Twinning ideas, winning designs
Delhi-based designers Divvya and Nidhhi Gambhir look alarmingly young to be seven seasons old at Indian fashion weeks. The twin sisters, who studied designing at the National Institute of Fashion Technology, Delhi, not only have their pret label 'Walnut' taking them to places like the Japan Fashion Week in Tokyo, but they have also followed their Bollywood dreams to Mumbai. They have been designing costumes in films for the last six years, apart from dressing up stars and styling them for their red carpet and public appearances.
Tucked under their fashionable belts are films like Ugly, Hasee Toh Phasee, Qissa, Banjo, The Other Side of The Door and Les Cowboys. They also designed for the first season of the TV series 24. This year, they are all sorted with three films - The Song of Scorpions, Fukrey Returns and Daddy (which released recently). Here are edited excerpts from a conversation:
How seriously is costume designing taken in Hindi films today?
Costume designing is making its importance felt with time now. Be it in a film like Daddy, which needs to look real, or an aspirational 'good-looking film', costumes have become a medium to portray what the film needs.
What was your biggest challenge designing for 'Daddy', based on Mumbai gangster/politician Arun Gawli's life?
The authenticity of the period - the era needed to come out with each costume as the film doesn't flow in a linear pattern. It is a series of flashbacks in Arun Gawli's life from the 1970s to 2012. So, it became imperative for the costumes to suggest the period of time the film was going back into. It was clear that Arjun Rampal playing Arun Gawli was not to be portrayed as the hero, so our references for the decades gone by came from the real pictures of people from their family albums.
It was a treat to design for both Arjun Rampal and Farhan Akhtar. With the fact that both are playing real characters from the gangster world, we didn't want to make them filmi or overly styled. Our reference point for both their characters were the gangsters themselves. And both Arjun and Farhan went with our vision.
What are the kind of factors you keep in mind when you design a 'look' for characters in a film?
The most important factor to consider while designing is that the actors need to look the part they are playing. When a costume does not overpower the character, it's done right!
They say no two women can agree on clothes. You are twins designing together! How do you work? How did this design venture of yours start?
Yes, we have loads of disagreements while designing, but we have a pact that until we both agree on the same thing, we don't go ahead with it. And yes, being twins, we have the same designing sensibilities. Our wavelengths just match and that is what makes us a power-packed twin team. We both studied fashion designing in NIFT, Delhi. After that, we didn't want to follow what the market already had to offer. We wanted to do something we believed in and that gave birth to our label, Walnut.
You design and create red carpet looks for celebrities. And this is something people follow very earnestly and try to copy. Why do you think this is gaining such popularity?
Movie stars are immensely popular in India and abroad, and people follow them intimately - what they do, what they wear. This is because celebrities are aspirational and people want to be like them. What people don't realise is that there are loads of people working behind the celebrity looking like a million dollars. But it gives people goals, hopes.
You have your own label. How different is that world from the world of film costume designing? Or if not, how similar?
It is very different at many levels, and similar at a few other levels altogether. One's label gives freedom to design and create what you want to, while costume designing for films is very character-driven. And characters you design for are not always of the glamorous and fashionable kind. Both our label and costume designing give our creativity wings, where there is always something new happening. While designing your line lets you design a new theme and collection every season, films also offer opportunities to create designs drastically different from one another. So, in both, creativity flows non-stop.