Always in Style - Ashley Rebello talks with You & I

He got his first break as a costume designer for the movie Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar, way back in 1992. His creativity – especially for the song ‘Pehla Nasha’, where he styled Pooja Bedi in a red dress that billowed in the wind – paved him a rock solid path into Bollywood. He’s since been part of the industry for over 25 years, and has designed for and styled numerous celebrities. Here’s our candid chat with Ashley Rebello.

What’s it been like to work with stars for decades?
Over the years, I have made more memories than I can count. It’s been an unforgettable journey, which is very close to my heart. The journey continues and I am still making new memories. Working with actors like Aamir Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, Karisma Kapoor, Sonakshi Sinha, Jacqueline Fernandez and, now, Salman Khan, has been a great experience.

Styling and designing are two different aspects of fashion. Which comes more naturally to you?
Both. I don’t mix styling with designing, though. Infact, I can’t wrap my head around how some designers don’t come to the sets to check whether their costume suited the actor or how the final look panned out. As a designer, I create the look that’s needed and as a stylist, I put together some clothes in order to achieve that look.

What inspires your creativity?
Many things, although travel plays a major role in it. Every time I travel to a new place, I return with a bunch of fresh ideas and techniques. Travel also enables me to merge Western styles and sensibilities with Indian fabrics; a combination that never fails to amaze me!

What are your interests apart from styling?
The second item on my list of interests is interior design. I’m just as passionate about designing homes as I am about designing clothes. Besides these two, watching movies, listening to music, travelling, and theatre interest me. My interests are creative in nature, as I have always been inclined towards arts, be it fashion, design, styling or interiors.

What goes into the process of designing costumes for movies?
Designing for a film is miles apart from designing for a photoshoot or an event. The process of designing costumes for a film is time-consuming. There is a lot of hard work and thought that goes into creating the desired look, the fabrication, sourcing, and many other aspects. Only after several attempts can we achieve the final look. Keeping the character in mind is essential for the process of styling. You have to understand where the characters stem from, where they are headed, and their headspace while filming the movie. All these factors play a key role in creating the desired look.

Who has been your best celebrity muse so far?
Although I have worked with many celebrities in the industry, there is certainly one who stands out for me: Salman Khan, of course. He has the ability to carry off anything with panache; he can make anything look like a million bucks!

Who do you think is most stylish today?
Setting aside who, I can certainly answer what is the most stylish thing today: the 80’s look. The stars from the 80’s had an oomph factor, even if they wore clothing that did not match the location! From bold colours to big hair, everything was larger-than-life, and that’s the kind of cinema that inspires me.

What’s the one fashion trend you don’t like?
Bell bottoms – it suits only the European build, due to their height. It adds weight to the hips, making it unflattering for many. Also, I believe you should follow fashion trends only if you’re also keeping your body frame in mind. This way, you can wear clothes without falling prey to some bizarre trends!

Describe your style in one word.
Relaxed.         – as told to Sumana