Popular theory dictates that it’s never a sound idea for friends to work together lest they disturb their bond and ruin something good. But ace designer Masaba Gupta and celebrity stylist Rhea Kapoor aren’t from this traditional school of thought as they joined hands to create their own sartorial collection that is whimsical, romantic and splendidly vintage.
Think floral printed skirts in wispy organzas to get an idea behind their creative stock available at Vesimi boutique in Dubai. Both agree their union was a seamless one with a fabric built on trust. There was so much joy and happiness, says Kapoor, the daughter of actor Anil Kapoor.
“When you are working with your friend, you have to have respect for each other, their expertise and craft. This was one of the most rewarding experiences that I can think of. I have never worked on a collaboration that saw so little stress,” said Kapoor, who has styled her sister Sonam Kapoor at global events, such as the Cannes red carpet where fashion police can be brutal.
Gupta, known for her quirky prints and affinity for colours, formed her perfect foil.
While Kapoor doesn’t claim to be a designer, she feels Gupta has a strong designer gene that makes her creations stand out.
Together these women are on a mission to create a collection that’s feminine and body positive.
“We are bold dressers, but the message we want to give is that women shouldn’t be afraid of dressing feminine. Don’t think that you won’t be taken seriously if you are ultra feminine,” said Kapoor.
While they are in command of their independent fashion labels, they are here to try something new.
“Women are more mature when it comes to working together. There is this feeling that things can get [expletive], but we are more empathetic towards each other. In general women are more expressive with what they feel. When you express yourself, then problems just disappear. We are solution oriented,” said Gupta.
As Gupta lands in the UAE to promote their new collection on February 8, Gulf News tabloid! caught up with these talented women to discuss their collaboration, their united take on body positivity and fashion trends.
Why did you both decide to collaborate together?
Rhea Kapoor: We were friends since childhood. We were in a kathak [dance] class together and that’s how we met as children. But we didn’t stay in touch much, although we were friendly and hung out with common friends. Though we hung out with each other often, we once asked each other why we weren’t working together or collaborating in a calculated manner. The truth is we were collaborating together for years in an informal, fun manner. But it was all about two people wanting to be creative. We trust each other implicitly. We were never in a situation where we were second guessing each other. We are at our stage in our careers where we don’t need each other. We are both content and we are collaborating because we want to and not for any other reason.
Masaba Gupta: As a creative individual, I used to always look up to Rhea. She urged me to find a new language and designer identity through this collection. It was Rhea’s idea that I should do something different ... Use less quirky prints and less bright colours and create a more of a understated, classic collection ... My typical motifs and colour blocking weren’t there. It’s a very feminine collection. There’s a certain design language in terms of silhouette. Rhea also understands the Indian woman’s body and we came together in that aspect.
What’s your observations about each other as you put together the collection?
Gupta: The conversations we had was that I am known for my typical style and quirky motifs. We wanted to do something different. I have never used baby blue as a colour for a lehenga and she taught me that.
Kapoor: Masaba has such strong genes when it comes to her designs and brand. As an artist, she creates from those genes. I found out that a lot of her collection reflects her personal style. She started her brand when she was 19 or 20, she was young, but she embraced her style and grew. She’s so peaceful, content and confident. She never tries to put up a bravado. Our collection tries to capture all of that. Our colours in our collection can be pastel, but they can be strong colours, too. She’s also got a strong grip on her craft and isn’t apologetic about her body or about being feminine. I am a stylist and not a designer. I can never claim to be one, because I can’t drape or sketch. All I can do is guide and push her in a certain direction. I can curate.
On a fun note, who’s more ruthless?
Gupta and Kapoor in unison: Rhea.
Kapoor: Let me explain. Who has the time to mince words? If you are best friends and you can’t be honest with each other, then you better stay at home... But we never get into each other’s space.
Gupta: Also, we are not deluded. Trust me, I have worked with people in the past who are deluded. They don’t have a grip on reality. We aren’t conscious of what people like, but we get their pulse.
What is your take on sustainable fashion which you are both passionate about? At the recent Baftas, we saw Kate Middleton and other stars recycle their old gowns. How do you ensure it’s not just a gimmick?
Kapoor: Sustainability is a misused word. It’s not as easy as people make it to be. It’s also not price sensitive. It needs a lot of research and development and lots of money needs to pumped into it. Fast fashion works because it’s so easy to pick and discard. With sustainability, it’s so hard. Everybody in every home should decide that it is going to be a way of life, then sustainability works. It may take a decade for people to warm up to the idea of sustainable fashion. You have to make hard choices and that’s where Bollywood stars, Hollywood stars and celebrities in cricket and sports come into the picture. They can drive this change.
Gupta: There’s a pressure to look perfect as well. Many people want to get that instagram bait. Slowly people are getting sick of it and seeing through it. Everyone is embracing the idea of personal style and individuality. Think about stars like Julia Roberts or Sridevi that you have been loyal to. You love them because they had individuality even though they didn’t look perfect all the time. Whoever lasted in fashion — be it John Galliano or Christian Dior — has shown that trends come and go. But unique style and individuality is the only thing that will last. Heroin chic or full lips come and go.
Your collection is also body positive. Was that a note in your briefs to each other?
Kapoor: It was in our collection note. We both love to eat and are not obsessed about being skinny. We just want to be fit and we don’t want to set the wrong example. We don’t want to kill ourselves over each meal we eat nor do we want to fit into a certain body type. We shouldn’t be afraid of showing skin or be apologetic about it either. This collection is a celebration of who we are — whether skinny, small, big or any body type.
Most overrated trend:
Kapoor: “I can’t bear cycling shorts. They don’t make your calves or legs look good. They don’t do anything for anyone unless you are a skinny supermodel and it is unforgiving.”
Gupta: “I am not a fan of the Kardashian way of dressing where everything is stretched and tight. I don’t like those really tight, high-waisted pants and that big butt bubble. It doesn’t look natural and looks engineered.”
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Their collection is stocked at Vesimi boutique in Dubai.