Carefully curating looks for his clients is Celebrity Stylist Mohit Rai’s one true passion. He’s a true pioneer when it comes to fashion, art, and styling, and is undoubtedly flipping the course of the Indian styling industry, one look at a time.
Mohit wasn’t one with exposure to fashion or glamour since his family works in finance and accounting. His inclination as a kid was always in art and as he grew up, he discovered the art of fashion was his true calling. He recalls watching Miss World and such beauty pageants when he was younger and feeling inspired by the looks. Led by this spark, Mohit graduated with Knitwear Specialization from NIFT Delhi. He mentions his mentors, family’s support, and the many opportunities they have brought along the way for him were the biggest motivation for him to pursue fashion further.
He didn’t take up a lot of internships, calling himself “the epitome of an industry outsider” but he did participate in many fashion shows and college competitions as well as freelance work. He iterates how he did many unpaid jobs because he was keen on understanding and living through the process of being a stylist.
Mohit was 22 when he got exposed to the fashion world and started working in couture for names like Valentino and Alexander Wang. Initially, he hadn’t enjoyed working with celebrities as he says he wasn’t working with the right people, but he had a change of heart working with Bazaar Bride in Bombay when the opportunity struck with Sonakshi Sinha. Her manager had called him if he was available and since he was, he decided to give it a shot. Sonakshi and he immediately clicked, and she gave her the green to give her an individual style. What kept him curious was the process of putting ideas together and creating a narrative that was seemly engaging.
His first shoot was with Dia Mirza. Back then he was a fashion assistant, but he got to shoot an entire show himself which was an achievement for him. His other milestone was the photoshoot with Lara Ahluwalia. The images turned out stunning and Mohit’s extremely proud of those results. The #FollowMeToo trend was another milestone he greatly cherishes since it was on an international scale and the response was satisfactory. The venture Grain Fashion Consultancy with friend Sohiny Das and The Wedding Style Project with Aastha Sharma are two other independent projects he’s counting on to become part of his big achievements soon.
He’s enjoyed working most in editorials and magazines, runway shows like Tarun Tahiliani, and is particularly close friends with Sonakshi Sinha, Kareena Kapoor, Disha Patani, and Vaani Kapoor. They all always make it a point to make work fun.
When discussing responsibilities, Mohit explains one has to deliver professionalism more than anything. Everyone is replaceable. Always be prepared with multiple backup plans because at any time something could fall through and you won’t have time to fix it. Secondly, you need to have a great team behind you. Mohit exclaimed one of his biggest successes has been finding the right team and training them correctly. He always makes sure whoever’s working with him is cordial because niceness is very underrated.
A challenge Mohit faces to date is the fact that the styling industry is still in its nascent stage in India and quite unorganized. Over the years where he has observed a shift from people not being aware of this profession to dozens of people today wanting to be a stylist, he also believes that given an appropriate amount of time for it to grow will see the industry continue to grow further and higher. Mohit also reveals people expect stylists to be glamorous and stand out as fashionable but he says light-heartedly – stylists are the worst dressed people in the industry. They don’t have time to think about going the extra mile to work on themselves, simply reaching work on time and being with the basics is a big thing. They don’t get to spend time on themselves as such or hang out during parties as people are prone to think.
Gaining experience in both advertising and celebrity styling, the expert reveals that with advertising, you need to focus on the product and not on creating a statement, however as a celebrity stylist, you have to understand the celebrity’s personality and persona to project them in their most authentic self. Mohit compares it to being no less than a psychiatrist since in both you need to analyze and understand your subject. Mohit says how everything he does has a little bit of his maximal signature but the other person needs to be able to adapt according to their personality. It has to be a collaboration whilst you understand your client over the years. Sometimes people’s perception of themselves is very different from what they look like, so Mohit also tries to sift through perceptions and facts and often suggests new styles to his clients.
Mohit, too, has made his share of mistakes and lends us in on an important lesson – understanding and being mindful of money in your early years. If somebody is using your services, please charge them. People should be able to discuss this and there should be a standard minimum, says the stylist.
An undying ambition and obsession with fashion is the stylist’s success mantra. There are so many traditional craft and art in India that we’re not tapping into, and there’s so much art in the world it baffles him. He loves diving into the world of fashion.
His advice for those willing to become a stylist is if you want to get into fashion, please study it. You’ll have to know the basics. You have to know what fabrics work on which, what colours work on which, what body types are best suitable with which silhouettes. Just like any other field, it’s science you should study. Moreover, you must be passionate about your profession.
Quite like an embodiment of passion, the celebrity stylist continues to pose as inspiration for young fashion entrepreneurs in the country.