Eka Lakhani – The woman behind building incredible characters on screen, a notable costume designer who have worked with several movies like ‘The Sky is Pink’, ‘Sanju’, ‘Lust Stories’, and many South Indian hits. She is one of the most talented costume designers in our industry today. Her journey is as inspiring as her work.
She started her career as a child artist and acted in an award-winning movie called “Abhay -The Fearless”. She was exposed to the world of cinema quite early in her life which made her fascinated. Later, to complete the basic education she had to give up her acting career. She grew up in a creative family. Her father was a textile designer by profession and owned a block printing unit back in Mumbai. She shared a very interesting story about how every Diwali on Hindu New Year her father used to create colors and use to block print their first saree and then let it go for further manufacture. These were the instances that made her inclined towards fashion as she grew up in an artistic and creative background. She expressed herself as being a rebellious child in her teenage. Yet she was a bright student and a rank holder in her class. Due to her academic excellence, she decided to choose the Science stream to further acquire a degree as a Doctor or an Architect just as a usual scholar. It was her father who encouraged her to pursue a career in the field of arts. Like anyone else, she has had her share of confusion while growing up in terms of her career. Therefore, she decided to go with the flow.
She took up a BA course in Journalism along with a Part-time Fashion course in PVP SNDT, Mumbai for a year. That one year defined her interest and made her quit journalism and join fashion full time. She opted for a 3-year Diploma course in Apparel Manufacture and Design from PVP SNDT College, Mumbai. Concurrently, she interned with L’Officiel Magazine. That fascinated her with the idea of high fashion and editorial. In the end, proudly, she won her Final year graduation fashion show in the category of Best Construction and Design and Best Collection of the year, which was further kept in Kimaya a designer boutique for Sale. Thereafter, her interest in understanding high fashion and editorial craved her to study ahead. She then went to FIT New York and pursued various certificate courses. These were short term courses based on different fields of fashion. She ended up completing 17-18 certificate courses. After her 5 years of substantial study in fashion, she decided to take 6 months break to rejuvenate and start working after returning to India.
Meanwhile, she narrates that she got a random call for an Assistance under Sabyasachi for Mani Ratnam film ‘Raavan’. He was a costume designer for that film and instantly Eka said yes. This was the turning point of her career. Her experience in Raavan carved her craft. She was the juniormost assistant and was responsible sometimes to dress even 500 people on sets. Such challenges and experiences made her even more skilled in her craft. This was the time when she felt a rush of her success through her immense hard work. The same year she dreamt of working as a Costume designer for Mani Ratnam’s movie and it was fulfilled within a year. She fondly recounts this as her memorable moment. Her promising work and dedication led her to work with such great people at a very young age.
She ponders that costume design as a subject isn’t much emphasized. But the responsibility it carries is inevitable.
It’s the biggest medium that fashion is spreading today, more than social media people follow films and that becomes a responsibility. It caters to an enormous audience. There are few facts about filming which probably one would never know unless they have worked as a costume designer. She believes in sharing her exquisite knowledge and hence she shared with us about the vital key points to be remembered by aspirants.
In her 11 years of a successful career, she’s won few awards and has built her own empire. More than awards she cherishes the people and the projects that she has worked with. Over the years, Eka has worked in Bollywood films such as ‘Sanju’, ‘The Sky is Pink’, ‘NH10’, ‘OK jaanu’ apart from South Indian films like ‘Urumi’, ‘Ok Kanmani’, ‘Kaatru Veliyidai’, ‘Iru Mugan’ and ’24’. It was one of her dreams to work with her 3 favorite directors – Mani Ratnam, Karan Johar, and Raju Hirani. When asked about her future dreams she mentioned a very interesting dream of becoming an only costume designer in the nation who would have possibly worked with different film industries with different dialects and regions of India. She expresses her love for fashion and films and explains that it can never be bounded through any language. She suggests that Fashion from a Film point of view must be taught and practiced well in universities.
She wants to bring a change in the costume design industry by reviving the act of reuse and recycle clothes on-screen by introducing styling largely. She wants to normalize the concept of “repeating clothes”. Her motive is to stop the idea of fast fashion and imbibe slow fashion in our ecosystem. She strongly believes in quality over quantity and wants to assimilate this practice largely in the consumers. Her mantra of sustaining a successful career in costume design is “keep it real”. She believes in consistency, hard work, and dedication. Life has come to a full circle for her. A little girl who started her career in films by acting is now in the film industry building incredible characters through her expertise and vision.
Our sincere gratitude towards Eka, who generously shared her inspirational journey and has set an incredible example for many aspirants.