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Funky stylists Malini Ramani and Aparna Chandra talk of what's hot and what's not

Dressing up all those divas

You're in trouble if you start following trends. — Malini

EVERY ONE of their creations is a style statement. They dress the best of Bollywood, the hoity-toity of Delhi and the crème-de-la-creme of Paris and New York. Ravishing designer Malini Ramani and funky stylist Aparna Chandra were at Bangalore's Evoluzione style store to launch their spring summer collection for the year.

After a hectic weekend of fashion shows, the two friends feast on yummy homemade dosas at designer Gautam Kalra's before landing for their preview and chat with Bhumika .K. "We've just been greedy on this trip," they say, as they indulge in some brownies and ramp talk.

On each other's creations:

Malini: Aparna's clothes are the "be yourself" kind. They're bohemian and casual but elegant, exactly like her look, you know. She does not look like she's tried too hard. But me, on the other hand, look like I took all day to dress up. (laughs)

Aparna: No that's not true. Not that she tries. But that's so her. (Looks at her adoringly in a slinky pink outfit). The way she dresses and what she makes. And I believe her USP is that she's so true to what she makes. Her clothes are not about what's fashionable and what's not. It's just what she likes. And she doesn't care about what people say.

Do they wear their own designs?

Malini: Uh Huh (with a positive nod of the head)

Aparna: I wear everyone's clothes. I even wear hers.

Malini: We all wear each other's clothes as well. But I love my clothes (both laugh). When I go out at night and wear an outfit of mine, I feel really glamorous. Not that I don't feel that way about other's clothes, but when I wear mine, I feel the most glamorous. And I'm being honest (laughs). Because I've made it to the exact specification of what I'm dyin' to wear. The day I start making salwar kameezes, I won't be able to do it.

Do Indians wear what suits them?

Malini: The smart ones do!

Aparna: No. Not always. And that's the sad thing. And that's what I feel a li'l bad about. But that's the phase India is going through. Coz suddenly there's this whole international media thing and exposure to fashion, and people just want to wear what they (abroad) are wearing. And that's sad coz you've got to wear what suits you and what works for you. I'm a completely non-trend person. You wear what feels good, not what you should be wearing.

Malini: I hate it when in interviews they ask me the top five things you should have this season or "must do". You do whatever you want! I mean, I don't know about trends. If you start following trends, I think you're in trouble. But you can never generalise (about what suits people).

Aparna: Things are changing now. Bodies are changing. People are working out. They are fit and conscious. Lifestyles and work is different.

Malini: I think the one universal thing that suits every one in the world is a pair of jeans. But besides that, there's really nothing... no way. Specially in a country like this... with so many classes.

So do the "full-bodied" get left out?

Malini: No... but I make small sizes (irreverently laughs). Though, I've changed my sizing now. (To Aparna) What's your large?

Aparna: I do a chest 44.

Malini: For large? That would be my extra large!

Aparna: But your styles are different.

Malini: Yeah, they're a bit too skimpy. You know, like the people I love to dress up most and dress up all the time are the Bollywood stars. Not in the movies, but outside (She adds immediately, almost in defence). All of them wear my stuff. They love looking flashy and sexy. And they only wear their outfit once, so mine's really good for that.

Who's the best dressed in Bollywood?

Malini: (Steering clear of any controversy and shutting out possible clients perhaps!) I dunno about that, but the person I'm dying to dress up now - she's the most amazing goddess in the universe - is Bipasha Basu. She's lost about 10 kg. and is looking stunning. Otherwise, Sushmita Sen wears quite a few of my things and I think she's really well-dressed. She's tall and has that confidence.

Aparna: Also, I think she's just so graceful and she's got poise. I'm not a big Bollywood fan so ... (laughs) But Bollywood's changing now. I would like to dress Tabu. She's beautiful.

Are Indians designerwear and brand conscious?

Malini: Again you can't generalise. But the people we hang out with - they are. A lot of them, like the Bombay blondes and the Delhi socialites... I mean, have you seen how Louis Vuitton is selling out? (Both laugh incredulously) It's psycho! Everyone has brands and logos on their bags and jackets and everything.

Aparna: And they're getting more and more brand-conscious. People who work in offices or just socialise... everyone, at different levels. That's why the prêt market in the country is going to be so big. Because, you know you can get a brand at really affordable rates.

Is the kind of stuff on FTV's ramps wearable?

Malini: Who said if you're having a show, the stuff has to be wearable? No way! It's an art form.

Aparna: Yeah... and nobody understands that. When I do a show, I really would like someone to dress like that. Whether they do or don't is different. And when it comes to a store, it's a slightly watered-down versionMalini: We are artists also. Like they do art installations. That's a true designer I think.

Aparna: You know, people learn to look at a painting, they take classes for that. I think people need to learn to watch a show. And appreciate it for just the way it looks! The problem is people don't want to personalise what they see. They want to take it off the ramp and either wear it or not. That's not how it works. I think people ought to give a little more credit to fashion designers.

Why is designer-wear so overrated and pricey?

Aparna: My clothes sell from under Rs 1,000. So I don't think people should be complaining. There are many designers who do reasonable clothes.

Malini: I know there are designers who are very, very expensive but that's because their name has a big tag on it. But I don't think we are overpriced. We are fair.

Aparna: A lot of designers believe they need to be expensive and opulent for it to be exclusive and designer-wear. I don't believe it. I would like to spot someone on the road wearing my stuff. I know, of course, that you can buy lehengas worth lakhs.

Malini: Unfortunately or whatever, all my clothes have sequins or Swarowski. I haven't made any clothes till now without embellishments. They are not expensive, but they are not cheap. My highest priced things ever is Rs 48,000 and it's a fully-sequenced sari that took three weeks to make. College goers buy my stuff - the kind who go to NYU or Harvard!

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