Tuesday, 9 April 2013

What Not to Wear (Deccan Herald, Sep 2012) http://www.deccanherald.com/content/275791/style-check.html

Style check

Sep 2, 2012
Juanita Kakoty speaks to actress Soha Ali Khan and designer Akki Narula on their latest venture as television hosts of an upcoming show, ‘What Not To Wear’. 
“I have always watched What Not to Wear UK and What Not to Wear US. So I was immensely thrilled to see it in the Indian context,” actor Soha Ali Khan says as she talks about hosting the Indian edition of the TLC international makeover series airing from September 3, 2012, every night at 10 pm. Sharing her excitement is her co-host fashion designer Akki Narula, “This is the best TV debut for me. I identify with TLC which is a fantastic lifestyle channel. What Not to Wear is a 13-part series, well-researched, interactive and insightful. In short, it is a great platform for me to bring in my decade-long experience in the fashion industry.”

Makeover mantra
Reality TV comes to the doorsteps of style-challenged individuals with What Not to Wear. Participants are from all walks of life (housewives, professionals, entrepreneurs, etc) are nominated to the show by friends and family. “We spent 30 days shooting for the series. 
One episode deals with one participant, over two days. We teach them about their body types and how to dress that body type. We teach them to shop, send them shopping and intervene if we think it is not going right. It is a series that captures the emotional, psychological and physical journeys of women to style enlightenment,” informs Soha. And when queried about the participants’ reaction to the intervention, she adds, “When you see yourself on camera, you immediately know where you are going. So in that way, even though we had difficult times with a few participants, it was the camera that made things possible. Participants saw themselves on camera and that helped in a big way to 
overcome difficulties, initial hiccups and accept the style instructions handed down to them.”

Speaking of difficulties, especially those faced by the hosts while instilling a sense of style and fashion in the participants, there is this case that Soha particularly remembers, “There was this teacher who had a very clear and fixed idea of who she was and how she wanted to dress. Plus, it is difficult to tell a teacher, who is used to giving instructions, what to do. That was quite a challenge because she was rigid to begin with and her husband and family, who nominated her, looked forward to the makeover. But, finally,” leads on Soha with awe, “hers was one of the most dramatic transformations we saw!”

What Not to Wear is all about fashion and style. Yet, it is also about, as Akki emphasises, real people and real issues. “The participants shared with us not just their fashion issues; they let us into their personal world too, sharing their life stories. And that makes the show very emotional. They talked about their boyfriends, husbands, family, expectations, meaning in life, sense of fulfilment, etc.” Akki mentions his favourite episode as the one which features a woman in her 50s, nominated by her daughters, who used to be stylish and then suddenly, one fine day, changed. “For me, it was very emotional working with the lady: listening to her stories and helping her get in touch with her personality, finding her sense of self and reinventing herself.”

What Not to Wear is something to look out for not just to see individuals transform themselves but also to pick up fashion tips from their experiences and from the expertise that Soha and Akki have to share. Her regal lineage and cultural heritage make Soha the epitome of style and grooming; while Akki is one of Bollywood’s favourite stylists, known as one who doesn’t design clothes but people. These days, he is high on the success of the rocking look he created for Ranbir Kappor in the film Rockstar. “Both Soha and I were very excited when we were asked to host the show,” gushes Akki. “Soha and I, from our respective experiences in the film and fashion industry, share a rapport, a common language; which is why, from day one, she and I got along like a house on fire.”

Winding up, Akki shares a fashion tip for the Indian woman, “Do not over-accessorise. Let your personality and dress go hand-in-hand.” What Soha has to say is, “Indian women have varied body types. So it is not easy to pinpoint at one particular fashion tip. But one thing that never goes wrong is confidence. I would say that it is confidence that one should always wear. It is important to build up the self-belief that one has lost somewhere along the way. Accept who you are and celebrate it.” 

As the conversation comes to an end, Soha says, “I’ll be taking all my costumes from the show home.” That, my dear friends, is a tell-tale sign of the trend you can hope to catch from What Not to Wear for your wardrobe.

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