National award-winning designer Neeta Lulla is best known for her wedding couture and for styling Bollywood stars. She has over three decades of experience in the fashion industry and has worked with stars like Aishwarya Rai, Madhuri Dixit, Sridevi, Shilpa Shetty, etc.
DissDash had a conversation with Neeta Lulla about what it takes to make it as a designer in today’s times and more!
DissDash: How do you keep up with the competition? How do you make yourself stand out?
Neeta Lulla: Social media helps by letting you know about what’s happening in India and abroad. You’re aware of things. The downside of this is that it can also affect your work by sheer insecurity. For me, it helps to compete with myself, as there is already such a huge body of work out there. I need to think beyond that.
DissDash: How do you keep yourself motivated? Do you ever feel like taking a break?
Lulla: Never! I have always been motivated. In fact, I don’t even need breaks or holidays. My break is whenever I am en route to a shoot or a show, etc. Even if you ask me what’s my hobby or what do I do when I am not working, the answer would be designing! It is an absolute passion for me.
DissDash: You are one of Bollywood’s favorite designers. How is it working with the Indian film industry?
Lulla: When you’re designing for a film you have strict deadlines. Like everything was needed yesterday! Then you have to marry your design with the script, the director’s vision, the actor’s comfort and body structure, etc. You’re striving to create a look on the screen which is memorable.
DissDash: Has it ever been the case that your finished look didn’t match your vision?
Lulla: Thankfully, no. I visualize the design in coherence with the look.
DissDash: Do you get creative freedom while working with different producers and directors?
Lulla: I’m a good listener. I understand what they’re talking about. I discuss with them, but I go with my sensibility. In case someone is having trouble with my vision, I’d probably sketch it for them.
DissDash: How do you see South Asian fashion making a mark on the international platform?
Lulla: I think that South Asian fashion has already made a mark in the international market for the longest time. Big brands like Dior, Prada , etc. have outsourced their embroidery to South Asian craftsmen. I think the change happened when fashion became a big thing in the South Asian market. We are no longer the vendors for other brands. In fact, the sensibility we have is in terms of design and fabric as in artforms have been noticed globally. For example, Kolahpuri Chapals and Chikankari Kurtas are very much in demand in European countries like Greece, London, etc. right now.
DissDash: Who is your favorite celebrity to dress?
Lulla: I never have an answer to this question. After working with 90-95 actors and celebrities, they each have their own style. You don’t do just one look. When you are working for fifteen years with people they become some sort of family.
DissDash: Do you take into account their inputs or do they trust you completely?
Lulla: As I said, I’m a good listener. So I will listen to their inputs and understand where they are coming from. I will give them my feedback from a logical and technical standpoint, so that the celebrities or clients know what I am saying and why.
DissDash: Tell us about your upcoming projects.
Lulla: I’ve just finished the film “Panipat” for Ashutosh Gowarikar, which is due to be released soon. Then I’ve films lined up with Kangana, and Shilpa. We are also looking for expansion through a flagship store and an online store. We’re also looking for a diffusion line, which will cater to both the Indian and international market.
DissDash: If you weren’t doing fashion, what do you think you’d be doing?
Lulla: I love fast cars and driving them. So probably a car racer!
DissDash: What advice would you give to someone who is just starting into the fashion industry?
Lulla: Education is important to understand the technical aspects. But it is also important to observe around yourself and delve into whatever you may find intriguing. Read a lot, go to libraries and focus on that one aspect which appeals to you in fashion. That will create a platform for you to venture into the industry for a successful future.
DissDash: What would you want the readers to take away from this interview?
Lulla: One should go with the flow of life. You must keep your passion open to the universe. You can’t close your passion to the universe, and say I have arrived and am done. You need to be a listener and a learner. It all comes back to you from the universe. You cannot give up. Life is a constant learning experience. Experience may tell you how to tackle a situation, but it doesn’t mean you know it all. So just be vigilant and open to learning.
Snigdha is a 'closet' writer with unapologetic opinions on life and people around her. She supports the cause of protecting endangered civil rights like free speech, equity, equality, and most importantly common sense.