

Career as a Fashion Stylist

By Beverly Pereira
Photography: Courtesy Nikhil Mansata

model lisa hayden for vogue
Lisa Haydon for Vogue India March 2015 

You can see the work of a fashion stylist come alive as you turn the pages of a magazine, when you watch films, or even in print and television ads. Young and dynamic Nikhil Mansata, who excels at this genre, talks about the little known aspects of being a Fashion Stylist...

Responsible for deciding what the model wears, and, more importantly, how the clothes and accessories are worn, indispensable stylists lend their unique brand of creativity to put together definitive looks. Fashion stylist and creative director Nikhil Mansata’s versatility can be spotted in both Indian and international titles, ranging from Vogue India and Architectural Digest (India), to Conde Nast International London and Business of Fashion, among others. For Nikhil, though, bringing out Kalki Koechlin’s Indo-French appeal for the French edition of Vanity Fair remains one of his most memorable shoots till date.

magazine cover styling

He trained in a three-year fashion styling programme at the London campus of Istituto Marangoni, a renowned Italian school of fashion and design. Practical work and internships - aspects of the course that he appreciates - led him to style a cover for the cutting-edge British publication TANK, while he was still at school.

While he doesn’t believe that styling can be taught entirely through a course, he adds that “the photography, history of art and fashion courses that were taught to us in school have been incredibly beneficial.” Nikhil finds inspiration in a range of disciplines like books, magazines, fashion shows, the Internet and music videos, film, theatre, art, architecture, pop culture... even on the street!

vogue india bridal book
Vogue India Bridal Book

“It’s a collaborative effort with each of the teams involved. Sometimes you get a free reign to be creative and other times you have to stick to a strict brief,” Nikhil informs about the nuances of the job, which can actually be tedious, what with all the sourcing and long hours.

sonam kapoor

IAnD in conversation with fashion stylist Nikhil Mansata:

What prompted you to pursue a career as a fashion stylist?
I love magazines, especially the imagery in them. I used to collect old issues of Vogue, Vanity Fair and Harper’s Bazaar from a very young age.  I also enjoy meeting incredible people and being surrounded by beautiful things.

kalki koechlin
Kalki for Vanity Fair June 2014

What is the one thing you wish you could have learnt as a student, which should have been a part of your syllabus?
Entrepreneurial and fashion business courses would have come in handy!

model lisa hayden
Lisa Haydon for Vogue India March 2015 

What are the challenges that you face, or the challenges that you’ve had to overcome, as a stylist?
I think adapting to different markets, readers and consumers can be quite challenging at times.

Fashion Stylist Nikhil Mansata
Nikhil Mansata

Two do’s that you could share with students aspiring to pursue a career as fashion stylists?
a. Work for someone you admire.
b. Know your fashion history.

Two don’ts that you could share?
a. Don’t expect to make money initially.
b. Don’t give up.

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